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!

Superman. The man of steel or the big blue boy scout? As legendary as this character is he also happens to be one of the most divisive in today’s modern age. The common complaint I often hear is that people can’t relate enough to him. Fair enough I guess. Warner Bros sort of listened it seems. If Man Of Steel was any indication, then you can see that they pushed Superman in a much darker direction. It payed dividends at the box office but once again, fans and critics alike remained divisive. Despite that, Warner Bros. is now moving on with the franchise and adding Batman to it. Needless to say, the promise of having Superman AND Batman in the same movie could be orgasmic to some.

Casting Ben Affleck as Batman may have taken the wind out of the films sails a bit but it remains to be seen if he will indeed be a terrible Batman. As usual most of the talk leading up to this film centers around Batman but where does that leave Superman?  Wasn’t this supposed to be A sequel to Man OF Steel? A movie that Superman was clearly the star in.Warner Bros. recently changed their tune saying that  Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice is not a sequel to Man Of Steel. A strange move but whatever.With all this in mind I think it’s very interesting and important to look at the evolution of a character that’s been around for more than 75 years.

When I was growing up I loved, and still love Superheroes to this day. My mother told me that at the age of three I was obsessed with The Lone Ranger and Batman. That obsession only lead to more superheroes. Superman was pretty much next in line. In fact I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Superman. It’s a bit of a haze.  One thing remained clear very early on in my child mind. Batman number 1 and Superman number 2. The funny thing is that I had my first experiences with those characters while growing up in South America. I moved to Canada at about the age of five with both of my Batman and Superman toys in hand. In Canada my father kept feeding my habit and I devoured Comics as much as I devoured cereal it seemed. It’s amazing what kind of impact those heroes had on me. Particularly Superman and Batman. Being new to the country my grasp at English was poor at best. This made reaching out to kids especially difficult. Often times I would come home soured and upset with people. I just simply dived back into the world of Comics and lived there. Batman seemed so fitting. Here’s a guy who is a good man at his core but he worked in the shadows and seemed to shun away anyone else who wanted to aid him. He worked best alone and he had a lot of darkness and anger. I related to the isolation and the frustration obviously. When I read Superman it was the opposite feeling.Here was this Alien from another place trying to fit in and actually embracing people. Even those who feared and didn’t understand him!

His situation was a lot closer to my own so I connected with that. It was a security blanket that gave me hope that I would be accepted and that doing the right thing was more useful in the long run, than anger. Don’t get me wrong my morals and ethics come from my wonderful family, particularly my parents but Superman played a key role in cementing those morals. All the comics I read played a part but Superman really hammered them home. I wanted to be Superman. Everyone does at some point. I knew that a human could be Batman but I wanted to BE Superman. Once I brought my cherished Superman toy to school and was playing with it happily until another kid began making fun and saying ” Superman sucks!” My young mind was baffled and I lashed out in defense of a fictional character as if it was a flesh and blood person. They simply laughed me off but I came home so anguished swearing to my Mother I would never again bring this Superman toy to school. This is how strongly I felt about the character.

The years roll onand those strong feelings didn’t really change much. People came and went. Friends changed over the years but anytime I felt let down or forgotten, there he was. Superman! always waiting to take me away on another adventure. Never to forget me.  As I got older I noticed that more and more people keep complaining about his lack of weaknesses and his stubborn goody two shoe nature. The media just kept churning out Superman related things regardless of this with little change in the way the character was. Sure, a tweak here and a tweak there but still Supes.

Things changed a bit when The Death Of Superman comic came out. It made an impact and people noticed. Suddenly this icon that everyone was sort of tired of but everyone would always think would be around, was gone. This was the first major death in comics at the time. You could argue Flash was but I digress. Of course, eventually he came back and I think fans missed him. It was such a big deal that it was even on the news.All of a sudden that reaction I had all those years ago when I was a five year old kid didn’t seem so dumb. People actually cared about him.

 

Years passed and the same old problems came up and then Superman Returns came out. A commercial and fan disappointment. The common complaint? ” Too lame. Not enough action. Too straight and narrow.” I felt those were valid points to some degree but I didn’t hate the film. I didn’t love it either. I too longed for a Superman Vs Doomsday like moment but for that I would have to wait until 2013. When Man Of Steel Came out  I was so eager to see it and I wanted it to succeed very badly. I wanted everyone to finally love this character again as I did. I wanted to say ” See! Superman’s not that bad.” To a large degree it did succeed. It made it’s money meaning that people did go see it. Only this time the complaints from fans and critics was the opposite to Superman Returns. ” Too loud, too much action, too dark.” Once again, I can’t argue with the validity of those points.

SPOILER ALERT: I mean Superman actually KILLED someone in this movie. That’s pretty dark and different for a character who’s whole point has been ” There’s always another way”. I understand why Superman did it but I have to say it shocked me. My brother and I looked at each other in the theater with our mouths wide open in disbelief. It didn’t ruin the movie but I wished he had not done it.

Warner Bros gave the people what they asked for but they were still not not happy.I think the general public enjoyed it but many fans and critics did not. They wanted to modernize the character and were not afraid to push the limits being the reasoning behind the shift in tone and character. you might attribute that to the constant barrage of  people saying that they can’t relate to Superman. I ask why is it so important to relate to him? He’s taken the best aspects of humanity and tried to live by them. He always did the right thing in spite of changing times and opinions. He’s supposed to be an example to society. I want to be like Superman, I don’t want him to be like me. What inspiration does him being like us give anyone? The best Superman movie in my humble opinion is Superman Vs The Elite. Probably one you never heard of unless you’re a fan. It’s an animated adaptation of the best selling comic by Joe Kelly called ” Whats so wrong about truth, justice and the American way?” The movie adaptation is the definition of Superman in the modern age. It puts who he is front and center for better or for worse. In fact, I always say, it’s the perfect movie for a Superman hater to watch because it address a lot of those common complaints and asks the biggest question. Why doesn’t Superman ever kill?

If you ask me that is his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. I think we all know that the expectation of someone never having  to kill is a tad unrealistic. That’s why it’s easy to criticize Superman. Because sometimes he might be wrong and that frustrates us. I think his point is to teach us a way to avoid going down the darker path because frankly, it’s easier. Just look at TV and Film today. Your most popular characters are anti-heroes bordering on straight up villain. I could name just a few Walter White, Tony Soprano, The Punisher or even Rick from The Walking Dead. All great dense, deep characters but do people find that they like them because they relate to a Sociopathic murderer? That would mean that we are all more like sociopaths than we think. That’s kind of scary if it’s true. I understand the need to be drawn to those characters , but to say that they are more relatable? I guess that’s why Superman kills in the new films. To make him more ” relatable”.

I think doing the right thing all the time is somewhat of an antiquated and unpoplar notion. I love my anti heroes as much as the next person. What I do strive for is a world where we can appreciate and understand both kinds of characters and people. There’s a reason why Superman and Batman make the best group whenever they pair up. Light vs Dark. We all have darkness but we need light. Let’s see what becomes of Superman in his new film and we’ll talk then.

It’s been close to five years since the famed reboot of the DC universe took the world by storm promising new beginnings for all characters and a more diverse group of books for the modern age. DC was basically asking established fans to ignore much of the last seventy plus years of history while telling new readers “You don’t need to worry about all that. It never really happened. Jump in!”

Has the experiment worked for DC?

Yes and no. But I would lean more towards no. The initial excitement and curiosity made for a successful half a year. All you had to do was go into any comic shop looking for a new issue only to find none or be left with reprints. You certainly saw the diversity that DC was talking about with titles like I Vampire, Animal Man, Resurrection Man, Voodoo and many more.

But the excitement and bold moves soon turned to reality. As sales quickly dwindled many of those diverse books were on the chopping block. Mister Terrific, Hawk & Dove, and Static Shock barely made it to eight issues before being cancelled and it didn’t end there for a majority of the books.

Some characters certainly benefited from the reboot. Aquaman particularly saw his profile raised from Joke to badass. I’ve always loved the character but most of the general public did not share that love for him until the New 52 arrived. Wonder Woman is another character that rose to prominence again. The success of Animal Man is one that also surprised some.

When you begin to analyze the success of these books you wonder why did these books work but Mister Terrific, Static Shock and Hawk & Dove and others like them fail?

There are plenty of theories and no one has the clear cut answer, but here is my take on it.

Geoff Johns is one of the premier writers for DC so it’s a no brainer to me why Aquaman worked so well. It doesn’t hurt that he has a proven track record or reviving characters similar to Aquaman. The feat John’s accomplished with Green Lantern is something to behold. Throw in the brilliant art of Ivan Reis and it seems like a good bet to succeed.

Brian Azzarello was tasked with writing Wonder Woman with Cliff Chiang on art. Azzarello knocked it out of the park before with titles like 100 Bullets and the very successful JOKER and Luthor: Man Of Steel stories.

Jeff Lemire wasn’t exactly a household name when he came onboard with DC but he was well known in the indie circuit of comics. Travel Foreman provided excellent macabre art to go along with his equally dark and thrilling stories. Animal Man proved to be a success.

I won’t knock the creative teams on the other books (Except Rob Liefiled.) I won’t diminish their talent or abilities but I would argue that they don’t have the clout under their names like a Johns or an Azzarello. I was shocked to see Rob Liefield working with DC again. It’s no secret he does not have the best following these days. In fact he is one of the most divisive artists in the industry today. All you need to do is Google his name and the images that pop up will give you various examples of his “anatomically correct” art. Perhaps they wanted to give him a chance and hope that his past fame could help carry Hawk & Dove. Eight issues in and I think they received their answer. If this is the case, why would DC then allow him to helm Hawkman, Grifter, and Deathstroke? All three of which were cancelled by the way.

There are currently nineteen first wave titles left out of the original fifty-two launched in 2012. Most of which are the mainstays you would expect. To be honest a lot of the critical and finical acclaim belongs to an even smaller group (depending on what you hear and read.)

Then there’s Batman.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were the creative team for Batman at the start of the New 52 and continue to be to this day, and they are doing amazing work with the character. I would say some of the most interesting and original stories out of the Bat universe in some time. The rest of the Bat titles are, for the most part, well received. Yet month after month they sell extremely well. One could argue it’s the character that’s the selling point not so much the quality. I think to a large extent they would be right.

DC seems to agree because there is an astonishing eleven titles featuring Batman or having Batman prominently in it. I didn’t even count Red Hood & the Outlaws, Harley Quinn, Grayson, & Batgirl into the mix.

The other part of the World’s Finest duo is Superman. Supes’s popularity has shifted in the last ten years but he still holds down six ongoing titles with him prominently in them.

Surely the saving grace is Green Lantern? The character that Geoff Johns resurrected for DC. So much so that its success spawned four more ongoing series coming from the same universe as G.L. Sadly DC will be cancelling three out of the four other Lantern titles in March. Those being Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians & Red Lanterns. Sinestro’s ongoing series seems untouched for the moment.

With DC’s major event series “Convergence” on the way, it’s hard to say what the future will be. It seems DC is now saying that these different comic universes still exist and remain relevant and that the New 52 is only a part of a much bigger thing. It’s another experiment which maybear fresh or rotten fruit.

The biggest problem I see coming from DC’s camp is their reliance on the Dark Knight himself. We all love Batman. Hell, I LOVE BATMAN but he is falling into the same problem that Wolverine and Venom fell into during the nineties. Overexposure. You can’t rely so heavily on the character to the point that you ignore the rest. I know what you’ll say. “Batman sells and the others don’t”. Fair enough. I know I said that the character sells the book but consider the writers and artists working on Batman related books. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Geoff Johns, Francis Manipul, Peter Tomasi, Gail Simone, J.H. Williams. The Bat books are enjoying a very fine roster of talent. Possibly the best DC has to offer if want to think of it that way. My question is, why not put the BEST talent on the lower or lowest tier character?

I think Grant Morrison working on Hawkman would be great. Francis Manipul could continue to reenergize the Flash, and Scott Snyder never should’ve left Swamp Thing. This is all wishful thinking, of course. The upper brass at DC certainly know more than I do but If they hope to stay relevant and compete with Marvel they have to embrace all that the DC catalogue has to offer and really go for it. If not, in ten years time you might as well call them Batman Comics not DC Comics.

Maybe things will be changing in the near future based on the solicitations coming from DC post “Convergence”. They are, once again trying to diversify their lineup with different flavors. I’m cautiously optimistic but skeptical at the same time because I’ve seen it before and I’m not fully convinced this will be any different. One can only hope.