Yo Internet the spoilers are coming so if you haven’t seen the film yet go watch it and come back. Yes, it’s still worth watching.
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We need to have a little talk. By now I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the horrendous reviews circling around Batman V Superman. As I am writing this piece the film has earned a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s generally being dragged through the mud on all fronts. I am not going to sit here and tell you that it doesn’t deserve some of this flak. The first and second act are far too slowly paced. Batman is more like the Punisher, his use of guns contradicting the central motivation of the character. Lex is all over the place. Wonder Woman essentially has a cameo. The whole thing serves as a trailer for Justice League and the death of Superman is ridiculous this early in the cinematic universe. All that being said I still believe this film has its merits and these need to be discussed.
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The first thing to remember about these films is that they are trying hard to appeal to everyone, that means that if they want to surprise and shock they have to alter heroes’ characters. The Marvel Universe have done this time and time again, making Tony create Ultron and Black Widow fall in love with the Hulk for example. Having Batman as a harsher and more violent version of himself shows just the sort of man he would have to be to match up with the pseudo-gods of the Justice League. I still rebuke his use of guns but I do believe this at least defends the Bat-mobile sequence. This defence also extends to Lex.
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Lex is a mess in this film. His motivation is all over the place and he is confused. We know that Batman has been having dreams of the future and it seems like Lex might have been having the same, at least by the time he’s in prison. Batman has been dealing with threats for years by the time of the film and yet he still is driven to desperate actions by the dreams. Lex is a kid who has suffered at the hand of an abusive parent so it’s understandable that his reaction will be more manic and disproportionate.
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The dreams are hinted at coming from Darkseid and it could be the case that Lex sees the alien overlord as another abusive father figure. If Lex is processing the situation this way, it could explain what is pushing him to make insane illogical jumps in his reasoning. This also provides Lex with an arc as now he has been defeated and locked away he has time to think and plan. Time to become the methodical tyrant we all know and love from the comics. From a broader perspective I enjoy Lex in this film.
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Superman is dead, at least for five minutes. This is something a lot of fans are riling against. it could be compared to killing Captain America before he had a chance to become a founding member of the Avengers. Let me refer you back to the first sentence of paragraph two: DC wants this universe to be different to anything we have seen before. Now when the Justice League forms it will not be under the guidance of the messianic Superman but instead under Batman, a man who just saw that messianic figure’s death.
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Batman is scared and he is entering an arms race of super-powered folk against Darkseid. This will lead to a Justice League ready to act with severity and violence. This is the darkest timeline and only the heroism at the team’s core will allow them to pull themselves out of this nose dive. It’s a far more complex outlook than the Marvel Universe’s which just has this constant cycle of conflict and resolution. But are all of these arguments are defending the future of the DCCU what about the film?
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I’ve seen people arguing that Batman V Superman is boring yet too action-packed, placing the film squarely in Michael Bay’s Transformers territory. This is a terrible comparison.
Batman V Superman is attempting to cover the same ground as five Marvel films, setting up a universe without a super-team. That’s a tough task for anyone and with Zack Snyder’s unique approach to the film many points are covered through subtext. Why is Diana Prince at Lex Luthor’s ball? Well she seems to be attempting to conceal her identity from the world and Lex has been researching her. Why is Bruce waking up with random women and drinking constantly? He’s trying to maintain his appearance and the dreams of the future are getting to him. Why is does Clark always have to save Lois? Because he simply cannot help himself. The film is relying on your analysis to uncover the real story at its core. But what about the title fight?
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The film is called Batman V Superman and yet the fight lasts minutes and mostly consists of Superman kicking butt until his powers are neutralised then Batman kicking butt. I will admit the advertising campaign was a little misleading for this film but, as any comic fan will attest to, a cover never represents the issue within. The fight accomplished it’s job: to show that Superman was all brawn over brains and needed some degree of training in marshal combat to fall back on when his powers fail. It showcased the one aspect where Batman triumphs over Superman and played on that. It was predictable but predictable doesn’t mean bad. But now we get to the weakest part of the entire film. The ‘Martha’ scene.
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Fans have known for years that Superman’s mum and Batman’s mum had the same name but why did Zack Snyder decide this would be reason for the two heroes to reunite? Is Snyder an idiot? Of course not. The entire film is about Lex and the dreams that weave a narrative in Batman’s head like ‘Superman is an untrustworthy alien’. This is what every dream sequence is about and it’s the core motivation for Batman’s attack on Superman. The moment when Superman shows concern for his adoptive-mother, this narrative is broken.
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The word ‘Martha’ triggers Batman’s memory of his most defining moment, the moment of his parents’ death. Superman is now at that moment; his mother is about to die. This is one of the most human struggles possible as every single one of us has to deal with the death and the possibility of death of a love one. This immediately shows Batman that Superman is as human as it gets. Add in Batman’s personal connection to the situation and it’s easy to see why the change of heart occurs.
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Don’t get me wrong there’s still a lot more issues with this film but I would argue that it is as strong as any pre-Avengers Marvel property or Man of Steel. It’s a struggling under the weight of the massive story it’s trying to tell while setting up another massive story. I think the director’s cut will help better establish the points I have discussed but even if this was the only version we got it would be perfectly serviceable.
I glad I got this off my chest! Thank you for reading my crazy opinion. If you have your own opinion, feel free to drop me a message in the comments section and we can talk it out!
…That was this week’s BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!! Check back tomorrow for a new Covert Coot article!!!