Batman vs. Superman, or Why Marvel Does It Better

(I intended to start off this blog with a review of Avatar, which would have been fitting given the title and URL, but it needs more polishing and the following was more immediate. So here we go.)

I held off seeing this film after all the negativity and furor. I’m not a comic book reader so much of the minutiae escapes me, but I’m fairly familiar with the larger ideas. I’m a lifelong Superman fan but the Marvel films have been much more captivating and this movie pretty much proves why.

The Avengers started building slowly, through hints peppered through films starting with Iron Man in 2008. The Avengers wasn’t released until 2012. In between, Marvel sowed plot threads in the first Captain America film and the first Thor film, with teasers and tidbits in Iron Man 2 and The Hulk. That made The Avengers a denouement, a payoff for everyone who had seen the other films and had seen how the strands came together. With this film, you see how not to do the same thing. Instead of building up the Justice League bit by bit through multiple films, they try to cram the whole thing into one movie by way of a convoluted plot that doesn’t work.

I did like the beginning, with Bruce’s on-the-ground perspective while Sup and Zod throw down, which is not an angle you get to see that often. The effects were well-done and I was ready to believe Ben Affleck as an older, worn-down Bruce Wayne. But this never felt like a single film; it was more like watching disparate scenes that didn’t have any connection to each other–each one strong in itself, but not part of a larger cohesive whole. It was as if you had twenty different writers each write a scene and then try to put them together. No cohesive unity, no strong sense of where things were going, and actors clearly struggling to figure out just what they were supposed to be emoting about. Bruce’s dream/vision/hallucination of the future was confusing and didn’t help the story; there was a wonderful opportunity to really explore the conflicting ideas of Superman being more of a threat and Batman not really representing justice, or even an opportunity for a good quality storyline of Lex Luthor manipulating Batman into attacking and destroying Superman (or did he want Superman to kill Batman? Who knows?).

This is a movie full of lost opportunities and ham-handed writing; the dramatic moment when Batman is poised to kill Superman, all it takes is the name “Martha” to send Batman into a slo-mo dramatic flashback and make him come to his senses and suddenly ALL of his obsessive suspicions about and vendetta against Superman are gone. So he decides to save Martha Kent while Clark goes off to battle this Luthor/Kryptonian LoTR cave troll thing that Lex managed to make, because apparently it makes sense that he was just given access to Zod and the remnants of a ship and allowed to frolic all by himself to his heart’s content and NO ONE noticed. That’s hardly the weakest part of this film, but one of the most annoying–we know Lex is the villain, so the writers just have him do openly Villainy things that genius crimefighter Bruce Wayne misses because Superman Vendetta Blinders, I suppose.

Oh, and Wonder Woman is in this film, but why, I can’t say. Her only purpose seems to be to connect the other soon-to-be Justice League members to this mishmash of a film and hint at things that are coming. Protip, DC writers; you’re supposed to do that through teasers at the END of the film, not shove a character into a film to serve no purpose. If this were television, this would be dangerously close to a back door pilot. So in effect, DC watched Marvel for at least four years, saw how they carefully and patiently laid the groundwork for the Avengers, and then decided they didn’t want to put that much effort in and tried to do it all in one movie. Badly. The result is this.

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Welcome. Zola’u nìprrte.

I’m starting this blog as a way of expounding on more and more of my analytical views on film, television, and books. Now that I feel that I’m finally “old enough” to have an opinion, and am well-educated and well-viewed/well-read enough to have something to say, and in this glorious age of the Internet I don’t need my own magazine, newspaper, or literary journal/publishing house in order to share my thoughts with others. And recently I’ve actually found myself missing writing papers.

A few ground rules. I delight in good discussion or debate about things, whatever thing is the current topic of conversation; however, I do not suffer fools at all. If it pleases you, read that last sentence in Sir John Gielgud’s voice as Hobson from Arthur and then go screw yourself. I make frequent references to cultural and pop-cultural things and not always with quotation marks and attributions, so beware.

The language used herein will be open; I censor myself at my pleasure and my pleasure alone.

I censor everyone else at my pleasure as well. If you cannot determine the level of behavior required to converse based on the context of my writing and your surroundings here, then you probably don’t belong here. Knowing the difference between constructive criticism, criticism, and banshee-wailing is your best defense against being told in no uncertain terms what a cretin you are. In layman’s terms; I don’t tolerate crap, and if you can’t behave, out you go.

But BEHAVE, what does that MEAN, here in this day and age when a walking sore like Donald Trump can actually think he’ll be President?

It means this.

This is my space. Mine. If you come here, you’re entering my house, so to speak. I permit you to enter with the expectation that you’ll behave like an adult with at least some sense. I don’t expect anyone to like all the things I like, but I do expect that if you don’t like something that I do, that you will not make yourself an obnoxious asshole about it. That goes just as much for the “You suck!” crowd as the “Well, I don’t like Star Trek at all and I can’t see why anyone with a brain would like it but if you like it okay, then” folks. If you’re here just to respond with negativity that you have no intention of changing, don’t even start. Just look at my post, shake your head, flip it off, scream at it, I don’t care, but don’t waste your time and mine telling me why I’m wrong, why my interpretation is wrong, why yours is the only right one, etc. I get it, and I don’t care.

If you have a different interpretation, or a different view, does this mean you can’t share it with me? I would hope that you’re not so easily scared away. If it comes from a position of opening dialogue, or sharing a contrary view, or countering an analysis with details that I might have overlooked, bring it. It’s all the manner in which you come at me, if you do. Otherwise, or if you’re not sure, then discretion might be the better part of valor.

All this is, of course, not intended to scare anyone away. Just to lay down the basics right off, so that later on no one can accuse me of not being clear.