WARNING: MILD SPOILERS
Batman vs. Superman was quite the experience. It’s one of those movies that despite all the issues it has, you can’t help but enjoy it. It’s a rare case when mathematically the movie is terrible, but the stuff it gets right makes up for most, if not all, of the bad stuff. So, let’s look at a few of the issues that will probably prevent this movie from holding up over time. Too many aspects of the film are structurally weak. Those issues being so ingrained in the story are going to prove to be problematic in retrospect. Issues like:
Batman is a Murderous Hypocrite
When the movie opens up yet again with Thomas and Martha Wayne in that alley I’m initially disappointed. However Snyder justified the retelling by depicting the Wayne’s in a way that made Batman make actual sense. His parents fought their attacker, changing the dynamic of their last moments and cementing their emotionally scarred son’s destiny. When we do see adult Bruce his attitude makes sense. I also really liked seeing heroic Bruce before I saw Batman. Here’s the issue though, Batman laments about Superman’s carelessness and motivations. He argues that his actions lead to the deaths of thousands, and that’s why he has to murder him (look kids, when one guy plots to kill another guy and neither is a cop or technically a criminal any worse than themselves, that’s murder!), seriously we got to watch Bruce and Alfred plot to murder a guy. We could maybe overlook the super obvious murder plot when we consider the stakes, except that Batman seems to have no qualms about killing pretty much anybody. Batman goes on two terribly dangerous, property destroying rampage/car chases, during which several of the men he’s pursuing don’t survive the experience. In every one of his ‘Bat-Commutes’ he kills at least 6 people the audience can see directly.
That’s not including all the men left unconscious only to die in the explosion Batman leaves as his calling card. Seriously, I see that they are nice enough to point out the area is abandoned (inexplicably) but did Batman really have to fill ALL of those empty buildings with gasoline and TNT? It’s kind of lame for Batman to be all butt hurt about Superman when he’s essentially arguing that his body count simply isn’t quite as extensive. Killing criminals is okay, in moderation… that’s Batman’s tip of the day kiddies! Plus he plotted to kill Superman! Are we just going to look the other way? Yes? Yes!
Welcome Clark Kent, nice to finally meet you
One of the cooler parts that might get lost in the shuffle is that for maybe the first time on film, Clark Kent is actually a character in the movie and not simply a suit Superman wears on laundry day. I really liked seeing Henry Cavill as Clark with Clark being every bit the actual hero that he’s supposed to be. The film dynamic for both main characters has been ass backwards for years. Thanks to one of the dumbest dialogues in good film, most people buy the idiotic argument put forth about Superman at the end of Kill Bill. Clark Kent is not a space aliens assessment of mankind. That notion completely violates the actual point of Superman. The movie settles this argument beautifully by the way. Superman is the cover, the two dimensional caricature that Clark Kent assumes in order to work publically and maintain his private life. His private life is his life and that’s the complete life of Clark Kent. The films never go to Clark’s apartment for more than a few moments. They never explore a day with Kent, therefore screwing up the mythology. Conversely, Batman is the analysis of humanity that ‘Bill’ is referring to. Bruce Wayne died in that alley and Batman was born. Batman has to take breaks from being himself in order to pretend to a regular douche. That douche is Bruce Wayne, who doesn’t really exist, a character Batman created based on his assessment of what an asshole was. Seeing something matter to Clark, and for Clark to work for it was long overdue. Sadly, this awesome aspect of the film will be overshadowed by the fact that…
Superman is a Complete Psychopath
Like many Superman fans I could never understand why, in the films, it is so important to kill Jonathan Kent. His death isn’t from any of the old stories, and the character doesn’t pass away in the comics until this modern generation. But in 77, there was Pa Kent, dyin’ for no good reason. When they killed Costner in Man of Steel, I was flabbergasted at such a pointlessly wasteful decision. My disappointment turned to horror when that awful mistake reared its ugly head in the very next film. Superman is walking through the snow when, a few feet ahead stands Kevin Costner in all his fatherly glory, ready to have a much needed heart to heart with his son.
Let’s review a few important things here. I get that he’s walking, and that it’s cold. However, that’s still Superman, meaning for him the weather is always at its most optimal setting, plus he ain’t tired, thirsty, or hungry. So this man, of sound mind and body, has a full on psychotic break, complete with a fully realized hallucination of his dead father. Whom he speaks to. Jesus, I know he’s having a tough time, but many people have tough times without being visited by their dead relatives. If they're going for a Luke on Hoth moment, it's important to point out that Luke just had his ass kicked by the monster from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Obi Wan appeared because HE had the power to do so. Not because Luke was that damn sad...
And yes, Spider-Man is a crazy person for the same reason. Wake me up when Peter Parker can punch the planet in half and I’ll blog about it.
It took all my power not to laugh at the entire ludicrous scene, and I failed. In the theater, while Clark was supposed to having a serious scene my section of the theater was all violent uncontrollable giggles. Are you kidding me? All that scene does is tell us that Bruce Wayne is absolutely right in the beginning, Superman is a ticking time bomb that WILL kill all mankind one day. Not convinced? Remember that Wally West explains that Lois’ death is the key to everything. What is the topic of conversation while Superman trips ballz all by himself on a snowy mountain? His dead dad tells him that he really outta settle down with Lois. That’s right, the filmmakers thought that we really needed to see Superman have a mental breakdown and foretell the death of everyone, but only the audience. No one else knows that they’re doomed. It is the single dumbest scene I’ve watched in any movie in the history of my ability to see and understand those images. The only explanation is that Russell Crowe was supposed to do that scene, which would have made way more sense. When Crowe explained that he had moved on with his life, then the scene should have never been shot. Since it was somehow, how come that crap didn’t end up on the cutting room floor? That scene is horrible, and the movie can never really be taken seriously because of it. They screwed up with Costner in the first film, why turn a sad BBQ into a dumpster fire? Why?
WB is 0 for 3 on the Lex Luthor count
Gene Hackman is one of my favorite actors because as I child I was actually afraid of the man. He was Lex Luthor at a time where I was the perfect age to believe it. Even when I got older and knew the difference I still grumbled at the sight of him. It wasn’t until I saw Bat-21 that I realized what being a good actor meant. However as an adult, Lex Luthor is far more fun than he is truly sinister in those films. The real tragedy is that they never seem to get Lex right. Mostly because they treat him like a serial character leading him away in cuffs right before the closing credits. That’s pretty dumb and a complete waste of Hackman, Spacey and now Eisenberg as Superman’s arch nemesis. Spacey was essentially the same exact Luthor as Hackman, complete with a master plan so bad that Superman should be embarrassed to know him. Both Hackman and Spacey had plans that would fail even if no one did anything to stop them, there was no scenario where the character would get anything of benefit from their actions. Hell, in Superman Returns the federal government could have easily dealt with Lex without Superman. In this new film, Lex is imagined differently but is ultimately relegated to the same station. That’s a shame since Lex is at his best as the man behind the man, twisting and turning things in the shadows. Superman’s frustration that no one else sees Lex for what he truly is has been squandered so we can see him bald? Where is President Lex? Where is millionaire businessman Lex who walks away unscathed, preparing his next attempt to bring down Superman? When Doomsday was actually in the comics, Superman joked that if Lex was alive at the time (Lex was kind of dead during The Death of Superman) he would have assumed that he made the monster. I didn’t need to see the ‘What if Lex created Doomsday’ story played out in front of me. Even if that had to happen, what good is jail bird Lex at this point? Lex’s menace is how untouchable he is, and you’re planning on making more movies so why play your best cards first? It’s choices like this that end up ruining the movies down the line, Snyder painted by numbers himself into a corner…again. Guaranteeing that when Lex shows up in the future a legion of viewers are going to wonder how the f**k its even possible when they should be simply enjoying the movie.
In closing, I liked the movie at the end of the day. While that should be all that matters, I don’t have a ton of hope for the overall stability of the future films. There are too many unnecessary issues that only serve to make future films harder to make. It seems that WB/DC at this point have forgot how to comic book. While Marvel essentially brought Hollywood into their wheelhouse to great success, DC doesn’t seem terribly concerned about the success of their films. Instead, it looks like something to throw money at.
It’s not all bad, every new Superman film means I get to see Amy Adams. I’d watch Amy Adams kick a dog by the way, and I love dogs. Since I admitted this, I’m now fearful that Lois will die in the next film, and then of course appear frequently as a force ghost. An omega level, smoking hot force ghost that convinces Superman to murder everyone.