Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Superhero Media: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice

Seriously. How was this film as bad as it was? The two biggest and most iconic superheroes of all time finally get to have their decades of crossover success played out on the big screen. With a massive budget. In the superhero film house that The Avengers built. With a brilliant visual director. And an accomplished Hollywood writer. And this is what we got. 

By now, major dissections of this film and "where it went wrong" articles and videos are saturating the internet, so that's not what I'm going to be doing here. Rather, I want to take a look at how the relative quality of the film has affected the industry and nerd culture that surrounds the current wave of Superhero cinema. First off, I don't care if you like this film or enjoyed it or whatever, it is a bad film. Hey, it's ok to enjoy a bad film, I really like Tron, Daredevil and the Doctor Who movie; not everything that I or anyone enjoys needs to be of some minimum quality to be considered enjoyable. I've watched this film three times now and I can say, it does not get better, there are no more clever bits in it than are immediately obvious and it only lessens with each viewing. 

That is to say, the few truly enjoyable and well-constructed moments of film in Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice are not enhanced by their juxtaposition to the poorly-written and realised segments of the same film, they are dragged down into the same interminable morass. For example, the opening dream sequence, easily the best part of the film, is functionally forgotten by the time Batman has murdered 27 human beings in the process of realsing his homoerotic obsession with Superman. Yeah, Batman kills 27 people in this film, I've counted. Forget the overblown use of filters and nonsensical script, the very fact that Batman kills 27 people and Superman just came off a film where collateral damage was of less concern to him than getting into Lois' pants.

To me, therein lays the tragedy of this film and the so-called "DCEU" moving forward; a bad version of Batman and a bad version of Superman (and, yes, a passable Wonder Woman) are the flag-bearers of a decade's worth of upcoming cinema. Just imagine if Iron Man had been a flop, there would be no The Avengers, because Marvel Studios wasn't pre-planning the MCU as we now know it; Iron Man was (technically) an independent film, merely an experiment that turned out to pay dividends. As DC and Warner Brothers try to catch up to the runaway success of pretty much everything Marvel Studios touches, have rushed their own facsimile of a film shared universe with far less though and refinement than seems necessary. Just look at the DCAU from the 1990s, those programmes had nearly a decade to go from the "Batman only Show" to having dozens of heroes patrolling the Earth in Justice League Unlimited. We're nearly a decade out from 2008's Iron Man and of all things we're looking down the barrel of a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. Finally, we get to my main problem with all of this. 

Thanks to Marvel Studios, I have DVDs of live action films and television featuring Rocket Racoon, Hawkeye, Jessica Jones and more than one reference to the Two-Gun Kid. If DC/WB keep going the way they have been, I'm NEVER going to see Booster Gold, Renee Montoya, Red Tornado, Animal Man or countless others move from four-colour panels to the big screen. That sucks. Buddy Baker and Vic Sage deserve mainstream exposure as much as Peter Quill and Danny Rand, which will never happen if Justice League is as flat and dull as Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice. Bad film. Bad for you, bad for superheroes, bad for the industry. 

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