As a comic book geek, I have never been happier. (Well, mostly.) We are finally getting some sweet live-action versions of my favorite franchises. (Well, mostly.) Yet, for some reason DC has been lagging woefully behind. One caveat, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies were excellent. (Well, mostly.) Then there was Man of Steel. Eh. Now we have Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The two most iconic comic book characters in the world. The two most influential story lines from said characters. All fused into one epic film. Finally! Now we are going to get pure awesome from DC.
Then I saw Batman v Superman. It’s okay. I have seen worse. While it might not be a pure steaming pile of shit, for what it is, the best of DC’s best, it fell way short of what it should have been. This is depressing. It also raises the question, if this is the best where do they go from here?
There are plot holes, character flaws, and casting problems, but that’s not the real problem. Those are things that could be overlooked—noticed, but forgiven. Those are symptoms of the real issue, which is DC lacks vision and the courage to take the necessary chances to make something great. They are relying too heavily on doing things either: one, the way it was thirty years ago or two, the way other people are doing it.
Doing It Old School: Rehashing Frank Miller
Zack Snyder is too interested in rehashing Frank Miller than work to create something new and fresh. I was talking about this with a friend and slipped up calling him Zack Miller. Yes, what Frank Miller did with Batman completely changed things. Everyone borrows from what he started. Again, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to mind. Thing is, Nolan has made those stories his own. The only reimagining Zack Miller made was Batman kills people.
Batman DOESN’T KILL PEOPLE!
Batman is dark. Batman is cruel. Batman sometimes takes things well into the dark grey area, but he never kills. That is the line that defines Batman. Zack Miller must have taken a page from Tim Burton and never read the comics. Or watched any of the previous movies. Or watched any of the animated series. Or bothered asking anyone, even Frank Miller. If he had anyone would have told him Batman DOESN’T KILL PEOPLE!
What should I expect? Zack Miller is the fight-fight-fight, kill-kill-kill equivalent of Michael Bay. So, yeah, Batman kills people in Batman v Superman. With all the talented directors out there I can’t understand why they choose Zack Miller.
Well, no. Actually, I can. It is the producers and the bean counters. That is how Marvel ended up getting a very artistic director, Ang Lee, to direct Hulk. A movie about a huge rage monster that destroys shit. Uhm, what? Was Michael Bay too busy? Granted, Bay would have made a turd, too, but it would have been more in line with the Hulk.
Doing it the Disney Way: Chasing Marvel
Warner Brothers can make incredible films when they do things there way on their terms. Once again, I am reminded of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. That said, I do believe they are absolutely right to look to widen out the movie universe the way Disney has with Marvel and Star Wars. On a purely pragmatic level, Disney is killing it financially, which makes the bean counters happy. Thing is, they are also killing it narratively, which is making the fans happy. (Well, mostly.) And they are doing so because they are doing things their way and taking chances. Guardians of the Galaxy. Antman. Deadpool.
Sadly, Batman v Superman is a rush job, rushed in order to have a big “us versus us” film out before Marvel. We’ve got to be first at any cost never works well. Yeah, DC were first, but what you gave us is garbage. That is going to hurt DC in the long run, causing them to fall farther behind. This is the same kind mentality that is driving us straight to the bottom in the car industry, the tech industry, the food industry, etc., etc.
I still am not feeling the Suicide Squad premise, a group of the most evil criminals, some of which have super powers, are “persuaded” to work together to save the world? How do you strong arm a human crocodile, or someone who can control fire, or an enchantress who has “unlimited magical powers?” Eh. Still, Suicide Squad is a chance for DC to do something on their own that is new and, possibly, interesting.
I really wanted to like Batman v Superman. I had nagging doubts from the moment I heard about it. While I do not hate it, it did fall short of what it could have been. It is not quite Star Wars prequels level of a let down. Mostly because DC has yet to raise the bar far enough to really rope me in. Although, The Dark Knight was brilliant…
Truth be told, I was a Marvel person back when I was collecting comics. I read some DC titles, but not many. The gods among us that DC stories tell never really drew me in. So, it is no surprise I have never been a fan of Superman. I can take or leave him. I do think Henry Cavill is great in the role, and as such I enjoy watching his portrayal. I do not blame Cavill for having to act out a poorly written script. He is doing his best with what he is given. I am, on the other hand, a huge Batman fan. I collected Batman comics from my teenage years to a few years back. So I am far more invested in that franchise. Not so much a fan of Ben Affleck, but honestly Affleck did not Shatner the role like I was afraid he would. Granted, there are still solo Batman movies for him to do so, but for the moment it is all good.
Mostly, I am a movie fan. Now that filmmakers are capable of creating adept versions of the comics I grew up reading, I am in hog heaven. (Well, mostly.) The awesome train left the station YEARS ago and DC is doggedly trying to catch up. They are determined, and they should be. I am glad that they are trying so hard, but it is heartbreaking to watch them fail so miserably when the atmosphere is so ripe for them to succeed. DC is hurting and it is really showing. Batman v Superman is supposed to kick off their big movie universe in. Their two biggest heroes (the holy trinity if you count Wonder Woman, but she has a minor role in this film). The two biggest stories from Batman and Superman, but yet it fails to be the massive blockbuster. Sigh. I would say, “you’ll get it next time, guys,” but I am not sure they will.