Batman vs Superman: Dawn of WTF were they thinking
Look, I’ve been called a critic before, a term that reflects that people think I am way more well read that I think I am and that I’m way more discerning than I am. Nervous writers waiting to hear my opinion makes me a little nervous because what I say and what people hear (especially authors) is not always the same thing. What I really am, is a fan girl. I, like a lot of people, get hooked on a story and want more more more. I watch shows way after I’ve lost interest in them, hoping the writers will redeem themselves. I look for the good point in the crap books. I am a total sucker for that magic moment when once enemies join hands to defeat the bad guy. I WANT to fall for the writings, for the characters, for the mood.
Sometimes I just can’t.
My gods was BvS a trial for me. To begin with the movie is flabby. Yes, absolutely we want as much time with our heroes as possible. Content, give us MOAR! But I really wish I could have cut a few things (We had to watch the flashback of Bruce’s mothers death twice?? We KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! And good gods I was going to snarl if we had to see another loving gaze between Lois and Clark.)
Second, and the biggest thing to stick with me, does DC have a solid plan for their universe? I liked that Batfleck was directly impacted and inspired by Zod’s attack on Earth. “The New York” incident changed so much for the characters in the Marvelverse, especially followed by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I really liked that DC was making Zod’s attack the moment of impact for their world. This movie had the most cohesiveness as far as an expanded world of any DC movie I’ve seen. But it has very little compared to the TV version. In fact, that’s a huge issue. We actually have a very well established and well played Flash….so why is Barry Allen someone completely different in the movie? I thought maybe the setting was after the current tv show was set, so I did expect someone else to play Barry, someone older. But… we got a young adult that looks nothing like this Barry Allen:
Or This Barry:
Or this Barry who is the currently established “Flash”:
I don’t expect perfect continuity. I mean, I manage to accept Gotham, for the most part. I do believe in different interpretations of the same story and don’t commonly throw fits when cinema isn’t absolutely true to the book. But we aren’t talking about a book version and a tv/movie version. We’re talking someone at DC thought it would be a spectacular idea to tell us two very different people are the exact same person, and they wish to spend precious interacting-with-an-audience time to convince us so.
And that’s just an example of DC’s occasional complete lack of ability to commit. Accepting back tracks and reboots can be done, given time and some good writing. But I cannot even begin to be a DC fan without running into this wall of “Oh shit, we don’t like where this is going, REDO!” Not that other media worlds don’t have their “it was all a dreams” but DC has them everywhere. And every time I slam up against one of them it takes me time to reset. So why not try to avoid using the reset/reboot/clone/alternate timeline thing? I accept it in The Flash tv show because Flash is a time traveler and we all know time is wibbly-wobbly, right?
I accept it in Legends of Tomorrow because they do a pretty good job of messing with the timeline, but still keeping their core characters clearly defined. Everyone in the Flash makes a joke of Earth 1/Earth 2 versions of themselves. They have problems with it. Hell, there are multiple episodes where Barry tries to adjust to working with a man who has the face of the man who killed his mom, betrayed his trust and killed his friend. They make it a plot point, they understand the viewers too, can’t always change gears that fast. Where is that flexibility, that writing, in the movies?
It’s not just the multiple flashes issues. That’s just the most jarring of the misalignments. I said I like Zod’s attack being the OMG Aliens! point in the DCverse, but SPOILERS: Batfleck also finds Lex’s files on meta humans, with folders for Cyborg (YAY!!), Wonder Woman (YAY!!), Aquaman (Hot Damn!), and Flash. But…If the events of the Flash/Arrow/Legends version are all true it would be so goddamned easy, and why would we even be questioning if there were metahumans? The whole world would have access the the knowledge of the S.T.A.R. Labs reactor explosion. And the Starling City terrorist attack. And all the metahumans in Central City who Flash fights. FLASH and Arrow have both appeared on tv, like not in “caught on film” ways, but have has appreciation days and sent out video missives. Flash has action figures and drinks named after him in Central City. That would be absolutely, ridiculously easy for Lex to have followed. Where are the newspaper clippings? Iris’s op-eps? The youtube videos established in the other shows?
Here’s a bigger question: One of the characters in Arrow WORKED. FOR. CADMUS. They not only know metahumans exist, they hunt them, arrest them, hold them, and use them as weapons. And it has been VERY established in cannon that LEX LUTHOR and LEXCORP worked with CADMUS a whole, whole lot. And if Lex is savvy enough to know who Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are (I do buy that he is) how does he not know about CADMUS?? Why didn’t he have their files hacked too?
That’s my point. I have way too many questions, I have way, way too much confusion abut continuity, largely because DC doesn’t seem to give a flying flip about it. What is the message you want to be sending to your TV viewer fans? Marvel seems to be trying to include fans with their giggles and nods across the board (the cameos back and forth). DC…not so much. The message I got was “We don’t care about what you know or like, this is what we want to do.”
Third, let’s talk about the love affair between Kal-El and Lois. We don’t expect it to reach Lois and Clark levels, but I really didn’t feel anything between the two. It felt so forced. We know, we get it, but even her moments of trying to cheer mopey Sups she felt…flat. It didn’t seem like she was passionate about much of anything. She was smart though, and they didn’t try to convince us that she couldn’t recognize Superman with glasses.
Superman himself, well, he also felt flat. In the fights, in the crime fighting, yeah, that was fun. But between, when he was Clark Kenting he felt about as real as when Deadpool stapled the paper face over his own. We absolutely got he sense of who Bruce Wayne was, even when Affleck was staring out a window. But Kent looked more like he was staring into space while the cameras happened to be rolling. People joke about like this actor better as Batman, and that one better as Bruce Wayne, now I get it. I liked this Superman, but give me back Routh as Clark Kent.
Before the movie came out a non-comic-reading friend asked me about the context of the idea of Batman versus Superman. She didn’t understand the themes, since they were both good guys, like 100% good guys. That launched an excited 2 hour conversation because the themes of superheroes is one I LOVE. Especially Superman as the good boyscout who has no idea what it’s like to be human and might someday become resentful toward the people he always has to save, while people might also start worshiping him as a god in the flesh. And Batman as the one of the few absolute humans who steps up to help people, and who despite all the moodiness and depression and unhealthy obsession, still clearly believes that one small act of being saved can keep a little person hopeful and fighting. Batman is far more of an optimist, and, is Superman even a hero, since it costs him pretty much nothing to fight crime since he can’t get hurt and can usually out power anything? See, love those discussions. But did that come up in the movie? A little bit. Only a little bit. They had to make more time for Supes to make moon eyes at an unimpressed Lois, I guess.
Okay, on to the good. I liked the action. The fight scenes were brutal, as they should have been. I liked Batfleck. I really did. LOVED Wonder Woman. Loved Lex. (Loved that the Lex evil plot didn’t involve real estate. Loved that he took the information from the Kryptonian ship before anything else, and that the end made it very clear that he still knew a hell of a lot more than he was telling.) And I know a lot of people have taken issue with the bleakness of the tale, but I liked it. Gotham is freakin’ bleak people. Batman is a dark story and has been for a long time. It played like most of the cast were taking the movie seriously. (Perhaps that’s why I was a little less sold on Superman, because it was like he was uninvested, there for a check.)
Again I REALLY LIKE that we are starting to form a real world setting, that this movie’s plot directly came about because of the last movie.
But clearly DC still has some issues to get its shit together on.