I have not been blogging too much recently because I have spent time collecting my thoughts on the two biggest superhero movie events of the year so far. I desperately wanted to figure out how I could whittle my opinion down to…just that, an opinion, rather than a thesis and make it something that you guys can all read and form your own opinions on without falling asleep. So let’s give it a try! Here are my two cents on Batman V Superman.
I am a DC guy…they have my favourite superheroes, they have my favourite villains and in a head on fight with the Avengers my money is on the Justice League all day every day…so I desperately want these movies to do well. Sadly, I can summarise my stance on Batman V Superman to the simple conclusion that it is a collection of bad ideas…or good ideas done badly. I also can only attribute this to the directing and writing of the movie, which is tragic because I actually really enjoyed Man of Steel and believe Zack Snyder and his team nailed it, despite its rather reserved response with critics and fans. So let’s talk about the big bad idea shall we, because its big and we should get it out of the way early.
WHY the hell did they do the ‘Death of Superman’ storyline? Why? Confusing for several reasons, predominantly because it is much like having the two biggest heroes in the DC Universe collide, it seems somewhat futile given that we all know they are best friends and go on to establish the Justice League; although I shall argue that this was in fact a good idea despite this obvious drawback. However, including this storyline really makes the audience question why the hell they have bothered to watch this movie because what does killing Superman actually achieve? We know he comes back, what’s they point? From a plot perspective, it’s a waste of an incredible storyline line, the death of hope, because it is going to be undermined pretty soon! Also the premise of the movie, from Superman’s perspective, is ideal; the world is now questioning who he is, what he can do and what he stands for, which is an important step in a universe set in “real life”. However, before you have given the audience a chance to make up their mind you kill him off and expect us to believe that the world mourns for him when they were hating him quite profoundly only an hour ago? Finally, the writers were already using the ‘Dark Knight Returns’ story as inspiration for the movie. This is pretty heavy and important source material and could easily carry a movie by itself. I understand that they wanted to have a secondary bad guy for when the two good guys eventually team up but this is too much storyline and universe defining material to cram into one movie, so it was a very bad choice for the final act.
You may be thinking…there was infinitely more wrong with the movie, that cannot be all…but this is my perspective, using the ‘Death of Superman’ was the only truly bad idea the development team had in making this movie, everything else can be attached to a good idea just done spectacularly wrong. Let me explain…
The premise of Batman and Superman battling it out. Its good. The problem with Superman is he is really hard to identify with, because of his awesome power and the fact that he has arrived from space; this means that the majority of his major villains come from out of space and we consequently struggle to identify with him; at best we see him as a protector. However, Batman’s purpose can be two-fold, firstly to provide Superman with a major character from Earth to fight and can represent a bridge between humanity and the great Kryptonian as we have come to identify Batman as ‘one of us’. He may also be able to represent humanity when it comes to the fight itself, especially in a movie about finding where Superman fits into the world. He could represent humanity’s opinion and resistance to the idea of Superman and represent an ideological problem for Superman instead of a physical one. So on this basis I like the idea of the two big guys going toe-to-toe, all be it I hate the title, it just lacks imagination and effort. I also want to say here that I actually liked the idea that Superman could talk Batman down from the fight by trying to connect the two characters through parentage as it truly goes to the route of the two characters. Superman’s life lessons and ‘boy scout’ persona have come from the teachings of his loving parents. Batman’s whole reason for fighting is centred upon his sense of injustice for his parents deaths and in this is where humanity and Kryptonian people’s have common ground no matter how powerful they are. This is singularly one of the most original and in my opinion the best mechanism to defuse a fight between two characters in the superhero genre in movie history. However, how it was conveyed in dialogue and action was utter s***, and makes up some of the worst screenplay dialogue in movie history. Great idea though.
I also like a lot of the religious imagery used in dialogue between different characters, however, it should have been incorporated more intensely into the plot to really enhance the movie rather than giving gravitas to any individual moment. This mechanism is utilised through Lex Luthor who I feel was played well by Jesse Eisenberg although he crossed the line from powerful eccentric to psychotic eccentric and it was difficult to understand his motivations for taking down Superman at times. I wanted something ominous, something personal that makes you feel that he desperately wants to rip the heart out of the Man of Steel if only he could; yet I was left wanting. Within the plot I was also hoping for Lex to be more cunning and clever in his plans and devices, instead he ends up being locked up by the end of the movie and this moves away from the suave, hiding in plain sight, criminal mastermind that the comic book character certainly is. On a related note, the adaptation of Batman is too distant from the comic as well. I really like the idea of a more aggressive and brutal Batman however, you see him presumably killing the bad guys and branding them which is just too far beyond what I would expect from the character. I am all for breaking a few arms and dislocating shoulders but this level of violence just makes the character far less relatable which was a staple of the character that I have already mentioned, therefore this really does damage the character significantly.
My final point would be the poor use of females in the movie. Personally I did like the role of Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot played her well. I am glad she did not hide her natural accent entirely because it gives the character a different background and air of mystery which was the intention of the role. The reason why I would include her part in this section of my analysis is because the entire movie is stretched thin through overcrowding of the storyline, as previously mentioned, and consequently there is little backstory to really get to grips with in regards to any major character. This means that I cannot say with confidence that the mysterious aura there is around Wonder Woman is actually 100% deliberate or just happy coincidence. Nevertheless…Lois Lane. When she was introduced in Man of Steel, I loved her; strong, independent and determined. Then suddenly she went to clichéd damsel in distress who needed saving and along comes Superman. For me, they rushed the relationship between the two of them in Man of Steel and wasted the line ‘I think that only counts when you’re kissing a human’ too early in the franchise. They should have been flirting and building a rapport until the end of this movie or should have at least delayed it. Now they have just turned the cliché dial to 11. The number of times Superman saves Lois, cradling her whilst flying and then kissing her is just sickening, then there is the ‘I love you’ but never going to see you again, self-sacrificing speech…there is no need for it and the relationship has worn thin on the audience before we have even explored it in any depth.
There are other more minor issues such as how the “dream sequence” was constructed; it made it seem like there was a dream within a dream which was just poor from all parties. Then there is the message from, we assume, Barry Allen/The Flash which is a good idea and I agree with other analyst stating that the “dream sequence” must be an alternate future which they are seeking to avoid. However, how this scene was devised so as to not visualise the powers of the Flash in a recognizable way. If I was to do it, I would have shown Barry Allen as not being viewable as he runs around the room shouting at Bruce Wayne, with lightning and streaks coming off of him as a more appropriate image rather than seemingly talking to Bruce through a portal which I cannot seem to make sense of in the world of the Flash and how he has been known to operate in using speed. There is also an issue of teasers, the “dream sequence” itself made suggestions towards Darkseid and towards the ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’ storyline, it is good to not rule out either potential storyline to keep the fans guessing but there felt to be some confusion in the dialogue as if the two were crossing over which was baffling, unless Superman’s reference to ‘took her from me’ is not Lois Lane, but the message from the Flash would suggest otherwise, so fans are just left confused by this scene rather than excited.
One final thing, I swear, is a problem that may arise for the future of the DCEU. This may be found during the production of Aquaman. Now in the little clips that we got to view of the other Justice League members, one such clip regarded Aquaman, as cool as it was it looks like it could present a problem depending on how they are going to produce those under water scenes. If we are honest…it did look like a guy holding his breathe which is not particularly natural for the King of the Seas, plus he cannot even exhale because he is meant to have gills and this would be an immediate weakness in the character; a major problem for actors who would usually time their lines and delivery upon their breathing pattern. Now, I would imagine that most of the Aquaman movie will have to be set under water…duh, but how are they going to have entire conversations under water when there seems to be a great strain on just getting these action shots. Can anybody help me out here with a movie shooting such scenes including smooth dialogue under water; I’m thinking Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire regarding the lake scene but my mind is a blank otherwise?
So for me, Batman V Superman was a movie that promised much and had plenty of good ideas, around a big bad one, but were executed poorly leading to a diminished final cut that left audiences confused, frustrated and wondering why they needed to watch it. That is my two cents I hope it is of value to you, what did you think of the movie? Did you like the whole premise of the heroes fighting? Was the main issue, the directing? Screenplay? Acting? Let me know your perspective.