Did I Miss Something? Or How Superman vs. Batman Did Not Impress

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Do you ever feel like you’re the odd one out because you didn’t like something? I’m feeling that way with the new movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I watched it last weekend and was…well, frankly…bored. I can’t remember the last time I was at a movie theater watching something and just not into it. I was shifting in my seat, thinking some other things, once I even sighed.

I came back home confused by a few things in the plot and thinking to myself, That couldn’t be popular, could it? And the weird thing is, people seem to generally like the movie and I just can’t fathom why. I mean, it isn’t “Oh my god, cleanse my eyes with fire” bad, but it’s ultimately disappointing.

So, yes, I will explain what I mean, but the rest of this article holds some potential spoilers, so you have been warned!

First, I should probably mention that:

  • I have read Batman and Wonder Woman comics (I was never really a fan of Superman). In fact, I used to work in a comic book shop in college, so my geekery is there.
  • However, I am female so maybe I’m not the target audience.
  • I may have just hit my “shark” with these comic book universe movies. Maybe that aquatic sea animal has been well and truly jumped because these movies are beginning to bleed together.
  • There were good points.

Speaking of the good points, let’s list those next, since I’m in a list-y mood:

  1. Except for the fact most of the movie Wonder Woman’s job seemed to be “look pretty and say ambigious stuff,” when she was finally granted some real action, it was awesome.
  2. The complete bleakness of the DC universe — from the overwhelmingly dark Bruce Wayne who just doesn’t seem to give a fuck anymore, to the conflicted Superman who can’t decide if he’s part of mankind or its guardian — is an intriguing aspect to plumb.
  3. The crumbs tantalizingly sprinkled liberally throughout the movie, which hint at future movies set in this DC universe, whet the appetite.
  4. Lois Lane isn’t completely stupid, inane, or eyeroll worthy (and I celebrate every time a woman in comics doesn’t make me wanna yell in frustration).

OK, now that’s all out of the way, let’s go to the main event. Here’s what did not work for me at all in the movie:

The script writers really needed to get their shit together. Or maybe whoever edited the script. Or maybe the director. Or maybe the producers. Regardless, whoever was in charge of writing the storyline and dialogue needs to seriously reconsider.

Now, like I said above, I’ve read Batman comics. I’ve even read the Frank Miller ones that this Batman is supposedly based off of. I know of the Superman storyline even if I never really got into the comics. Despite all of this, at one point in the movie, I leaned over to my friend and whispered, “If you don’t know anything about Superman or Batman, you’d be so confused by this movie.”

I knew general stuff (I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means), and there were a handful of moments I simply sat back and was like…

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There was a dream-within-a-dream sequence that seemed jammed into there for no purpose (only later, through some Googling, did I learn it was meant to foreshadow future movies. Ugh, it still should have been put into better context). (1)

Also, the movie hopped around like it was on drugs, jumping from Batman’s POV to Superman’s POV and back again. Sometimes it would jump to another time or another day in the week, or sometime in the future. It made for a disjointed storyline that didn’t draw me in. Why do I care about these characters when I’m getting bite-sized pieces of story that functions to information dump versus character build?

By the end of the movie, I could have summarized it in one sentence because really not very much happens. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a simple plot is fine. Mad Max: Fury Road‘s plot can be summarized in one sentence, but the movie kept a simple plot and very complex characters that drove the story forward and kept things interesting. (2)

“Because” is not good character development. I feel, in order to understand what motivates Batman, Superman, or Lex Luther in this movies you have to say a lot of sentences that start with, “Well, I guess you could say…” And that’s not good character development. What motivates them should be extremely clear, what should be nuanced is how they react, how they change, and how they feel. Why does Lex Luther hate Superman so much? This is never really explained and yet it seems to be the motivation for a good portion of his actions. (3) Some of his dialogue seems to suggest that it’s a similar reason to Batman’s — which is that Superman has too much power over mankind.

Why is Batman such a douche to Superman? A lot of what people think happens is actually not really what’s going on (4) or are misunderstandings (which was a good commentary on how the media manipulates what we watch to create a story). But why didn’t Batman just, like, ask Superman? (Actually, why didn’t anyone ask Superman? Why didn’t Superman tell them? Why didn’t the witnesses tell them?) Considering Batman’s in the same line of work — and at different points in the film, people accuse Batman of thinking he has too much power or is above the law, the very thing Batman is accusing Superman of — you’d think he’d be more sympathetic. I mean, here Batman is killing people left and right, destroying parts of Gotham, but if Superman does it then it’s “playing God”? Maybe what’s really going on is Batman is butt hurt he’s not a unique snowflake.

Also, don’t even get me started on the reason Batman and Superman stop fighting. Some added dialogue there would have been really good for developing motivation and character growth.

I am tired of tortured whine fests as a reason why people do shit. For the love of god, someone just hug Batman and Superman, mkay? I dunno, I think this may be where the shark has been jumped for me, because I am getting so sick and tired of: “Ohmigod I am so tortured because I have a sad past and shit when I was just a wee tyke and I just cannot get over it so it’s going to be the sole motivation for everything I do and for the reason I basically barely function as a person.” I’m not saying bad things happening can’t seriously mess up your psyche, I’m saying it’s overused to the point where I just don’t give a shit anymore. Every time Batman had a flashback to his parents’ death, I rolled my eyes. Every time Superman said something about how nobody gets him, I wanted to gag. Not even Lex Luther was immune to this. You know what would be fresh and interesting? Someone who has a perfectly fine childhood and still becomes fucked up. Now how the hell did that happen? That would be interesting. Or how about showing someone actually trying to overcome their tortured past, instead of just wallowing in it?

Dialogue is so important, why do people forget that? Dialogue can make or break a story. And Batman vs. Superman had horrible dialogue. It was full of cliches, it wasn’t tight enough to be attention-grabbing or memorable, and it was just lame. The one that really stands out in my mind is when (spoilers ahead!) Batman and Superman finally meet, face-to-face, for the first time. I can’t remember the exact lines, but it was so cliche that I remember groaning inwardly in real pain, and the sad thing is, if they’d just cut out one sentence, the scene would have been fairly decent.

Serious Bechdel Fail…Still. Considering that it’s been proven time and again that women read comics too –and despite the fact I really did like Wonder Woman, and Lois Lane wasn’t too bad — why is it so hard to give true characterization and development to women? Not once in the movie did any of the female characters (of which there is 2 main ones and 2 secondary ones) talk to any other woman.

So, that’s me, folks. My two cents on why Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was not a good movie. You are totally allowed to disagree with me  — just don’t be a dick. Actually, I would love to hear what people thought about this movie, and if they liked it, great! Let me know why! I might realize things I missed and change my opinion, who knows?

Footnotes with extra spoiler goodness:

(1) It also brought up the question of how can you have time travel in a dream? 

(2) And in case you want those sentence summaries:

  • Superman v. Batman – Batman thinks Superman is a douche and Superman thinks Batman is a douche, but the real douche is Lex Luther (for some reason); meanwhile there are other “metahumans” like Wonder Woman just chillin’.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road – In order to be free from Immortan Joe, Furiosa and the sex slave Wives steal a truck and try to find the Green Place while Mad Max and a War Boy unwittingly hitch along for the ride; however when it turns out there is no Green Place, they turn around and decide to kill Joe instead.

(3) I really did not like the way Lex Luther was portrayed. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out if he was Lex Luther or Lex Luther Jr. because he was just too young and out of character! What is this poor Joker-wannabe I was given? Lex Luther is not crazy, he’s supposed to be a genius and one hell of a super villain, who’s cool and collected except for, maybe, a bad temper.

(4) It’s Lex Luther manipulating things, I guess?

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