My Review of Batman v Superman, and Its Reviews

Note: This piece will have minor spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it, be aware.

First, I had a good time at Batman v Superman, a fact which is probably seated in the fact that a) I don’t appear to care much about whether either Batman or Superman occasionally kill the people who are actively trying to kill them, b) I’ve already built into my worldview that Zack Snyder films are pretty but empty, and undernourished in the script department. That BvS is all of these things is, well, unsurprising to me. There’s something about Snyder’s visual aesthetic that I enjoy enough that I’m willing to deal with his films’ generally hypoxic storytelling and other flaws; I mean, Jesus, I enjoy Sucker Punch, and that film’s pretty much a shitshow from top to bottom. But it also gives me images like this:

And my brain goes coooooooooool.

It’s not (just) because Emily Browning is in a creepy babydoll get-up, although that does point directly to the key to Snyder’s aesthetic: He’s tuned into what a 13-year-old, newly-pubescent, white male comic book and video game geek wants to see — or thinks he wants to see, anyway. He wants to see Spartans kick-ass, shot-for-shot recreations of graphic novels and sexy-child killbots in a boss fight. He also wants to see Batman and Superman punch the shit out of each other, and then team up for a boss fight, too. That’s who Zack Snyder is as a filmmaker; that’s the baseline you work with. Everything else is incidental; anything else you get is kind of a bonus.

Apparently I’m okay with that. And yes, we can argue about whether we should be entitled to expect more from Zack Snyder when he’s put in charge of a beloved franchise of cultural icons (or what the fact that I’m apparently perfectly okay with the Zack Snyder aesthetic as described above says about me). But at the end of the day, I think Snyder is who he is as a filmmaker. The dude’s 50 years old and has been massively rewarded for this particular aesthetic and workflow of his. The idea that he would change it at this point is a little much. He would, correctly, ask you why, when it’s all working out so well for him. I get what Zack Snyder is about; he is an utterly known quantity to me. I found BvS to be standard-issue Snyder, and it turns out I like standard-issue Snyder just fine.

Which is not to say much of the criticism of BvS is wrong. The story telling is a mess and the motivations for everyone in this film are thin as the pages of a comic book. The characterizations are all pretty good, I’ll note, which is what happens when you get good actors and you let them act (say what you will about Zack Snyder, he’s hugely better with actors than, say, George Lucas ever was). But you know that thing people say? About how they could watch their favorite actor read a phone book? Well, they come very close to getting their chance here.

For all that, I didn’t find it difficult to follow why people were doing what they were doing; the storytelling is messy but it has a throughline. Bruce Wayne feels protective about his Wayne Industries workers and then they die when Superman fights Zod, triggering Wayne’s PTSD about his parents’ death, so he decides to protect the Earth from Superman. Superman can’t help himself from protecting Lois Lane at any cost and begins to see that this makes him vulnerable to manipulation. Lex Luthor wants to take over the world, realizes Superman is a hindrance and creates a scheme to get rid of him, with plans B and C if things don’t work the way he wants. Wonder Woman is here to set up her film.

Which is the other thing: BvS is clearly Act II of a multi-act epic, of which Man of Steel was the first act. BvS assumes you saw MoS — if you didn’t none of this makes sense (or, if you like, makes even less sense) — and it clearly assumes you know, because you’re a citizen of the real world and read many entertainment web sites and magazines, that several more films in the DC universe are coming. That being the case, the film doesn’t even attempt to tie up several loose ends, or explain things which (probably) Snyder and the rest of the Warner/DC brain trust know will be addressed in other films. This film sets up films for Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash (these aren’t really spoilers, these films have already been announced and are on a schedule), as well as an overall Justice League film (two, actually).

Does this work? Maybe a little. Other people have noted that thanks to this film, Man of Steel makes a hell of a lot more sense, which is to say, Superman and Zod wrecking Metropolis in that film has concrete consequences in this one, not the least of which is whether Superman can actually be trusted. So perhaps the things that don’t make a whole lot of sense in this one will be explained later. The question here is whether a person paying their money now should have to wait for another film, years down the road, for things in this film to make sense. There is the idea that films should generally be self-contained.

But then again, Snyder and company are also aware that you’re already in it for the long haul, no matter how much you whine and moan. For all the griping about the film, it made $420 million worldwide in its opening weekend. While people, including me, are having fun playing the backend calculus about whether the film was really all that successful, given its production and marketing costs, and whether it make it into the black in theatrical release (my prediction: Yup, it sure will, or come close enough not to matter in the grand scheme of things), you’re already ensnared. You already want to see the Wonder Woman film (justly, as she was pretty cool in this film, and Gal Gadot does a fine job with her), and you’re already hoping Snyder will just goddamn lighten up, already, for the Justice League film (he won’t. You’ll see it anyway). Warner Bros will make the same amount of money whether you hatewatch or not, so long as you watch, one way or another, and you will. Nerds always watch.

Or if you don’t, that’s fine too, because, again, this is a multi-stage, multi-year project, and theatrical release grosses are just one factor. Just as Disney/Pixar keeps making Cars sequels and spinoffs not because they make a lot of money theatrically (they don’t) but because the merchandising of the Cars universe is ridiculously large, so too does this iteration of the DC universe offer Warner Bros all sorts of other ways to make money. Hollywood accounting doesn’t just run in one direction, you know. It doesn’t just try to amortize the costs of its failures on the backs of its hits. It also spreads the economic benefit of its hits across all its divisions. BvS will make $800 million to $1 billion worldwide — or won’t — but it will help bring billions into WB though merchandising and licensing and ancillary markets for the films (as well as helping to prop up and drive interest to WB/DC’s junior league of properties on television).

But they could have made so much more money if the film was good! I hear you say, and you know what, in theory, I’m with you. If BvS were a better film, which is to say, one where the story was tighter and hung together better, there’s a chance it might make more money in the long haul than the “merely” $800 million to $1 billion I expect it to settle in with when all is said and done. But then again it might not. There’s not a huge correlation between great story and massive grosses. Avatar is a punching bag for its story and it’s the highest grossing film of all time with $2.7 billion worldwide. Other billion-grossing movies include two Transformers films, two of the terrible Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, and the grossly underwhelming first Hobbit film. Oh, and The Phantom Menace. BvS might have made more money with a better story, or less — no one knows, and it’s hard to say. And in any event, as noted one paragraph above, the money from the box office is not the only money under consideration here.

Much of the tsuris about BvS comes from the fact that a certain segment of fans just don’t like the Zack Snyder interpretation of the DC universe, which is fine, but the specifics of their complaints I sometimes find a little odd. For example, there’s the complaint about the fact that in Man of Steel Superman kills Zod, who is actively trying to murder some people with his laser eyes, by breaking his neck:

Superman doesn’t kill people! is the refrain here. Well, but he does. In fact, he’s killed Zod before:

And if you ask me, that time Superman didn’t look particularly anguished about it. Sure, Superman didn’t snap his neck, he just shoved him into an icy chasm and let him fall to a splattery death tastefully obscured by fog. But dead is dead. And Zod wasn’t even trying to murder people at that moment!

Likewise, the complaint that Batman doesn’t kill people, especially with guns and bullets —

Oh. Uh, well.

But later on in the same story he breaks a gun and says guns are not the Bat Way! So, what you’re saying that Batman and his writers are kinda inconsistent on their whole stance about guns, and killing people, depending on the situation at hand? Tell me more.

Both Superman and Batman have been around for coming up on 80 years, and in that time have been rebooted so many different times and in so many different incarnations it’s difficult to count them all. The current Snyderverse iterations of these characters aren’t extreme in their portrayal, they’re just desaturated and fairly humorless. Because that’s kind of where Zach Snyder is at, basically. I’m not sure I want to see Zach Snyder attempt comedy or sustained humor. In fact, I’m vaguely terrified at the idea.

All of which is to say that I think it’s perfectly legit to dislike the Snyder take on Batman and Superman and the DC universe in general, but I don’t find the arguments that Snyder is somehow subverting the characters in his underlit-yet-still-somehow-very-teal-and-orange version particularly compelling. The good news for such complaints is that as far as comic book properties are concerned, nothing lasts forever. Hell, next year there’s gonna be a LEGO Batman movie, which, by this trailer at least, looks pretty damn amusing. Not to mention that DC itself is rebooting its entire universe, again, like, this very week or something. Who can keep track?

Personally, and again, I think the Snyderverse iteration is just fine — not amazing, but perfectly serviceable with some great visual moments and an underlying (if not especially well-developed) ethos about the responsibilities that those with great power have to those who look to them for salvation, or fear their wrath. It’s good enough, in other words, to keep me interested in what comes next. I’m not hatewatching these films. I’m just watching them, happily enough.

130 thoughts on “My Review of Batman v Superman, and Its Reviews

  1. Thanks John! I felt much the same way… I didn’t MIND it, it COULD have been much better, I thought it was pretty, and I won’t tell anyone when I order the (apparently R-rated?) Blu-ray to watch in the privacy of my basement.

    My only real gripe(s) were the characterization of Lex, who I felt was played as a manic, whiny trust-fund kid rather than the calculating, brilliant genius we love to hate. And Doomsday. Just ugh. I’d have rather seen Bats and Supes beating the crap out of each other until Wonder Woman shows up to point out they are being idiot men, manipulated by Lex. They team up, go get him, and that’s it. Let’s be (Super) Friends!

    But then we wouldn’t have had that ending, which is clearly a set up for.. .something…

  2. I couldn’t really remember much from Man of Steele (even forgot Lois and Clarke became an item) which did make some stuff a bit weird in SvB. The movie wasn’t that bad as entertainment goes but I hoped that the big questions (Can Superman be trusted? How to cope with all that damage and death he caused? …) would be explored at least a bit instead of blowing everything up all the time. Right now the big difference between Marvel and DC is this: I really enjoy watching Marvel movies more than once (with the exception of Thor movies) and buy the DVDs. I have absolutely no intention to watch MoS or SvB again. But, yeah, I probably will watch all coming movies, at least once.

  3. Wade:

    I kind of liked Lex, personally. You have to buy into the idea of Luthor being a scion rather than a self-made criminal, but if you do that, I found his tics and awkwardness to be pretty well done.

  4. Pretty much how I felt about it too – it’s an enjoyable (yet joyless) move, with massive plot problems. But that doesn’t make it the worst movie ever made. I also really liked Man of Steel. If you didn’t like it – just go back and rewatch the iterations you do like whether it’s the Burton years or the Nolan years. I mean, has anyone watched the Reeve Superman lately? It’s campy as hell.

  5. The other person I’ve seen saying he liked it fine was also a bigtime SF fan. I wonder if there’s a pattern here.

  6. The primary complaint I’ve seen online is that Snyder makes DC movies too dark and they should be bright and shiny like a new penny. Or like Supergirl or Flash. Marvel films, they say, are bright and shiny and Superman should be too, like comics from the 60s. That’s when I was a kid, and Superman was pretty much the last comic I’d pick up from DC. Even the artists were boring compared to Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane or Joe Kubert. Zach Snyder makes Superman a whole lot more interesting to me than pretty much any other movie or tv show.

  7. I think the Christopher Reeve films (the first two, at least) get forgiven for a multitude of sins just because Reeve’s performance is so good. It doesn’t matter whether that Superman is morally off-model; he seems to personally embody Superman so well that you don’t care.

  8. My take on Snyder is that he makes a very pretty music video. He’s very good at the visual image and framing certain moments with slo-mo, but he generally misses “the point”. In my opinion, where he misses for me is that his emotional focus reflects his weird objectivist tendencies. You can clearly tell that his influence from Frank Miller bleeds into his work.

    Maybe I’m just a purist on Superman and I’m definitely fond of Christopher Reeve’s take, but I had my fill of grim-dark Superman with Frank Miller, Injustice, Red Son and the like.

  9. I agree with you on the basics. It could have been better, but it will make a shitload of cash and allow other filmmakers to explore the DC universe.

    But killing off Jimmy Olsen with Snyder saying it was for “fun” … That’s a gross disregard for fans, canon, and all that is DC.

  10. You know JS you should really do this film review thing for a living…… oh wait…as you were.

    So thank you for this review – I sort of knew BvS couldn’t be as bad as some were saying but I also sort of knew that Zack Snyder rarely rings my particular bell. So what I take from the review is that my first guess was correct – like Man of Steel BvS may not be a great film but neither is it a complete waste of time.

    As for switching between the Snyder & Synder spelling throughout – you did that just to mess with obsessive proof reader types like me didn’t you?

  11. Good review and about sums it (that is the cloud following the movie) up for me. I haven’t seen the movie so I won’t say anything about it, but I would say that it doesn’t interest me and part of that is because I know it is a set-up for future things. Maybe I’m old fashioned but much as I like multi-part stories and cliffhangers I’m still of the belief that a part of a larger story should still work as a functioning story in its own right (which was partly my gripe about Star Wars VII).

    That said I don’t get the hate for it either; if you know who Zack Snyder is and you saw Man of Steel then you should have a pretty good idea of the direction its all going in. Disliking it for going in the direction it was always going to go down seems a little odd. I think it’s partly because people really want the DC take on its comics to be like the Marvel take which doesn’t make much sense to me. I like the idea of a grittier take on the superhero mythos with all that implies (characters making poor decisions, going through learning arcs etc.), but I think Mark Kermode’s comment about it mistaking ‘murkiness for darkness’ is probably on point.

  12. Overall I enjoyed it a lot. Well, “a lot” is complicated, because I just don’t go to the theater and see that many movies these days (and an undo proportion of them seem to be superhero movies, which can be somewhat distressing for a 52-year-old if he gives it much thought), but also because, frankly, my expectations weren’t all that high. I thought it might be fun and it mostly was. I thought it might be a reasonable way to kill 2-1/2 hours for $7 or $8 while eating a bucket of popcorn (it definitely was). Would I have preferred to be hanging with friends drinking margaritas and eating great Mexican food? Well, yeah, probably, but they weren’t available this weekend and besides, that costs me more than $7 or $8 plus $20 worth of popcorn and Pepsi. I thought it had some pretty nifty visuals. I thought the performances, in general, were terrific, with a particular note that Ben Affleck makes a pretty damned good Bruce Wayne and decent Batman, and I thought Jessie Eisenberg as a dot-com-like psychopath channeling Martin Schkreli was an interesting take on the genius character totally in keeping with a 2016 take on genius billionaires. I thought Gal Godot and her Wonder Woman, although primarily there to set up another movie or two, was worth the $7 or $8 alone, which might make me a cheap date, but I found her pretty unremarkable in the largely unremarkable Fast & Furious films, but I think she gets the character. So yeah. If I’d been the writer and/or director, I might have cut some or all of the flashbacks, because in general they drag a story backwards instead of forward, but they’re a lazy way of showing Bruce Wayne’s PTSD.

  13. I strongly disagree with you, John, but at least you didn’t trot out the awful and asinine argument, “just turn off your brain and enjoy!”

    I think the major problem with this film is that it trades out humour and lightness for… what exactly? Lofty thematic ambitions that aren’t really matched by character motivations or narrative? Or grand gestures that exceed the grasp of the skill of the filmmakers?

  14. The Marvel movies are actually tonally all over the place. My favorite one, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is probably the most somber and gritty of the lot. But it sets up an interesting contrast by using the most straight-arrow hero in the franchise, the guy with the canonically Superman-like personality, and putting him in the most corrupted version of the MCU, without depicting him as corrupted. I kind of liked that.

  15. I probably won’t see BvS until Netflix. But I do think Snyder is a great visual stylist; I’d much, much rather watch, say, Sucker Punch than almost anything from Michael Bay’s oeuvre.

  16. Paul Garbett:

    Fixed the typos. Thanks.

    Gerry O’Brien:

    I don’t remember the film explicitly saying that dude was Jimmy Olsen, so when he was shot it wasn’t a big deal for me. Also, Jimmy Olsen as a CIA agent? Ooooookay.

    Mark Terry:

    Re: Cutting flashbacks — as a general rule I haven’t seen a Snyder film that wouldn’t be improved by trimming about 20% of it for pacing. That said, I’m fine with allowing the Bruce Wayne flashback because it setup a payoff later in the film.

    Matthew the bear dad:

    “at least you didn’t trot out the awful and asinine argument, ‘just turn off your brain and enjoy!'”

    Yeah, that or “It’s just a film, people!” I think it’s fine for people to have wanted more from this film, of course. I’m just unsurprised this is the film we got, given Zach Snyder’s filmography. There was always a chance he would overachieve, but I found it unlikely. For example, the chance the script would be tighter and better-joined at the seam goes up against the fact that Snyder’s level of acceptable scripting is a relatively low bar. Once it gets over that bar, there’s little likelihood of it improving.

  17. Funny you mention that bit about the story for Sucker Punch being so terrible. Once I figured out what was really going on, my wife and I have enjoyed the movie a lot. So go watch it again with this in mind … Sweet Pea is the actual hero, and the entire film is her retreating into the fantasy that Baby Doll can save them. Sweet Pea only ever comes out of her delusion at the end of the film. Once you view it through that lens, the rest comes into better focus.

    My biggest issue with Snyder’s films is that he changes the characters classic motivations, without really understanding why those motivations (or their catalyzing events) are there. For example, Jonathan Kent dying of a heart attack helped Clark both learn and come to accept that he simply could not save everyone. When you change that catalyzing event to Jonathan begging Clark not to save him so he wouldn’t expose himself, the motivation changes to one where Clark is fearful of the people he’s supposed to be saving. Now at least Snyder is consistent with that across both films, but it creates very different characters, for good or bad. Clearly that’s where the audiences/critics are split, as to whether or not those classic parts of the characters should be preserved or not.

  18. I’m so with you on all of this it’s almost embarrassing.

    Well, except for Sucker Punch. I can’t even with that movie. Mostly because what it wants to say and what it actually says are at such polar opposites. But it certainly is gorgeous. And that deleted musical number with Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugion making the rounds lately is pretty awesome. Then again, that might just be my long term crush on Carla Gugino, or my recent (and not at all platonic) mancrush on Oscar Isaac, talking.

    The thing about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, is that he’s drawing on a lot of different versions of Luthor. There’s a lot of the Silver Age cackling megalomanic Luthor in there that we haven’t seen in decades. The idea of an industrialist Luthor, and a young, long-haired Luthor, are both Post-Crisis interpretations, which means over 30 years old now. (Jesus, 30 years??) There’s even some Hackman, and Spacey, and even Michael Rosenberg (Smallville, which ran 10 goddamn seasons) in there. OTOH, maybe that was just too much inspiration.

    The Snyderverse/DCCU continues to just be impeccably cast. Ben Affleck might now be my favorite Batman.

  19. I genuinely appreciate this review. I’d been trying to decide whether I wanted to risk seeing this movie.

    Now, knowing it’s just another Man of Steel with the cash-grab ethos of making The Hobbit into three movies (:sigh:), I am no longer conflicted.

    As a long-time DC fan (since the 70s, when, as a callow pre-teen, I didn’t even know there were two competing comics companies, yet still gravitated to the DC heroes for whatever reason), this saddens me greatly.

    If I did go, I’d be hate-watching, which as you say, is still watching — and, more to the point, a monetary vote for the movie — and I can’t bring myself to do that. They’ll get plenty of money; they don’t need mine.

    Plus, I have stuff I need to get done. If I’m going to spend my time on a movie, it better be one I like. I’d rather go see Zootopia again.

  20. I think you’re pretty spot-on in your review. I didn’t enjoy BvS that much, and it’s largely all on it being helmed by Zack Snyder. Yes, he builds some truly impressive action sequences – Man of Steel’s fight scenes were truly epic. I don’t feel like BvS lived up to the standard MoS set. Batman’s scenes were excellent, but the big battle at the end seemed muddled, and I feel like the CGI was strained past the breaking point.

    No, my complaints have always been on Snyder’s take on the DC Universe. And similarly, I was not a fan of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which BvS draws from. Although, Synder’s Batman (or is it more Affleck’s Batman?) doesn’t rub me the wrong way as much as Snyder’s Superman. I think that’s the aesthetic you describe. Superman, as I see him (Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman), doesn’t fit Synder’s aesthetic and in BvS I really get the impression that Snyder just doesn’t like the character. Not in any specific action, just this undertone throughout the movie that I interpret as Snyder saying, “look, this guy just doesn’t work in my world!”

    This probably puts me in the But…if the film was good! camp. I don’t find that unreasonable. I compare them to the Marvel, where The Avengers brought in $1.5 billion worldwide, Iron Man 3 $1.2b, Age of Ultron $1.4b, and many recent (last five years) averaging around $600m. So, is DC looking to replicate Marvel’s success? Or Michael Bay? Or Pirates of the Caribbean? There might be higher grossing movie series there, but I think Marvel’s doing a better job with their brand in the long term.

    In the end, I don’t know if I should blame Snyder, or DC for putting these properties into his hands, but either way – I was disappointed.

  21. Your take pretty much parallels my own. A good-enough film, if not a great one. I thought that Snyder did a decent job of mining Miller’s work in Dark Knight Returns and setting up how Luther manipulated both Supes and Wayne into the conflict where Batman’s intelligence and tactics give him a fighting chance vs. Superman. One reason I was viewing was to see how this film handled the “major destruction has consequences” theme in comparison to the forthcoming Civil War film. I find myself disappointed that this film didn’t follow through on that as well as I’d hoped as the government investigation into things was stopped by [SPOILERS]. (Though that also caused more questions to be raised, which was interesting.)

  22. My question is how long as it been since a DC Universe movie was more than just merely good? Personally I’d say not since 2008 and Dark Knight.

    And while personally I care more about good stories than how much they make on merchandising I’d still say DC’s long dry spell is hurting them even there. I’d bet Marvel/Disney is pulling in far more in merchandising from their string of good and great movies in the last eight years than DC has managed in same time frame.

    It’s unfortunate as DC has a lot of great properties to work with but they can’t seem to deliver a truly great movie.

  23. Eh. This review basically says “I don’t care about story, characterization and all that as long as I get shiny visuals” and follows up with “and it’s all fine because it makes shit tons of money.” That’s not holding movies to much of a standard. But then the current audience seems fine with Michael Bay/Zack Snyder shallowness so that’s what we’ll get which is fine, I suppose, I’d just rather see films treated as more than that, even superhero films. There’s really no excuse for having crap scripts with muddled stories and one dimensional characters. You can execute those well AND have great effects and fight scenes.

  24. Re: Cutting for Pacing

    I’d prefer they had cut Luthor’s Plan A (“Frame Superman for stuff.”) It just doesn’t go anywhere. I’m just as happy they kept Plan C (“Doomsday”), because it means Snyder hs just gone ahead and dealt with the two albatrosses of iconic Superman villains: Zod (the anti-Superman) and Doomsday (the thing that exists for one reason – to kill Superman so that can continue his Jesus thing and come back).

  25. Paul, that’s not really apples-to-apples. Since 2008, DC has only made, what, 6 movies? (TDK, TDKR, MoS, GL, Jonah Hex, BvS?) And only 2 pairs of those have been part of (separate) continuities. And only the two stand-alones could be considered failures. All of the Disney/Marvel series has been made since 2008. And it’s been an insane output: 14 movies in 8 years. And honestly, while nearly all of them have been financially successful, only 4 (maybe 5) have been widely praised as “good”.

  26. rickg@ has said it well. Basically this review says “The story telling is a mess and the motivations for everyone in this film are thin as the pages of a comic book”, but that’s fine because we’ll have followup movies which, presumably, will do the same.

    At least this review has confirmed that I won’t miss much by not seeing the film—it seems you have to be pretty “in” the universe for the movie’s plot to make some sense, which is not the case for me.

  27. The only thing that continues to baffle me about this massive-budget SSFx films is the key question of *why* for heavens sake, they decide to cheapass the *one* section of the budget that would pay an enormous return if they’d just invest a comparatively miniscule extra shot of dough:

    The writer.

    I mean, seriously, there are very good writers available, and for the cost of less than ONE hyper-CGI chase-scene-with-explosions they could get a stellar script.

    Why don’t they?

    This baffles me.

    Do you know, John?

  28. Rick Gregory:

    “This review basically says ‘I don’t care about story, characterization and all that as long as I get shiny visuals’ and follows up with ‘and it’s all fine because it makes shit tons of money.'”

    Well, no. It says that Zach Snyder’s aesthetic works for me, not that “shiny visuals” are all that matter. There is a difference, as there are other directors who traffic in visuals over story who don’t work for me at all. Also, as I noted, I think characterization in this film is good and adds value, so you’re inaccurately describing my position in your “basically” reduction.

    That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a moviegoer who prizes visual elements over other aspects of filmmaking. I’m not sure that I’m always one of them, though, since many of my favorite films are (relative) visual duds but rich in characters and storytelling (see: My Dinner With Andre or Mindwalk).

    You’re also inaccurately reducing my position to “it’s all fine because it makes shit tons of money.” I’m fine with this movie making shit tons of money, mind you, since it works for me. I also think WB thinks Snyder’s particular aesthetic is going to result in lots of money for them. But I don’t think bad art is excused by money; I do think money is neutral on the quality of the art.

    As for “there’s really no excuse for having crap scripts with muddled stories and one dimensional characters,” there are actually lots of excuses for them, including one you point out: If the audience doesn’t care, then why bother? (Again, in this case, I think the characters are more than one dimensional, so that kvetch is one I’d throw out.) Whether you (or I) think the excuses are good ones are another matter, but from a pragmatic point of view from the studio or Snyder, the excuses may work fine.

    So: Basically, Rick, you’re wrong.

    uleagehub:

    Regarding writers, one of the writers of this script (Chris Terrio) has an Oscar for screenwriting (for Argo) and the other (David Goyer) wrote or co-wrote the story and/or script to some of the best and/or most financially successful comic book movies out there, including The Dark Knight and Blade II (which I personally think is fantastic). How much more accomplished would you like them to be? You can have the best writers possible and sometimes it still doesn’t fall together.

    As I noted upthread, I expect some of this falls on Snyder — scripts are worked on until someone says “that’s good enough,” and in this case that call (probably) fell to Snyder as the director. Again, given his past history, I think Snyder’s bar for “good enough” is lower than that of some other directors (or, you know, mine).

  29. I’ll be seeing this today. I wasn’t sure at first, but your points are good. As much as Man of Steel infuriated me over story points, I did enjoy the film as a visual feast. (Though to my mind Watchmen is the ultimate comic book movie).

  30. A superhero movie. Based on a comic book! What will they think of next! (yes. sarcasm)

    I like superhero movies and movies based on comic books. Just that I sometimes like movies that are original. Oh wait, this is hollywood.

    Meh. I’ll see it on TV sometime.

  31. docrocketscience: Part of my point is that DC hasn’t been making many movies and the ones they have been making have been merely good when not just outright bad. In the meantime Marvel has been making a lot of movies all of which are at least good and several are, IMO, great.

    I’d disagree you with you on the quality of Marvel’s movies as personally, since 2008, I’d put four as great: Iron Man, The Avengers, Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Of the rest of the MCU movies, while some are weak, they’re all at least good. (Side note: I’m sticking to Marvel Studios vs DC Entertainment movies. Fox and Columbia have definitely fumbled the Marvel properties they have).

    In the meantime for DC we have Dark Knight, which was great, and then… well Green Lantern and Dark Knight Rises, both definitively bad. Then Man of Steel and BvS, both, based on response and reviews, merely good. BvS, at the very least, should have been better than the muddled mess that was Ultron but given the reviews (pro and fan) and it’s box office (falling off far faster), it didn’t manage it.

    DC has the resources and the properties to have been doing many more and far better movies than they have. Perhaps the flood they’re unleashing over the next few years will improve things but BvS should have been a slam dunk.

  32. I’ve had pretty much this same discussion with a couple of friends. I didn’t find myself liking the movie, but at the same time I don’t hate it either. Trim a little here and there and tighten it up, and I think we go from “Meh” to “Ooo”.

    I enjoyed the Frank Miller look and take on Batman used in the film. After the teasers for Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg I’m ready to give them a shot (need to see more of Aquaman to decide… who am I kidding those dollars are gone). As for the action sequences I’m still trying to wrap my head around the mayhem.

    Lex Luthor seemed to be more of a Joker just before the green hair and big smile. I did NOT understand that take on the character at all. Then, there is Doomsday. I was reading at the time Doomsday punched his way onto the page (with one arm tied behind his back). This was one of the most disappointing things in the movie. I know I’m not alone in wondering where all of h is spikes got to, or how did he get powers? I mean his main power is beating Superman to death with just sheer strength, not tactical battlefield nuclear explosions and such.

    And just to jump into the water regarding Superman and Batman killing people. In some retellings of the Superman mythos he manages to imprison Zod and gang. In others he has no choice but to kill him/them. In “The Death of Superman” storyline, his final act is to kill Doomsday just as he is killed himself.

    Batman started out as a clone of The Shadow, complete with guns. And while over time he dropped guns as an every day tool, he also told James Gordon that if he–Gordon–wanted to kill Joker he–Batman–would understand and not try to stop him (at the end of “No Man’s Land”).

    I’ve not heard much on Wonder Woman, but if someone wants to say she doesn’t kill in the comics, I present Maxwell Lord.

    Just as a final aside while I like the fact that Bats and Supes go out of their way to avoid killing, lets be realistic, some of the fights that get into ARE going to have casualties, most likely collateral.

    Sigh I wanted to love this movie, but I’ll settle for not hating it.

  33. underlit-yet-still-somehow-very-teal-and-orange

    Not directly related to this film – which I haven’t seen and don’t intend to, I know this version of the DC universe and didn’t like it much last time – can I just say how very very tired I am of teal and orange?

    Yes, I know why they do it, I even know how they do it and CAN PEOPLE PLEASE STOP USING ONLY TWO COLOURS FOR DRAMATIC HIGHLIGHTING NOW PLEASE IT’S BEEN 15 YEARS HERE IS A COLOUR WHEEL FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH IT THANKS.

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh

  34. As a fan of the comics, I really enjoyed a lot of the visuals – as you say, that’s pretty routine for a Snyder film. A Batman that kills is sufficiently at odds with my image of the character that I found it VERY jarring, but not a deal-breaker (that page you show from Miller’s DKR was similarly jarring to me when I read it, but that was a much older, more bitter Batman). Accordingly, I would have really liked to have seen a bit more attention paid to the film Batman’s 20 year descent into cruelty. Maybe instead of an overly long flashback of his parents’ murder, a montage including Robin’s death at the hands of the Joker, and other triggers that caused a ‘good man to become… cruel’ – there was enough padding that could have been trimmed to accommodate that. Also, Affleck did a great job, I thought, and I didn’t think anyone could top Caine’s Alfred from Nolan’s films, but Jeremy Irons was wonderful. Gal Gadot was great as Wonder Woman, too – her expressions during the fight scenes showed the character’s warrior pride. My only casting/acting grips is that Eisenberg’s Luthor was really all over the map. I would have rather seen Mark Strong in the role – he plays villains like Lex really, really well.

    Also, the “both our mothers are/were named Martha?! Ok, we are BFFs now!” bit was really hard to swallow, even if you take it as a trigger of Batman coming to realize Luthor’s machinations.

    I am actually very glad I had heard that the reviews for the movie were terrible, as I went into it with drastically lower expectations, which were pleasantly exceeded. My sons, 11 and 13, loved it.

  35. With this review I know I can safely skip BvS and the DC Snyderverse. I know the film will make lots of money but all I can do is control my own pocketbook. Thanks.

  36. The two comments directly above show how a review can work well for different people, even as they come to different conclusions about seeing the film.

  37. I usually read via RSS, but came to the site to add my 2 cents above, and I just noticed the ‘crucial team for a dying world’ tag line. PLEASE tell me that’s a reference to My Brain is Like a Sieve, my favorite track from Aliens Ate My Buick, the truly wonderful Thomas Dolby album…

  38. I’m not bothering – I thought MoS was pretty but dumb and pretty but dumb isn’t worth my time and money at the moment. I’m also not bothering because the cynic in me says something you mentioned, that I see in gaming a lot. Nerds may complain, but don’t seem to realize or care that complaining about something makes much less of an impact than when you bough four different editions of the item to prove you had the “right” to complain. They still got paid so they’ll still make more.

    So basically, I’m saying “I’m not a fan of super-dark Superman” by not paying to see more of him.

  39. The question isn’t “can batman or superman kill?” because essentially anyone is going to write these characters differently. But I personall, am not interested in a Batman or Superman who kills as the prime, actual version of those characters. They can exist in alternate universes, but if I’m told that the prime version of Batman/Superman is someone who kills, I lose interest.

    I *am* interested in stories that push the line for them. I’m somewhat interested in stories that push them *over* that line (The Killing Joke). In the former case, Superman Vs. The Elite was amazing. Loved it. In the later case, I don’t have an interest in batman after that. He’s not a Batman I care about anymore.

    It’s the unwillingness to take a life is part of what makes those characters interesting to me at all. They have very few actual limitations other than that moral code. A Superman who’d kill one bad guy can just as well go through life routing out and brain-burning pedophiles or killing Kim Jong Il. What makes him different and compelling is that he can kill but never wants to, no matter what. A Superman I want to read about believes in the best in us and wants to lead by example. A Batman I want to read knows that the killer lurks in all of us and shows us that we can go up to the line but never cross it.

    I don’t actually care about the guys in BvS. They’re not inspiring anything in me at all. They’re not superHEROES. They’re super powerful dudes who don’t stand for what’s better in humanity. They’re no longer uplifting that way. If I want to read about that, I’ll re-read Watchmen.

    There’s nothing wrong with other people wanting to see a Superman or a Batman who kills though.

  40. I’ve never been a big fan of Snyder’s style. It seems that he tries to take the visual flair of Tarsem Singh (whom I’m not a huge fan of either) and muddy it up to make it grittier.

    There’s also something in the subtext that I could never put a finger on until recently. The one film of his I did like (Watchmen) basically was a “shot for shot” adaptation of the graphic novel with a changed ending. But other than the ending (and the god-awful old age makeup) there was something about the small changes (like the RR speculation on who would run for president at the end) that really made me wonder about how much I really liked the film.

    And then a few weeks ago Snyder let on about a dream project he wants to do. He wants to remake “The Fountainhead”. He wants to make it because he thinks it’s a brilliant novel…

    Now all of the Snyder films make a little more sense. Now I understand a little bit more why he made the changes to Superman’s personality and story. Now I truly understand why I don’t like his films.

    For a much, MUCH different take on the film than John’s, I suggest you google Bob Chipman’s (AKA Moviebob) video review. Don’t read the text version of the review, watch the video for maximum effect. (Trigger warnings galore, though…)

  41. Generally I don’t think Marvel movies are better; they are lighter in tone, but otherwise just as shallow. The only one I thought was great was Winter Soldier. The only one I love is Kenneth Branaugh’s Thor. If you want high quality comic movies, bizarrely one needs to turn to the X-verse these days. Deadpool is the best romantic comedy in decades and Days of Future Past actually fixed the problems of all the previous bad films in the franchise.

    We should also note that Marvel is in the business of making dark Batman movies; they call it the Daredevil series. I swear at one point they were lifting music cues and tracking shots directly from several Bat films. Along with the whole I hate it when he disappears like that shtick.

    On the other hand none of the MCU films are anywhere near as bad as Green Lantern.

  42. The comic panel you used to prove your point that Batman sometimes uses guns was from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns – an alternate future timeline which is not part of the mainstream canon. I’m not saying there aren’t other examples where Batman has used a gun or killed his enemy … just making an observation!

    My biggest problem with the movie is that Batman just decides he is going to murder Superman because he is upset about Superman’s battle with Zod? Batman wouldn’t do that to a supervillain, let alone a superhero.

    The whole movie just seemed like it was done by someone who never really read or appreciated these characters from the comic books and wanted to do their own versions. After 30 years of reading about these iconic characters, there are certain values that make them who they are.

  43. The classic heroic ethos of DC’s Superman would be utterly antithetical to Ayn Rand’s worldview, so Synder’s high praise for The Fountainhead explains a lot about why he utterly abandoned it.

  44. Paul, we’re going to end up pretty deep in the subjective, because while I do go ahead and count GotG in my list of 4-5 (the others being IM1, CA:TWS, Avengers 1, and and maybe Ant-Man), personally, while I was not really a fan of TDKR, I’d watch it a dozen times in a row before agreeing to watch GotG ever again. Besides, no one likes Iron Man 2, no one even remembers that The Incredible Hulk was an MCU movie, and I don’t think many would even notice if Captain America 1 and both of the Thor movies were removed from the canon (and I liked all three). But there we go getting all subjective again. ;-)

    Not sure how you suspect that DC, in its (more than occasionally fraught) partnership with Warners – a studio that seems perpetually on the brink of insolvency – has had the resources to do what Disney has done. And make no mistake, the MCU is a Walt Disney Company product. and Disney took a major gamble when they committed to the MCU back in ’08. It’s paid of, through extraordinary talent, no small amount of luck, and some sheer corporate will. But to assume that Warners/DC could have just been doing that all along? I’m not at all sure. They’re gonna give it a go.

    I’m also not sure what BvS box office fall off you’re referring to. Box Office Mojo was indicating that it exceeded expectations everyday from Thursday through Sunday. It’s going to have a big drop off next week, no doubt. Probably about 60%. But that’s in line with historical trends, the loss of the Thursday previews, and accounts for the overall audience enthusiasm for the film being below something like The Force Awakens or the first Avengers (though it still sits in the B range, much higher that Twittersphere would have you believe).

  45. Other billion-grossing movies include two Transformers films, two of the terrible Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, and the grossly underwhelming first Hobbit film. Oh, and The Phantom Menace.

    So basically you are saying that nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the average movie-goer. (With apologies to Menken)

    As for BvS, I’ll probably wait for it to come out on Netflix. It messes too much with the superheroes I grew up with to be enjoyable for me; to me it is as if someone took Aquaman and made him allergic to seawater. That might be an interesting story and other people might enjoy it. I wouldn’t and so I’ll put my time and money elsewhere. As a friend used to say “that just isn’t my kink”.

  46. I’ve not seen the movie, I probably won’t. Man of Steel turned me off far before he killed Zod.

    Every version of Superman before that, he was raised to be a hero. Take Superman: The Movie – When Pa Kent talks to Clark about using his powers, it’s to complain that he was “Showing off again” and to tell Clark that he was here for a reason. MoS Clark is told to protect himself, hide his secret, his secret is more important than a busload of kids. When StM Pa Kent dies, it’s a moment of humility for Clark, “All these powers, and I couldn’t save him”. Chastened, Clark finds out about his heritage, then heads to the big city to build a life and be a hero. MoS Pa Kent’s death was about making a decision to put his secret above the protection of others, even those important to him, and he headed out to wander the world and only eventually going to Metropolis.

    In Superman The Movie, Smallville was about the crafting of a hero, the hero who would inspire a generation of other heroes and be the role model they aspire to reach. In Man of Steel, it was about how to learning how to hide among the humans and the importance of hiding. And in one of the latest trailers, Ma Kent tells Clark, you don’t owe the world anything. Killed any interest I had in the movie.

  47. So, the death of “Jimmy Olsen” and the appearance of a new Flash in BvS pretty conclusively places the Man of Steel movies on a different Earth than Supergirl’s TV Earth. . . which is also on a different Earth from the TV Flash.

    Give DC credit – they seem to be embracing the metaverse wholeheartedly.

  48. While I have zero problem with Superman killing people or Batman using a gun (although his general abandon with the latter is problematic), I do have problems with the climactic battle hinging on whether or not Superman can guess Batman’s safeword. It’s like Spider-Man whaling on you until you cry “Uncle.” It’s lazy writing, in a film that’s FULL of examples of lazy writing.

    That said, glad I watched it because making fun of terrible movies has been a fantastic way to pass the time since the advent of MST3K way back when I was in college.

  49. DrDoom:

    “an alternate future timeline which is not part of the mainstream canon.”

    You… you do understand you’re actually making my point for me here, yes?

    Also, I’m gonna be blunt here, if you don’t think Miller’s take on Batman hasn’t had a huge influence on the character of Batman as he’s understood today, canonically, I’m just going to stare at you silently until you get real uncomfortable.

  50. For all that the DC live-action movies have been a mixed bag, the DC animated films are generally very high-quality (allowing for the conventions of the medium) and much truer to the base storylines. If you’ve been avoiding them because “cartoons are for kids,” you might treat yourself to one or two of them on Netflix. Batman: Gotham Knight, All-Star Superman, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights are good starting points.

  51. @docrocketscience: The box office falloff referred to is probably the day to day falloffs; Fri-Sat and Sat-Sun. The day to day falloffs were pretty steep (although not quite record breaking). Some have suggested that Easter had something to do with the Sunday falloff, but other films in past years have not done as poorly.

    Worldwide, the box office take was record setting (for comic book films) but this is perhaps a bit misleading for two reasons:

    1. BvS opened in ALL the major foreign territories at once. This is pretty rare. China often is a week or two behind and the UK sometimes gets things a week earlier.

    2. The domestic take was very good, but not spectacular. BvS couldn’t quite match the Iron Man 3 opening weekend domestically.

    Still, the upcoming competition for the next two weeks is non-existent (God’s Not Dead 2 is the “biggest” film in that span). So BvS has a clear field to try to regain some momentum against the negative critical avalanche. Time will tell. Let’s just say that $1 Billion world wide is not a cinch. The film will make plenty of money with the ancillary markets, but falling short of $1b box office will be perceived as a major blow.

  52. I would have said “kvetching” where you said “tsuris” . . . . kvetching is complaining, while tsuris is more like woes or difficulties that happen to you.

  53. Re: Superman II featuring the apparent death of Zod… this hardly works as an example of something the faithful were (or would have been) okay with! On the contrary, it’s among the flaws in the theatrical version of that film, which bothered people to the point where WB eventually went so far as to release an “official” Donner recut. In that–and also in the contemporary extended TV cut–Zod and the others were entrusted to the police, alive and unpowered.

  54. I’m not going to see this movie until we screen it at my library, specifically to avoid spending my own money on it. ‘Cause that’ll show ’em.

    I do have one quibble with your review. As best I can tell, Batman didn’t kill that guy when he used the gun in TDKR. Unless you can point out a passage in the comic that says he died, dude lived.

    I’m not saying it makes a lick of sense that Bats shot a guy with an M60 without killing him, but if he did kill that random mook it completely changes the rest of the story. The entire point of the final confrontation with the Joker was that Batman was unwilling to kill even his worst enemy, a psychopath who had killed thousands of people over the years. That’s not the decision of a guy who casually killed a complete nobody earlier in the story.

    Also, the police reaction doesn’t make sense if he killed the mutant. They didn’t accuse Batman of murder until after the Joker killed himself. Before that it was assault, breaking and entering and creating a nuisance (which at least means he won’t be ostracized on the Group W bench). The news casts didn’t call him a killer, either.

    So, yeah. Batman didn’t kill anyone in The Dark Knight Returns. At the very least, it’s a lot more ambiguous than Zack Snyder wants us to think.

  55. A little bit of Yiddish-related editorial advice, unsolicited but perhaps not unwelcome: The word tsuris concerns personal troubles, ordinary or otherwise. It isn’t a catch-all substitute for “trouble,” as in “The trouble with film X is that…”

    As for the question of “alternative timelines” raised above: Back in the late 1960s I saw a few “What If?” Superman comics. The writers were already so bored with their character that they had to create entirely new circumstances for him, and he’d been around for only(?) 30 years or so.

  56. S. Wyatt:

    “The domestic take was very good, but not spectacular.”

    OH COME ON.

    It had the #7 domestic opening weekend of all time. It had the #4 global opening weekend of all time and the #1 superhero global opening weekend of all time. The #7 largest domestic per theater average of all time. It’s already the #3 domestic film released this year based on one weekend. And so on.

    Putting on my movie industry observer of a quarter century hat for a second, let me suggest that when we’re looking at a film that is among the top ten of all films of all time in a number of various categories, it’s not just doing “very good,” it is in fact doing spectacularly. To suggest otherwise is underplaying its performance in the face of actual fact.

    Whether it continues to do spectacularly is open for speculation. But, yeah. Its opening weekend was pretty damn spectacular, globally, domestically and pretty much any way you want to slice it.

    Shmuel:

    The Donner cut of Superman II is not the cut that was released theatrically, nor is it the one that the vast majority of people who saw the film have seen. Nor does the packaging of the cut anywhere refer to it as the “official” version of the film, merely as the “Richard Donner Cut”; the theatrical release version is also available on video. Which is to say the original cut has not been disavowed; WB is merely picking up a bit of extra cash by releasing an alternate version. Which is fine!

    (NB: This is not me saying the Lester cut is superior to the Donner cut; I prefer the Donner cut in most ways.)

  57. Die Hard came out when I was in my mid-twenties. It was a fun action film. Bruce Willis as an action hero was a bit disconcerting–we thought of him as a comic actor back then, best known for his role in Moonlighting. Alan Rickman was absolutely terrific as the villain. The plot didn’t stand up to too much scrutiny, but so long as you let it flow past you it was fine. Good times all around.

    Then Die Hard 2 came out two years later. It was utterly unnecessary. Die Hard stood up just fine by itself. But we knew that walking into the theater. I wasn’t looking for Great Art. But what I got had me sitting there thinking “This makes no sense at all.” Lo these many years later I couldn’t tell you the details, but I remember thinking that the plot seemed to assume that there was only one airport east of the Mississippi. When I complained to my friends afterwards I was advised to lighten up.

    What I learned that day is that I have low tolerance for plot holes that are obvious before the closing credits. Plot holes that don’t occur to me until afterwards are fine: I enjoyed my two hours and that is what I paid for. But if I am sitting in the theater thinking about how this is obvious nonsense, that prevents me from enjoying the movie.

    The upshot is that I have not seen Batman vs. Superman, and don’t expect to. This isn’t because I am opposed to superhero movies, but because there is every indication that I would not enjoy this one.

    On the bright side, I just binge watched Jessica Jones. It was terrific. I read a review in the New Yorker which compared it with Season 6 of Buffy. I think that is about right, and unlike many Buffy fans I really liked Season 6. Good times keep on rolling.

  58. Yeah, but Amazing Spider-Man 2 had things that looked cool too. I think I’ll like this a lot more when I can fast-forward through everything and just watch cool, disconnected shorts.

  59. Yes, you can find examples of Batman using guns or killing people. In 75+ years of people writing stories about these characters, of course someone is going to write things that “break character”. So no, it’s not surprising you could find an example of that. The point is that Batman using guns or killing people is *supposed* to be extraordinary circumstances in stories that have been *earned*. Dark Knight Returns is an old, tired Batman coming out of retirement in hyperviolent times and trying to use “appropriate” measures, and realizing that that’s still wrong for him. In one comic, Kevin Smith had Batman reveal that in one of his first nights out fighting crime he scared himself and peed his pants. Doesn’t mean that every version (or most, or *any* other version) of Batman needs to wet himself.
    I don’t really need to see “dark and gritty” versions of superheroes. I read comics in the 90s, so I’ve had more than my fill of that. And I’ve never been a big Superman fan, but even *I* ‘get’ Superman more than Snyder does. Again, having him kill someone right off the bat? (No pun intended). That’s basically violating one of the fundamental cores of the character. It’s cheap and unearned. If you want to make a movie about an anti-hero who kills villains, then make a Punisher movie.
    I agree that Snyder does very lovely visual things. I really like the story-within-the-story-within-the-story bits of Sucker Punch. I liked 300. I even liked Watchmen, but that’s where I started noticing that Snyder didn’t really understand the story he was trying to tell.
    And yes, they identify Jimmy Olsen in the credits, and yes, Snyder says he killed off the character, shooting him in the head, because he didn’t have any better ideas on how to use the character and he thought it was “fun”. Remind me not to go to any pool parties at the Snyder compound. Great idea, when you’re using a shared universe, to just break things you decide you can’t use and make sure no one else can use them, either.

  60. I had a feeling, after posting, that I might not have gotten my intended meaning across: it’s “official” only compared to the fan edits that had been circulated until that point. I did not mean to imply that it was more official than the theatrical Lester cut, and I apologize for giving that impression. Regardless, my point stands: that they released it at all does seem to serve as evidence of the dissatisfaction felt about the theatrical version. (That is: if everyone had been fine with the Lester cut, there would have been no demand for the Donner cut. There was plenty of demand for the Donner cut.)

  61. I know John already addressed this, but: really? Iron Man 3 is now considered the border between a good opening and a great one? The second highest grossing movie of 2013, nestled between Hunger Games: Catching Fire (the highest earner of that series) and the international phenomenon that was Frozen? Th highest grossing film of its own series, and the best take among stand-alone MCU movies? A film that itself did a third again more business than both it’s own predecessors and Man of Steel? That’s the standard? Ok…

  62. Oh, one more thing – I’ve seen Superman 1 and 2 many many times. Until Man of Steel came out, it never occurred to me that Zod and the others were killed, that they were just knocked out until they could be locked up somewhere.

  63. I wrote my review over at Freethought Blogs. It’s spoiler-free. I’ll be doing a spoiler-heavy review after the extended edition comes out.

    I guess it’s because I’m just not a fan of Zack Snyder, but, to me, this film is an entire mess. I don’t think the whole “Martha” thing was a pay-off at all, and, honestly, found it damn near laughable. Not the concept, mind you, which, on paper, seems pretty awesome. It was the execution. And ultimately, that’s the issue I have with this film: the execution, from my perspective, was terrible. Not to mention the pacing and editing, which, to me, absolutely felt like a whole lot was cut.

    I also felt as if the Knigtmare scene and the scene with Diana Prince watching the clips of Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg were utterly pointless. To me, they can summarised thusly: “and now we take a short break from our film for a word from our sponsor, Justice League!”

    The acting, on the other hand, is phenomenal. It saddens me, because the actors deserved way better than this.

    I’m iffy on the whole Batman killing thing, but other than that, Ben Affleck gave me the best live-action Bruce Wayne/Batman I have ever seen (and, for the record, Argo is the only Ben Affleck movie I’ve ever liked). I’m not a fan of Ben Affleck at all, and yet he did an absolutely phenomenal job, like he was born to play this role.

    I am a fan of Henry Cavill, and even though I don’t think Zack Snyder understands Superman at all, I think Henry does and he turns in his absolute best acting in both MoS and BvS around the (I think) crap he was given.

    Amy Adams might well be my favorite Lois Lane. She is a wonder actor and just a wonderful person, and she does such a great job with the role.

    Gal Gadot was a revelation, and her Wonder Woman, while criminally underused, elevated every scene she was in, both as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to her solo film. She is beyond wonderful.

    I like Jesse Eisenberg as an actor, and I basically feel the same way about his Lex Luthor as I do about Henry Cavill’s Superman: I think what Jesse was given was crap, but he did his absolute best with it. I really don’t think anyone else could have done better than he did.

    I gave the film a 6 out of 10 overall. I saw it described as “a beautiful mess”, and I think that’s the best short-hand description of it I’ve seen.

  64. Schmuel, are we now going to pretend, in an effort to conclusively prove that Snyder’s films are objectively terrible, that Superman II as directed by Richard Lester was not viewed for a quarter century as one of the, if not the, high water marks for comic book superhero films? Ok…

  65. Haven’t seen BvS yet, but probably will. It’s a father-son thing.

    My objection based on what I’ve read is the same objection I have to most Hollywood: it really doesn’t take any more effort to create a logical (or at least self-consistent) plot than to create crap. And if you have enough aliens, explosions, or exploding aliens (my touchstones for a great film*), even the least intelligent audience members will still fill the seats. So why do so many Hollywood directors insist on crap? It’s pandering of the worst type.

    * Not my line… I stole it from someone who reviewed Bareback Mountain *ahem* by saying it was suitable even for men who only went to films with aliens etc. etc.

    (As a corollary to which, I’m still bummed that they canned Stargate Universe, John. I think you had developed as much promise for that series as Wedon did for Firefly, which also got canned. I strongly suspect Hollywood producers or their funders don’t trust anyone they think might be smarter than they are. Which means pretty much anyone with a pulse, really. So there you have it. Q.E.D.)

  66. Yeah. No.

    I’m down with great visual cinematic stylists. Really down. I’ll defend Peter Greenaway against all comers, for instance. (As weird and emotionally distant as his films are, there’s more recognizable humanity in any random five minutes of Greenaway than in all of Zack Snyder’s ouevre.) It’s fine to acknowledge that Batman versus Superman is lovely to look at (it absolutely is), but that doesn’t change the fact that it is overall a terrible film.

    Here, from my Facebook post after I saw it is my take on the most egregious problem with the film: “[T]he movie is fundamentally dishonest. When Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman finally battle the film’s major alien menace, somebody mentions that, since it’s evening, the downtown core of the city will be largely unpopulated. Later in that battle, another character mentions that the warehouse the fight has moved to is mostly empty. We’re supposed to understand that this is a response to the criticism of the first Superman film’s city-destroying action sequences, with their horrific loss of life.

    For me, the two statements stuck out like a sore thumb. I find it hard to believe that they weren’t actually director Zack Snyder taking the piss out of his critics, although, as an alternative, I can believe that they were foisted on him by a studio that wanted to avoid the negative reaction to the action in the first films.

    Aside from the awkwardness of their inclusion in the film, there are two reasons I believe that these scenes are less than sincerely intended. To begin, let me say that the scenes early in the film where Bruce Wayne is wheeling his way through the destruction of Metropolis from the climactic battle of the first movie were a brilliant way of illustrating the issue of innocent lives being destroyed in a battle of super-powered aliens. Batman versus Superman asks the right questions. Unfortunately, it shies away from giving any answers.

    Take the scene set up in the trailer, for example, where Superman walks into a Senate hearing on the thousands of lives that were lost in the battle. You think he’s going to justify his actions in that scene? Nope. The plot takes that scene in a completely different direction before he utters a word.

    Or, take Bruce Wayne’s anger at the destruction, which is one of the main motivations for the battle between Batman and Superman. Once the battle is over, Bruce Wayne looks upon Superman as a hero. That might be reasonable except for one thing: the destruction of half of Metropolis didn’t magically unhappen. That it was so easily swept away in the need for a conclusion that pointed towards the creation of the Justice League suggests to me that it was a Maguffin, that Snyder was never really interested in the moral implications of Superman’s actions. (That, or he has a really simplistic idea of morality. Oh, wait – he wants to direct a cinematic version of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead? Yeah, I can totally believe he has a really simplistic version of morality.)”

    I feel like a bait and switch happened with the film: I was promised an exploration of the morality of superheroism and, instead, was given the same old same old. This could have made Batman versus Superman a much more interesting film.

  67. I admit I can be a little parsimonious when it comes to high praise, so maybe I underestimated the impact of the film’s opening. Also, IM3 was that high? I must have spent too much time in the internet echo chamber with the wailing fanboys kvetching about The Mandarin’s portrayal in that film (a sentiment not shared by me).

    Nonetheless, I stand by my statements about the worldwide opening weekend. The number looks spectacular, but it opened everywhere at once which is not the norm. China is usually a week or two later and all the Marvel films since the first Avengers actually open in the UK and parts of Europe a week earlier than they do domestically.

    Prognosticating off an opening weekend is a fools game (as many, including John have alluded to here). For proof (on point regarding superhero films) I leave the following link:

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2003/jun/23/news

  68. “He’s tuned into what a 13-year-old, newly-pubescent, white male comic book and video game geek wants to see — or thinks he wants to see, anyway. He wants to see Spartans kick-ass, shot-for-shot recreations of graphic novels and sexy-child killbots in a boss fight. He also wants to see Batman and Superman punch the shit out of each other, and then team up for a boss fight, too. That’s who Zack Snyder is as a filmmaker; that’s the baseline you work with. Everything else is incidental; anything else you get is kind of a bonus.”

    Thanks for saving me $10.

  69. I liked a lot of it, and agree with a lot of your critiques as well. I was pleasantly surprised by Batfleck – every pleasantly. He did the older, even more jaded Bruce Wayne justice in a great way. And unlike Bale, I could understand him when he spoke. I really enjoyed Gal Godot as WW – I cheered at her fight scenes even when they were silly. She just draws your eye.

    I did not like this take on Lex Luthor much – there were maybe 2-3 too many tics. It felt really muddled to me. I got the influences, I just thought he was trying to throw every “hey, look I’m ACTING” bit into it. By the end I thought he went to far into Joker territory personally, but I understand others like it.

    I went for a Batman movie, I hated Man of Steel, and this has the same problems on the Superman side of things (bo-ring), but it was damn pretty and had some interesting bits. Worth a fun night out with friends & some popcorn, but unlikely to ever re-watch. But I am HERE for future Aquaman movies and anytime shirtless Momoa can be on screen.

  70. OK, so… another question, based on the Superman clip included above. And pardon me, in advance for my nerd-lite level of ignorance, I haven’t closely followed superhero comix in a good many years.

    But… can’t Superman *fly*?

    And isn’t Superman, like, super-strong?

    And thus, could he not simply have taken off with Zod, removing Zod’s lethal gaze from the vicinity of the Hapless Innocents?

    It’s not necessarily the gratuitously ‘dark’ take on the heroic narrative that bothers me, it’s the wait-wait-there-went-my-suspension-of-disbelief inconsistencies for the sake of the darkening that lose me…

  71. Greg:

    “Great idea, when you’re using a shared universe, to just break things you decide you can’t use and make sure no one else can use them, either.”

    Two things here:

    1. Snyder is pretty much running the DC cinematic universe for WB through 2020 at least, and in particular runs the Superman franchise, so it’s actually his call to make until the inevitable reboot of the universe in the mid-to-late ’20s;

    2. Jimmy Olsen was going to be used by anyone else? This may be lack of vision on my part, but I don’t really see him being used a lot in, say, a Wonder Woman or Aquaman movie. Beyond that, various events in the film suggest that Clark Kent’s future at the Daily Planet might be, uh, constrained, which leaves even less for Olsen to have done in the future.

    I’m not arguing about casually offing a canonical character was the right thing to do (or that Snyder’s reasoning doesn’t make him kind of a jerk), just that this particular concern of yours doesn’t actually seem problematic to me. And in any event, when they inevitably reboot Superman, chances are good Olsen will be back, safe and sound.

  72. Docrocketscience @ 1:55

    One quibble, DC and WB are not partners in the sense that WB owns the movie rights to DC properties like Fox has the movie rights for the X-Menverse, DC Comics is OWNED lock, stock and barrel by Warners ever since Warner Communications came into existence in 1972 when National Kinney Company spun off its entertainment division, National Comics(publishers of DC Comics), Warner-Seven Arts movie studio, and Warner Music Group.

  73. John –

    It’s not that I think Jimmy Olsen is a vital and irreplaceable part of the Superman franchise. I just think it speaks volumes for Snyder’s lack of interest in, respect for, or understanding of his source material. And for his jerkiness, which I have no interest in rewarding by paying money to see this movie. I’m not saying it’s not his call to make, I’m saying his decision is short-sighted and mean.

    Believe me, I’m well aware that the DC movies are stuck in the shadow of Snyder’s aesthetic for a long, long time. That’s why I’m happy to ignore them and watch the far superior TV shows sporting DC characters.

  74. docrocketscience: Definitely a lot of subjectivity here as I’ve watched TDKR exactly one and half times. The half was because there was absolutely nothing else on at the hotel. It was painful. :)

    I’ll give you that DC doesn’t have the resources of Disney but I still think at least one of the movies they released since DK should have been great. I still think all we got ranged very bad to passable, which is disappointing.

    I was speaking of the weekend drop-off which was large compared to other genre movies of the last few years.

    BvS: 81m, 50m, 33m
    Avengers: 80m, 69m, 57m
    Ultron: 84m, 56m, 50m
    Iron Man 3: 68m, 62m, 43m
    Dark Knight: 67m, 47m, 43m

    Hell, BvS had a worse Sunday than Man of Steel and Deadpool even managed almost no drop-off and a better Sunday: 47m, 42m, 42m

    And yes I agree it’s still a huge opening weekend but it’s something like the final 100m dash. Everyone on that track is great but last place is still disappointed they weren’t in first.

  75. I don’t know that equating box office with success is a particularly useful metric–people have been flocking to the theater to see potential train wrecks since L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat.

    I know big comics fans who HATED BvS, and I know big comics fans who LOVED it–and it’s possible that both of them are right. De gustibus etc.

  76. Fancycwabs:

    In terms of what sort of films movies studios are interested in making, box office success does in fact tend to be a fairly useful metric. They are businesses, after all. They want to make money.

  77. I too liked Sucker Punch. Some aspects of it could certainly have been better, but I liked it fine, as a tragedy. I felt like shit for days afterwards. If the mark of success for an artistic endeavor is the strength of emotion invoked then it was very successful from my perspective.

    I’ll see BvS and though I am sure I’ll groan, perhaps mumble “idiots” or “that’s fu#$*$! stupid” a few times, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

  78. I’m a 52 year old DC comics fan from way back (since I was about 10) and I enjoyed the movie.

    Part of it is that like our host, I happen to enjoy Zack Snyder’s visual style. I also found that the plot did more than enough of a job to tell a story, though I think it needed the extra 30 minutes in the forthcoming Ultimate Cut to really breathe.

    As for the “Martha” scene. It worked for me. After all, the fact that both heroes mothers share that name has been canon for a good three-quarters of a century by this point, so it’s not like they made it up for the film. They didn’t shoehorn it in, they used it. This Batman has PTSD and sees Superman as a dangerous alien until Lois drags him back to Earth by shoving his connection with the “alien” in his face. It’s the mother that makes the scene work, the shared name is a classic comic book coincidence that happens to work in its favor.

  79. I appreciate your reasonable statement on why you enjoyed the movie. I agree that Snyder is capable of some stunning visuals. I don’t think we got much of that in BvS, though. So far Snyder has peaked visually with Watchmen and Sucker Punch; both DC movies seem to have palettes inspired by Gears of War, and some of the panel-to-frame shots feel incredibly forced.

    I do enjoy new takes on old characters, but this feels to me like it goes too far overboard on edgy and grim and cynical. I think the fact that this will be the tone of all DC films for the rest of the decade means I’m just not going to bother seeing any more of them. It’s a shame, because the opening sequence of Bruce Wayne speeding through Metropolis and rescuing people was absolutely fantastic. Then, the rest of the movie he was The World’s Greatest Detective being yanked around by the world’s most ineffective Lex Luthor.

    (I found this particularly ironic, since I just saw a DC panel at C2E2 last weekend where the company declared they had the best villains.)

    I guess it’s nice to see an established professional storyteller explain quite clearly that the story and writing in the film is awful, because there are a surprising number of people who think that’s not the case.

  80. I liked both this film and Man of Steel, even though they had major plot and structural issues. I kept thinking they should cut this film down a bit, because the first hour after the introductory sequence just drags like crazy – but once it gets going, it’s entertaining. And I loved the fights way more than, say, the ending fight in Age of Ultron, because it actually felt like meaningful combatants. It wasn’t our heroes shooting a bunch of cannon fodder repetitively for 30 minutes.

    But later on in the same story he breaks a gun and says guns are not the Bat Way!

    The “no killing” thing is more important than the “no gun” thing, in my opinion. It’s how Batman distinguishes himself from any other vicious vigilante – he’s not “judge, jury, and executioner”. Or at least that’s the fig-leaf (I’m partial to the idea that Batman/Bruce Wayne is insane).

  81. Again, all those daily numbers, even the Sunday to my knowledge, were above pre-release expectations. There are a lot of ways to interpret box office numbers, but I don’t think, at this point, “BvS is tanking” is a supportable one. If it drops 70-80% next weekend, then yeah, word of mouth would have killed it. But RT, Metacritic, and IMDb user scores all put audience reaction in the mid 70s. More reviled movies have cleared the $800M mark.

  82. And yet for some reason Sony would rather “reboot” Spider-Man after the wildly (financially) successful Spider-Man 3 than make Spider-Man 4. I don’t know the machinations of the film industry, but I know that sometimes for unknown reasons they’ll kill the goose that’s doing pretty well by golden eggs.

  83. Oh, and I liked Lex Luthor in this, too. I liked that he doesn’t have clear-cut, easy-to-summarize reason for hating Superman. It’s a nebulous mix of reasons that basically amount to him being resentful of someone who is unaccountably more powerful than him, whom he can’t fight back against. That feels realistic to me.

  84. I actually found a lot of the ideas in the movie rather provocative, if looked at this way:

    1. It’s not Earth-1, it’s Earth-2016

    2. Superman has the costume and the name, but he hasn’t fully committed to being The Man until the end of the film.

    3. Batman is so burned out that he started losing his way when Robin died because that’s when he felt he was in the fight alone.

    4. Earth-2016 is a multiverse where there was never a DC comics, so there is no archetype of the ultimate immigrant representing “truth, justice, and the American way” for people to click into

    5. #4 is why the modern world doesn’t quite click in to what Superman is striving toward.

    That, combined with what I thought were some remarkable performances from the cast, set up a story that started Watchmen-grim but started moving AWAY from it by the end.

    Based on the comments even from people who liked the movie, the fact that I’m finding a Snyder-hemed film thought-provoking concerns me a little, but that’s where I am.

  85. As for the “Martha” scene. It worked for me. After all, the fact that both heroes mothers share that name has been canon for a good three-quarters of a century by this point, so it’s not like they made it up for the film. They didn’t shoehorn it in, they used it. This Batman has PTSD and sees Superman as a dangerous alien until Lois drags him back to Earth by shoving his connection with the “alien” in his face. It’s the mother that makes the scene work, the shared name is a classic comic book coincidence that happens to work in its favor.

    It worked for me too, but mostly I think I credit Affleck for that. The way he reacts to it–he looks like he just got punched in the metaphysical gut, he has absolutely no idea why this guy would be saying his mother’s name, and then at the end I saw him think I have a chance to save Martha this time. That’s how I interpreted it, anyway, and it was really interesting to see. But I was especially impressed with how well he handled the transition from “I am completely in control and about to kill my enemy” to “I have absolutely no idea what just happened and now nothing makes sense.”

  86. Paul Turnbull, docrocketscience: I think expectations were all over the map. Critics were downplaying it due to critical reception of MoS. But I think WB were/are pinning pretty high hopes on it.

    The ever-so-ephemeral “insider reports” from some at WB are that $1 billion world wide is the minimum expected (or hoped for) number.

    All the planning for Snyder being in control for the next several films reminds me a little bit of the pre-release plans for Spider Man that Sony had before The Amazing Spider-man 2 was released. They had a “Sinister Six” film set up with writers/director and a tentative release date. They also had a few other films lined up. Once TASM2 underperformed, those plans went out the window and Sony had a sit-down with Disney/Marvel and the ship changed course. I’m not saying Snyder will be pulled from Justice League if BvS doesn’t dominate like it should the next two weekends. In fact, I don’t think he will (and I think the film will make bank the next few weeks – no competition).

    The best thing WB has going for it regardless of the critical scorn heaped upon BvS is that they’ve got Suicide Squad coming later this year (no major Snyder involvement) and they’ve got Wonder Woman coming down the pike next year (also no major Snyder involvement). The word from early screenings of SS is very positive and hope for WW is high with Patty Jenkins directing.

  87. S Wyatt:

    Zack and Debra Snyder are producers on Wonder Woman, and their production company is one of the production companies listed as making the film. Both of them are also producers on the Aquaman film, and executive producers on Suicide Squad. All of this means, among other things, they helped pick the writers, directors and stars of all those films. I question the assessment that there is “no major Snyder involvement” in any of these films.

  88. Meh. Are we seriously going to have a “It was objectively good!” “No it wasnt” “Yes” “Nuh huh!” discussion?

    The point of reviews isn’t to say anything about whether a work was objectively good. The point is to say whether it was good for the reviewer, and then you go around until you find a reviewer that has tastes that match yours, so you tend to trust their review good or bad.

    I haven’t seen BvS, but I can already answer the question “Is it good?”. The answer is “42”. That’s about how much sense the question makes.

    As for “It made a lot of money!” the answer to that is “who the fuck cares!” The only thing that matters to YOU is whether YOU should add to that money pile or not. Yes, a shit load of people paid a shitton of money to see BvS. Does that mean ANYTHING about its objective quality? The answer to that is “Donald Trump is the leading contender for the nomination”. Numbers mean jack shit for whether the thing is of any quality to you.

    Personally? I was bored during “man of steel”. The “flashy visuals” were something I found tedious as all fuck. Watching several essentially indestructible beings find different things to hit each other with, makes me want to punch a screenwriter. The horrid mess that was “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” had the perfect scene for this. Mrs Dracula and Dorian Grey are sword fighting and after two stabs, one of them essentially says “we could do this forever you know”. It sounds like one of the few things going for BvS is the visuals, and that is a red flag for me to stay the fuck away until its OnDemand, and I can hit pause to get a beer or let it play on while I go pee.

    I don’t care about “characterizations” if the characters don’t evolve or overcome or change somehow. To me, the interesting thing about learning about who someone is is that they stop being that way as they go through the story. Luke is a whiney farmboy who becomes a Jedi, and more recently feels like he failed his mission to train new Jedi. Han Solo is a mercenary pirate who comes back to save the characters because its the right thing to do, and more recently was willing to die in an attempt to save his son. Leia? doesn’t change much, Starts out as a princess, becomes a ranking officer by Hoth, a general by Endor, her change was to fall in love with a pirate, have a child with him, and then go back to being a general. She’s not as interesting. The interesting stuff for her would have been between Episode 6 and 7, but it would have been tragically sad to watch. Lando Calrissian? Very interesting to watch him evolve and change. Kind of a distilled version of Han Solo. Betrayer who makes good in the end.

    That’s what interests me. If a story doesn’t have that, I get bored. The interesting part of “300”? Was watching the humpback try to join Leonides, be rejected, go to the persians, accept their reward to betray the Greeks, plead with Leonides to surrender and save himself, and then when Leonides says “may you live forever” to watch his face as the guilt truly contorts his face.

    Superman didn’t change in Man of Steel. He is saddled with Kevin Costner’s warning throughout the movie: you are different than everyone else, trust no one, they wont understand you. Thats how it starts. That’s how it ends. In between, Zod basically reinforces the fact that Superman is alone. He has given up on Krypton, adapted to Earth, and now belongs nowhere. He never changes. He wins the fight against Zod, but that fight was boring. I smash you with a car. You smash me with a truck. I smash you with a tractor trailer. You smash me with a train. I smash you with a… helicopter. You smash me with a… OH FOR FUCKS SAKE! SERIOUSLY?

    BvS looks boring because it looks like nothing happens other than fighting, and fighting isn’t the same as movement.

    The only thing I find interesting about BvS and Man of Steel is a purely meta observation: That superman is no longer first and foremost about “Truth, Justice, and the American way”. Maybe he *says* he is. But his actions no longer line up so much with “justice”. He isn’t forwarding a principle of justice first, and his actions fall in line with that second. He is merely an indestructible, all powerful, man of action, and his motivations are less clear. He doesn’t seem to be doing what he’s doing because it is the right thing to do, so much as he’s doing what he wants to do at the time … and he can do it. Neitchze’s “will to power” and ubermensch comes to mind. Which is kinda funny because ubermensch is german for Superman, but in a completely different way.

    Folks can rag on Christopher Reeve’s superman, but I think that version hit on the principled version of superman, and it can be interesting to watch someone live up to their own principles, lose their way, and come back. Sure it was campy. But it was kind of playing from the notions of good and evil. When Reeve’s Superman throws Zod into the ice, Zod had already proved himself evil so it was a worthy outcome. It’s hard to have a humane outcome because the story starts out with the premise that Zod had been sentenced to the rather cruel punishment of being imprisoned for 300 years in the PhantomZone, which as best as I can tell, is a 8×8 cell with a mirrored ceiling floating through space.

    If anything, I’d say Man of Steel and BvS are only interesting as a comentary on the state of America’s affairs. Superman started out as an American hero fighting the Nazis during WW2, fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way ™. Since then, America has fallen down, picked itself up, fallen down again, struggled to its feet, then drank itself into blind oblivion and curled up in a gutter for a while. You can’t get much lower than giving a country WMD’s then invading them for an attack committed by someone else. Trump is trying to lower that bar, but seriously, the only way down is going to be some serious, systemic bigotry-based violence. We tried Nazis and Japanese after WW2 for war crimes. But recently, we started committing those very same crimes. Waterboarding and Torture of POW’s were the crimes committed by some Japanese during WW2. And for the last 15 years, we’ve been doing the same torture to prisoners in black sites and gitmo. Superman doesn’t fight for principles anymore. He just fights. He’s not blind with anger like the Hulk. But he doesn’t stand on principle first and follow through with action second. He acts. He is also a stranger now, alien. Reeve may have been an immigrant from another planet, but he essentially became an American citizen, he fit in. The main reason for his secret identity was just so the bad guys wouldn’t go after his friends. THe government wasn’t trying to cut him open or track him down and find his home. Cavill’s superman is an alien, no one understands him, everyone is afraid of him, he is exceedingly dangerous, and no one is powerful enough to stand up to him. The only one who stands by him no matter what is his mom.

    Reeve: principle of Justice, American, belongs, is good, fights evil.
    Cavill: no principle, alien, doesn’t belong, no one trusts him, all powerful, unilateral action. focus is non on principles/morality but on will to power, action, and so on.

    Characterization? I don’t care. The movie can characterize all it wants about how Cavill feels like an alien on earth, feels alienated from the world, feels threatened by everyone but his mother. But “Adults just don’t understand” is extremely childish and boring plot point for me to watch. Usually, its being pushed in stories where the main character is a goth teenager, not an all powerful, superhuman, immortal, can do anything he wants, character.

    Anyway, the last Superman movie was enough to tell me to wait till this one comes out on demand.

    And I never found a movie reviewer that fit my personal preferences. I found Roger Ebert almost always rated movies similar to how I rated them, and I’ve never found a replacement.

  89. I have to say, yours is probably the best summation (and certainly better worded form) of what my opinion on this film was.

    I went in having loved what Snyder did with Man of Steel and left this one pretty much happy with what I was given for a second round. Was it perfect? no. Was it what I was originally hoping for after Man of Steel ended the way it did? nope. Did it deliver on what it said it was going to be? …well, yea.

    I got a nice buildup to a fight between a old and very jaded Batman vs. a more thoughtful but still uncertain rookie Superman that led to a bigger and better fight with them, Wonder Woman, and Doomsday all at once.

    I only cringed in earnest (and I mean full on prolonged facepalm) when I realized Snyder was going to do a straight homage of Death of Superman. But even then, I still left happy. I want to know where this is going to go now, I definitely want to see more Wonder Woman (maybe that was part of the plan?), and i’m going to give the film another go this coming weekend – mostly because my first showing was marred by a loud crying baby in the back rows…please, don’t bring your newborns to theaters folks.

    It actually helped me realize that i’m also very much okay with Standard-Issue Snyder, I love the look – and I especially love how he films action. It’s like dealing with Michael Bay who is just as stylistic, only I prefer how Snyder handles his imagery and action overall.

    A good read sir!

  90. Mr. Scalzi, I’ve been reading many reviews of BvS in the past few days. Yours is the most positive I’ve seen, and even then, you start it with the disclaimer: “I mean, Jesus, I enjoy Sucker Punch, and that film’s pretty much a shitshow from top to bottom.”

    Thank you for your insight — really, I’ve appreciated all the movie reviews of yours I’ve read, including this one — but it has left me, if anything, more ambivalent about seeing this movie than before.

    As for the fan rage, I don’t think the fans (speaking as one, and knowing I can’t speak for all of us) are mad or disappointed at Zack Snyder for being Zack Snyder, or for making a Zack Snyder film. I think the ones that are mad or disappointed are so because no one at Warner/DC pulled him off the project — what, they couldn’t get *anyone* else?? I mean, Kevin Smith would make an *entertaining* BvS, and would get the character of Superman right, to boot. On the other hand, maybe ZS is profitable for Warner/DC, and that’s good enough for them.

    Ah, well. DC is doing many nice things on the small screen these days.

  91. Scalzi: You might try for brevity next time.

    RE: Man of Steel: watching two immortal, invincible, unchanging beings fight, has to be the most boring thing possible. Given MoS, I’m skipping BvS till its OnDemand.

    RE: characterization: The only interesting thing I find about characterization is as a setup for the character changing from how they were just characterized. If there is no change, there is no story, as far as I’m concerned. At which point, it damn well better be funny. Batman who is always brooding since his parents were murdered decades earlier, is boring.

    Christopher Reeve’s superman was principles first, action second. Reeve may have been from another planet, but he had immigrated and become American. He belonged. The only need for the secret identity was to protect his friends from super villains.

    Henry Cavill’s Superman is first and foremost an alien, the government is trying to track him down and control him, the people are generally afraid of him. His home planet is destroyed. When Zod shows up, he calls Superman a traitor to his people. Superman is channeling the disconnect the American viewer is feeling.

    And more importantly, of the “truth, Justice, and the american way” principles that Reeve’s superman may have stood for, about the only thing left standing in that phrase is the “American Way”. After America invaded Iraq and brought about the deaths of half a million people, and planted the seeds that turned into ISIS, all based on deliberate lies generated from torturing and waterboarding people, Reeve’s superman looks extremely naive and campy. (In a similar way to how “Enemy of the State”‘s talk of the CIA spying on every american seems quaint tinfoil hat conspiracy theory nonsense when it came out in 1998, but wouldn’t work as a movie in a post Patriot Act America). Cavill’s superman can’t channel “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” because those have become mutually exclusive concepts.

    Super brevity version:
    Christopher Reeve’s superman was “Lawful Good”.
    Henry Cavill’s superman is “Neutral Good”.

    Or, put another way, Superman is less Superman and more Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly.

  92. I enjoyed the movie. I expected the portrayal of Superman extending from Man of Steel and it didn’t bother me. I enjoyed Eisenberg’s characterization of Lex. It was a nice change from the more typical characterizations. I loved Wonder Woman, which I expected. I did not expect to like Affleck’s characterization of Batman as much as I did. Of course, I’m immersed enough in comics lore that I caught a lot of things that some people might have missed. But then, I really enjoyed Sucker Punch too. (I especially enjoyed my daughter’s reaction to the movie. She loved it, or at least her interpretation of the lens through which it should be viewed from the ending.)

  93. Greg, you certainly spend a lot of time reviewing the film for someone who thinks reviews are stupid. I don’t read reviews to find the person I agree with; I read reviewERS to find out what sorts of movies they seem to enjoy and why, and then I watch those movies to compare my own opinions with theirs, and that way I learn more about how their minds work, which helps me better judge their reviews in the context of my own opinions. And the cycle spins on.

    I didn’t watch Siskel & Ebert &c. because I agreed with them all the time, but because the things they said about movies were more telling than a thumb up or down at the end. There were movies they both gushed about that I knew to skip because the reasons they gushed about them boiled down to “this is Important Art, not Mere Entertainment,” and that told me I would probably find those movies tedious. (Sometimes, I was wrong about that, and then I learned something new about myself and about those reviewers.) But there were also movies that they hated for reasons that told me that I would have a hell of a good time watching the movie in spite of its flaws.

    On another note: while I agree that Leia’s character arc was basically “haughty girl meets the right guy, melts into a sensitive puddle,” I question your assertion that Lando’s arc is superior to hers. Lando’s arc covers, in sum, one and a third movies, and in toto is “Guy reluctantly sides with the Empire, decides the deal is getting sucky and double-crosses Vader, and joins the Rebellion to fly his old ship and blow up the Death Star.” You’re seeing a LOT of character growth that just isn’t there.

  94. Andrew: you certainly spend a lot of time reviewing the film for someone who thinks reviews are stupid.

    And you certainly spent a lot of time proving “wrong” something I never said, so…

  95. I have mixed feelings about reviews. On the one hand, knowing the good and bad technical aspects of a film can be informative and helpful. On the other hand, I too like some technically crap films, and no one has the right to tell me I shouldn’t. That said, I don’t much care for Zack Snyder’s movies.

    Which brings me to this:

    Warner Bros will make the same amount of money whether you hatewatch or not, so long as you watch, one way or another, and you will. Nerds always watch.

    Not this one.

  96. So this is my first time here. I’m glad to see that at least some people liked the movie. I loved it. Just saw it a couple of hours ago. Loved it.

    Plot deficiencies? Wtf no. It made sense. It’s a goddamn comic book movie. It has comic book characters in it. Superheroes. And it made sense.

    It also had a ton of teaser fanboy shit riddled throughout. New gods and a reference to Darkseid. Doomsday wasn’t bad. Death of Superman. Damn.

    I was originally against Affleck. Don’t usually like him. But I was wrong. He did it. Had “gravitas” or whatever. I bought it.

    And yes. This film needs to make shit loads of $$. If we want to see more DC Universe films – as many as Diz/Marv is making – then this film needs to make shit loads of $$. Period.

    The Martha thing was awesome.

    The chase scene in the batmobile sucked.

    Some of the Doomsday CG was weak.

    But that flash-forward premonitionary dream thing was fucking awesome. I don’t care what anyone says. That was awesome.

    Wonder Woman was cool. I was worried.

    Lois Lane was good. Great character. Wasn’t sure what they’d do with her because I didn’t see MoS – which I didn’t find to be a problem BTW…

    That’s all.

  97. David: The many different producer credits on films/TV always confuse me. Which have creative input and which are “merely” money men escapes me sometimes. For instance, while Doug Liman has a producer credit on all of the Bourne films, from what I understand his creative input ended after he went over budget and over schedule on the first one as director. Since he was an original producer though, he continue to get a cut of the pie on each of the films. On TV a similar thing happened with Don Bellasario as his showrunning practices on the original NCIS caused a takeover by the other producers (including Mark Harmon).

    I have no doubt what you’re saying about the Snyders is true. Especially since you’ve had a closer look at the Hollywood machine when it comes to the rights to your books. As someone who doesn’t like Snyder’s films (except for Watchmen), I can only hope that the majority of the creative content comes from the other directors and writers on SS and WW.

    I’m especially intrigued by Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman. I know it’s been a while since “Monster”, but hopefully she makes the transition to superhero films gracefully. Sometimes when a director not known for action films takes on one of these it’s pretty good (I thought Branagh did as good a job as possible on Thor despite the inherent silliness of the material). Other times (like with Marc Webb), not so much…

    On a completely different tangent, I’ve been rewatching the Coen brothers films in chronological order recently. Your recent post on Miller’s Crossing is spot on and I just watched The Big Lebowski for the third time and damn that film just keeps on getting better and better each time I see it…

  98. Saw “Eye In The Sky.” Very good British movie as is usual with them, then from there walked in to see SvB for free. Not worth the time even though there was no $pent. I made up for it by finally seeing Mustang down at the IFC.

  99. I’m a huge fan of all the comic book based movies….including the good and the not so good ones. I watched SvB over the weekend and thought it was phenomenal.Sure there were lacunae’s in the plot but hey this is a movie and not real life. At any event the loopholes were not a train smash. The acting and special effects more than made up for these deficiencies. Ben Affleck was awesome in portraying a matured Batman.
    However I found that Lois Lane having to be a damsel in distress and rescued by Superman more than once quite irritating.
    Like Harry in the Harry Potter series(!) who grew up , matured and evolved, I also think that that BvS depicts a more evolved and matured hero in both Superman and Batman. As a child in the 70’s watching these heroes to the adult I’ve become I can relate and understand their angst and conflicts.
    its as if we’ve grown up together like friends to discover that for every action (super or otherwise) there is a consequence…..good or bad.

  100. BvS was much better than MoS, which is, from me, damning with faint praise. The mass Metropolis deaths in the earlier film didn’t bother me at all, since everyone was (or should have been) well aware that that world engine thing was going to kill off the entire human population; Superman was consequently working under a bit of understandable haste and couldn’t have been as discriminate as he normally would in protecting bystanders. That, and his killing of Zod, were under those circumstances just fine. Somebody upthread suggested that S could have just grappled Zod and flown into space with him, but what would that have achieved? It was established that Zod would just keep on keeping on until he was stopped, and there was only one way to stop him by that point. And he was clearly anguished at having been backed into that particular corner. Whatever one may think of Zack Snyder, this was *his* movie and he’s entitled to take these characters in any direction he likes.

    That said, I thought that this new, slightly morally murky Superman and the ramifications of his actions were going to be explored in more detail than just “Bruce Wayne is angry about it”; this was the impression I got from Snyder/cast interviews. It would have been the most interesting part of the movie.

  101. I’m in a similar boat. I didn’t like MoS, I don’t want to trash a movie I haven’t seen, but I also don’t want to give this one my money. Voting against what I perceive as a grimdark, dump-buckets-of-grey-toner-on-everything vision of DC’s universe with my wallet seems like the more honest thing to do. Giving the movie a fair shake means it gets another sale, even if I don’t like it.

    I’m sure I’ll watch it eventually, but it’ll be a while before it’s streamable.

  102. I haven’t seen BvS, and given this review (and the fact that I didn’t really care for MoS that much), I don’t think I’ll go out of my way. I might pick it up from the library once it’s on DVD.

    My general feeling with big action movies is that I’m fine with an incoherent plot as long as the story doesn’t take itself too seriously and the characters are entertaining (see: the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels). I’m fine with movies that grapple with serious issues and deep emotional arcs as long as they’re executed decently (see: Captain America: the Winter Soldier). I cannot, however, abide incoherent movies that try to do the grimdark. They turn into an exercise in unintentional cringe comedy, which is how I’ve seen BvS described by a lot of other reviewers. I’ll pass.

  103. Having gotten some spoilers here, I decided to go find the plot for BvS. So, stop reading if you dont want spoilers.

    According to various reditions of the plot, it sounds like a whole lot of meaningless violence. The big spoiler is that superman is killed? But at the very, very end of the movie, he has a faint heartbeat? So, basically, nothing happens and no one learns anything. Sounds like it might as well have ended with Bruce Wayne bolting upright in his bed with Vicky Vale/Kim Basinger next to him and Prince’s “Bat Dance” playing on the alarm clock, and he then proceeds to tell her about this crazy dream he just had.

  104. When I walk into a McDonalds, I don’t get upset if they don’t serve me prime rib. You know exactly what you’re going to get with Snyder. It’s going to be huge, explody, and beautiful without a whole lot of thought put into things like story and plot. And I dig that. If I want deeply thought, I’ll go watch a Terrence Malik film. Generally, I want to be entertained with space ships, zombies, explosions, and laser beams. I loved Sucker Punch. I also loved Man of Steel.

    But I’m waiting on this one, simply because the whole premise is dumb. Superman would beat Batman’s ass in about three seconds. And while I get that it’s a super-fictional movie about super-fictional people doing super-fictional things, I can’t suspend my disbelief that much. It’s akin to asking be to believe Mike Tyson vs Little Orphan Annie would be some kind of contest.

  105. I think you can’t discount the “Better story = more money” because from the feedback I got about the story made me wait until I can watch it on HBO. So there’s at LEAST the 50 bucks that my family would have spent. I know I’m not alone.

  106. CG, I’m pretty sure John addressed that in the original piece. And an alternate version of a story that appears 25 years after the original release is hardly canonical. (Or, if it is, then Han shot second, no question, end of story.) I’d call it more of a retcon than anything. Also, even if he doesn’t kill Zod, he breaks Zod’s hand for no reason than because he can, so he’s kind of a Superdick. Also too, the less said about the guy in the diner, the better.

    in other news, Doomsday is a character that literally exists for one purpose: to kill Superman, so that Supes can continue doing his Jesus thing and come back in a few issues/the next movie. This happened 20 years ago, and is arguably the most famous comic book plot line ever. Max Landis, in one of his earliest attempts to prove how much more clever he is than everyone else, rightly points out that the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday was a weakly written story, and that it mishandled many aspects of the his return, and may have opened a floodgate of story arcs with heroes dying and being reborn (though the “Dark Phoenix” Saga had been written some 20 years earlier still).

  107. I’m a nerd but I’m not a bat fan particularly. I saw the Nolan trilogy; paid for 2&3, IMAX even. I don’t like Snyder’s aesthetic and world building, I don’t need any more grim dark. He does some great visuals but for me it’s not worth the pain of the rest of it. I loathed MoS which I saw for free and I don’t think I’ll even spring for a SD matinee of this one esp since I don’t like Cavill’s Superman. So if you enjoy it bravo. Even though I’m a nerd I can resist the peer pressure to see it. the internet has given all the info I need about the movie. I’ll make up my mind about Wonder Woman when the time comes.

  108. Doc, I dont think killing someone gets to the core problem. Its that Reeves superman was principled, lawful-good. Cavill’s superman isnt. Given that he doesnt have much concern for law or principles, that is a radical shift from Reeves version. He might be “good”, but its probably neutral-good instead of lawful-good.

    If Reeve resorted to force, it could be looked at through the simplistic lens that he is the epitome of good, whoever he is acting against is evil, so its ok. It comes prepackaged with the notion that the law is inherently good, though maybe not strong enough so it needs supermans help to enforce it.

    That lens is gone with Cavill. Its actually subverted. MoS shows a legally-indifferent superman. The government is hunting him. The end of MoS has him take down an american predator drone looking for his home. What the government thinks it would do with superman isnt stated, but neither Superman nor the American government can be viewed with the assumption of good intent. And neither views the other with the assumption of good intent. The government wants to get the “goods” on superman, and superman doesnt trust the government not to abuse any “goods” it might get on him.

    That is a marked change from Reeves “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” version of superman.

  109. @PrivateIron: You know, in hindsight, I think 2014 was an anomalously good year for comic-book movies. You had my all-time favorite MCU film (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), my all-time favorite X-verse film (Days of Future Past), another big MCU crowd-pleaser out of left field (Guardians of the Galaxy), a surprisingly good superhero flick out of Disney Feature Animation (Big Hero 6), even the DC heroes showing up in The Lego Movie and Will Arnett’s Batman stealing the show. I doubt the superhero-movie trend is ever going to do better than that.

  110. Well, “Truth, Justice, the American Way, and also Fuck that Dude at the Diner ’cause He’s an Asshole”

  111. Sure, but Reeves-Supes just kicked the guy’s ass. He didn’t screw with his livelihood like Cavill-Supes did to his diner asshole.

    Also, Cavill-Supes’ temper tantrum was remarkably stupid for someone who was willing to let his father die rather than reveal his super powers. “i’ve been working out” is a piss-poor explanation, but it’s light years ahead of anything Cavill-Supes could’ve conceivably come up with.

    Well, Bigfoot. I guess he could’ve blamed it on Bigfoot. Never mind.

  112. Meh. The guy establishes he is a jerk by insulting the cooks food, calling it garbage. Reeve calls the guy garbage and walks up to the guy. Guy punches Reeve and possibly breaks his hand. Reeve slides guy down the counter and into a pinball machine.

    Granted, Reeve could learn some deescalation techniques, but the guy throws the first punch.

    Also, Im a little fuzzy on the sequence of that movie. Did reeve run into that guy in an earlier scene?

  113. Truth™: letting the guy think he was just as much a pushover as before, and not, you know, Superman
    Justice™: physically beating a man, potentially putting him in the hospital, for the crime of being a loud mouthed jerk.
    The American Way™: um, well… maybe he’s fine there. :)

    Cristopher Reeve’s characterizations were not as ideal as nostalgia would have you believe, is what I’m saying.

    Also, if you go back. Clark picked a fight, for no reason at all (except that the script thought it would be funny to see Superman get beat up). Sure, the guy sucker punched him, which is a dick move, but Clark was absolutely the instigator. He just forgot the First Rule of Fair Fights: Avoid them, at all costs.

  114. I’ve seen a couple responses saying things along the lines of “You know what Zack Snyder does, so why are you surprised that he modeled Superman and Batman in that style” and the closely related “if you don’t like that style then just don’t watch it, why do you care so much?”

    I think the problem is that Superman and Batman are very old characters with a lot of history behind them that a lot of people have known for a long time, many of them having grown up with the characters.

    And those characters are completely under the control of DC. And because the movies are such a big investment DC is not going to muddy the waters by having two different Superman or Batman franchises in film at the same time. You get (very approximately) one interpretation of a superhero in film per decade. If it does well you get a couple movies in that series before the a reboot. If it does poorly they _may_ reboot it early, or they may just forget about it for awhile.

    Which means that if you don’t like the interpretation of your favorite superhero in their latest movie you have to give up on that entire “generation”. If you don’t like Snyder’s style then not only has he made a movie that you happen not to like, he actually has “ruined” your chances to see a Superman movie you do like for at least 5-10 years. And the more successful the movie is the more likely there will be sequels and the longer until it gets rebooted into something you might possible like.

    So not only are you unhappy with Snyder for “ruining” it, you’re unhappy with the people who do like it for validating that stylistic choice, and you’re unhappy with the financial success. Because all of that means that there won’t be an early reboot. There will be more Syder-esque DC movies that you don’t like instead of possibly DC movies in some other style that you might like.

    On the other hand no one really cares if the latest movie to reinterpret Snow White does so in a way they don’t really appreciate. They may not like the movie, but they don’t accuse the studio of having ruined Snow White. Because in another year or two (and in some years in another month or two!) there will be another movie with a different interpretation.

    Under any kind of sane copyright system Superman and Batman would be in the public domain by now. In such a world DC would still be making tentpole “official franchise” Superman movies, because why wouldn’t they? But if you didn’t like what DC was doing then some other studio would be doing their own interpretation of Superman that you might like better.

    I think there would be a lot less acrimony about the whole thing in such a world.

  115. “for the crime of being a loud mouthed jerk”

    And battery. Kind of an important detail you keep leaving out. It is a simplistic black/white principle at play, but it is still a principle, the guy at the diner threw the first punch.

    “Cristopher Reeve’s characterizations were not as ideal as nostalgia would have you believe, is what I’m saying.”

    Nor were they the film noire version you are trying to bend them into.

    Cavill is paranoid, the government is hunting him, nobody trusts anyone, he is alienated from everyone around him.

    Reeve has in a sense integrated as an american. He is not a stranger, outcast. The government isnt hunting him like another bin laden.

    Reeve presents as a nerd trying to fit in or a confidant superman who is self assured. Cavill presents as an alien who doesnt belong anywhere and doesnt trust anyone.

    Cavill isnt human and he isnt kryptonian either. He is neither. So when zod shows up, he doesnt even have anything in common with them.

    Cavill has to stuggle just to live on earth. Its a constant punishment to keep the sensory overload from blinding him. Reeve isnt suffering anything like that.

    Cavill is channeling a misunderstood goth kid. No one understands him. No one understands how much he suffers for his art.

    Reeve is channeling something more like the men who fought the Nazis in ww2, where superman got his start.

    If you dont see the difference, then I dont know what to tell you. And to some, the difference to them is irrelevant. But it is a difference. And it is points to why some might take issue with Cavill. On the other hand, it migbt point to why some prefer Cavill. Misunderstood, feels alienated from everyone, picked on for no reason, blah, blah, blah. It definitely appeals to a younger level of maturity.

  116. DISCLOSURE: This is a really long comment. The most important part is at the end and you don’t have to read the whole thing to get it.
    —————————————————————–
    Damn! it’s probably too late but I want to have some input as well.
    First of all – liked the review.
    Contradicting popular consensus is never easy (as I have seen reading the reviews).
    So I acutally think It’s a bit brave of you writing the review that you did and making your opinion heard, even though it’s not that popular.
    For what it’s worth, I thank you for that.
    —————————————————————–
    Even though I pretty much agree with your review, I couldn’t help but feeling sad and disappointment leaving the theatre.
    Thats because I’ve watched the DC animated movie “The Dark Knight Returns” which is pretty loyal to Farnk Miller’s comic book written back in 1986 (to my understanding at least, haven’t read the comic).
    And I thought it was AWESOMETACULAR!!! I really really, really liked that movie.
    —————————————————————–
    This is kinda like my first time seeing a huge to-be-blockbuster-movie fails so miserably artisticly (at least to my taste).
    Of course like every good fanboy after BvS ended I went straight up to the internet and read/watched the reviews.
    All of those reviews pointed out things they liked in the film and A LOT of things they didn’t like.
    But something was missing…
    What I really wanted to know is: how could that movie fail so miserably?
    It had everything going it’s way! The money, the cast, the source material, even the writers you say, LITERALLY EVEYTHING! So how is it possible for it to fail so badly?
    It’s like trying to cook a dish, and you got the BEST ingredients in the market, fresh and ripe, AND you have the best set of tools/knives/whatever, AND you even have some of the most important parts of the recipe, how could you cook something that was suppose to tatse AWESOMETACULAR but comes out as “eh”? Such a disappointment..
    —————————————————————–
    I don’t buy that the reason this movie failed was because it had to reference and build up all these other justice-league characters. I acutually think all of these cameos are a missed opportunity. They could have been awesome. They could have been an integral part of the script or some VERY cool scences in the movie (Quicksilver in Days Of Future Past anyone?).
    Instead, they look like some 12 years writer had to put all of these characters in the movie and didnt know how (An email? REALY?!).
    —————————————————————–
    It was definitely a shock, to me at least, that the worst thing in this movie is the script. Even with writers like Chris Terrio and David Goyer.
    So many other things could have gone wrong (Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, the new costumes etc).
    If thats ok, I would really like to offer you guys (and you Mr. Scalzi) a challenge: If you were the writer/editor/producer of this film and you saw this theatrical version of it, what minimal changes could you have made to make this movie GOOD?
    I think that would make an intersting discussion, since as I said earlier, this movie had EVERYTHING going it’s way, and still – it faild.
    There must have been something somebody could have done to prevent that..

  117. Dear Rickg,

    This is entirely meta, but you might give it serious consideration in any future conversations you might engage. With anyone.

    When someone who you consider to be a tolerably competent wordsmith spends 1936 words layout out a thesis, there is likely a good reason for most of those words. There is most assuredly a good reason why he did not lay it out in 27 words.**

    You would do well to consider that most of those “excess” 1909 words do, in fact, have a reason for being there before declaring to the whole world that you can condense the essay down to an “essential” 27.

    ‘Cause, really, dude, it does not make you look especially smart.

    pax / Ctein

    (** it is undeniably true that sometimes the good reason is that the wordsmith is being paid by the word (vis Dickens). I am tolerably certain that does not apply.)

  118. When you ask someone to “step outside”, you’re already thrown the first punch, regardless of who gets hit first. To quote a recently made observation, “‘He started it’ is the argument of a five-year-old.” The second diner scene wants to tell us that justice and retribution are the same thing. So, sure, noir, I guess. That it’s unintentional, even that not everyone sees it that way, doesn’t stop it from being pretty dark. then again, some people will walk out of the theater wondering why Spade and Marlowe were so moody.

    The rest of your post is countering an argument I’m not making, so I’ll leave you to that.

  119. John, have you read Mark Hughes column on why snyder loves superman. Curious what you’d make of it.
    Also picking up your book this week, hoping to enjoy it.”old mans..”

  120. Doc: “When you ask someone to “step outside”, you’re already thrown the first punch”

    America often seems to think of principles as a form of powerlessness, and by extension, any use of force must be unprincipled. Hawks often think war must be fought without any rules. And Doves often think all use of force is evil.

    I am not sure what you are trying to say at the higher level because the focus is on the minutia of this specific diner scene.

    I think there is a qualitative difference between Reeve and Cavill. Are you saying they are too similar to note any differences? That Reeve operates without principles similar to the way Cavill does? Both are bullies? All superheroes are bullies? Forget about the diner specifically for a moment; what you are trying to say about Reeves Superman in general? Compared to Cavills Superman in general?

  121. I think it’s possible to critique the Reeve Superman movies (they certainly aren’t very self-critical), but his portrayal of the character is a qualitatively very different one than Cavill’s. Even if some of the things he does are more morally dubious than the plot really acknowledges, he’s still a very different character.

    I don’t find MoS (I haven’t seen BvS, but it seems like the character is much the same) particularly self-critical either, fwiw. It seems like it wants to be, but instead it just sort of ends up wallowing in grimdark. Which is really part of my broader problem with Snyder, honestly; he sets the films up like he’s trying to Say Something Meaningful, but it just…never really goes anywhere. It’s substituting doom and gloom for coherent development.

    I could compare it to CA: TWS, which does criticize the system that created it and the ‘might makes right’ mentality as a whole, but the fact is that Captain America was created as a critique of American society, so the framework already exists. Steve Rogers was always supposed to be an outsider, a character who was better than the world that made him; the same isn’t really true of Clark Kent, whose roots were a much more straightforward power fantasy, the idea of great power benevolently wielded. I think a criticism of that could work with a better story, but as it is it just seems to come up a bit muddled and sort of petulantly angsty.

    (also: I don’t expect prime rib when I go to McDonalds, but that doesn’t mean I want cold, stale french fries, either. We’re not arguing over whether McDonalds should serve prime rib, we’re arguing about whether or not the french fries are stale)

  122. John,
    The post-apocalyptic dream sequence was…
    A) An important part of the story.
    B) Snyder Eye-Candy.
    C) A toy commercial.

    Walk down the toy aisle and you’d think he spent half the movie in a duster and goggles.

  123. Brevity:

    Reeve is to Cavill like
    Darth Vader is to Kylo Ren.

    Sure, they fill the same role as their predecessor, but jeebus, when did whiney emo become the new black?

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