EDK: The Critics Must Be Crazy, ‘Batman V Superman’ Is Fantastic

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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130 Responses

  1. veronica d says:

    I can’t read the original article cuz of adblock or something. Whatever. I don’t need Forbes that badly.

    Critics have called Batman v Superman everything from “laughable” to “ misogynist, paternalistic…fascist even.”

    Good grief. All of those things at once!?

    Wait, does this guy realize he basically just said, “Different people have different opinions, which are not all mutually consistent.”

    Which, he might find this annoying, but I suspect it’s true about pretty much every movie ever, even movies he hates. In fact, I bet he has disliked a movie in a way inconsistent with how someone else disliked the same movie.

    Is this even notable? Does anyone even try to think clearly anymore? Blah.

    On the movie, I was entertained, but I went in with very low expectations. So it eked out some entertainment value just one hair above what I expected, and thus I was mildly pleased.

    The fact is, I’m so fucking bored with Batman and Superman now. With Batman, it’s like, enough with the manpain. Plus, can I not see another dramatization of his parent’s death? We get it. It’s been done. Find something new in the character or move on.

    I don’t think I need to explain why Superman is boring.

    On the “big theme” of the movie, I guess it was mildly interesting. It was certainly smart. But I dunno. Smart alone ain’t enough for me. Which is to say, they didn’t sell it. I never really bought the moral quandary in a visceral way.

    I liked Lex Luthor’s character. He was a weird-brain nerd — my people — but sexy! I’d shag him.

    Except the part where he was a narcissistic murderous freak boy. The whole “psychotic is a word for what small minds don’t understand” (paraphrase) line was a little to edgelord for anyone. I encounter enough Cannibal Corpse loving “dark and edgy” guys spilling out of the -chans for anyone’s comfort. Giving one good looks and power doesn’t make them less pathetic.

    On the other hand, Wonder Woman. Holy fuck she was cool! Mega cool. Oceans of cool. A level of coolness that exceeds normal plausible levels of coolness. Bam! She was pretty much the whole movie, even if the writers accidentally didn’t make it entirely about her.

    Let’s have a Wonder Woman movie. She was beyond mega super cool. Someone should do that.Report

    • North in reply to veronica d says:

      WW’s cameo’s up until the fight scenes were really cool. I enjoyed them but the fight scenes against giant CGI monster didn’t parse for me. I think it was the sword and shield more than anything.Report

      • veronica d in reply to North says:

        @north — But OMG did you see her face during the fight scenes. Every time she got bashed, she lit up. She was eager for more. She positively glowed with the joy of mayhem.

        That’s my girl!

        Moar moar moar!Report

    • The fact is, I’m so fucking bored with Batman and Superman now.

      Then why did you go? So long as people keep paying for this crap, they’ll keep making more of it.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

      Concur on the origin story part. They did this with Spider-man too. How many times in the same generation does a movie need to rehash the origin story.

      Given how many of these movies exist (and cartoons, and books, and shows, etc.), nobody is going to a Spider-man or Batman movie and wondering how this character came to be. Either you know, or you’ll look up the canon on your phone.Report

      • Spiderman is particularly ridiculous, though they did at least punch it up.

        Batman… they actually spent very little time on the origin in Batman ’89. Just a few minutes. So Batman Begins was quite welcome. Glad that they skipped past the start for the Batfleck.

        I think a lot of these movies get a bit fixation on the Hero’s Quest story, when in fact it would sometimes be best to go ahead and Assume Superheroes. In some ways, doing a Wally West origin story, avenging Barry Allen’s death, would be a more unique take than simply rebooting Barry Allen. (Ignoring recent comic book continuity.)Report

        • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

          The way it introduces the character is one of the few things I like about the Burton movie. We don’t learn who Batman is by following Batman, we learn by watching Vicki Vale and Alexander Knox discover learn about Batman. I was kinda hoping that Dr. Strange would use a similar trick, since we’ve had plenty of origin stories from Marvel already–but it looks like they’re sticking to something a little bit more formulaic.Report

          • North in reply to Alan Scott says:

            My fears for Dr. Strange grow and grow. I was shocked when Ant Man turned out to be a success but I wonder if the Sorcerer Supreme won’t be the first character to helm a shipwreck MCU film.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    This makes two positive reviews of B v. S. I’m still skeptical.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Reading the reviews — good lord, some people have been working on their prose.

      And the bile is because, IMO, it fails at basic movie things. I think the best description I heard was it was at least three movies shoved into one…..which actually makes sense, because it seems like they want to “catch up” to the Marvel movies so they can release their big finale when Marvel does Civil War.

      Incoherent doesn’t do it justice. There’s just a lot of WTF. People’s rationales and responses don’t make sense, things are brought up then abruptly dropped, and major plot drivers don’t even make fridge logic. (Also, you can see Gotham from your house in Metropolis. That’s an interesting choice….)

      I’d say I was predisposed to dislike it because grimdark Superman irritates me, but you could have made him the usual Blue Boy Scout and the movie STILL would have felt like someone was forced to assemble this thing from scraps from four canned movies.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


        The other person I know who defended the movie is a kind of ur-fan. I think she is genetically incapable of disliking any comic book or fannish movie. She sees any perceived criticism of a comic book/fannish movie as being without merit and coming from the dreaded highbrows.

        I also don’t like the grimdark or don’t like unearned grim darkness. Son of Saul earns its grim dark, Batman v. Superman does not. You can be serious without being grimdark. Moves that are serious without being grimdark are often much more cathartic!!Report

      • North in reply to Morat20 says:

        You need to be an A level DC geek to even get half the callouts and the movie is so studded with them it feels schitzophrenic. Also the naked callbacks to “The Dark Knight Returns” (the comic book specifically) really didn’t work for me. That Batman was bleakly coherent in his own world but imagining that Batman forming the Justice League? That’s some hysterically bad stuff right there.Report

  3. InMD says:

    I’m so spent on all these serious super hero movies (or really super hero movies in general). No doubt the next fad will get equally annoying but can we please get started on that sometime soon?Report

    • trizzlor in reply to InMD says:

      Because these producers only know how to recycle, the next phase is a mash-up (kids love mash-ups!) of the 60’s screwball na-na-na-na Batman! and the Nolan Dark Knight. The main hero gets a traumatizing origin story based in the Soviet gulags, but backed by a laugh-track and visual Biff! Pow! Obey! animations. Trent Reznor does the soundtrack composed of variations on the Bennie Hill theme.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    You know who’s really sick of superhero movies?

    Alejandro González Iñárritu

    About halfway through the interview the subject comes up. I’m not going to lie: I laughed.Report

  5. Roland Dodds says:

    I like EDK, but his review of BvS seems to both inherently recognize that the film as a whole is not very good but that it has all the trappings fanboys will like regardless of quality and thus is a fine superhero movie. Ok, so the fight scenes are pretty cool. If they wanted to make a movie full of those things, why pad it with 2 hours of muddled exposition?

    Like I mentioned in my post last week, I don’t think you can say, “It’s just a silly superhero movie! Of course it isn’t going to be competent!” and then also say “this is actually a good movie that deserves respect.”Report

    • the film as a whole is not very good but that it has all the trappings fanboys will like regardless of quality and thus is a fine superhero movie

      Which is a perfect review of pretty much every superhero movie ever made.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Not really. The Avengers was good, Scott Pilgrim against the World was good, there are plenty of good superhero movies. Hell, Skyfall was good.

        It’s possible to make good movies out of the genre, even high minded ones. Just rather rare.

        The problem with most superhero movies is the same thing as most recent James Bond flicks — they’re hiring Movie Directors, not TV Writers. TV writers understand budgets, tension, and how to make a show interesting without constant explosions.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    As a non-comic book guy, a few general questions…

    Why is SuperMan so muscular? Does he need muscles? I thought his strength is derived from the sun or something.

    How does Batman stand a chance against SuperMan? SuperMan is… super. BatMan is a well-trained fighter in a gadgety suit. Would SuperMan just destroy Batman? Or at the very least restrain him until he calmed the fuck down?Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

      Good question. Superman does derive his powers from the sun and you could argue that a scrawny Clarke Kent would be just as strong. Superman and other male superheroes are drawn with what was considered the ideal build for a man in Western culture though, broad shoulders, narrow waist, and tall in stature. Superman’s build is based on particular ideal that traces back to Greece and Rome.Report

      • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        So you’re saying that superman has a really small penis?
        (ETA: Haven’t looked at much on superman’s dimensions, but I do remember David having deliberately chosen to be wrong proportions).Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Superman’s visual design in comics and cartoons has always been very triangular: broad, muscled chest with comparatively narrow legs. His design was inspired by circus acrobat costumes, which is part of it, and it’s also just visually interesting.

        It fits the character-both in that it’s the body type you’d expect from a farm-raised country boy who comes to the big city only in adulthood, and it’s also the body type you’d expect from someone who regularly punches missiles into the sun but doesn’t need to walk to move. It also makes mild-mannered Clark Kent visually interesting–whereas superman’s size translates to heroic physique, Clark Kent displays the physical awkwardness of being slightly to big for the world around him. You can totally buy a big Clark Kent doing whatever clumsy thing distracted Lois from finding out who superman is.

        The actual in-universe explanation for why he’s buff is pretty silly, but the actual in-universe explanations of superman’s physical nature in general is pretty sillyReport

    • North in reply to Kazzy says:

      The Super-man/Batman fight is directly ripped from an iconic comic book run called The Dark Knight returns. It was a deeply clever and profound bit of work and reviewed Batman and his world in an entirely new light. It’s a justifiably revered part of DC’s history and the makers of this movie cribbed from it like monocle mid 1900 Europeans pillaging an ancient tomb.

      In the book Superman and Batman were evened out by a number of elements. First Superman was weakened due to a nuclear device that had shot tons of ash and sand into the atmosphere blocking the sun. Second: Superman had been at ground zero of said nuclear device and was had been rather messed up by it (and only partially restored by a truly moving semi-mystical event that remains dear to my jaded heart and that hat tips that the author carries a deep love of that character); Third: Superman was hobbled in that he didn’t go into the conflict wanting to kill Batman. Fourth: Batman was wearing a full body mechanical armor that was pulling all of Gothams juice to power it.

      After all of those elements it still took an application of kryptonite for Batman to barely be able to bear Superman up. So to say the movie dumbed down the conflict is to understate it massively. It really shouldn’t have gone down that way. One punch to his unarmored lower face and Batman should have been pudding.

      As to your physique question. The pragmatic answer, as Lee has provided, is that’s the western ideal physique so that’s what Superman gets. The ‘in comic’ answer is that Superman is an incredibly efficient biological absorber and holder of solar energy. His body has basically never been starved for nutrients, ever, in his entire life. So biologically he has no need to build up fat reserves and he has no nutritional limitations on his muscle mass so naturally his body has built out his muscle mass to the max and carries little to no body fat.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to North says:

        So does he work out (“Bro, do you even work out?”)? Or just build muscle doing normal everyday things?

        And it feels a little like the start of your answer betrays the latter part. If SuperMan is an incredibly efficient absorber/holder of solar energy, than a little bit of blocked sunlight shouldn’t effect him, right? Unless we are talking nuclear winter lasting a prolonged period of time. If a few days without direct sun could leave him weakened, wouldn’t he be pretty useless in the winter time?Report

        • North in reply to Kazzy says:

          You’re thinking too “human”. The human body needs to be strongly incented to build muscle because muscle costs calories to have and we’re designed to be calorie conserving machines. If our bodies didn’t care about calorie consumption then the biological imperative would be to build muscle up to peak physical effectiveness. Superman’s physique, in other words, is his default state.

          Yeah it’s a little muddled. In Dark Knight Returns the Soviets (it was written in the 80’s) launch a huge nuclear missile at a South American island nation they’ve been fighting the Americans over. Superman diverts the missile from the populated island to an unpopulated desert where it explodes, basically in his face, and shoots up a big cloud that blocks out the sun. Superman is pretty wrecked from the nuclear explosion in the face (who wouldn’t be?) and the cloud blocking out the sun impedes, but doesn’t fully block, his recovery to full power. So when he flies into Gotham to fight Batman he’s running at considerably less than full fighting trim.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to North says:

            Thanks, @north . I get that Batman is a vigilante who has run afoul of the law and “powers that be” in numerous ways. But what threat did he pose that Superman had to rush in to fight him? If Superman cares that much about humanity, why didn’t he fully recover so that he’d be prepared for much larger threats, the sort a super being is uniquely positioned to defend us against.

            I realize I’m probably thinking too much about this but this is why I tend to struggle with these sorts of movies.

            I don’t mind a lack of realism (Hello! I love the F&F franchise!) but I do struggle with internal inconsistencies. And, based just on the descriptions provided here, this film/story seems rife with them.

            A friend once described what he called the Peter Jackson Effect. It occurs when a new minor baddy is introduced… a foot soldier of some sorts… and the hero struggles to defeat him one-on-one in their initial battle. Yet later in the movie, that same hero is taking on oddles of that same brand of baddy and wiping the floor with all of them. Which is it? This baddy can go toe-to-toe with our hero or the hero can outmatch a dozen of them?

            Note: I haven’t seen enough PJ movies to know if this thing my friend described is real. But that is the sort of internal inconsistency I really struggle with.

            Note #2: Yes, I realize that within the entirety of the F&F franchise, there is one immense internal inconsistency: In the first film, these guys are a bunch of LA street racers who barely outpace their local competition. By the later films, they are the people whom the government turns to because no one can do it better… not even the super secret military agencies. So, yea, that is a problem. But that is more the result of needing to evolve the storyline over time and them never predicting the success of the franchise. Also, screw you guys, F&F 4Life.Report

            • North in reply to Kazzy says:

              In DK at this point Superman was basically an arm of the US military. Batman, through his vigilante behavior had made Gotham one of the most orderly and safe cities in the country during the chaos that followed the nuclear blackout. This was embarrassing to the US government so they ordered Superman to bring Batman in which Superman duly sought to do. It presumably never occurred to Superman that Batman could put up that much of a fight and up until Batman busted out with some kryptonite Superman was correct. I would recommend reading the comic, it is one of the most interest interpretations of Batman in my lights.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to North says:

                So Superman was going after Batman because the latter did too good of a job? OY! Super my ass!Report

              • North in reply to Kazzy says:

                There’s a lot of layered background that makes Superman’s actions somewhat more sympathetic so it’s not quite as villainous as it sounds in my summary.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to North says:

                He was told do by Reagan. Nobody says no to Reagan!Report

              • North in reply to Will Truman says:

                I was, heheh, trying to leave that part out on account of how, heehee, the way that comic portrayed the Gipper always makes me crack up.
                “You want a medal son? I love giving medals.”
                Superman deadpan “No sir.”Report

              • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Superman went after Batman, in this movie, because Batman was a torturer and serial killer (in the name of justice). He killed a whole lot of people, and branded the ones he didn’t kill. Superman didn’t appreciate this. His hate of Batman is one of the few things he does in the movie that makes sense… until he decides that Batman’s not so bad after Batman tries to kill him.Report

              • North in reply to Chris says:

                Well yeah we were mainly discussing the Dark Knight Returns comic book.

                They made Batman noticeably more understandable to dislike for Superman in the movie though in the end they had to resort to kidnapping Martha Kent before Superman actually pulled the trigger on actually confronting Batman.Report

              • Chris in reply to North says:

                Ah, sorry.Report

              • Jon Rowe in reply to Chris says:

                It was interesting how — as far as I know — the Dark Knight Returns comic book set the tone for “tension” between Batman and Superman. (I’m not aware of much if any tension before that in the pre-Crisis DC Universe; but I didn’t start reading comics until after Crisis. In fact, I started reading while Crisis on Infinite Earths was coming out.)

                But not everyone quite agreed with Miller’s precise angle. But the different creators seem to agree there should be tension between the two of them over methods of operation.

                Shortly after DKR, John Byrne got his crack at it in Man of Steel #3 (this was the first post-Crisis reboot of Superman).


              • Chris in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                This is where I should probably admit that I’ve never read a comic book.Report

              • Kim in reply to Chris says:

                Do you need a link?
                There’s tons available online for free, and we’re not even just talking doujinshi.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                So Batman in this movie is a complete departure from Nolan’s Batman?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                And does Supey usually go after serial killers?Report

              • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yeah, complete. He even uses guns to shoot people (a lot of people).

                And I think Superman goes after Batman because he sees him as a public menace: his serial killing is widely reported on (because in addition to killing dozens of people, he leaves a trail of destruction wherever he goes).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                So if I liked the Nolan movies, I’ll hate this?Report

              • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                To be honest, I have trouble imagining anyone liking this. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve seen in the last couple years (though it doesn’t even approach the badness of Insurgent). But if you like that version of Batman, you will find this version repulsive.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                Heh… I figured a potential response would be “If you liked any movie, you’d hate this.”

                The thing is, I can get sucked into movies that present visual spectacles coupled with interesting ethical questions, even if the genre is one I wouldn’t otherwise go for.

                Given the basics, it seems like this movie could potentially have both but the extent to which it has either, both are sloppily rendered.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to North says:

        Also, the platonic way Batman beats Superman is 11-D chess. Bats is the flag-carrier for the trope “Crazy Prepared“, he knows how everybody thinks, and he has the wherewithal to create wheels within wheels months or years ahead of time.

        By the time it comes to actual blows, the outcome should already be determined – either Batman’s plans are all coming together in an unavoidable sequence that leaves Clark reeling badly enough that a mere human punch is enough, or Batman loses.Report

        • North in reply to El Muneco says:

          Agreed, though what’s somewhat annoying is that right up to an application of kryptonite itself Batman’s carefully laid plans more or less splatter uselessly against that big red S clad chest. At the most Superman is a bit annoyed.Report

  7. trizzlor says:

    I like the idea of Superman as a representative of the singularity: a highly advanced AI that seems to be on the side of humans but really has no reason to tolerate us.

    I like the idea of a movie about Superman by a director who actively hates Superman, and constructs long sequences where Superman is looking creepy while he does his do-gooding set to ominous music.

    I like the idea of Lex Luthor dealing with some post-Nazi PTSD and setting out to destroy Ubermensch, er … Superman, because he does not believe in a world run by temporarily benevolent Gods. And, as it always goes, becoming an evil God himself in the process.

    I even like the idea of Lex being a coked-up nerd who formulates most of his evil plan while totally off his gourd. So of course it includes a totally incomprehensible attack on the Capitol building, which sounded TOTALLY AWESOME when he was riding the lightning at 3AM the other day. And of course even he can’t keep track of it all and sends his right-hand woman into the Capitol building to “monitor” the explosion first-hand.

    Basically, this movie sounds awesome!Report

  8. Chris says:

    His praise of this movie consists, by and large, of a bare, basic description of one of its premises, a description none of its harsh critics would deny. He gives no real reason for thinking the movie is anything but dull, poorly constructed bullshit with badly drawn heroes, a primary villain whose actions and arc make no sense and who is a clear ripoff of another movie’s villain (and, it must be said, was extremely poorly acted by an ordinarily competent actor), and secondary characters, including Lois Lane and Martha Kent (played by extremely talents actresses) who are barely drawn at all (and what little is drawn is drawn badly). It is filled with dream scenes that make little or no sense in the film, one of its major plot points is designed entirely to get us to watch trailers for future DC films, the logos for which were apparently created by Lex Luther, and its fight scenes either make no sense or imply that its heroes are complete idiots (which, in Batman’s case, would render his entire character nonsensical).

    And that’s without getting into how it deals with the ethics of superheroes, and the fact that it turns Batman into Dexter: a serial killer upset with another serial killer. I will give EDK this, though: it does address those ethics, even if simplistically and mostly incoherently.

    In short, even on its own terms it’s a terrible movie, put together with the movie-making skills of a 9th grader with a huge CGI budget. But if that’s your thing, I guess…Report

    • Chris in reply to Chris says:

      I’d add that, directly relevant to EDK’s praise of the film is the facile version of the Problem of Evil in his explanation, such as it is, of his nonsensical actions. Basically, the evil supergenius has achieved the philosophical sophistication of a half-asleep student in a intro ethics course.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I’m thinking that a half-asleep student in an intro ethics course is a step in the right direction for a lot of people.

        They shouldn’t *STOP* there, of course…Report

        • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          Certainly. I would be impressed if, instead of a larger-than-life criminal mastermind, Lex Luther were a 19-year old stoner trying to figure it all out. In a pivotal scene, the professor he’s sleeping with tells him he should read Leibniz, and no alien-human hybrids end up destroying huge swaths of two cities.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

      But Wonder Woman …Report

      • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

        Gal Gadot is a preternaturally beautiful woman who may make an excellent Wonder Woman, but she appears so sparingly, except in a large CGI battle (which she pulls off well), that it’s difficult for me to tell.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

      If I’m not mistaken, everyone that has played Lex Luthor on the big screen has been nominated for an Oscar at some point in their careers.Report

      • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

        Hackman pulled it off really well. Eisenberg, not so much. Probably because Eisenberg was doing a poor Heath Ledger impersonation.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

          You straight guys just don’t get the appeal of a hyper-sexy ADHD-as-fuck nerdboy. I’d kiss his breath away.

          ‘Cept the part where he’s a murderous asshole. That might come up in our “relationship conversations.”Report

          • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

            I do not doubt that he’s sexy, though I went to the movie with two women and the talk afterward focused primarily on Affleck and Cavill. And I know from other work he’s done that he’s a good actor (also, I love Zombieland). But he was painfully bad in this, and at times it almost seemed like he knew it (e.g., the awful speech at the party). In his defense, though, he had to work with poorly written dialogue and a character whose actions made no sense, not even in the Joker as Chaos way that Ledger’s character’s actions made no sense.Report

          • North in reply to veronica d says:

            I think my problem with Eisenberg is I first watched him in The Social Network and he’s now welded into this slot in my mind as a kind of twitchy douchebag and everything I’ve seen him in since has just intensified that impression.

            I mean I even disliked him as a blue parrot in Rio, so yeah that’s rather unfair of me.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

      In short, even on its own terms it’s a terrible movie, put together with the movie-making skills of a 9th grader with a huge CGI budget.

      When did we start discussing The Phantom Menace?Report

      • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The most common comparison has been to Michael Bay movies, which brought my favorite line from a Bat vs Man in Tights review:

        But Batman v Superman made $166 million in its opening weekend! That’s an insane amount of money!

        Who ever said it wasn’t going to make money? It’s a film in which Batman and Superman appear together, for the first time ever. Who doesn’t want to see that? Even though I was pretty sure the film would be bad, there was no way I wasn’t going to go see it. But its financial success has literally nothing to do with its quality. Otherwise Michael Bay would be broke.

        Hey, Zack Snyder is no Michael Bay.

        You’re right. Zack Snyder is much worse. Michael Bay thinks explosions are awesome and stories are dumb. Zack Snyder actually hates you.


        • Kim in reply to Chris says:

          Parker and Stone not only hate you, they despise the rest of the audience, and they’re trending towards suicidal depression. You gotta worry about people that pander that much.
          [book of mormon].Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

          It’s a film in which Batman and Superman appear together, for the first time ever. Who doesn’t want to see that? Even though I was pretty sure the film would be bad, there was no way I wasn’t going to go see it.

          “I have the critical sense of a not overly bright magpie, and it was shiny.”Report

  9. Oscar Gordon says:

    In thinking about this, what strikes me as the greatest weakness of the DC hero movies is that, for some strange reason, the DC movies can get their heroes right. They actually do a good job of writing for the human part and casting that (I thought Affleck & Cavill did OK as Wayne & Kent), but really seem to struggle with the hero part. I think part of the reason is that, especially for Batman & Superman, the alter ego is such a departure from the hero. Batman is a top tier genius level intellect, Bruce Wayne is a shallow playboy. Superman is a god, Kent is a timid backpage journalist, etc. They just can’t seem to do a good job getting actors or writers who understand how to work both ends (although Nolan did a solid effort).

    Marvel, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to truck with diverse alter egos. Either the hero is who s/he is (Tony Stark is always Tony Stark, suit or no suit, same with Steve Rogers), or the superhero is just the human uninhibited in some fashion (Spider-Man is just Peter Parker cutting loose).

    This is why I think Wonder Woman actually hit home with people. No alter ego. Diana Prince is not a different person, she’s just the name on Wonder Woman’s passport, so the femme fatale we saw in jaw dropping gowns was the same woman who was grinning like a adrenaline junkie jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

    It’s why I actually have hope for Suicide Squad. No alter egos, just raw character with actors gnawing on the scenery with abandon.Report

    • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to work. it’s just a mask, after all. That’s why the Batman Returns got the casting right. It’s not Bruce Wayne plays batman, it’s batman plays Bruce Wayne.

      I think if they grabbed Tatiana from Orphan Black, they’d have done better than most of the “hunks” they keep casting. Or Ian Glen, maybe.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      With Suicide Squad, I’m worried I’m gonna like Harley Quinn like waaaay too much, and then I’ll get all sad and dyshporic that I can’t be a totally HAWT badass psycho sex bomb, but am instead trapped in the life as wannabe punk rock (but actually posh) tranny nerd.


      (I’m totally serious. That movie’s gonna mess with me.)Report

  10. Roland Dodds says:

    I hate to say it, but many of the folks who write about “nerdy” stuff also have a vested interest in liking the film. I am not saying that said writers receive compensation for their opinions, but surely having continued access has to play a part in some of the apologies I have heard for the film.

    I listen to a podcast with a comic book shop owner. He has been invited to these early film screenings of superhero films where they wine and dine him. Obviously, they don’t say “this will all dry up if you don’t say some nice things about our product,” but just to be invited to the ball is enough to keep part of your brain firmly in the company’s favor. Now, EDK actually writes criticism of companies and their products in a professional publication, so this is not directed at him, but I do think these companies know what they are doing by brining in fanboys to these events.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Roland Dodds says:

      I have to say, given the choice between being brined in fanboys and being brined in, say, salt water, I will take the salt water.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


      As I noted, one of the people I know who liked the movie is a kind of ur-fan. She might be psychologically incapable of disliking any movie based on a comic book because that would mean giving a victory to the dreaded highbrows.

      Comic book fans often seem to have the biggest chips on their shoulder against critics because critics represent snobby people who like Goddard movies.

      A semi-frequent argument that I see pop up is that no one really likes high culture stuff whether it be literary fiction, classical music, arthouse movies, theatre, modern art, etc. People only pretend to like that stuff in order to “seem intelligent.” I have no idea where this argument came from or even how to counter it. It just seems so bizarre. Why would I waste time reading something I found unenjoyable just to seem intelligent?Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw I know I love classical music and opera, but that is just what a poser would say to sound smart. None the less, I subject my students to lots of Wagner and Scriabin on a daily basis.

        If that makes me a snobby poser, then so be it.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          Puccini is literally God and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.Report

        • Kim in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          The difference between posers and people who aren’t is that posers do two things:
          1) They really like what’s considered “great”
          2) They seem to dislike what’s not considered great, without being able to string together coherent thoughts about why they don’t like it.

          If you like classical music, do check out Love Solfege (it’s modern neo-classical)

          Even when I know someone I consider a bit of a poseur, they’re rarely that on all subjects.

          “I like this because it’s what classy people like” is just… man, really shitty. At least man up enough to learn the lingo and be able to discuss what you like.

          (Or do like me with music: I’m a musical philistine, I like what I like, and I’m not terribly picky.)Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      @ck-macleod I read this piece over the weekend. I must say, as well written as it is, I can not trust this man’s opinion on any movie after reading this.Report

      • @roland-dodds I’m less interested in White’s or anyone else’s opinions or summary judgments on any movie than in the argument about us he or anyone can evidence persuasively with its elements. I’m guessing, however, that I will find this particular film quite enjoyably diverting. Just on the basis of the advance clips, I’m comfortable penciling in a place for it as 2nd favorite superhero film, behind WATCHMEN, above MAN OF STEEL, in both the “fun to analyze” and “fun to experience” categories.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          @ck-macleod A fine way to approach this film! I was personally very bored watching it, for whatever that’s worth. Since I had to work out a deal with the wife to go watch it the other night, I definitely feel like it wasn’t worth what I “paid.”Report

    • I got about two paragraphs into it and decided the guy’s not worth reading. He instantly sets up the strawman of fanboys, and then goes on to praise Zack Snyder far beyond his deserts. (Does figuring out that males would like to see a half-naked Mailn Akerman really amount to “a signature erotic touch”? I decided to bail before he started bashing progressives, blacks, or atheists.Report

      • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I’m not quite sure he’s ever seen a movie before (he thinks the 3 main characters’ performances are “perfect,” e.g.), while I’m quite certain he hates “fanboys” (basically attributing to them the stupidity he himself displays), and that only someone with as facile an understanding of morality and society as he displays could actually think this movie was profound (and he really, really thinks it was profound). It would be embarrassing if it weren’t in a publication that is an embarrassment.Report

  11. Lurker says:

    It’s interesting to me how much more rushed the DC universe overarching storyline is than the MCU.

    There were a lot of single movies in the Marvel Universe before the first Avengers. They set up the universe before they started colliding the main characters in it. By analogy, DC should have had a second Superman movie setting up Lex Luthor, a stand alone Batman movie with what is clearly a new version of Batman no matter what anyone says, a standalone Wonderwoman movie, maybe more. Then a proto Justice League movie, then other movoes.

    That’s a storytelling problem and evidence that storytelling is not what the DC people are prioritizing. They want the money that Avengers movies get and they are trying to make visually impressive movies with none of what actually makes MCU movies decent movies.

    Look, I get that the MCU movies are popcorn silliness but the people making them have put thought into the stories and how the stories fit together. That’s actually pretty cool and is -IMO- the main source of their success, along with fun performances by Downey Jr., Pratt, Evans, Johanssen, etc. Excellent casting has allowed the MCU universe to have characters with a little -appropriate to comic book popcorn movie- depth and interestingess.

    Superman is poorly cast and portrayed in a light that makes him dull and uninspiring, and really the whole idea of Superman is that he is supposed to excite and inspire. Batman is cast and portrayed in less interesting ways than he was in 3 movies that are all in comic movie recent memory. And the story is muddled. That’s an F- that is motivated by a money grab.Report

    • Kim in reply to Lurker says:

      A lot of the MCU movies were flops, though.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Lurker says:

      I disagree, at least to an extent. I don’t think they needed a second Superman solo movie. I think they did need one with just Superman and Batman, though. Using team-ups to excellerate things was a splended idea. Especially for DC, where character relationships are important. I think they just did it wrong, with too much too quickly.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Lurker says:

      I pretty much agree with everything here.

      There’s an old story about two bulls looking down at an apple orchard. The young bull says something like “let’s run down to that orchard and eat an apple!” The old bull says “Let’s walk down and eat all of the apples.”

      Or something like that.

      Marvel understands that they have decades to tell their stories and they want to make movies that people will stand the test of time (for small values of standing tests of time) and be shared between parents and kids in the same way that Star Wars is shared between parents and kids.

      DC’s movies don’t really strike me as being movies that people would watch 10 years after they come out. (Well, maybe Nolan’s Batmovies.)

      Marvel’s? I could totally see a 2028 dad telling his 11 year old “hey, I think you’re old enough for this…” and putting Iron Man in the 3D Holoplayer. “I was about your age when I watched this one…”

      I can’t see them doing that with Man of Steel.Report