I had the outline of an article decrying the film before I even saw Batman V. Superman. The set up was great. I thought Snyder misunderstood Superman and Batman, having them kill. I though he misunderstood the tone of the DC Universe with the general bleakness of the movie.
I was going to use the opening lines of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” to contrast between who Superman and Batman should be and who they were in the film. It was a cool idea and had I the hate I thought I would, it would have been fun to write.
But I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would.
To be clear, I didn’t like it. It was a beautifully shot film, but I didn’t care for the tone or the characterization.
Wonder Woman and the score are fantastic though.
There’s nothing new I can say about any of that. There’s nothing I really gained or lost out of the movie except squealing like a child when Wonder Woman showed up. (Man, I loved Diana.) I was able to distance my inner fan from my moviegoing self. There is one thing that bugs me, though.
I said before that I thought Zack Snyder misunderstands them and after consideration, I don’t think that’s true. He wanted to make his own thing. Which is fine, but it didn’t work for me.
Superman doesn’t kill. Batman doesn’t use guns. That’s central to the characters. This movie and its predecessor broke those rules.
There’s a phrase that I’ve heard tossed around from people who liked the versions of the characters in the film, “Well, that’s the comics”, as if they didn’t matter. They do to me. More than the films. For me, the films are exciting because I get to see characters I care about and stories I love in real life. It isn’t so much about the movies as it is the characters. They’re not the “Real Versions” though. That’s the comics.
The comics aren’t just the source material, they’re the lifeblood. Their ink flows off of the page and into every adaptation. But when the ink bleeds together or the vision is tainted, it creates something ugly and unrecognizable. See Catwoman, Steel, Superpup.
Wonder Woman is Truth. Batman is Justice. Superman is the American Way.They’re not just characters. They’re icons. They mean something.
Grant Morrison’s Action Comics ends with Superman battling a corporate driven version of himself spliced with Doomsday. An evil alternate that strayed too far away from the original idea of its creators. It became a monstrosity who causes violence to entertain with no regard for human life. It’s not a subtle metaphor, but it is an effective one. Supes was tossed from writer to writer through the New 52, with no constant characterization.
After five years of Superman bouncing between being an angry, headstrong child or moody loner, MY Superman is coming back to the comics. In DC Comics’ new Rebirth publishing initiative, the Pre-New 52 Superman is going to be “The Superman” (there’s also Lex Luthor and New Super-Man, but I digress.) New 52 Superman had a mean streak and could be a bully. Apart from stellar runs on Action Comics by the aforementioned Morrison and the team of Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, he didn’t feel like Superman.
Wonder Woman is going to be written by Greg Rucka, something I couldn’t be more Jazzed about, with art by Nicola Scott. Man, that looks like a really good series. It’s a good return to form after the controversial New 52 runs. I did like the Azzarello/Chiang one, but I see how it’s incredibly divisive.
Batman will remain Batman.
It looks like a really exciting return to form peppered with new ideas. I think the movies should follow suit. I’m not saying they can’t be dark or offer ambiguity, I think that providing more solid takes the characters would be a big fix.
This is all my opinion. I like my heroes noble and pure. Lots of people like brooding anti-heroes and there’s nothing wrong with that. Zack Snyder made this film for them and they’ll love it. This movie doesn’t erase the ones before, it doesn’t take away the stories I’ve read. We can all have versions we like.
So you know what? It sucks that Man of Steel is the Superman my little cousin will know, but “it’s just the movies”. I can show him the “Real Superman” next time he’s over and if he likes Man of Steel more than Christopher Reeves. That’s cool too. I still have my Superman. And he’s not going anywhere.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is in theaters now. DC Rebirth will be launching in May. For a comprehensive guide on the new titles see this Comics Alliance article. Image copyright DC Comics. Illustrated Gary Frank with inks by Johnathon Sibal and colors by Brad Anderson.
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