Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman v Superman Gets the DC Universe Off to A Bumpy Start

I finally went to see Batman v Superman Monday afternoon.  I think I can sum it up by saying that like Man of Steel it's a decent action movie so long as you don't take the time to poke holes in it.  Because honestly there are probably as many holes as my colander.

In case you don't know the plot, Bruce Wayne (ie Batman) is pissed because Superman destroyed one of his buildings while fighting General Zod.  And so he decides to try to bring down the Man of Steel.  Fortunately some random people diving in the Indian Ocean found some kryptionite, which is what can weaken Kryptonians like Superman.  At the same time Lex Luthor is trying to destroy Superman for...reasons and is also trying to bring the Kryptonite into the country.  Meanwhile Superman is being subjected to public scorn for all the people he has inadvertently killed.  This all culminates in a largely pointless fight between Batman and Superman and then fighting against Luthor's Frankenstein monster better known as Doomsday.

There are a lot pieces strewn around for DC's cinematic universe, quite a few of which are pounded together with a sledgehammer.  There's Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg all introduced, the last three hastily added in meaningless cameos.  There's also the threat of Darkseid, the big bad rock monster who lives on a crappy planet called Apokalips, where he's sort of a god.  A lot of it feels as forced as Avengers 2.

The biggest weakness though is with a couple of the main characters.  Lex Luthor is a complete deviation from the comic books, where he started as a mad scientist and then in the 80s became an evil businessman and for a little while even POTUS.  This Luthor is a twitchy computer dork with Asperger's or something.  It's not really clear why he hates Superman so much.  In the comics it's usually because Superman overshadows him along with good old-fashioned xenophobia.  In the movie...just cuz.  I'm not sure what his master plan really was either.  After Doomsday killed Superman, then what?  Was he going to use his new pet to take over the world?  And why would he want to signal Darkseid?  He hates one alien who tries to help people but wants to help another who would enslave humanity?

For the most part Ben Affleck's Batman isn't exactly as terrible as Frank Miller's Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, but he's still a pretty big asshole.  He has a little more motivation to want to kill Superman, but still he lets his rage blind him so completely that he dances to Luthor's tune.  Batman is too smart for that.  In the fight against Doomsday he's pretty much just a decoy while Superman and Wonder Woman do the real fighting; really Lois Lane contributes as much as Batman to that final battle.  Kind of disappointing.

In The Dark Knight Returns, the fight between Batman and Superman actually meant something.  After new kind of Soviet weapon threw a lot of ash or whatever into the atmosphere, it set off a nuclear winter that led to widespread looting and rioting around the world.  Batman, with the help of a lot of ex-gang members, brought order to Gotham, which showed up the government.  To stop his success, Reagan sent in his lackey Superman.  So there was actually some purpose to their fighting.  Whereas in the movie it's just that Batman is pissed off and doesn't care about anything else going on until Superman snaps him out of it by saying the name of his mother.  For some reason I had never realized before Batman and Superman's mother are both named Martha.  How weird.

By comparison, Superman comes off a lot better in this than Batman or even himself in Man of Steel.  In most of that movie he was running from his powers, but now that he's "come out" so to speak, he has to try to figure out how to use them without doing too much damage and to still have something of a normal life.  And then in the end he has to make a heroic sacrifice to save the world.  Really as the only one trying to do the right thing, he seems a lot better than the prior movie.

It's funny that for years and years we were told that it was just too darned hard to make a Wonder Woman movie and no one would want to see it anyway and yet her cameo at the end seems to be what most people like the most.  She does get to make a big entrance and contribute a lot to that final battle.  So, hey, maybe it wasn't that hard after all, Hollywood.

I mentioned plot holes and there are a bunch.  How does Lois Lane know to go back and get the Kryptonite spear?  How did Superman know Batman is Bruce Wayne?  Why does the Kryptonian ship's computer speak English?  Did either of the writers ever watch Silence of the Lambs or stuff like that?  I mean, you don't shave a prisoner's head and when you're going to cuff them you don't have them stand at the back of the cell facing the wall.  Cell doors have a slot in them that the prisoner puts his hands through to be cuffed.

The biggest plot hole I hadn't heard anyone talk about is when Superman carries Doomsday into space and then they're hit with a nuclear missile.  (First off, unless we're at like DEFCON 1 I don't think there are nuclear missiles you can fire in like two minutes.)  Second is after Superman gets hit with the missile he's floating dead in space until the sun shines on him and he instantly regenerates. (This mimics The Dark Knight Returns when Superman took the brunt of a nuclear blast and regenerated with the solar energy stored in plants he fell on.)   Which traditionally Superman's powers come from the yellow sun...except in Man of Steel it was Earth's atmosphere, not the sun that gave Kryptonians powers.  So what should have happened is Superman should have fallen through the atmosphere and regenerated once he got back into our air.  Which actually would have been a cooler sequence--as he falls through the atmosphere he starts to get more and more normal and then zip flies away to go face Doomsday.

But if you can ignore plot holes like that and the fuzzy motivations of 2/3 of the main cast, then it's good enough.  Not a great start to the DC cinematic universe but at least it has all the pieces in place without completely embarrassing itself.  All the while it eschews the Marvel formula.  I'd give it 2.5/5.

BTW, with Superman "dead," now's the time to make Tim Burton's infamous Superman Lives--though maybe without giant spiders and Nicolas Cage.

Tomorrow the A to Z Challenge begins when I announce my topic for the month!


  1. It sounds like they tried to pull everything they could to get people to go see it. The title alone is a great hook, but the reasons why the two super heroes would fight each other is the tough thing. Then, of course, the question of Superman being dead. He's not dead. Super heroes don't die, so I'm not worried at all.

  2. I never realized both characters' mothers shared the same first name, either. It struck me part way through the film that they are the same. Who knew lol.

    Superman figured out Batman because of that party...he could hear Alfred giving Bruce instructions and figured it out. There were a couple scenes of that.

    At first, Lex was about money; he wanted to weaponize the kryptonite and pretty much be "the man" who was in charge of developing the kryptonite weapons, so, money. He got pissed at Batman for taking the rock and figured he could manipulate Superman into killing Batman. That part was a bit more "convenient" than it maybe could have been, but it was there. Not sure why he wants to invite Darkseid or whatever, but it must have been something he found in the computer of the ship.

    I was also sad Batman was relegated to the sidelines in the final battle, although I surmised he had probably used most of his good tricks already, was tired and wounded, and knew he was outmatched so he tried to maneuver himself into a position of advantage to support the others.

    Wonder Woman was pretty bad ass...I absolutely loved that little smirk she did at one point in the battle, like she's just getting warmed up. Hopefully her solo movie will be good.

    Overall, I liked it and was entertained, and I'm not familiar with the comic boos they loosely used as reference material, but with two films now, the characters and worlds are coming together a bit more and I want to see more, especially Batman and Wonder Woman. I think this was the best all-around Bruce/Batman performance since 1989 and hopefully they can keep that going.

  3. I think I could watch the final fight scene over and over. In many ways, it was as fun to watch as the battle in the Phantom Menace. I guess I can overlook so much of the bad because of that.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...