It is time.
In a dank corner of my Boise apartment, the timing finally felt right to brush off the thick layer of dust from my laptop, crack my knuckles, and post again.
Why, you may ask?
Batman. And also Superman. I guess.
Monday afternoon I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was in the theater alone, taking notes with reckless abandon and loudly voicing my critiques over rows of empty seats.
The movie, while undoubtedly entertaining and beautiful, implodes under its immense aspirations. Aspirations to not only establish the DC Universe, but to also bring it up to speed with Marvel. In a word, the goal is Herculean. Trying to catch up is one thing, but trying to do so in one movie is impossible.
I left the theater feeling shortchanged.
Here was a prize-fight between the two most storied superheroes in history with arguably the largest cumulative volume of plot options to choose from, yet we are given a skeleton with lipstick, all the looks without the guts.
From the nonsensical and obligatory Bruce’s-parents-being-murdered opener, whose sole purpose is to set up the cinematically beautiful, but logically confusing, slow-mo shot of the pearl necklace, we are rushed through a slipshod plot to get to the next preordained Zack Snyder shot (director of 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch) . Herein lies the problem.
It’s like Snyder signed on to direct, gave the screenwriters five or six shots that were non-negotiable, and said fill in the blanks, I don’t care.
That is the only way a $250,000,000 movie uses something as asinine as Superman’s mother’s name to affect the film in such a drastic way.
Instead of exposing the harsh emotional environment both heroes are in, we get (essentially) “Wait! Your mom’s name is my mom’s name… this changes everything! We’re bros now, bro!” The matching names is simply convenience, it cannot be the vehicle for resolution, but it is. And we’re supposed to accept that.
We can see Ben Affleck’s take on Batman is a brutal and visceral evolution from Christian Bale’s. He treads the moral gray area with criminals and completely throws out the no killing rule for Superman. Robin’s death (implied by his graffitied suit displayed in the Batcave) has brought him dangerously close to the line between hero and villain.
On the other side, Superman’s planet is destroyed, his adopted father is dead, and his mother has been kidnapped. He’s protecting an ungrateful world that is not his own. His efforts have become meaningless.
How much more emotionally moving would it be if, with Batman’s foot on his neck, Superman begs Batman to end his life, to give the mantle to someone else. Batman, now caught in a moment of mutual despair, realizes they share a common goal. Resolution ensues. Then you can throw in the whole “Martha” thing, maybe.
However, there is a great film buried somewhere in the rubble of this mess, and it gives hope to the future of the franchise and the DC Universe. They might have fallen short here, but if Zack Snyder focuses as much energy on the script as he does on his incredibly beautiful, trailer-bait moments, we will be in for a great decade of superhero films.
Stay Thirsty My Friends,