Okay, you have had over ten days. ECCC is over. If you have not seen Superman v Batman- Dawn of Justice, you are clearly in no big hurry. If you were an uber-nerd who cared about spoilers then you would have gotten your screening scheduled by now.
And if one more person asks me if I have seen or what I think, I am going to go all Doomsday on them. Ahem. Besides, if you have not seen it yet, the box office is already skeptical of you showing up.
Superman– Man of Steel is still not my Superman. But, and I do rather love this, they thanked my all-time favorite Superman writer/artist (see image to right) in the credits. That put a pretty big smile on my face. However, that did not undo all the strangeness. The bathtub was just weird. You have a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist living in a bit of a hole of an apartment. Her lying naked in bathtub was awkward. Most of her breast was visible so you just kept thinking an anatomy less was soon to present itself. Not something you need from a Superman movie. Then he climbs in with all his clothes on? Huh? Clark is not that kind of playful. Maybe Wally. Certainly Oliver. But Clark? Nope.
And I do not buy that he would go along so easily with Lex’s great scheme. (Oh, we will get to Lex. Oy. Will we ever.) Superman, whether it is referenced or not, has super-intelligence. He is as smart as Batman, and probably Lex, he simply is not as devious. Batman cheats. Superman strives for the high-ground. My Superman would find a way to convey to Batman that if they could work together, all would be well.
The last part though, that I can get behind. Superman spent much of Man of Steel showing that he would sacrifice property and the sanctity of life to keep Metropolis safe. So the only way to build on that is to show that he is willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone. By being willing to do that, he brings out a little more of the Superman that Jurgens treats me to in the comics.
Batman- Okay, there are two Batman camps in my mind. Those that think he would kill and those that do not. I am firmly in the second camp. This Batman out-darkened The Dark Knight Returns. How Snyder pulled that off I still do not know, but he did. There is even an article that strongly suggests that Batman never kills anyone in the seminal story line that Snyder based much of the film around.
This Batman? Kills without compunction. Even if all those bullets he fires are rubber, like Miller’s, (they are not), he still shoots the guy’s gas tank and blows him up. Now, if you like Miller, you can go the whole, “he was willing to stop a ne’er-do-well to save an innocent”. Yeah, that is neat. Except it goes against who Batman is a character.
Batman and Superman are two sides of the same coin. Neither of them wants to see anybody else die. Superman does not want to lose another planet and Batman does not want another child to lose their parents. They set out to prevent death. Having Batman use a gun turns him into the very kind of criminal that took his parents from him. “Yeah, sorry about shooting your pa, kid. But it was my job.” Either he or Joe Chill could have said that. (Plus, that guy looked waaaaaay too much like Nicolas Cage with a bad mustache. Anyone else distracted by that? Oh, and floating-kid-Bruce? What the sam hill kind of drug-induced idea was that? Oy. Batman does not float, not even in a dreamlike state surrounded by bats. Just… no.)
Then there is the extremist bent. “If there is even a 1% chance then I have to be absolutely sure etc etc.” Yes, Bruce would be absolutely sure that he had a plan. He would always have a contingency plan against anyone that could be construed as a threat. He has done it multiple times in the comics. I give you that he would always have a way to take down Superman. But he would not set out to kill him. Again, he does not kill. (If he isn’t going to kill The Joker, he isn’t going to kill Superman. C’mon.) Yeah, I like the Bruce Wayne in Metropolis reacting to the destruction and being full-on heroic. But he would set out to capture Superman, not kill him. He protects, he does not eliminate. Plus, if you want a hardcore Batman, he would want to study the genetics of the alien. Live genes teach you a lot more than dead ones. Voila; yet another reason to keep him alive.
I am glad that they showed Batman planning ahead for the fight. That is what he does. He sets the conflicts in places where he has the advantage. Again, he cheats. He wants a few back-up pieces of technology and explosives when he confronts a threat. The pre-prepped battlefield? Totally Batman.
For all my qualms about how the fight started, the way the fight ended was pretty perfect. I have spent decades thinking about the fact that Clark and Bruce both have a mom named Martha. C’mon, late 1930’s. There were other names out there. Honest. I always waited for somebody to do something with that quirk of their parentage. So to hear used in such a manner gave me some degree of hope. Maybe it will get better now that they have this commonality to bridge the gap? Batman promising that she would not die? Good stuff. Batman shooting the guy? Not so great.
Wonder Woman- She was more or less fine. Yes, she fought like Wonder Woman. I am glad she has been around for an hundred years. However, Wonder Woman is not Selina Kyle. Wonder Woman does not slink. Selina slinks. (Tongue twister?) Diana walks around proudly. She does not curl up to men she does not know or run her fingers along a coat or things like that. (I do not remember if she actually did these things; but it gave off that vibe.) Wonder Woman does not sneak unless she is in battle. Face to face, she is bold, oft times brazen, and has nothing to hide. This Wonder Woman seemed a little too likely to pickpocket a man while fondling his bicep. Again, not a huge concern, but a weird vibe. Too minx-ish for a mighty warrior.
Lex- Ugh. Lex. Why? The hitting on women twice your age was a plot thread from Superman Returns that should have died like Superman’s bastard child. Ugh. (That movie also makes my inner-nerd weep.) Okay, so beside the whole Holly Hunter thing being off. Focus on twitchy Luthor here. Before or after his Kryptonian upload, Lex Luthor should not twitch.
Lex Luthor is like Tony Stark and Reed Richards. He is a futurist. He sees what technology will be needed down the road and strives to bring it into existence now. He is a ruthless businessman who figures out what the market and his opponents will do before they do. He wins a game of chess before the player even makes their first move because he does not study his board, he studies his opponent.
Which is why a twitchy Lex drives me bonkers. For one, a twitch would imply that Lex is not in control. Lex is always in control. He has his schedule set to the second. He accepts to diversions or interruptions. Which is why Superman ticks him off so much. Well, it is one of many reasons. A: He thinks he should be the most powerful person, not Superman. B: He cannot believe that this person would be so altruistic. He must have an agenda and it ticks him off that he has not figured it out yet. And C: He did not plan for an alien savior to swoop down out of the sky.
Lex planned for everything to get where he is. He planned it all out. Except an alien who would come alone and challenge what a man can accomplish on brains alone. Lex did not see Superman coming into existence. And that drives him crazy. That is why Superman causes him to rage and destroy in a way that nothing else can.
Thus, my problem with Eisenberg’s interpretation. Too much surprises him. He has ticks and quirks all over the place. He comes across as socially awkward. Lex is charming enough to negotiate with power players and women of all classes. He is magnanimous, powerful, sexy, and intimidating. He is not a geek who has spent too much time in the basement forgetting what social skills are. Lex could massage his way through any conversation. That is not what movie-Lex does. Would Lex blow up an entire room because of one person? Yep. Would he kidnap a person to get his way? In a heartbeat. He would even confront a murdering alien on the top of a skyscraper after throwing someone to their death. But he does not twitch or stutter! He would have hired a speech therapist years ago to cure himself of that. (And then, most likely, had that therapist fall into the Grand Canyon after a guardrail “mysteriously” gave way.)
Doomsday- Honestly, there is not much to complain about here. Doomsday in the comics? Created by Kryptonian scientists long ago. You’ve still got your Kryptonian science in there, so I will give it a pass. He starts off being an intimidating creature and then his shell cracks and we see that he is even scarier. Good. I saw his first iteration and was not impressed. “That ain’t Jurgens!”, I thought to myself. Then the bony protrusions started to appear and I felt better. 😉 And he fought pretty much like Doomsday would have fought; especially the very end.
My biggest beef with Doomsday was that he was based off of Zod’s body. They took Zod’s body, cranked it up a notch or two, and made Doomsday. Zod is to Doomsday what Steve Rogers is to Captain America. At the heart of the matter, it is still the same guy, just more powerful (and in Doomsday’s case, less world-conquering-obsessed.)
And that is the sin of the Superman movies. They are convinced that Zod is the only villain worth fighting. It has to be this one Kryptonian conqueror versus Kal-El. Every time. Bores me. Not as boring as Superman Returns where he fought…. Um, a giant rock? Gravity? Kryptonite poisoning? At least half of the Superman fights have been against some version of Zod and it frustrates me. Parasite! Bizarro! Real Doomsday! All solid villains. Sigh. If they had just started out with a generated body and put some of Zod’s DNA into it I might have been placated… but probably not. I think threats should originate from someone other than Zod. I know. So nit-picky.
I never needed Superman or Batman to fight. (Superman loses. Sorry. Batman cheats.) Guess what? Superman and Batman? They are pals! Batman has teamed up more with Superman than any individual Robin. Superman has teamed up with Batman more than anyone except Lois. They are, dare I say, Super Friends! They go about things differently, but the recent tried of THE FIGHT has annoyed me. The Dark Knight Returns, fine. Batman: Hush, okay. If you must. But it will not stop. Much of the reason why Superman/Batman died off as an interesting comic (before it got relaunched as Batman/Superman) was that it devolved into a fight comic. “Oh look, vampires! We are infected! We must fight!” “Oh look! Magic! We are afflicted! We must fight!” “Oh no! Kryptonite! I am subjected! We must fight.” Same plot, different mechanisms. (To be fair though, I hate magic and vampire story lines. But it was the same fight each time!)
You want some solid Batman vs. stories? JLA: Tower of Babel. JLA: New World Order. Batman: KnightsEnd. Batman: No Man’s Land. All show Batman at odds against seemingly unstoppable problems. And he does not shoot anybody with a gun.
Oh, and this is how you make a crossover fun. Yeah, the villains were terrible. Flash and Atom once fought over bees. Bees. Ugh. So Flash and Supergirl being trounced by a villain who can be stopped by a fire hose? Not the worst thing. But it was still fun, darnit! Non-depressing!
As one reviewer noted, the movie is called Dawn of Justice. Since the two Super-flicks were Nolan-flavored in tone, they will follow Nolan’s classic film, and show that “the night is darkest just before the dawn”. We have had the death and destruction, do we get the hopeful and inspirational now? Give me a Batman who has seen enough death and stops killing. Show me a Superman who wants to keep anyone from dying. You know, give us heroes that inspire hope and belief that tomorrow might just be bright and sunny.
Give us all a break from the doom and gloom. That goes double for Ma Kent. Poor gal. She goes through all that in two movies and still has to run a farm alone? Sheesh.