All of that said, and speaking only for myself, the idea that BvS is significantly worse than Days of Future Past, Age of Ultron, Batman Returns, or Iron Man 2/3 strikes me as odd (come at me). The sheer disgust/contempt/disappointment/derision I’ve seen in the past week seems so out of proportion with the movie I saw that when I tried to mentally bridge the gulf between my opinion and that of, say, GQ’s Helen O Hara, it felt like something in my brain was going to break. At least in the case of Prometheus, another highly divisive movie that I dug, the majority of critics seem to have agreed that Ridley Scott's movie was probably worth a watch. That’s certainly not the case here.
|Just LOOK at this monster!|
“It’s impossible to know everything in the DC universe, but I threw myself into it and tried to learn as much as possible and I found such intelligence in so many of the comics…writers like Grant Morrison, who asks difficult philosophical questions in an extremely smart way…I began to think Batman and Superman occupy different parts of the mythic imagination. In superhero stories, Batman is Pluto, god of the underworld, and Superman is Apollo, god of the sky.”
|"Sing, O Muse..."|
|My face, as seen reading some of these assertions.|
Despite the insistence of Chaw and many, many
others, Superman murders nobody in this movie (“What about that warlord who
puts a gun to Lois’s head,” you say, and I point to Clark’s dialogue in the
film: “I didn’t kill those men.” Then you say “but at the speed he was traveling—” and that’s where I cut
you off, Neil DeGrasse Tyson).
I disagree with the insistence on labeling Cavill's Superman as cold, or menacing, or uncaring, or unheroic. Superman is not "a sociopath" in this movie or in Man of Steel, as has been claimed more than once. He's a lot more uncertain than past incarnations, sure, but I'm also preeeeetty sure that a willingness to sacrifice your own life for humanity twice in one movie qualifies as heroic. As do the multiple rescues he performs. I'm also pretty certain that vocally questioning the ways that Batman abuses people's civil liberties is right in Superman's square-jawed wheelhouse, as is his visible discomfort at being venerated on the day of the dead. So are his attempts to talk to Batman (his subsequent willingness to go ahead and throw down, as opposed to simply floating above Batman's head and making Wayne listen to him, is pure Snyder).
In BvS, Superman is selfless and self-sacrificing and is for the most part exactly the sort of thoughtful, growing hero I wanted to see after Man of Steel. The notion put forth that "the Superman symbol [has gone] the way of the Confederate flag," as Chaw writes in his piece, strikes me as the height of groundless hyperbole (or it would, if so many others weren't ambitiously scaling those same heights). Superman spends the entirety of this movie, having clearly learned from the events of Man of Steel, helping the bejeezus out of everybody.
|"Look, I'm having an existential gardening crisis here and I'd like to take it out on you."|
|"Hi. I'm here to steal your movie, boys."|
Did BvS disappoint you/offend you? Let me offer you some well-meant, sincere advice:
Enjoy Marvel, have patience, and take solace in the fact that Warners will view these characters as evergreen so long as other studios continue to turn healthy profits. If this iteration fails they'll try something else, because there's serious money to be made when they get it "right." Remember that there's a lighter TV universe out there right now - and that DC is a multiverse; they can hit that reboot button any time. One day your vision for the DCU will likely be up on those screens. Well, maybe not yours. Yours is a little weird. The rest of you though, should take hope.
As for me? Well...
1. I am a dad to very young children. I get to see PG-13 movies in theaters a piddling handful of times a year. I'm excited every time. Plus, I got to go to an advance screening! Plus, there were free snacks!! F*ck yeah parents night out BEST MOVIE EVER!!! That's one explanation.
2. I am openly biased toward DC's characters/universe. I sincerely want to see all these characters on screen interacting. I sincerely want a cinematic DC Universe with Easter eggs and cameos and hints and all of that embarrassingly nerdy stuff, and you should have seen my face during that extended Bruce Wayne apocalypse/Apokalips "vision," or that scene where they open Luthor's metahuman files. An edited transcript of some of my thoughts follows:
...And so on. Most people who see this movie aren't going to know what the hell any of those things are, much less get excited about them. Not only do I know, I'm obscenely excited about them. The fact that DC's cinematic universe is founded in part on Jack Kirby's Fourth World saga is just unreal to me as a fan of that cosmic magnum opus and its weirdo characters. So. That's another explanation.
3. I have always loved that DC is a company that actively offers multiple interpretations of its characters. I love that Batman '66 and Batman: Year One and Batman: Red Rain are all about the same guy who dresses up AS A BAT TO FIGHT CRIME, but with vastly different takes. On some level I like all of those versions, just as I like Superman: Red Son and All-Star Superman and John Byrne's Man of Steel. I'm not opposed to seeing DC's characters cast in different lights. I don't see doing so as a root betrayal that poisons the tree. I see their reinterpretability as strength.
The above isn't a knock on Marvel. Their films reinvigorated my interest in their characters, which is no small thing. Their films are lots of fun, and I own nearly all of them. I cannot WAIT to share them with my children. But I'm ready for something different and I've been ready for some time; ready for the sorts of differing perspectives on power, control, intervention, and heroism that DC Comics offers up on a regular basis in their pages.