Ground Control to Major Tom, there's something wrong, the circuit's dead. Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom?
The Late Great David Bowie
File this under: Should be spoilers - tragically not on account of Trailers and the incessant need for the hero shot when the unholy trinity stand in battle pose
Silence, and confusion and irritation. These are the "Trinity" of emotions as they relate to the engineered beat in the third act. The specifics I'll be coy with, for those who saw it, think Warehouse and flame-thrower. Then think of one titular Batman and his utterance of the phrase that can't be spelled out, the crux of which is "Superman and I are friends"
The circuit's dead. Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom?
Throughout the last 10 years, the engineered beat when there is pause after the gift given to us by editors and directors alike is well known. "Hulk: Smash" or "But I am no Man". It's the blunt and on-the-nose proclamation that the hero is going to win-the-day. In the past decade I have sat in packed houses and listened to those around me cheer and celebrate in the spectacle that is Comic Book Movie joy. I'm sitting betwixt my nephews (both under the age of 11) and we're surrounded by Children and Adults like. People who don't have movie review blogs. People who are not the cynical asshole I'll be painted as by the fringe who absolutely swallow all that the DC/Marvel Machine shovel their way.
I am, sincerely, stunned. I don't cheer at these moments. More to do with the film-makers not being present, so therefore, I feel no need to show appreciation. But I am a minority seat filler during these loud and showy blockbusters. This moment told all, it told everything. No one was enjoying themselves, no one felt fulfilled. I am deeply saddened for them, all. For shame, Zack Snyder et al.
So, it's Easter Weekend and why not revisit some Jesus Iconography when we sit down to see 2013's Man of Steel take another step into franchisehood? (well, the 'why not' was because this films successor was generally piss poor - Sorry Tom Roe of Silver Screen Snobs). This is 2016 and we're all front row seat for the film-making process and this film might as well have been cut in front of us.
Comic Con: Or How I Learned to Stop Denying Real Estate in my mind and just accept the mass marketing machine is going to numb all before it chooses to shock and awe
Ostensively, the problems all started at the onset. First-and-foremost, it's not as though Man of Steel was a unilateral success. It boasts a mid-50's Rotten Tomato Score. I know, I know, it's not everything. However, what was problematic was "where is the Batman coming from?". Last we heard of Bruce Wayne, he was quite possibly dead and/or vacationing in France waiting for Michael Caine to show up for a demi-tas. If Wayne is dead, then reboot (tragic, not necessary). If Wayne is demanding of his female friend that they go to the same Paris Brasserie every day till his former butler shows up (because he's an asshole who can't text his caretaker that he's okay) then we get retrofitted plot (still tragic, but at least a little bit of hope).
The answer, apparently, was Ben Affleck. Pause for engineered beat so that everyone could let out a heavy sigh and exclaim "fuck".
Reboot, then. Tragic, not necessary. Problem-the-second, Zack Snyder. Around the same time, the New York Knicks professional basketball team is courting Phil Jackson (the dude who coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant) to come overlook their team which has been in disrepair for many decades. The Parallel I'm trying to draw is, that Phil agrees to overlook the team, not coach the team. Problem-the-second, Zack Snyder, please tell me Nolan is tagging in and wrestling the baby back from Mr. Style over Context. Not-t0-be, remember, Ben Affleck is now Batman.
Then comes the years of Marketing. The many years of spoiler-filled and otherwise problematic marketing. The chief amongst the sins of said marketers, the reveal of a master villain, namely Doomsday.
A - Comic Book fans that were alive in the early 90's know what Doomsday's lot is in the Superman Universe - think Bane and the Knightfall story line. I for one, was not at all perturbed when Bane breaks the Bat back first. Now I know the function of Doomsday and now I know the ending.
B - Supposing I didn't know. I still know that the film itself is telling me that it is ashamed of it's central conceit and doesn't have faith in itself to give us a film about Batman and his fight against Superman. This is like reading an online dating profile and arriving at the phrase "I'm flakey, selfish and unlikely to attempt any consideration to your needs, I will be available to date in 2016". FYI, I can't get to mad at this film, it was straight forward with me about it's inability to commit.
C - As Comic Con's come-and-g0, I'm treated to a corporate dick-measuring contest before my very eyes. I am weary of seeing so many "dicks". I don't care who slated what release date, I don't care that Marvel is going to manufacture a whole new Avengers movie rolled into a Captain America film, and I have to care that apparently Batman V Superman is basically now... as the result of cold water and measuring tape, going to be a make shift Justice League movie.
In design, we're all taught to promise small and deliver big. This film, took the opposing approach. Lets see if it worked out for them.
At this point, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the rape threats agains the female critic who bashed the film. In general, when an Alpha Male is challenged and told of his short-coming, he becomes highly motivated to clear those hurdles such that whichever unfavorable phrasing attached to him is removed in earnest and he's free to go about his business.
So, when, in general, comic book nerds are painted as scum with fantastic women problems that are frustrated they can't get laid and are wholly despicable and their treatment of women is a microcosm of their own "unfuckability" and they decided that they're going to treat a female film critic with hostility and threats of sexual violence... then I guess they're not partially alpha-male. Or even Beta, I'm not sure they're men at all. Little sad boys that are pathetic and otherwise fairly censured to their message boards.
When you saw the film, was it as bad as she told you it was? Because the consensus is, that it was. Furthermore, fuck off, really. If you want to know why the Batman V Superman film you highly anticipated didn't work... it's because your energy is spent detesting Women instead of detesting the Hollywood Movers and Shakers that conduct their design meeting with "People are fucking stupid, just serve them some bullshit and call it a day".
Sorry, will dismount from my High Horse. Just though another voice had to tell whiny bitchy man-children to fuck off for threatening rape against film critics that didn't hold their hand and tell them they were going on a magic adventure. You're going into a corporate shit-hole where you'll be dragged around with a digital dunce cap atop your head and apparently you're going to like it, and you're going to pony up every time they scream "BUY" into your un-charming and unfuckable faces. Again, Fuck off.
Boy! That sure was some fun foreplay. So who wants to know what I thought about Batman V Superman?
It didn't work.
Lets cut to the chase. The Batman was fucking terrible. I am a gigantic fan of the character and all that surrounds him. So when they finally get to the titular fight, I found myself wanting Superman to simply smash his head in instantly and nullifying all of Batman's thievery and corporate espionage. Oh, maybe I should have started with that.
A - Murdering Criminals in this universe. But by the grace of "Outsourcing". It is determined that if Batman brands you upon capture and you are sent to prison, the brand is the red flag thrown in amongst the horned bovine that populate the industrialized prison cottage industry. So, Batman, in earnest, is tagging those he wishes to see "deaded" upon their incarceration. What? The. Fuck?
B - Batman lies, cheats, and steals (and I will not tolerate him, Tool Reference for my Homies). The Modus Operandi of one Caped Crusader includes lying through his teeth to his butler/caretaker. He locks in tunnel vision and furthermore declares Lex Corp an enemy and engineers two scenes by which he effectively takes from a rival conglomerate all in his quest to kill first and ask questions later. This is, truly, not acceptable. Yes, you the audience knows that Luthor is a horrible Hipster playing out daddy issues with his sabre-rattling, but Batman, presumably doesn't. Also, notably, if (A)Lex is trying to procure the kryptonite from the wreckage in the Indian ocean, why does Batman never thing to broker a deal with him. Surely, they have similar intentions. Nope, Batman is of the honest belief that needs to just flat "jack that shit".
C - Batman is essentially Bi-Polar with his human interactions. Granted, this isn't "evil", if he's indeed sick, all compassion to him. However, He HATES Superman based on what Superman might choose to do. He DESPISES Wonder Woman due to her meddling. And on a dime, he's sexually attracted to Superman and is friendly with Wonder Woman. (Yes, I know what I just typed). Man, I wouldn't really want anything to do with Batman, he's a crazy person.
Alright, now lets discuss the problems with Superman
... ... ... Uhh, I know he's in the movie, but the blandness is really problematic. He blames himself for not stopping domestic terrorism, I suppose?
And yet, the most problematic issue is that the main bad guy is the Joker. Except for some reason, he's Alex Luther. Who the fuck is Alex Luther? Why, Son of Lex Luthor. And Why did they go with Lex Luthor's son, instead of Luthor himself? Well, cause everyone was clamoring for Jesse Eisenberg to be in the big Comic Book movie. He could play "Unlikable Hipster Man" except rich and entitled. But instead of being the sadistic Real Estate tycoon we know him to be, his hobbies mostly include thinking he's a batman villain and reminding the world that Heath Ledger gave one of the Greatest Performances of all time!
15 Years - Someone at some point decided that it's okay to use the back drop of 9/11 as a Means to engineer a plot because it's been - 15 Years
So, Batman gets into his special edition Jeep (Dawn of Justice) edition because Billionaires drive Jeeps and not... Porsche SUVs, clearly. He rushes into his Metropolis Media Center where he has a satellite campus for Wayne Tech, I suppose. But why? It is explained that Gotham is adjacent to Metropolis. Wait? If that's the case, the fuck does there need to be a Batman for at all?
Trivia - Gotham was never engineered to be New York City, it's supposed to be Jersey City. In fact, if you revisit The Dark Knight you'll see a conversation by which Dent explains to Wayne that The Palisades are most certainly in his jurisdiction. See Map for proximity:
Notice how New York is just on the other-side of New York Harbor. Why, then, does there have to be a Batman? Superman is faster than a speeding bullet and the Path Train is a 4 minute travel from Midtown to Jersey City. Look, this is all really inside baseball, but it is a plot point in the film.
I am obviously Geeking out on this because I am a New Yorker (I know, I know, fuck me, I'm a godless terrible person from a pretentious city full of rude folk). I don't understand why Wayne Tech would need two corporate Sky-Scrappers seperated by a small body of water connected by various mass transit systems. Yet at the start of the film, Wanye takes a Chopper to a Naval Yard and drives into the heart of Midtown to presumably look angry and make sorta friends with Scot McNeary. This is all crazy talk.
Having said all that, I mean, fuck you screen writers for evoking the most tragic day in the history of the City so that you can contrive a half-cocked feud between two iconic heroes such that you have a shit film? Fuck off. I don't think the 15 year buffer was coincidence. I'd swear that in a closed door meeting, someone in LA decided "Yep, 15 years is totally the right time to do this". They then, throughout the course of the film manufacture a secondary and third day of 9/11-esc imagery. It's baffling and disrespectful and fuck off!
Yeah, I'm taking exception.
The Fight Itself
Too little, too late. I will try to navigate around Spoilers, there is a whole lot of action post-sequence and neither hero seems to be exhibiting any ill-effects from their drag-out so there's no weight behind it.
To-Be-Fair, they promised a fight between Batman and Superman and you got one. It was... okay. It's fine, they executed. There was nothing in my theater by means of crowd reaction or energy. Everyone was as numb as Jake Gyllenhaal proposes to be in the Demolition trailer.
The Big Bad
CGI Bullshit (yeah, all I have to say)
The Spoilery stuff I can't Really discuss
Well, we'll be dropping our podcast on that one real soon. There's so much more I'd like to say, but simply can't in this format.
Fuck, man. It didn't work. I didn't think it could. Yes, I wanted to be proven wrong. I brought my nephews, this should have been the greatest on screen experience of their lives and they sat in silence eating their grilled cheese afterwords and my sadness for them is incalculable.