Right – let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first shall we?  Was this the best movie in the world?  No, I guess not, it had some flaws which I’ll detail below.  However, it definitely was not the horrible pile of steaming tripe that other reviewers are painting it as.  To be clear, I’d in fact normally agree with the opinions expressed on some of these sites & by some of these reviewers – one of them is our very own Valentin & his post: Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice: Review.  Their thoughts and opinions generally echo my own, however, I think this time they were perhaps being a bit too harsh and critical and I think that might be a function of their own choice of fandom – DC or Marvel – vs. the quality of the film itself.  As an avowed Marvel fanboy, I have only a passing familiarity with the DC Universe so if I get anything blatantly wrong, please don’t hesitate to (politely) correct me!

  • The Dream/Fore-shadowing Sequences – OK I’ll agree here with the commentary that these were somewhat unnecessary.  I’d be the first to admit that I almost groaned out loud when the movie started with Batman’s backstory once again.  I really didn’t feel that it was at all necessary to watch his parents – once again – get gunned down in the street.  While I understand the juxtaposition of the names (now) it was annoying to see it as we’d already seen it so many times before and it just felt painful to go through it all once again.  Batman-V-Superman-Trailer-Flying-ParademonsMoving on from this is more visceral fight sequence in a destroyed world that sees Superman & his acolytes carving up Batman and his group of resistance fighters.  Now I’m not sure if the flying bug things are meant to be in actuality the minions of Darkseid?  I think they are & they are obviously presaging his eventual arrival as DC’s answer to Thanos in the Justice League Movie.  While we are led to believe that Batman’s dream is all about Superman, in reality based on the appearance of the Parademons – it’s really about Darkseid.  As the foot soldiers of Darkseid their participation in the battle clearly tells fans one things: Darkseid is coming. Now were they (the dream sequences) necessary for THIS movie?  No, probably not … they did however serve as a good tie-in to the larger DC Universe though which is I think the overall intent and purpose.
  • Lois & Clark – While this show from the 90s had our TV screens almost melting with the chemistry between the characters, the love story between our modern day iteration of Lois & Clark is nothing more than tepid.  Here too I’d have to agree with the sentiments voiced by others as surprisingly the most wooden elements of this film were the portrayals by Adams and Cavill.  Considering how vivacious Amy Adams is as a character and how she can literally bring the screen to life, it’s a real pity that she wasn’t given that opportunity here.  Henry Cavill definitely LOOKS the part of Superman … it’s just somewhat disappointing that in this movie he was not given an opportunity to portray a normal human being also.  In all honesty – DC could have gone the route of Marvel here quite easily when they removed Thor’s love interest in between movies instead of having her act as just a bit player.  While Lois’ role had some importance in villanizing Superman, the task could have been accomplished just as simply through another plot device, reducing the number of characters on the screen and also tightening the movie as a whole.

Parademons are the foot soldiers of the space tyrant Darkseid – think of them as the orcs in Lord of the Rings, a marginally intelligent, fiercely loyal to their overlord troop that’s bred only for war.  Either way, this is clearly saying one thing to fans: Darkseid is coming. 

  • Conflict but not enough  This was perhaps my own personal hate point and the one that I really think needs the most focus.  The whole movie was a set piece about how much Batman doesn’t trust Superman and fears that he is going to become a despot.  Despite Alfred’s continued insistence that he’s not actually done anything wrong, Batman states that his legacy will be the destruction of Superman.  When the actual conflict happens though … its stupid!  Not the fight itself – that seemed to take some elements from the classic Frank Miller book, but rather how and why the fight happens.  Superman travels to Gotham (by the way, did you know that the two cities are on opposite sides of the Bay?) to persuade Batman to help him search for his mother and after initially stating that he needs Batmans’ help, the instant that they are actually face-to-face, he proceeds to shove Batman across the roof?    They hadn’t actually even started talking yet and he’d already jumped into fisticuffs??  Proceeding further in the fight, Batman has Superman on the ropes and the instant Superman mentions his mom’s name (another aside here … I’d not really put the two Mom’s names together before … nice juxtaposition), all hatred against Superman is forgotten and they are instantly on the same team?
  • Wonder WomanLaughter is the best medicine! – Not really mentioned by too many reviewers, but something that I thought worth speaking to was the lack of humor in this film.  While the films in the DC Universe seem to (generally) be darker in tone vs. the Marvel films, I think a smattering of jokes sprinkled throughout the movie help keep the audience engaged.  They need to be the right ones of course and unfortunately the only one that I recall (“Superman asks Batman if he brought Wonderwoman and he replies that he thought Superman did”) just didn’t work for me.  It was forced and considering the threat they are facing, it didn’t make sense at the time.  I guess you could also include the introduction of Clark and Bruce by Lex but I feel that this was ruined by the trailers more than anything else.  By contrast the interaction between Iron Man and Captain America in both Avengers movies was flawless.  Guardians of the Galaxy had a ton of jokes and don’t even get me started on Deadpool!

Now to the positive!  While I think I’ve spoken to some of the complaints mentioned by others, I think the key here is to realize that DC really had no choice.  Marvel has created a Universe of films and is able to call upon all of their characters from decades of comics for stories.  If DC wants to remain relevant, they NEED to somehow bridge the gap between stand-alone features to a more cohesive and larger story arc.  Could they have done this slower over the course of many years?  Yes they could have, but in some ways they alluded to it by Batman witnessing the destruction caused by Superman in his most recent incarnation/debut in the 2013 feature Man of Steel.  I think that particularly, was well done as there have been many movies – Marvel included – where you’re left to wonder where all the other superhero’s are during the course of a massive slug fest.  When this movie had Bruce witness the destruction that Superman caused and in fact, be personally impacted by it – well that for me was one of the high points of the movie.

The other high point of course was Wonder Woman!  Portrayed amazingly well by Gal Gadot the scenes that contained her were excellent.  Her fight sequences with Doomsday were particularly well done as she attacked not just with strength but also with intelligence.  I loved the fact that she didn’t try to stab with her sword but rather sliced through tendons and muscles to weaken her foe.  I also loved the fact that when she got knocked down – she seemed to relish the challenge.  She almost had me grinning with her when she jumped back into the fray and her enthusiasm for the battle was infectious!  I could only wish that Lois had the same joie de vivre!

As an (already stated) Marvel Fan, I don’t know the DC Universe as well, however I think there are elements to this movie that could let DC have something special when they eventually build out their own creation. Affleck actually made a decent Batman and a particularly imposing (elder) Bruce Wayne.  While he doesn’t have the same brooding nature as Christian Bale, I think he’ll do well in the future as the leader of the Justice league and while we’ve so far only seen him as a fighter, perhaps we’ll eventually get to see him as the intelligent Detective he is also.  It’s a pity for DC that the Green Lantern didn’t do as well as it should have – although I guess in some ways I’m glad as if it had, we’d never have had the Deadpool we’ve all fallen in love with!  It does make me wonder though how the Justice League is going to fight Darkseid and all of his minions with only 5 members (6 when Superman returns)?  I mean from what I know he’s not HYDRA but rather more akin to a God!  It should be an interesting little tussle is what I say!

Nia’s bit

Alright, here are my two cents for 1989 Batman:

“When I started watching the 1989 Batman movie, I was a bit hesitant at first. This movie is older than I am. I assumed due to the age of the movie it would be terrible. I’m so glad I was wrong.

This Batman movie is a complete classic. I loved the humor that took place in the movie. Vicky Vale and a friend of hers were making fun of Bruce Wayne’s collection of armor. Bruce Wayne then walks in on them, and just subtly owns the moment without batting an eyelash.

Joker’s dance routine in the art museum was a delight, and fit in perfectly with his character. As someone who was such a huge fan of the 1990s Batman Animated series. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. Despite its age this movie holds up well to the test of time. It’s a tad over the top at certain moments, but it all flows together quite smoothly in the end. A definite watch for any Batman fan. “

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Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Da...
Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Daredevil starring Ben Affleck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 7th, Marvel and Netflix announced the release date for the latest live-action adaptation of the Daredevil franchise. Marvel’s Daredevil will make its entire 13-episode season available to stream on April 10th, much to the delight of compulsive bingers everywhere.

Fans of the visually impaired vigilante are looking forward to a series that is 12 years clear from the blast radius caused by the much maligned big screen adaptation. The internet’s hate-boner for Ben Affleck still rages on to this day because of the fictional events that transpired back in March of 2003. Still, if you were to weigh that collective nerd rage against the more measured response of film critics you’d objectively conclude that most people didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil. Not an unfair statement, considering that even Ben Affleck didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

Affleck animosity aside, the movie as a whole is considered a resounding flop. Yet all the components of a classic superhero movie seemed to be there; a hero born of tragedy, a menacing and well-rounded villain, plus a romantic subplot for whoever the hell cares about romantic subplots. What was it then, that made this movie so unlikeable? Here’s a hint: the exact same things that made this movie so fantastic. Daredevil may just be the greatest superhero movie that nobody liked. Here’s why:

The Tone is Dark, But Not Too Dark

Matt Murdock, for all his efforts advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, still doesn’t stack up against Marvel heavyweights like Spider-Man and the X-Men, both of whom happened to be successfully captivating moviegoers back in 2003. An acrobatic blind man, nimble as he may be, just doesn’t out-cool a dude with a metal-laced skeleton and knives for hands. So rather than punch above its weight class against established blockbuster franchises, Daredevil bobs and weaves in a different direction; it diverges from the flamboyance of contemporary superhero movies by ultimately choosing gritty over grandiose.

 

English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He's ...
English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He’s Just Not That Into You. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tone is dark, but not hopelessly so. The film paints a grim picture of a New York that it is overrun with murderers and rapists in order to validate Daredevil’s hard-line, surgery-by-subway approach to crime fighting. However, the gloom is tempered with just the right amount of gaiety so the movie doesn’t spiral into what can only be described as “Dark Knight territory.” Here, our protagonist is not so heartless that he’ll pass up an opportunity to engage in a good old fashioned game of full-contact flirting (or kung fu courting, I can’t decide which bad line I like better) with token love interest Elektra. It is perhaps because this movie walks a tightrope between cynicism and optimism without committing fully to either, that the audience was sold on neither.

 

Daredevil Isn’t Your Friendly Neighborhood Vigilante

So you’ve decided to become a vigilante? Great! Congratulations on taking in the law into your own hands. Wait, what’s that? You say you’re not actually going to execute those rapists and murderers? Oh, you’re going to just rough them up a little then pass them on to law enforcement? In that case, well done, you’ve entirely missed the point of becoming a vigilante. You can go ahead and return that costume. Maybe you can still get back your deposit.

As an aspiring vigilante, you really only have two choices: you either take matters into your own self-righteous hands, or you stay out of the way while the legal system does what it has been put in place to do. There’s no middle ground. A true vigilante believes the legal system doesn’t work, which is why they’ve appointed themselves to bring the lost causes of civilized society to justice.

Matt Murdock understands the dichotomy that exists between being a vigilante and being a law abiding citizen, and he is able to craft his alter-ego accordingly. By day he attempts to bring the legal system of New York back up to respectable standards, and by nightfall he hunts down the criminals who slip through the cracks. Reintroducing criminals back into a failed and/or corrupt system is baffling decision that a lot of comic book vigilantes make. Daredevil isn’t as forgiving at the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world, which might have cost him some popularity points with fans.

Daredevil Doesn’t Waste Time on the Learning Curve

Unlike the majority of cinematic superheroes, Daredevil has his shit together before the end of the first act. We see a few minutes of young Matt bumbling his way into toxic sonar vision, and from there we jump straight to an adult Matt who already has a strong grasp on the fundamentals of superheroing.

Being introduced to a superhero in his prime is a welcome change of pace from watching an emotionally troubled loner blundering through their early days of superherodom. Daredevil’s early days of crime fighting are glossed over, perhaps to the chagrin of the people who like a good old-fashioned origin story.

Kingpin is a More Grounded Villain

Wilson Fisk is a refreshing take on comic book villains, in that he isn’t inexplicably committed to mass genocide or establishing a trans-continental dictatorship. He is just a unethical businessman with simple ambitions: stay in business by influencing and/or murdering anyone who threatens the stability of his organization. In other words, he’s your typical oil company CEO, only with the physique of a steroid-riddled pro wrestler.

The Kingpin doesn’t pursue some otherworldly weapon that will grant him the power to destroy all who oppose him; his weapon is influence, and he is ruthless when yielding it. Though admittedly, an intangible quality is not as resplendent as, say, the Tesseract.

It Isn’t a Traditional Superhero Movie, Mostly

Daredevil is at its best when it doesn’t acquiesce to standard superhero movie tropes. For most of the movie, Daredevil’s take-no-prisoners approach to crime fighting is a welcome deviation from take-all-prisoners approach of most comic book heroes. The choice to kill off the main protagonist’s love interest is an undeniably ballsy move, and one that few superhero movies have tried.

When it does succumb to genre cliches, however, Daredevil falls flat. The kiss in the rain is clearly borrowing (if not blatantly stealing) Spider-Man’s iconic kiss from the previous year. Furthermore, when Daredevil spares the life of Kingpin, it feels like a copout and a thinly veined sequel setup.

Daredevil may have been a critical failure, but it needs to be stated that the movie introduced some relatively innovative ideas to the genre that are now becoming popular in superhero franchises. Perhaps the world of 2003 was simply ill-prepared for the awesomeness that Daredevil unleashed upon it.