I think it’s actually perfect that that so many people online are bothered by the “sarcasm” of it being constantly driven home that there are no innocent bystanders in the big fight scenes in Batman v. Superman. It bothers me too, but for more complex reasons. It is as if Zack Snyder, DC Comics, and Warner Brothers at large are deservingly giving a huge middle finger to everyone that cry babied about the destruction in Man of Steel while also laughing maniacally all the way to the bank. It’s too perfect for it not to be intentional.
Now, to review Batman v. Superman it’s hard not to go back to the critically lambasted Man of Steel by comparison. Suffice it to say, I think just about every logically minded person can see the reason Man of Steel played out the way it did. It is supposed to be a quasi-tragic tale of a man overcoming the limits his overbearing father put on him, choosing a side at the cost of truly being the last of his race, and trying to be a hero for all. For all the Jesus allusions it is certainly more of a Moses allegory if we need to get biblical about it. For what it’s worth, a few thousand people dying in Metropolis as collateral damage, during the final Zod and Superman fight, really is a small price to pay for the lives of 7 billion being saved from the destruction of our world, isn’t it? I say that not to be cynical, but how else was it to supposed to go down within the construct provided? Especially when you consider that the ultimate threat presented in the movie was coming from Kryptonians who were literally born and bred to make war and secure the future of Kryptonian society. If we’re talking about a Superman that is supposed to be both humanized and grounded in the real world I can’t think of a better way of doing it than forcing him into the tough final choice of killing what is literally the next to last of his own kind because he considers himself more human than Kryptonian. Certainly, there was needless amounts of destruction, and Superman is forced to kill in order to save a family, but at least it makes sense. Now, I’d love to see something a bit more lighthearted on screen but that isn’t what we got. Even if we got something as spectacular as Mossison’s All-Star Superman or grandiose as Ross’s Kingdom Come on the big screen we’d probably still find a way to complain. Hell, even Singer’s Donner-esque Superman Returns was critically panned and bemoaned by fans, and even it wasn’t that terrible! Now we’ll never know how that story line of creeper Superman with a bastard son turns out! As stupid as that plot point was, at least it was something original, surprising, and jarringly different than what came before. So, instead of Singer’s sequel, Man of Steel is the darker broodier reboot of a reboot approach that we got in return. Live with it.
Anyways, I honestly believe at least half the blame has to go to the fanboy community at large for Batman v. Superman being such a muddled atrocity of a movie. This is what we get for complaining about what was a somewhat flawed film, in Man of Steel, but certainly not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. So now, we just get a bunch of awesome yet half-baked stuff sprinkled around what is ultimately a boring and depressing venture. Maybe all of this might have played out differently if we hadn’t spent so much time bitching about the flaws of the latter? As crazy as it sounds I really do think that Zack and company are giving all of us a big “FUCK YOU” not just because we deserve it, but because they can, and that really sucks.
We can all agree that the lesson of putting absolute bullshit on the big screen -that still manages to print money- was learned by the studios during the whole Star Wars prequel extravaganza. So, it’s really no surprise. We are only reaping what we sow as fans of the medium and should be happy with what we get, but we’ll keep whining and acting self-entitled as if any of us with 150 million dollars could have produced something better and more profitable. It is a vicious cycle that will continue until a savior rises up from the chaos to herald in a Superman film that is even half as good as what Nolan gave us in The Dark Knight for Batman... Oh wait... We did have that. It was called Man of Steel, but none of us appreciated it, so now we have this jumbled mess called Batman v. Superman to show for it!
At least, that’s my tin foil hat conspiracy theory on the whole thing because fan intervention in film making rarely produces a good product. Fans don’t matter in the end because it is ultimately all about making more fans and more money by getting as many asses in seats as possible. End of story. Sorry, but your ideas don’t matter.
When considering the context behind all of this it actually makes Batman v. Superman easier to take. It is a just a movie after all, but for some reason we are all trying desperately to grasp at some weird hope that it is some kind of second coming. Instead, I just try to look at it as an alternate reality that has been setup for those two characters and their ridiculous motivations to reside in. Just as much as any other alternate reality version of those characters presented a million times in DC’s varied history. Need I mention that DC is beginning another reboot of its flagship characters this summer after they just did the same thing last year? Now, I’m surprised at just how far removed Batman and Superman are from their comic book counterparts, but it is what we got. Gone is the blue Boy Scout, gone is the dark knight who doesn’t kill, and gone is a cool and calculated Lex Luthor. If you can accept that then you might just make it to through this movie with less of a convoluted sense of fanboy entitlement and a bit more of a shit eating pop corn movie grin. Although, you probably won’t.
Mainly, because part of what really hurts this movie is that we are left with characters, set, and action pieces that don’t flow together in any type of narrative context. The odd thing about this movie is it’s kind of like watching a series of ten or fifteen minute reels that are all great as standalone ideas, but don’t connect in any way as some type of an overall narrative. As well, it is sprinkled with so many different ideas directly adapted from a bunch of various arcing comic book and graphic novel narratives that absolutely don’t go together as one story at all. It is a little bit World’s Finest, with a dash of Dark Knight Returns, a sprinkling of the Killing Joke, and some Death of Superman for good measure. It is ridiculous at how much they tried to pull off in one film that could have easily been three or four standalone movies.
I really think that is its biggest problem. This film suffers first and foremost from clusterfuck syndrome. There is way too much happening, none of it really connects, and it is surprisingly boring to sit through. This movie could have easily been a direct standalone sequel to Man of Steel, a standalone Batman film, and a standalone Wonder Woman film, that could have culminated in the showdown and ultimate reconciliation represented in this film, but it isn’t. Instead it really is just an overly bulky clip real of great ideas that never fully come together in order to sell us what will probably be a half baked Justice League movie next year.
All of that, and the only real metaphor I can find in this film is that it is has to be a comparison of the studio system jerking itself off while the fan boys bitch and moan about what they’ve wrought. Honestly, the only way to make any sense of the narrative of this movie is if you look at Superman as the Hollywood blockbuster grindhouse trying to capture lightning in a bottle and failing while Lex and Batman represent the cry baby butt hurt fanboys drowning in their man tears. Meanwhile, I guess Lois Lane and Wonder Woman are the growing insurgency of fangirls vying for more equality and attention in a largely male dominated medium. “Look at us we helped saved the day with our Kryptonite spear and lasso of truth too! PAY ATTENTION TO US!!!”
It’s all very largely mishandled and sometimes embarrassing to witness, but maybe we got what we all deserved. So many different people from so many different walks of fandom bitching about so many different things ultimately culminated in this senseless film. Rather than a maybe slightly flawed, but fun and awesome, super hero movie like we got in the Avengers, we instead get treated with an overbearing sermon on how much rich executives don’t care about what peer groups think. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, or maybe Snyder, DC, and WB are just that smart and deranged.
Anyways, that is my take on the whole thing. The movie is going to make bonkers amounts of money regardless of what any of us think, and now we’re forever stuck with what we’ve now got to complain about. The vicious cycle continues. For what it is worth, Batman v. Superman has some truly great moments, but is crushed under its own lofty weight in the end. It is just another example of Hollywood selling us what we think is filet mignon when what we’re really getting is skirt steak that is well past overdone.