6.18.2016

20 Thoughts On Rewatching BATMAN V SUPERMAN By Myself


1) JESUS CHRIST, MY CHILDHOOD, MY INNOCENCE. WHAT DID I GIVE IT TO? THIS ATROCITY, THIS GROTESQUE ORGY OF INFANTILE MASCULINE POSTURING? COMIC BOOKS ARE HELLA STUPID.

2) Okay, dude, it's just a movie. 

3) Hans Zimmer almost saves the day with a cohesive score combining the Batman and Man of Steel themes and introducing a bracing, percussion-heavy theme for Wonder Woman/The Trinity (which slightly recalls the theme music to both the '60s Batman TV show and the Wonder Woman TV show). 




The MAN OF STEEL music is still pretty good, too; without it we definitely care not one whit about anything Superman does.

4) Zack Snyder is an appalling filmmaker with a gift for photographic compositions that are utterly lacking in human stuff. We all know that part of being an outstanding artist is in meaningful violations of "the rules" for whatever genre you're in -- Snyder's violations, e.g. Batman incongruously deciding to start shooting people with guns, are transparently pointless, with the snobbish air of someone breaking rules when they feel shielded from any consequences.

5) Wonder Woman's lasso is still awesome AF. Also her accent, and its evocation of an expatriated Sabra warrior. 


6) What do we think the conversation was like when Snyder tells Amy Adams, "Okay, we're going to shoot this important scene with Lois questioning Clark about his omnipotent vigilanteism, but we're MAINLY concerned with shooting around your exposed nipples so they won't distract from everything, and at the end of it he mounts you in the bathtub. How long do you need for hair?"



7) If I wanted to see a film about Holly Hunter exchanging Southern aphorisms with Jesse Eisenberg for 100 minutes, let's just say I would've devoted my youth to buying funnybooks where that happened. Y'know that famous four-color Sunday strip, HOLLY & JESSE TALK OBLIQUELY ABOUT BORING QUASI-MORALISTIC SHIT.

8) Ben Affleck is a better Batman than Christian Bale. The mask just looks better on his head, his lips and eyes aren't weirdly deformed by the cowl as Bale's are. And he's not doing that guttural screaming thing all the time.



9) Superman still seems to be an utter asshole. He doesn't even seem as like-able as Henry Cavill, who comes across in interviews as a pleasant-enough chap. 

10) The "vigilante-freedom vs. risk-of-collateral-damage" problem is basically the same moral question as in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. It's a good, serious and dramatize-able question, and then Batman starts shooting and knifing people and Superman knocks Doomsday through three buildings and it's evident that no one cares.

11) In case you were wondering, the bit where Bats rescues Martha Kent from being held at flamethrower-point is a direct lift from Miller's DARK KNIGHT RETURNS graphic novel (there are many such references). This is what I'd call a meaningful violation of the Batman myth -- Batman's turn towards the homicidal is of a piece with the story Miller's telling. 





12) Let's totally have this long sequence explaining how Lex creates Doomsday so it makes sense in a way that makes no sense at all. That way we can truly UNDERSTAND DOOMSDAY ON A PERSONAL LEVEL.

13) Let's also get at least one more dream sequence in there, because the main narrative is so stiflingly realistic. 

14) I want to at least like the cinematography, but it has the formal stateliness of neither 300 nor MAN OF STEEL. Way too much black-on-blue-on-black and the ever-pretentious slow-motion shots of guns firing. The editing doesn't help the cause, either. Couldn't tell Metropolis from Gotham, didn't know which car/building was exploding, gave up trying to care.

15) I have a really bad feeling about this Flash. Am I biased against people who look like they are going to behave like emo-hipsters? I am. 




16) There are a few really great JLA storylines involving Darkseid, in which the heroes are truly tested by Darkseid's godlike entitlement. The only potential advantage of the dominant grim-ness in these DC films, as I see it, is in setting up an Apokolips that is gulag-level dark. A Firepit grotto that makes one think, "yeah, I think I'd rather live in Gotham City than there." Recalling, perhaps, this gruesome moment when Darkseid annihilates Wonder Woman (from JLA #14 by Morrison and Porter):




17) Kevin Costner starts doing a different regional American accent in the middle of his monologue because I think even he can't believe how long it is.

18) The actual BvsS fight borrows almost everything from THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS except the essential Green Arrow bit. Where is Green Arrow when he could finally be useful? That would've made at least the fanboys happy. Oh right, this movie's objective was to make no one anywhere even a little bit happy.




19) The cleverest part of the whole film is when Batman literally throws the kitchen sink at Supes. Okay, the bathroom sink, but that is supposed to indicate "giving it all he has?" Kryptonite makes Superman more vulnerable to sinks?

20) In a writerly way, I'm thoroughly sick of what DC is trying to do stylistically, with its "deep and meaningful" dialogues about "the big issues" as opposed to "self-deprecating jokes" about how "we're all wearing costumes and throwing cars at each other." I get it, brand differentiation. But no one WANTS to see Superman, Batman and Lex work out the problems of "evil in the world" or "what is justice" or "who is God" or "what is good?" Zack Snyder proved he couldn't make a philosophical idea come across in WATCHMEN, a story that has quite a few big ideas in it. And, honestly, we don't care. What we want is iconography. We want the ideas, the feels, the substance of images. We want what this image is doing. 



And this.




And, gosh help me, this:



And, more to the point, this:



But instead, we got a half-baked EXCALIBUR with hovering dirt. 

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