Maybe I’ve been out of the “critique” circle for too long, or maybe my interests have dumbed down since I embarked on this great quest to pay off my debts working a non passion-filled job. I don’t know.
The past week was filled with reading critiques on the Batman V Superman movie, having conversations with friends concerning what they liked or didn’t like, and boning up on “background” for the movie that I might have missed. I’m a little humbled, a little confused, and perhaps even feeling a little tenacious about my stance on the movie.
I’m usually in the minority with my perspectives. This is the first time I’ve been alone. Haha
So I’m writing a follow-up to try and put my thoughts on paper.First, I’m laying to paper a whole bunch of complaints about the movie.
- Batman was a terrible detective, was more a raging child and less a voice of logic and reason, and wasn’t portrayed as being terribly smart.
- Superman was dumb and blind.
- Lex was cast horribly, acted like a caricature of someone with mental health issues, and was cast in a homosexual light that was also degrading to the community.
- Lex trying to frame Superman for shooting a bunch of Americans in the middle east makes no sense whatsoever. And the fact that Batman might have agreed with the frame makes it worse.
- The key moment in the movie was when Superman moaned about Martha, and the otherwise single-minded Batman decided to step back and change his perspective on Superman with a single word.
- Snyder shouldn’t have tried to stuff so much into the movie, including shots of all the other “superhumans” and the death of Superman as a sub-climax to Superman’s “Martha” climax.
- Lois was a “damsel” trope throughout the movie, where she practically threw herself into danger with hopes that Superman saved her.
Did I miss any? I’ll try and be quick through the recap.
- I saw this Batman being exhausted of his duties, tired of wrangling bad guys just to see them get released into the wild. That being said, I respect those who think his lack of insight and detective work literally means this isn’t Batman, but someone acting like him. Personally, I understand the process where Batman has become so jaded. I also understand this as a kind of “origins” movie where all characters have the potential to be redeemed in future movies. I’m okay with this.
- Superman has always been dumb. He’s also tired of being considered a god, tired of being revered or hated. People’s deaths weigh heavily on him. He’s torn between his humanity and his alienness. He seems to have the right mental fortitude, but ends up wanting to pummel Batman for a while before trying to communicate his plan. As one critiquer said, “Maybe just take Batman into the stratosphere and have a one-on-one talk.” Mach two would probably slow Batman’s anger down a bit. This could have been done better in the movie.
- I spent the movie thinking the Lex in this iteration was the stone cold Lex Luthor’s son. Given my lack of knowledge on the whole thing, and the wild way he was portrayed in this movie, I assumed. And assumed wrong. This is THE Lex, and given that, cast and directed so piss-poor it hurts. Jesse (the actor) seemed dedicated to finding a way to act like Heath Ledger’s Joker. Which is powerfully strange to me. Adding his college theater class style of stereotyping psychopath brilliance, he failed the audience. This is a major issue.
- Snyder must be held accountable for the strange way he tried to show Lex manipulating the masses. After serious consideration, I realized I had glossed over the whole desert scene with reckless abandon: why in the hell would Lex kill a bunch of Americans with “special” bullets to frame Superman? When I saw the bullet, I figured it would be tested to show it dissolved, or melted to nothing, or something. No. Just a bullet. Another confusing fail job for me. Snyder could have done ANYTHING to frame Superman. And he used bullets in Americans? What?
- I’m sticking to this. Superman got lucky as hell moaning about Martha. It touched on Batman’s most sacred of memories. It gave him pause. It made him realize how far down the rabbit hole he’d gone. His reaction was genuine, the moment felt genuine, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. (Now, I understand it was a prerequisite for this movie to have a fight between Superman and Batman. Batman needed legitimate reason to do so, Superman needed legitimate reason to do it back. Given their exalted status as superheroes, the writing/directing/producing team needed a really solid reason. They didn’t get it. They manipulated the characters and dropped personae until they got the needed mixture. I consider this weak writing. Unintelligent writing)
- I stick to all of what I said previous (shots of Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman), save one: the movie shouldn’t have had Superman die at the end. Yes, it is emotional and powerful, but given the amount of effort they DIDN’T put into getting the BatmanSuperman fight right, adding this at the end felt like more poor writing, more immaturity, more lack of understanding of a good movie. It seemed to say, “Well. The fight sucked so we need to do something else that’ll wow ’em. Let’s just randomly kill Superman.” Wonder Woman could have taken the spear. Seriously.
- Lois was by far the weakest character in the movie. She was shot at, fell, almost drowned, all pursuing a strange sub-plot surrounding LexCorp’s magical Superman-hating bullets. If the bullets had kryptonite in them, that’d be different. She was fabricated drama to keep Superman looking important in the movie. SHE COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER.
So I took the time to check out what I so fervently glossed over while watching the movie, and found it wanting. At the same time, all the things I love it for are still clear and present in my mind: philosophies, polarization, dichotomies, great storytelling, quotables, the gothic, dream-sequencing. Everything. I love this movie for all of it.
The biggest question is (and Kevin Smith said it best), how does this movie balance out for you? How much of a concession will you make for the bad to enjoy the good? I didn’t step into this movie thinking, “I’m a writer. I want to see how I can improve this as a writer.” I stepped in thinking, “I hope this movie isn’t unsophisticated.” It’s very sophisticated.
I think Snyder doesn’t care much for Superman. I think the writers don’t know how to market Superman. I think Superman could have done a great job on his own, with Lois being support instead of drama. I think Batman could have been smarter and less ego-driven–honestly it brings to mind a martial arts movie with Jet Li called Hero, where the main character spins a yarn for the king, and the king deduces Jet Li is lying because neither of the people Jet Li talks about can be so simple. Jet Li agrees, the King tells his side, and the story grows.
This movie feels like I’m looking at Jet Li’s perspective of Superman and Batman; it’s missing a kind of depth I seek in all superhero movies. It has no gusto: it has much bravado.
Finally, I want to talk about the “base” material for the movie; several people said it’s Frank Miller’s Batman, some said it’s taken from the Trinity series, and of course I can’t discount the Death of Superman series (where Doomsday first appears). I know so little about the first two, I really can’t comment on them. I perused the overview of both, found a whole lot NOT in common with the movie, and lean toward it not mattering much. Of course, I also look at The Death of Superman and see the same. The only similarity is Superman fights Doomsday and dies. Others try to do something against Doomsday and are killed or severely injured. Green Lantern, Guy Fieri (kidding), et al can’t do much.
None of which had anything to do with this movie.
So, apologies to not writing this as part of the initial post about the movie. I should have done a better job of dissecting the information before writing it.