Before You See Batman v. Superman, Read This

Posted on March 25, 2016 at 8:00 am

I can’t say I recommend buying a ticket for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but anyone who decides to go should check out this primer to bring you up to date. It has some interesting background (Jenna Malone as a future female Robin? Christian Bale turned down how much to play Batman again?) and some provocative thoughts on where DC will go next.

I can only hope it’s with a better script.

For even more detail about the history of the two sometime pals, sometime enemies, take a look at the very comprehensive history in New York Magazine.

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Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Film History

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted on March 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

Copyright Warner Brothers 2016
Copyright Warner Brothers 2016

After the refreshing superhero palate-cleanser that was “Deadpool,” it’s tough to get back into the ponderous, self-important, choir-of-angels soundtrack, too long by at least 45 minutes. Even the title is much too long. Do we really need another scene (and then ANOTHER scene) of Bruce Wayne’s parents being shot in a comic book movie? But that is not going to daunt director Zack Snyder, who lives for this sort of thing, and so here we are. The movie is literally and metaphorically murky, with muddy cinematography that turns every character’s eyes into pupil-less, drone-looking pools, except for the guys who can make theirs glow, via effects so retro they could have come from the old Flash Gordon serials. The storyline is secondary at best, just a series of setups for action sequences. It’s no secret that if you want to have a human fight Superman, you have to find some kryptonite to make him susceptible to human weapons. But then when we need him to be back to full strength, there he is. At a crucial moment, the turning point is simply ridiculous. So much of the chaos could have been circumvented if a couple of the characters ever had a conversation — or a cell phone. And everything stops when character takes the time for a detour into computer files that do nothing but set up the next movie. Isn’t that what extra scenes after the credits are for?

Batman and Superman have a lot in common — they were both orphaned as children and long before Spider-Man learned that with great power comes great responsibility, they were both living that credo, standing for, as the Superman radio and television program said, “Truth, justice, and the American way.” Indeed, they had a long comic book bromance going until the 1980’s, when they began to be at odds, focusing on what separated them. They are, after all, literally from different worlds. Brooding loner Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is a vastly wealthy industrialist, his only confidant the trusty butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons). Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), was sent to Earth from Krypton as a baby, then found, adopted, and raised with a lot of love and support on a bucolic farm by the Kents. When he grows up, Clark Kent works as a reporter alongside the woman he loves, Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

An alien attack on Gotham destroys Wayne Enterprises’ headquarters building in a brief action sequence more arresting and visually striking than the ones that follow. Wayne, watching Superman up in the sky and suffering devastating loss and guilt over the deaths of his employees, is not sure whose side Supe is on. After the attack, Superman is treated as a hero, but Wayne is not the only one who is suspicious and threatened by someone so powerful that no earth laws could stop him if he decided to go rogue. Later, when Lane is captured, Superman’s rescue operation ends up with many people dead and many questions unanswered.

Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, enjoying his twitches), as rich and powerful as Wayne, seems to be behind various nasty ventures, and is very, very interested in getting hold of some kryptonite, despite the objections of a Kentucky Senator (Holly Hunter). So, a lot of people here are concerned about power — how to use it, how to constrain it, how to balance it — and that would be a great issue to explore in a superhero movie in 2016, but this one is more interested in whether a rich guy with a utility belt can beat a guy with super-strength, invulnerability, laser-vision, super-speed, and the ability to fly, and then whether anyone can defeat a big monster who bursts from Kryptonian primordial ooze.

Any Batman movie has to have an elegant society party. This one is, hosted by Luthor, and a mysterious woman (Gal Gadot, by far the best part of the movie) shows up to tantalize Wayne with her beauty and steal the very data he was there to steal himself.

And any Superman movie has to have a trip to the Fortress of Solitude, so that happens, too, and all I could do was wish I was there instead of watching this film.

Parents should know that this film includes constant comic book style fantasy violence with many explosions, and massive destruction, nukes, supernatural and military weapons, scary monster, characters injured and killed, some strong language, alcohol including drinking to deal with stress, and non-explicit nudity and a sexual situation.

Family discussion: How would/should the world respond to a real-life superhero who could not be subjected to our laws? Or to a vigilante like Batman?

If you like this, try: the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan Batman movies and the comic books

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Fantasy Series/Sequel Superhero
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