Two Cents on Batman vs. Superman – Dawn of Justice

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I know I’m an episode behind and need to do some other Shazamcast! stuff.  I also realize this is off subject for this site.  Forgive me! The technical problem I was having is fixed so now I’m working on the episode, which should be out soon.  However, having seen Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice I have some stuff to get off my chest and figured, since I have a site dedicated to a comic book character, that would be the most appropriate venue.  What follows is personal pressure-release and rambling.  If you find it interesting enough to read and respond to, I would legit love to hear your thoughts (even if it is just “Stick to Captain Marvel ya bum!”)

Oh, FYI: hopefully, if I do this right, this post won’t show up on the main page so you’ll need the link to get back to it.

So anyway, about Batman vs. Superman:

First, Batfleck was really good! I didn’t have low expectations, I had non-existent expectations and he was really, really good. That’s one of the best Bruce Wayne/Batman performances I’ve ever seen.
The Bruce Wayne that drives into chaos to help his employees, the brawling juggernaut Batman, the schemer who can take down a god – all that is right on.
However, and it is a big however, a Batman that uses guns to kill people is one of the most uninformed, unthoughtful decisions I can imagine. Yes, the character carried guns and shot them for about 10 minutes back in 1939. However, writers and editors went away from that quickly for a very good reason – the kid whose world shatters at the end of a gun and who dedicates himself to making sure that never happens to anyone else isn’t going to pick up a gun to use.
In fact, this Batman, considering the branding of criminals (!!), is sadistic and sadism isn’t who Batman is. That Batman is a mentally deranged person beating up – and killing – people he is no better than. Superman should try to put a stop to that kind of Batman. The Batman everyone loves, however, is better than that and shows it in part by suffering specifically in order to uphold human dignity, even in the criminals he fights. Nolan’s Batman did this not perfectly but much, much better. It is essential to the character I would argue. Or better yet, I’d point you to someone who has already made the argument:
And Superman – good night, why does everything in DC’s world have to be morally ambiguous, compromised, and cast in shades of gray? It is like they’ve bought this juvenile idea that nothing can “realistic” unless it is covered in moral grit. They make this clear right up front in a way that surprised me – we meet Jimmy Olsen at the same time we meet Lois – and remember, Jimmy in the comics is a lighthearted, everyman, “pal of Superman” – and what happens to him in this movie? Killed execution style in the sand by military contractors working for terrorists.
Superman is only interesting when he’s the best among humanity as its adopted son. If he’s morally conflicted he’s absolutely terrifying. Sure, he fought Zod but, if his compass is that screwed up, he may become Zod tomorrow. At the very best the guy they put on screen is a privilege child acting like he’s got problems when the world is his oyster. At worst, he’s just the person Batman (and in a lot of ways Luther) thinks he is and justifies being terrified of, opposed to, or both.
This characterization doesn’t leave you thinking Luthor is a bad guy. You leave thinking “Well, he went about it the wrong way but he had a point.” Snyder apparently can’t conceive of something being objectively morally upright – that’s why he has a senator say, “Good (or was it Right?) is a conversation.” That’s hogwash! That means that possibly Luthor, Zod, or whatever other moral monstrosity comes to the table gets to be part of that conversation and may in fact prevail and who is anyone else to say that conversation wasn’t “good.” But he can’t get away from objective moral good either because he has to have Superman die (multiple times) in a self-sacrificial way. They go hard at the Christ imagery hard in manifold ways but mostly as bookends (power / sacrificial death) for the character and yet attempt to reject every implication of that imagery in the middle.
One other positive: the Martha connection was great. I’ve read lots of comics and don’t remember anyone else making that narrative link. However, the dialogue that presents it is the most contrived and ridiculous in the whole move. Superman is temporarily brain damaged and can’t articulate? He wasn’t right before or right after. Chooses to call his mom “Martha?” Not in the rest of the movie and Lois sure doesn’t when she runs up to plead with Batman. That writing just steps all over what should be a really cool elements.
However, that raises more problems. One, Superman can hear Lois burp in Kazakhstan. He can’t hear his mom scream in Kansas?
And when he goes to find Batman per Luthor’s machinations why doesn’t he say, “I won’t fight you but please help me rescue Martha (or my mom, if the dialogue in this movie made any sense).”
Finally, when Bruce figures out that Doomsday is Kryptonionian why in the world does he decide to bring Doomsday to Gotham rather than fly the plane he’s already flying toward Gotham to get the deathstick? The guy whose whole life is given to protecting his city does not bring a monster to it and certainly not when he could just as quickly go retrieve the glowstick of death.
I’m sure lots of people love this movie. But if you know and love the two characters already from the comics – which, by the way, have been pretty appealing historically on a massive scale – I think you come away going “I just watched a movie where the Punisher dresses up like Batman and Dr. Manhattan cosplayed as Superman.”
So very, very disappointing. Great action flick, darn good Injustice set up even, but compared against what it could have easily been this movie is deeply, deeply dissatisfying.

 Edit – Actually, there is a highly relevant connection to Captain Marvel (and Jeff Farham will appreciate this too I think):

Edit 2: This also seems relevant.


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