8 May 2016

Superman Vs Batman: Dawn of Justice

Catching up with blogging? Or cunningly waiting until most people have seen the film?

As the main story after the release was that this film wasn't very good I wasn't expecting much going in, and so I was reasonably satisfied with what I got. It wasn't a bad film, it was fine. Of course at the moment it seems as though if something isn't brilliant that means it's terrible automatically, polarised opinions, blah blah blah. Plus I suppose this film came with a lot of baggage and the way studios are trying to chain films together meant that it had more riding on it than whether it entertained people for a couple of hours.

I quite enjoyed Man of Steel when it came out, and felt the version of Superman was continued here successfully. This guy zipping around saving people seemed the same as the guy doing occasional super-powered good deeds while he was travelling. I liked Ben Affleck's performance as an older Batman, one whose seen some stuff and has already got the whole Bat-thing down. I didn't get why people were so freaked out by Batfleck a couple of years ago and I think he did well here even if there were issues. I thought the way the two characters were brought together as men and as superheroes was OK. I thought Lex Luthor was an interesting, modern take on the character, though I'm not sure how off-putting he was meant to be. I think it would have been better if his overall plan hadn't been so weird, bits worked and bits really didn't, though it at least it wasn't yet another weird real estate plot like in previous Superman films. In fact plot-wise some stuff worked and some stuff was just really strange (especially the last act), but I can see the reasons why all of it was there even when it didn't gel. As in the previous film I liked Amy Adam's Lois Lane, though she didn't get lots to do but in an ensemble piece that was to be expected. I really liked Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, she struck me as fun and also as the only character (with the arguable exception of Lex Luthor) who seemed to know what she was doing. She was a bit skinnier than I'd pictured Wonder Woman (but hey, that's Hollywood I guess),  but I suppose the point is that with her powers it's not about size so much.

And now to go into more detail on specifics...

A Random List of Spoilery Thoughts
Spoilers below in case you hadn't guessed, plus a lot of this won't make sense if you haven't seen the film.

It's cool to see that the events of Man of Steel shown from ground level and that there are repercussions for all that violence, though it's taken long enough to show that. I didn't really comment on it here after I watched the previous film, but the fight scenes and destruction were too big and took too long. Nice to see some aftermath. Also cool that Bruce Wayne runs towards the danger.

Why is there a horse in the chaos? After the film my husband said that was a 9/11 reference. Grr.

Why are the people in Bruce Wayne's Metropolis office waiting until he gives them permission (in person?) to leave. There are aliens having a giant fight outside, I think you can run away regardless of what the CEO says. Also who was that older guy? It seemed like he and Bruce had some strong connection that never got explained. Though I might be confused because I thought Bruce was calling him "Dad" initially.

You know what I think we all know how Bruce Wayne became Batman. I think that is a thing with which we are all familiar, you do not need to show us, even if it's a quick flashback. I mean I get that this film is full of this odd dream 'n' vision quality, which I don't object to per se, but there could have been less of this thing we know already. I also get that his mum's name is important, but they could've done that with the name on the grave alone. After my comment about fathers in Man of Steel it's good that mothers have more weight here, admittedly they play a mostly symbolic role, but they're present.

Lex Luthor (I'd totally forgotten his name is Alexander) is clearly supposed to be a massively entitled dick who's a bit manic and socially inept, which works very as a villain concept. Though I feel like the film has not realised how big a dick he is and also wants us to feel admiration of him in some way, which I will not. Of course that could be me reading into things. The way he manipulated stuff to do with people and organisations and power structures was good. Anything to do with him and Kryptonian stuff made no sense at all and was deeply stupid. (It's possible Jesse Eisenberg is a perfectly nice chap but -like with Chris Pine- I've never seen him play a character I didn't want to slap.)

Seeing Lex Luthor and Batman in the same film made me think very strongly that they're really just two sides of the same coin. I know people say Batman should be admired because he did it all himself and he doesn't have super powers, but extreme wealth basically is his super power. Both Wayne and Luthor have looked at the world, seen something they'd like to change/do and used their ridiculous wealth -combined with extra-legal methods- to do as they please regardless of how authority/society views them. This leads to an interesting line of thought about how much they get to judge each other...

This Wondermark strip makes an excellent point in this matter and cracks me up.   Weird car!

Speaking of people judging each other... it seems a bit like Superman can't judge Batman for what he's doing too much. I get that Superman is primarily saving people (oh look there's that saviour imagery from Man of Steel, alright Snyder, we get it - at least there's less this time) and Batman is branding criminals, but neither is exactly official or registered. I understand Batman's motivation more what with Supes destroying a large part of a city and being a terrifyingly powerful alien.

Yay, more Clark! He was kinda missing in previous film, maybe it's because my Superman background comes from The New Adventures, and Smallville to a lesser extent, but I always feel Clark should be as much of the story as Superman. It's so cool that Clark can hear Batman's comms. I'd never considered that before! Superman would be very hard to spy on, I want to see a thing where someone tries. Say what you will for these films they are doing things with Superman's abilities that I've not seen on TV/film before (see also how young Clark adjusts to his hearing and vision powers).

If I hadn't seen someone mention it on Twitter I probably wouldn't even have seen that hip in bed with Bruce Wayne, though it served so little purpose. It's more subtle than most films that demonstrate that a character has sex with random ladies who have nothing to do with the story/the character's life, but I don't think that's required at all and so doing it this subtly is just confusing. My assumption was that this type of thing was also done for eye candy, which it didn't do and that's just added to my confusion.

I like that Batman's older and worn in and experienced. I liked that there are hints to the stuff that's happened before and that he and Alfred have been doing this a while, even though Alfred's obviously a bit dubious about some stuff Bruce does. I do like the traditional posh Alfred (more butlery one feels), but of the recent Alfreds I like Irons better than Caine - I mean Caine's Alfred is nicer, but he just never felt like Alfred to me. (Plus I kept thinking he was about to launch into an explanation of how magic tricks work which Christian Bale didn't need as he and his twin were already obsessively committed and... that's a different film.)
Also my short story My Guardian's Guardian, published in the Guardians Fox Pocket mini-anthology from Fox Spirit Books deals with stuff in this area. I don't normally plug things, maybe you can tell.

As I said above I liked Lois Lane in this film and the last one, but she felt oddly used here. She's kind of bait really and that irritates a bit and I wish she had been able to show more anger at being used as she is. I do think it's cool that she and Supes rescue each other (sort of) and both are shown helping each other out of the water at different points in the film. It seemed at one point like she was going to be a lot more important in the plot and then she didn't get a lot to do.
Speaking of which water seems to be an important element/image for Superman in these films, noticed it strongly in Man of Steel too. It's here as well, though less prominent.

What's with the Elseworld scene? I get that it's a wider continuity, but it just made it seem like the film was leading to this really interesting, weird thing that never actually arrived. I've since heard people say that they can't do an end credits scene cos that's Marvel's shtick, which I totally get, but I was largely confused and it just kinda added to the fact that Lois isn't really that important here after all.

Yay, Holly Hunter is doing things and taking no crap and trying to get stuff sorted. No, she got exploded.

Why couldn't Batman and Superman just talk things through like people? I mean there's all this squaring off and fighting, and it wasn't needed. Again I get what Batman was doing more, he was afraid of someone dangerous and powerful, probably a new feeling for him. But why didn't Superman just hover nearby and explain that this terrible guy kidnapped his mother to force a fight, and hey you seem pretty resourceful, maybe you could help with that.

Yay Wonder Woman! When she sees the TV on the plane (do they show news on planes, idk I've never been on the posh bit of a plane) you can just see her thinking she's gonna have to sort out someone elses mess. Then Supes and Bats assume she's with the other and it's like, no dudes this lady is here on her own terms. Plus it's amazing the casual way she says she's dealt with creatures from other worlds before. It's like these guys have no clue how clueless they even are.

She has the best theme music! It is so amazing. When Bruce is looking at her photo there's the thing with the drums and I thought that was pretty cool. Then when she shows up in full outfit, OMG! The drums and the guitars and the awesome! I don't run, but if I did run, I feel like that would be excellent music to run to.

So Doomsday and Lex Luthor's plan, WTF? Nothing in that spaceship made any sense whatsoever, which means much of Lex Luthor's plan doesn't make sense. I get that there needed to be some implacable threat to bring Bats and Supes together, but couldn't they have come up with something that wasn't immensely nonsensical?
Why does splashing some human blood into a pool with a dead Kryptonian General create a big monster?
Why would the human whose blood it is be able to control the monster? That's not how blood works.
Why would Lex even think this is a thing he could do?
I get that the film probably didn't show the timing very well, and maybe he was doing a lot of really thorough research and not just going paddling with a dead alien, but still. Up to that point I'd been impressed with his scheming, but after it I was not on board.

Seems a bit early to do Death of Superman. I'm not that invested in the characters yet, but I suppose it goes back to the weight of subsequent films so I get why it happened. Also it seemed a bit weird that Batman was so sad and acting like they were such good friends, when actually they hated each other up until the end bit, and then they were allies during one fight that seemed like it was about half an hour. Don't start telling people they've got to this and that in the name of your friend when you only knew him for half an hour, ok Batman.

Why did they shave Lex Luthor's head when he was in prison? That's not how prison works. (I feel the timing of him even being in prison was a bit quick, but films often do this sort of thing.) You lose your liberty, but you can keep your hair. I mean if he was joining the army I'd get it; I don't know if that's a real thing in the US Army, but it's a trope I've seen before - and those guys do hate extra hair. If he was shaving his own head or tearing his hair out that'd seem like it made more sense. Maybe being as he's small and white he figured he'd go skinhead for protection, but that's not what we're seeing. I know many famous incarnations of Luthor are bald, but if he wasn't bald from the start I don't see why it happened randomly at the end.
Also, does Batman have Alfred flicking the light switches in the prison? Doesn't seem safe.

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