Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Suckerpunches Superman: DC's Jaded Universe

Back in the good old days, Superman and Batman were like peanut butter and jelly. I loved both of them and was always thrilled with the prospect of them coming together. I mean, what are comic book characters really when you get down to it? To me they were like virtual reality action figures...and the benefit of being a comic book reader is that I became part of the ongoing continuity between these imaginary constructs. Some people reading this may wonder what the big deal is about Superman meeting's a big deal because in this huge superhero playground that I am a member of...I can enjoy stories of confrontations, struggles and victories and thrill to my particular champion of choice. It's a big deal because believe it or not, these fictional demigods have become an organic part of our social continuity and the ever evolving identity of the hero in our pop culture. Comic aficionados or rabid consumer fans like myself (fanboys in short) are all about the storyline, the continuity and the essence of the character we have chosen as our favorite. Superman and Batman are two of the first superheroes children are introduced to because of their fame and longevity. They are like primary colors. Clashing ideologies. One light. One dark. Working class. Wealthy elite. Alien. Human. Superhuman powers. Superhuman will. They are the opposite ends of the spectrum on purpose. What would really happen if these magnificent titans actually crossed paths? How would they settle their differences? Would they be friends or enemies? These questions are the stuff of dreams for most comic book fans. Batman versus Superman is a movie we never dreamt they would make because it's so obvious. And now...for better or worse, it has happened.

Before I tear into what I couldn't bear about the movie Batman v Superman, I will first admit to the things I liked about Zak Snyder's most recent chapter in his "Jaded Universe" trilogy.

1. Even though the scenes in this movie are criminally disjointed and the editing is a hot damn mess...Zak Snyder is a weaver of images. Indelible ones. This movie's redeeming qualities lie mostly in the visuals. The soundtrack is also pretty memorable...epic even.

2. Ben Affleck is very convincing as a cantankerous, pouty and cynical Bruce Wayne who is definitely cut from the Dark Knight Returns template. I liked him. I'm not going to blow my load and coronate him "The Emperor of all Bruce Waynes and Batmans" me Christian Bale and Michael Keaton both still hold the belt as far as best Batman goes but old boy handled his business.

3. Henry Cavill once again really "looks" the part of Superman. He has a great voice and carries himself with a Christoper Reeve swagger that makes a Team Superman guy like myself proud. This guy was not a mistake, and as much as I swear I hate "The Man of Steel"...this cat was never the problem.

4. Gal Gadot!!! Go on with yo bad self!!! I had no real expectations for Wonder Woman. Not because I'm sexist, but because I feel for a long time her character has been stale in the comic books. Well for whatever reason...Zak Snyder seems to understand how to make everybody's favorite Amazon tick and she was hands down my favorite element of the movie. Her theme music was rousing and haunting at the same made me instantly imagine what her past adventures may have been and that's want your viewers to be thinking that.

5. The finale with Doomsday is probably the best big boss fight at the end of a superhero movie that I've seen thus far. It was finally good to see Superman be effective in some capacity during this movie, and this scene shows his strength of character and his mighty resolve. Doomsday himself was visually a bit of a problem for me but he becomes more menacing as the fight ensues and that made for a very cool Superman/Wonder Woman tag team that once again is fanboy nirvana.

I will also say that I did enjoy this movie to the extent that I could. I did not enjoy a solitary frame of "The Man of Steel" and this movie will probably not change that fact. I like Zak Snyder when he is on his game...300 and Watchmen. But it has to be said...this cat would not recognize a good story if it walked up to him on the street and pimp slapped him. What's worse is he doesn't know how to use his resources to get the best writers and consultants to get the most out of these iconic action figures while setting up the ultimate sandbox tentpole Warner Brother ever thought about having. It's been said a trillion times over the past few days but I will say it again. ZAK SNYDER WANTED TO MAKE "THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS" INTO A MOVIE. HE IS NOT A SUPERMAN FAN. HE IS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR A WAY TO REMOVE SUPERMAN'S INFLUENCE FROM THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. There. I said it. This may or may not be true, but it was my distinct impression after viewing this movie a few times that he is just not that into SUPERMAN. And that's okay...I think a lot of people have lost their love for the character because well...the times they are a changing. My fourteen year old daughter told me Superman was just not relatable because he was genuinely a good person...and nobody's 100% good. I told her, ironically that's the point of Superman. She wasn't trying to hear all that. Since she's been born...her formative superhero fiction has been Nolan's Batman Trilogy and Raimi's Spider-Man...she also liked The Incredibles and Andrew Garfield, she's an Avenger fan and really liked Winter Soldier. Superman doesn't do it for her. And it doesn't matter if I tell her about the bottled city of Kandor, Brainiac the living computer, The Fortress of Solitude or even Krypto...she's not interested. Is Superman really that disconnected from our current pop culture generation? are the things that made me feel that Batman v. Superman was ultimately an epic failure;

1. Lex Luthor. What kind of crack rock were the executive producers smoking when they agreed to this incarnation of Lex Luthor?!! Oh I'm sorry, Alexander Luthor. This is an embarrassment. Jesse Eisenberg is at some point going to be considered a one trick pony if he doesn't move past this stock character that he pawns off on us every flick he is in. But I really don't give a damn about Eisenberg...he's an actor and he's trying to get paid. What I am concerned about is why not one fucking studio can do a proper Lex Luthor? It's like Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey and now this? Here's a clue, Legion of Doom cartoon Lex Luthor meets Grant Morrison's Lex Luthor from All Star Superman. Lex Luthor is a manly, egomaniacal alpha dog who hates Superman for specific reason involving a long standing rivalry between the two. The jealousy is palpable and really defines their classic relationship...but we will never know because Zak Snyder and his zany co-conspirators on Batman v. Superman decide to try and create a Heath Ledgeresque quirky version of Luthor that has never before existed. This is really unacceptable. Especially his final scene. GTFOH with that shit.

2. Batman: Silence of the Lambs. I am all for a hyper violent, grim and gritty MAD MAX Batman. I love Batman, but ever since the release of The Dark Knight Returns back in 1986...Batman has become this ridiculously over powered wish fulfillment character that can beat everybody up in the room because he has a plan for everyone. I remember being marginally irritated in high school when Batman defeated Superman in Frank Miller's sacred tome. But it made sense according to the story and Miller's political subtext. In this mishmash, train wreck of a story...nothing makes sense, no one has a motivation or a motivation we can truly believe. Batman is on Death Wish/Hannibal Lecter type  shit which is what every fanboy has always wanted but it's not a good look for Bats in my honest opinion. The point of this flick is that folks are upset with Superman for killing thousands in Metropolis but hell...Batman kills at least 100 people in this movie. His Batmobile is impervious to gunfire, and he is so fast that Doomsday can't hit him with even the most precise heat vision blasts. Batman is indeed a "superman" in this movie. Oddly enough...Batman becomes useless in the battle against Doomsday after beating the complete brakes off of Superman. Does that make any sense? My beef is that Zak Snyder is just ate up with Batman and selected scenes from the Dark Knight. He has created a film that worships at the altar of Batman while sacrificing the character of Superman. I'm not down with the character assassination of Kal-el or Super-Iron Bat Knight.

3. Superman is still soft like he is in Man of Steel. And he has no opinion, nothing to say in his defense...he just sort of looks at the television when people are criticizing his global do-gooding. He doesn't have any insightful discussions with his star reporter girlfriend Lois Lane about how to change the world's disintegrating opinion of him. He kind of just lets it happen. And when it's time to take the fight to Batman, he blunders in like a meathead with no particular game plan. This is not satisfying in any way for Superman fans. He gets that ass whupped like a sucker in this movie. And wait till you see how he stops Batman from whupping his ass!!! Unacceptable. Who wrote this shit? Who said "Yeah! That's a tight resolution! Let's roll with that!" Absolutely ridiculous. If you like to see Superman choking, crying, grimacing and getting his ass kicked...this is the movie for you.

4. Metropolis and Gotham City are non entities. Snyder apparently doesn't feel the need for the atmosphere that either of the locales provide.

5. NEW GODS references. I just feel like the concepts and characters of the NEW GODS are way too  lofty for Zak Snyder's simple Simon ass to be playing with. Para-Demons were cool but I really don't want to see him sully the legacy of Kirby by handling the NEW GODS.

6. The secret superhero files on Lex Luthor's computer. Those individual character vignettes are super whack. Jason Momoa deserves better. The Flash...very pedestrian for me. Cyborg...just not good, especially the mother box.

Now...this is where I'm at. I will follow this up later but in closing I will say...go check this joint out. It's still a glorious time to be alive and be a superhero fan. But Superman is a character that is being maligned and it really troubles me that we have a society of folks who identify more with a psychopath than a altruist.

More later.


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