Batman v Superman Re(tro)view

Batman v Superman should have been one of my favorite films not only of 2016 but in the history of Cinema……..It wasn’t. But it also doesn’t deserve the hate.

Let’s see why

Batman v Superman wasn’t fully well received among audiences or critics and although I agree that it was vastly ambitious and tried to fit too many plots it was still not as bad as people made it seem.

I have separated this into points because I go in real depth about my opinions and this review poses questions as well as points so if it’s too much you can read individual points you’re interested in and even want to talk about in the comments.

  • Batman isn’t the same, there’s a reason he might kill, why did this bother so many people

Now the first thing that people need to understand is the importance of Batman when I say this I mean in terms of comic book movies, that’s why we have so many Batman films, he’s easily relatable, he’s cool, he’s awesome. But, he’s broken. In this film, at least, he is majorly broken. Completely not the same, I doubt that he’s even fully sane if you ask me. He lost someone, Jason Todd to be exact, and people I think don’t understand the severity of what that means to the character. The problem with comic book movies and oversaturation is that people want to judge a character based on what they’ve seen rather than what the history is and that can be very annoying but I also understand that it’s the film’s job to set up such angst and woes for a character too.

But let’s look at this from the view that I’m guessing Zack Snyder wanted the film to be seen in.

Batman has had a total of 5 robins but let’s exclude Stephanie Brown because I’m sure even as I said that name, you had to google it quickly (no? well done, you’re a nerd). So, a total of 4 well-known Robins are established, considering the time frame of this movie, we can see that Batman has lost Jason Todd, the Second Robin. Batman always treats his wards as his sons so you can imagine the pain of losing a son and what people don’t take into consideration is that Batman lost Jason Todd because it was partly his fault. (But how? I hear you gasp), it’s because of his Moral code, it’s the fact that he doesn’t kill. There’s a saying that Batman uses which is “If you kill a murderer, the number of killers in the world remains the same”, so when you really think about it what has Batman’s moral code really done for him in this universe. We still have Harley Quinn walking around all Nuts, Joker hasn’t been reformed, Killer Croc still eating people, Deadshot committing crimes, Batman is a symbol of Justice that has made no difference, he feels weak and so he should, he hasn’t made the world a better place, he hasn’t even made the top guns fear him.

In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne said “People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t-do that as Bruce Wayne”, but should I tell you what’s more terrifying? People being presented that dramatic example and continuing down the same path.

Maybe more needs to be done.

  • Alfred was our window

The only person that gets Bruce’s dark twist/shift in personality is Alfred and although Alfred understands his change, he doesn’t want him to see Superman as the enemy, Alfred was supposed to be a moral window that the audience could use, because again, we knew Superman wasn’t a bad guy but we should also know to sympathise with Bruce, that we are still on his side the way Alfred was but I get why the Audience didn’t get it at first.

But for people in general, why is Batman such a Key person and why do people love him so much? Especially in the case of him killing?

For example

Wonder woman kills. It serves her character and the story and isn’t that something we should think about for every DC character.

But nobody really cares to criticize that but when Superman and Batman happen to do it, it becomes a major problem. First I think it’s important to understand what we are saying.

Words have power in society

That brings me to having to define words because I believe words have power, even as I write my different posts I always try to improve my knowledge of etymology and different definitions. Two I want to concentrate on is ‘Killing’ and ‘Murder’. During 2016 summer period, those words were thrown around a lot and I think they were thrown around without thought.

The definition of killing is the cause of death from one thing to a living organism

Murder, however, is premeditated.

That quality of murder are not the qualities of Batman or Superman, at the core of who they are or where they morally stand, and I don’t believe that these movies suggested that at all.

You look at Man of Steel and you can see those deaths were unintentional and considering he’s been Superman for like a week, some leeway would have been nice and Batman was at a morally different place, plus he went into situations with a mission and the people standing in his way, at times were the cause of their own deaths or it was either unintentional or collateral.

But to bring this to a realistic standpoint, the casual killing of people is morally wrong, so I can’t dispute that fact with the casual audience, but what’s the difference of the same act in warfare. Everyone can understand that warfare is wrong but it is also necessary. People don’t have the same viewpoint as each other and it’s naïve to think being diplomatic works 100% of the time.

Why is a vigilante seen worse than a soldier? Is it because of legal authorities? There are numerous factors that come into play when discussing this and maybe I can really delve deeper into it with another post but what I want to bring to your attention is that definitions and words used do matter when describing a film, to be fair and to understand the psychology of a person/character is important if you want to get the most out of a movie like this (Zack Snyder loves his philosophical films).

Martha scene was to show the human side of Superman and change Batman’s philosophy

People have a major issue with the Martha scene and I don’t know why?

For the decade or so years that I’ve been reading comics, not once did I make the connection that their mothers have the same name, but that’s not what was interesting to me in this scene. What stood out (although I must admit it took a lot of watching for me to get it) is that we are seeing an Alien in front of Batman, Batman even stated “You’re not a Hero, you’re not even a Man”, but in Superman’s possible last moments he says “Save Martha”. Save someone else. And although the name Martha was a gateway for Batman to be hesitant it wasn’t the reason he stopped, he stopped because he realized this guy is willing to die for something else, a very human quality in an Alien might I add. Batman has been so blinded by rage and the importance of legacy and to be honest fear that he couldn’t fathom that maybe trust is more essential in this situation.

Batman and Superman have a very key and interesting dichotomy in heroism, which I think is needed in life and which the film couldn’t portray which deeply hurts me. Superman brings out the good and hero in a person. The hope needed to strive forward and make a difference be it big or small, to be honest, the whole Justice league have their own representations. Batman on the other hand, although can represent justice, also represent wisdom. Not being naïve and knowing that with every person, there can be evil and preparing for that is essential. The fact that they both know this but play the roles they play and respect each other is what makes them such an amazing duo, and I absolutely love them for it, not only that but they bring out the best in each other. Now granted we are talking about Zack Snyder which means super dark and real but knowing the kind of movies he makes, I’m very sure he had that in mind and wanted to bring it out but couldn’t at least not in this movie. Which brings me to one of the most skipped themes.

Why can’t people connect with Superman? Was he Hopeless?

A lot of people didn’t get Superman, and A LOT of people still don’t.

How can you connect with a person that powerful? That’s why we like Batman because we can relate.

But I now pose a question, to those reading this blog or anyone who cares in general, are we even trying to understand Superman? It’ not a character problem, it’s your problem.

The same people that can claim to connect with Batman, haven’t had both their parent’s shot? (at least I hope they haven’t)

The people who claim to be connected to Wonder Woman, have you come from a society dominated and run by women and now must adjust to a patriarchal society that you find stupid?

In my opinion, we don’t connect because their backstories are similar, we connect because we can translate a struggle they go through.

I never liked Batman because of his intelligence or the fact that he doesn’t have powers, I liked him because of his unwavering moral code. He may let his past dictate his actions, but never his ethics, and if there was a change at least because I connected with the set standards, I can understand why he’s changed due to the story. things like that question where you stand and you naturally become more invested.

I liked Wonder Woman because she understands the importance of diplomacy and Justice and more than that understands the essence of equality (How can you not get behind that message).

I can guarantee that any immigrant, anybody that feels like an outsider can get behind Superman because Superman was never represented by his power. His morals are what stands out and are what people should have gotten behind and followed. We’ve known that from the 1940s onward, but the amount of money that people can get out of him has, being frank, bastardized this character.

What happened to ‘Truth, Justice and the American way’? His values.

One thing I do when watching or reading a Superman anything is not see what Superman does but why he does it. Because that’s what’s interesting and that’s why people should care, that’s why they still do. He has all this power and sure, he can just beat up the bad guy but it’s the little things he does as well which is amazing.

I’m not saying Superman is better or worse than other people, but frankly, the whole Comic book movie franchise is on a very bleak road, and the comic book industry is following suit because they are following the money and not the story. Else world stories are gonna take free rain unless the films are either very constructed or very good.

And if a film isn’t well constructed within its own universe people can’t pivot on a story to tell them who to cheer for or what they should go in thinking about a movie, that’s why it seemed like there was this unfair bias towards Batman. (Don’t get it wrong, I love Batman).

Superman is one of my favorite heroes if you can’t tell and I just find it sad that many people don’t get him, which makes me think of people’s opinions on what he stands for and whether I should be hopeful or not.

The philosophical nature of heroism, what is a true hero?
Now, this last point is very short because I’ve kind of summarised my Re(tro)view and that is character philosophy. It’s hugely important and that’s a message to the filmmaker as much as it is to the audience. I’m not stating this because I want a film to be better than another but because I want a film to mean something and potentially to be more. If somebody wants to make a cool action-packed film with fun and enjoyable characters, they can. Civil War is an example of that but that was their aim going in, as a treat we ended up with having, two people with opposing views and almost a decade of character development to enjoy their change.

But back to the philosophy, the reason why I enjoy reading DC Comics more than Marvel comics is that the characters really mean something to me, the fact that they are Gods among Men and with that, their responsibility is so huge every decision they make is almost thought-provoking because they can potentially represent regular people. Granted our decisions won’t be as grand and, some people may not even feel their decisions matter but you couldn’t be more wrong.

Be it, Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman these characters represent something important and iconic and I just wish the films could portray that a lot easier for people to get, but I would also like it if people could try to draw out some good and not completely bash it.

Thank you for reading.

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