By now there’s no way around it. Your social media feeds have been polluted with either the critics rage or your nerdy friend’s critique, either way you have a mild bias towards what “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is like. It is either atrocious or it is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, I’m not here to sway you one way or another. Quite frankly, I haven’t even started my review yet.
Before I even get to that, I think it is increasingly more important moviegoers understand the dynamic of superhero films especially when such a perplexity like this arises where Hollywood critics are damning a movie that is breaking box office records.
For starters, fans will always go see a movie inspired by a work of art or characters they hold dearly. However, even as main stream as comic book movies have become, a $170 million weekend domestically is a lot more than just fanboys and fangirls flocking to their local theaters.
First and foremost, movies are for entertainment. They are form of recreation. Not all of them have to be works of art or Oscar-worthy pictures. A large amount of films are aimed to put smiles on the faces in the audience and make studios a ton of money. This is especially the case for action movies, a genre which the superhero movie market has promptly taken over.
With the death of the action hero, superheroes have replaced the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, and the rest of the ‘Expendables’ gang. Before those actors starred in testosterone-driven films that prided themselves on over-the-top action and limited plot development. Love them or hate them the movies drew audiences, made money, and consequently made their stars famous.
Now I’m not saying superhero films are identical to these classic 90s action films, but superhero films have become the next adaptation of the genre. Action films no longer star a chiseled, muscular male lead who kills the bad guys and gets the dame. Instead, they star the heroes and heroines who helped make DC and Marvel comics famous. The same comics that– for a large part – were built on the same premise.
It may be a strange comparison to make because recent strings of comic book adaptations have been well-developed films (especially on Marvel’s end). They have the right amount of action, plot development, and character evolution. They aren’t just linear killing sprees. However, take a look at the box office over the course of the last few years and see how many nerdy, superhero-inspired films have dominated. It was subtle, but superhero films are this generations class of ‘Expendables.’
Now, before you rush to judgement this evolution isn’t a bad thing. Quite frankly for us nerds this is a great thing. However, when a type of film begins to have the level of success comic book films have had there’s going to be some cultural backlash. They’ve supplanted a genre that was never accepted by critics. Diehard film critics will never respect the action movie genre because a large percentage of them don’t see such films as art. They see them as money-grubbing leeches disguised as blockbusters.
To me, that makes their opinions biased. They’re reviewing films based on art not entertainment forgetting that a movie is equal parts of both spectrums. And like any art, it’s perceptive.
Now the other side of that is fans who are nay-sayers. Well, that comes down to a simple quell of reality. If superhero films have become the standard for a genre, then naturally the market will become saturated. Organically speaking, not all of these movies are going to be ten out of tens. No instead, they’re going to take the shape of their predecessors – comics. Each of us comic fans have select tastes. We have our favorite series, characters, and our guilty comic book pleasures. The same can be said for superhero film choices nowadays. We are each going to have our particular favorites.
What the geek community is also forgetting (or perhaps ignoring) is that something we dreamed of since we were all wee, little nerds watching Saturday morning cartoons or reading our favorite comic series has become a reality. Our favorite characters are taking over the big screen. Our beloved heroes, heroines, and villains are a part of pop-culture. A huge part. Suddenly, our deepest passions are there for the entire world to see and most of all appreciate.
So, before we all go believing the critics and before we all start throwing our rusty ten cents into the conversations, let’s all take a step back and learn to appreciate the fact that these films are even being made at all.
A decade ago the idea of Batman and Superman battling it out on the silver screen was just a pipedream. Who really thought that Marvel’s Civil War would actually be turned into a movie? Who would’ve predicted that the summers of 2015 and 2016 would feature more than a dozen nerd-centric films?
If our ten-year-old selves saw the way some of us bicker and tear down some of these movies based on a lack of plot development, or a minuet costume detail, or the lack of a particular scene, they’d punch us in the face before they even finished their first bowl of Lucky Charms.
Let’s enjoy the ride folks. Let’s value these films for what they are – a reminder that right now we are living in the Age of the Nerd. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been dreaming about this since the first time I picked up X-Men #4 back in ’92.
Official Review of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’
***Spoiler Alert from here on out ***
I’ve decided to break my review down by characters and their corresponding actors/actresses in the film. If my fore-mentioned rant has any indication, I clearly enjoyed the film. I went into without reading any prior reviews. Instead, I went in with childlike enthusiasm that essentially a movie-adaption of the “Dark Knight Returns” was finally on the big screen. My advice – if you’re a DC fan go see this film ASAP. If you’re a comics fan or just a superhero movie fan check this film out.
It may not be the best superhero film to date, but the largest take away from this film is Warner Bros. (with the help of Zach Synder) effectively did in one film what it took Marvel nearly five years to do. Naturally, with it only being one launch film compared to multiple it wasn’t as smooth, but this film still successfully launched the DC Comics cinematic universe and presumably the JLA.
Batman (Ben Affleck) – I hate to say I told you so, but all the Batfleck haters seem to be pretty quiet. Similar to the Heath Ledger casting of Joker uproar a few years back, once the movie was officially released all the negative comments seemed to dissipate. While I didn’t quite care for his Batman voice, Affleck played a great Bruce Wayne and nailed the bitter, older statesmen version of the Batman. For all the fans who don’t like the idea of Batman killing or using guns, well I have this much to say. It is a movie-adaptation. The former I felt fell victim to movie progression. Amidst a chase scene you can’t go back and highlight every single henchman shaking off a few bumps and bruises, instead you have to continue with the scene and the action’s fluency – leave the rest is open for interpretation. The latter, well that was a dream sequence. To what looked to me as a mash-up between “Red Son” and “Injustice” series. So, yes in an alternative universe Bruce Wayne caps a few fools.
Superman (Henry Cavill) – I like Cavill’s interpretation of both Clark Kent and Kal-El. Being a Batman fan, I enjoyed seeing Superman portrayed softer than Charmin for most of the film. I mean, he was tearing up before he flew off to the final fight in Gotham – that’s just weak sauce even for an alien. All kidding aside though, the film did a great job handling the inner conflict Kal-El has as Clark Kent and as Superman. Should he forget about humanity or does he have to protect them? Not to mention his rationalization of Batman’s vigilantism. As far as the ending, I dug it. I’ve heard a few complaints that they tried to squeeze “Death of Superman” into the film, but in all honesty they did it justice. Considering that one, a possible JLA movie without Superman on the initial roster is an extremely entertaining idea for fans. And second, if they ever made just a ‘Death of Superman’ film, only non-Superman fans would go see it. The Man of Steel’s diehard fanbase would ignore the film because who would want to watch two hours of their favorite character getting destroyed? With that in mind, I felt they did it justice. They got it done, they got it over with. Most importantly they left it open-ended. It’s a great foundation to start building on.
Louis Lane (Amy Adams) – I won’t lie, I think Amy Adams is one of the best actresses in Hollywood. However, this films’ Louis Lane wasn’t as integral to the film’s progression as was her “Man of Steel” version. Consequently, that has to do with the fact this isn’t just a Superman film, but I still felt her role was a bit take-it or leave-it. Albeit, I will admit Adams did showcase a great deal of strength with this Lane characterization. There were multiple times where she was the rock, the grounding element for Clark Kent or Superman. She was the stabilizer and that’s a big part of Louis Lane’s character.
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) – Nothing against Gal Gadot, but I don’t see where everyone is getting the idea she stole the show. Gadot did well in her limited role, but Woman Woman was a very minor character. I dug the Greek mythology Easter eggs during her and Bruce Wayne’s initial conversation and I absolutely loved her entrance music. However, a few action scenes at the end doesn’t trump the fact had she not been casually checking her e-mail she might’ve been able to help Batman save Superman – just saying.
Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes, not confirmed) – I wasn’t keen on the roundness of Doomsday’s face. The CGI made him look a bit like a ninja turtle, but none the less enjoyed his cinematic debut. I loved how Zach Synder incorporated the evolution process of Doomsday over the course of the final battle. It was brilliantly done and extremely entertaining to watch.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) – Similar to Batfleck, I see a far less string of haters now that this film is finally out. I thought Eisenberg absolutely killed it as Lex. He nailed young Lex, a man who believes he is too big for the world he lives in. He has a plan, but stumbles over himself amidst personal struggles of learning how to dumb himself down to make communicating with inferior beings easier throughout his daily life. That’s young Luthor in a nutshell. He characterized it perfectly, with the witty dialogue, actions and then child-like mannerisms that border on insane and insulting. I also loved the cutthroat mentality he brought to the character. That is something that has been lacking with recent Lex Luthor adaptations. As far as the broken Lex at the end of the film, personally I figured it was an intelligent man who had access to Kyrptonian technology and likely saw Darkseid. I would think any mortal that stumbles across that news would be shook.
JLA Intros – Quite frankly, I don’t know how any self-proclaimed nerd couldn’t fall in love with the JLA introduction scene. When Diana Prince was going through the confidential e-mails, clicking on each new JLA member I was on the edge of my seat. I felt like that was an extremely organic scene and yet again another extremely effective way to launch upcoming DC films. It was by far my favorite scene in the movie.
Final Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
‘Batman v Superman,’ may not have been a knockout, but it was extremely entertaining and was everything I hoped it would be. It is easily a movie I’ll see twice in the theater. And for any fans who felt the movie was a bit cheesy or jumped too much. Remember that, DC didn’t have the luxury of casually throwing a few superhero films together before planning a series of ‘phases.’ They are playing catch-up in this game and with that mind they did a heck of a job to launch themselves back into this race.
Featured photo credit: Miguel Angel Aranda via Flicker.com