I know I’m sometimes out of my depth when it comes to movies. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about film as I am about games, so I’m often shy about doing long-form analysis. I generally dislike a lot of highbrow stuff that movie buffs love and I often miss subtle messages embedded in framing or set designI missed the satire of Starship Troopers and took the whole thing at face value..
I’ve got a few YouTube creators that I really admire, and I’ve noticed that some people are really well-suited for some kinds of commentary and not so much for others. I’ve seen brilliant analysts turn into atrocious dimwits the moment they stepped out of their area of expertise, and so I’m always wary of making that kind of blunder. But sometimes a movie gets stuck in my craw and I can’t resist taking a swing at it.
Cards on the table: I liked Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of Watchmen. I know opinions on it are mixed, but I think it nailed the tone and worldview of the source material. I don’t generally enjoy pitch-black tales where
the person arguing “the ends justify the means” gets to win in the end. But if you’re into that kind of thing then this is a really good version of it. Like Dark Souls, the story of Watchmen is something I can admire even if I can’t actually enjoy watching it. It’s not my thing, but this is a brilliantly crafted version of Not My Thing. And I freely admit that the movie is a really good adaptation of some fiendishly difficult source material.
So it’s kind of darkly hilarious that Zack Snyder was chosen to adapt modern-day Superman for the big screen. I can’t imagine anyone more ill-suited for the material. You can see the fumbling Hollywood thinking at work behind the decision. “This Snyder guy is really good at making movies about the funnybooks. He directed one a few years ago, so let’s give him this one!” It’s like saying, “This guy who made Snowpiercer did a great job, so let’s give him The Polar Express. I mean, both movies have trains in the snow! He’s a natural fit!”
Anyone capable of successfully adapting Watchmen shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near SupermanOkay, I’m sure SOMEONE out there would be capable of working on both films, but the best directors tend to have a really distinct personal style that shines through. Anyone capable of making both films will probably make very bland films in general.. The two works are opposed on a philosophical level. Superman is profoundly idealistic, and Watchmen has cynicism oozing out of its pores. Watchmen isn’t just a deconstruction of the idealized superhero myth, it’s a controlled demolition. It takes the entire premise of superbeings and says, “Actually, having nearly-indestructible godlings running around would be horrible for the world, because they would still be people and People Are Awful.”
I watched Batman v. Superman and Watchmen back-to-back, which really drove home how Zack Snyder was so much better for one than for the other.
Batman v. Superman: Yawn of Justice
People defend this movie by saying it’s “just a different take on the characters”. Granted. But this is like making a version of Spider-Man where Peter Parker is an arrogant, showboating, devil-may-care bad boyWhich, yeah. People have said that’s what the Amazing Spider-Man movies did. QED.. It’s like a grimdark version of Deadpool where he never tells any self-aware jokes. It’s like a version of Wolverine where where Logan is a stammering bishōnen who’s afraid to pop his claws. Like a Sherlock who’s a dull brute that beats the information out of lowlifes rather than solving mysteriesYes, the Robert Downy Jr. Sherlock movies show him doing fisticuffs, but he’s ALSO doing the deduction thing that the character is known for. That’s the important part.. Sure, it’s “different”. The problem is you’re missing the entire point of the character. If your unique twist on the character doesn’t contain the key elements that drew people to the work in the first place, then what’s the point? Of course that will piss people off. The entire movie will feel like it’s taking the editorial position of, “Yeah? Well I think this character is dumb and if you like it you’re dumb.”
Of course fans will hate it if you turn Superman into a sad brooding mope who wonders if the world is worth saving. Of course people will hate it if you turn the World’s Greatest Detective into a cruel, hateful, rage-fueled murderer. Of course people will hate it if you take the confidence and cunning of Superman’s greatest foe and turn him into a mincing creep with daddy issues. Even if this was a great movie (and it really isn’t) it’s still bending all the characters in ways they were never designed to go.
And even if you dig this dark new take on these iconic characters, and even if you’re willing to overlook the serious structural problems the movie has, in the end the message of the movie just loops back to the nihilism of Watchmen. Superheroes are all dysfunctional children, the world is ruled by corrupt jackasses, the people who look up to supers are dull sheeple and the people who don’t are hateful morons. The movie plays nihilism for depth and tries to pass misanthropy off as “realism”. Some people really do like to see costumed heroes torn down by applying a generous coating of human frailty and moral ambiguity, but there’s not a lot of overlap between those folks and fans of idealistic do-gooders in blue tights.
In short: Zack Snyder was wrong for this material.
Like every other English-speaking person in the western world, I soaked in the backlash and anti-hype surrounding the release of this movie. I saw a year and a half of negative headlines, sour forum topics, and angry YouTube thumbnails regarding BvS before I finally got around to seeing the movie for myself. After so much negativity I went in expecting a disaster on every level, but then it turned out it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been led to believe. It’s far better than the tedious sound & fury of Transformers or the embarrassing awfulness of Spawn. I haven’t watched Green Lantern all the way through, but BvS is pretty far above that mess.
The domino effect of bad decisions that led to this movie are actually kind of understandable. Hollywood didn’t understand that while Watchmen and Superman are both comics about costumed crimefighters, the works are profoundly different and require different creative leads. Zack Snyder, being a fan of Watchmen and not so much a fan of idealistic Superman, thought he could “fix” Superman by (in his own words) “trying to grow up [the] character”. You could see that he really wanted to please fans, because he built his movie out of two of the most well-known stories of these two characters: The Death of Superman and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Those stories are popular,right? The fans should like that! But these stories aren’t really beloved as core parts of the mythology of the given characters. These stories are attention-grabbing and well-known, sure. But they were also controversial and somewhat polarizing.
More importantly, both Death of Superman and Dark Knight Returns were part of an effort to shake up the status quo after decades of stagnation. Dark Knight Returns was told as a one-off standalone story, and wasn’t intended to be a part of the ongoing Batman continuity. The Death of Superman was part of an effort to redesign the character. (Mostly unsuccessful, I might add.) These are the kinds of things you do at the end of a long run when you’re running out of stories to tell and the existing setting is starting to feel like it’s in a rut. It’s how you end a long-running series. The problem is that this isn’t the end of the DC Cinematic Universe. This is the beginning. You can’t blow up the status quo when you haven’t finished establishing a status quo.
Another problem is that Dark Knight Returns is a full movie worth of story. So is the Death of Superman. Introducing the new Lex Luthor, setting up his character, and explaining how and why he created Doomsday (assuming you decide that’s something Lex should do) is about half a movie. So now we have two and a half movies we need to cram into one.
On top of that there was the unfortunate business that this movie needed to set up things for Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg. Or at least, the bigwigs at Warner Brothers thought it did. Marvel built its universe a little at a time, and did so using brief cameos and post-credits scenes, but WB is in a hurry to catch up to Marvel, so they decided to take all of the setup that Marvel spread out over five movies and cram all of it into this already overstuffed film. And finally, this movie needed to introduce Wonder Woman without a handy origin movie to build on, further adding to the bloat.
Basically everything wrong with the movie can be traced back to these three decisions: 1) Zack Snyder. 2) Combine Death of Superman and Dark Knight Returns. 3) Catch up to Marvel’s worldbuilding with this one movie.
Yes, Lex’s plan is stupid, his motivations are all over the place, and he seems to be enacting two conflicting plans at the same timeSeriously, how did he think things were going to go? After Batman killed Superman or vice versa, was he just going to release Doomsday to destroy the world anyway?. But if he wasn’t fighting for screen time with four other stories then maybe he could have been a more interesting villain with a more coherent plan. Yes, Perry White is a terrible cynic and Pa Kent is a muddled dunce with no wisdom, but that’s what you get when you take broad character archetypes and drop them into a gritty world of moral ambiguity. You either become a cynic (White) or you become a fool (Pa Kent) because you can’t believe the good guys always win if you live in a world without any good guys.
Having said all that, I actually like parts of this movie.
Ben Affleck as Batman. Yeah. I like him. I think Affleck gets a lot of unfair hateContext: This article was written back in July. Since then Affleck has been accused of groping someone and I haven’t followed up on that story to know what’s really going on. So when I say “unfair hate” I’m talking about his work as an actor, and not this business.. Sure, he’s made some bad movies. Who hasn’t? He looks the part, and he acts the part. Sure, the violent paranoid dialog doesn’t fit the versions of the character most of us are familiar with, but that’s a problem with the screenplay. He looks good in the suit and he’s good at playing both Bruce Wayne and Batman. I actually like him better than Christian BaleI always found the Bale “death metal” Batman voice to be kind of off-putting..
Henry Cavill as a guy who looks a lot like Superman. Those big shoulders and square jaw? That’s perfect. Visually, I think he’s the best live-action Superman we’ve ever seen. And yes, even better than Saint Reeve. It’s hard to see the resemblance when he’s moping his way through another scene of anguish and doubt, but once in a while Cavill will smile and say something comforting suddenly it’s like OH WOW GUYS SUPERMAN IS HERE! Again, this guy could be giving us a Superman performance for the ages if the screenwriter would put Superman into the script. It’s like Cavill has to smuggle Superman moments into the film when the writers aren’t looking.
Wonder Woman was pretty awesome. Yes, this would have been much better if the Wonder Woman movie had come out before BvS. Still, she’s the most fun of any of the heroes. In fact, she’s the only explicitly heroic figure among the good guys. Everyone else is constantly being degraded by doubt, hatred, fear, anger, and pride, but Wonder Woman shows up and acts like a proper superhero. Also, I really like how they handled her in motion. There was something really exciting about those powerful forward leaps that felt like it came right out of the comics.
Batman saves MARTHA! from the bad guys. Okay, Batman probably did some murders in this fight and I’m not a fan of that, but this was probably the best action scene in the movie. Batman tracked down someone who’d been kidnapped, took the bad guys by surprise using fear and misdirection, and took out the villains with his fists rather than bullets. Yay Batman!
Superman’s cape. That looked fantastic. True, it’s not clear why it floats gently behind him like gossamer when he’s hovering but hangs like cotton when he’s on the ground, but shut up. That’s the way it’s depicted in the comics and I really like it.
Jeremy Irons is cool. He just is, okay? He’s a good choice for alternate-universe brilliant inventor Alfred. They basically combined the Lucius Fox character with Alfred, and that’s fine. This movie was already crowded enough, so I’d rather Alfred did double-duty than have them stuff yet another neglected character into the margins.
Dramatic shots. Even though I’m pretty miffed at Snyder and what he did with these characters, I grudgingly admit that he’s really good at framing striking shots that capture the weight and emotional thrust of a scene. You know the big shot in the Avengers where the team finally assembles and the camera orbits them and suddenly you realize you’ve been holding your breath because you’d been caught in this amazing moment? Snyder does that kind of thing several times in this movie. They don’t have the same emotional weight because the script has a lot of internal dissonance, but still. There are some spectacular shots here.
So that’s what I thought of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Warner Brothers Q3 Earnings Report. I don’t mind that WB decided they didn’t want to make a Marvel-style action comedy. There’s lots of room for more serious comic book movies. Heck, the Marvel Movies are often based on comic books that contain almost no jokes at all. WB doesn’t need to mindlessly copy what Marvel is doing. But they do still need to make coherent stories that contain characters we can relate to, and BvS is not that.
Here’s hoping the DC Cinematic Universe finds its voice.
 I missed the satire of Starship Troopers and took the whole thing at face value.
 Okay, I’m sure SOMEONE out there would be capable of working on both films, but the best directors tend to have a really distinct personal style that shines through. Anyone capable of making both films will probably make very bland films in general.
 Which, yeah. People have said that’s what the Amazing Spider-Man movies did. QED.
 Yes, the Robert Downy Jr. Sherlock movies show him doing fisticuffs, but he’s ALSO doing the deduction thing that the character is known for. That’s the important part.
 Seriously, how did he think things were going to go? After Batman killed Superman or vice versa, was he just going to release Doomsday to destroy the world anyway?
 Context: This article was written back in July. Since then Affleck has been accused of groping someone and I haven’t followed up on that story to know what’s really going on. So when I say “unfair hate” I’m talking about his work as an actor, and not this business.
 I always found the Bale “death metal” Batman voice to be kind of off-putting.
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190 thoughts on “Batman v. Superman Wasn’t All Bad”
I did similar – soak up the backlash and then only just got around to watching it a couple of weeks ago. However for me it was even worse than I was expecting. I'm glad you mentioned “four other stories,” because you're right about the three decisions which are the source of most of the problems. But then whilst they're trying to do DKR & DoS and set up the JLA they also have Lois Lane running around investigating some sort of lame mystery which shouldn't have fooled anyone in-world and doesn't even attempt to fool or engage the interest of the audience. And they try to tell some tale about how Superman is possibly a terrorist and everyone hates him or something. (I guess I'm being a little unfair – the latter is at least connected to Lois's tensionless investigation, so you could call that one extra thing stacked upon the already disorganised dogpile rather than two.)
I just don't understand how a professional organisation made up of talented or at least experienced people can produce something like this. Pile it much too high with vastly three vastly overambitious undertakings it would be difficult to pull off well even individually, and then spend half your time on other stuff anyway! It just absolutely baffles me.
That said, I don't disagree with the various things you list as positives. They just weren't for me nearly enough to even begin offsetting the baffling backdrop against which those crumbs of quality do certainly stand out.
I also found it shockingly bad, despite having been thoroughly de-hyped for it.
“Muddled” doesn’t even begin to describe the plot. The thing about Batman and Superman’s fight in TDKR was that it was cashing in on years of establishment. Batman and Superman knew each other very well at that point, and their confrontation was based off of fundamental disagreements, not them just being two lunkheads who just didn’t like the look of that other guy.
And when you have Superman watch dispassionately while a building blows up around him and people die, then walk out of the burning wreck without a trace of emotion, then I’m not sure how I’m supposed to empathize with him at that point.
I don’t think the “positives” really helped it. Yes, Wonder Woman was good, but she was also entirely irrelevant to the proceedings. She could have been cut completely out without the film missing anything. The visuals were technically good, but they were doing the wrong things. They were like being run over by a muscle car. Yes, it has a really nice engine, but that isn’t helping things.
Part of how this mess happened, incidentally, is Hollywood’s new trend of shooting a ten hour movie then trying to make sense of it in post. They need to start making sure that their shooting scripts have been tightened up before they start shooting.
Much as Wonder Woman was one of the bright spots in BvS, her presence makes the movie even dumber. She could have wielded the kryptonite spear better than Superman probably, and do so without dying!
How it really should have ended
The fight in DKR is a completely different setup. Batman
didn’t expect to win; he wanted to fake his death. It’s stripped of its context and loses any emotional investment.
Reminds me of in Star Trek: Into Darkness. To me, betaKirk and betaSpock were not friends, certainly not the bromance/romance that launched not to mention named the field of slash fan-fiction, so doing a version of the Wrath of Khan scene did. Not. Work. Not to mention that they completely negated any potential emotional impact with a scene so telegraphed you could see the dots and dashes.
Just throwing some out of context scene at us and basically shouting FEEEL! at the audience does not an effective scene make.
I like this simile, and may well steal it for future use. :D!
She did save Batman’s life and hold Doomsday with her lasso as Superman plunged in the spear
I didn’t read it like that. I thought Heny Cavill did a decent (not brilliant) job there of acting Superman appearing to be horrified as the bomb went off leaving him the only survivor – not looking on dispassionately
Been lurking here for years, never commented before.
I have fairly strong feelings about this movie – mostly disappointment.
I think the fundamental problem with this movie is Zak Snyder. He seems to be fairly good at slavishly copying other people’s work – 300 is good, Watchmen is good, the parts of BvS that are almost directly lifted from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight are good – but when asked to create anything original it all falls apart.
I thought that the movie was too long – by the last half hour I was desperate for it to end. That’s probably got a lot to do with the pacing of the final act.
I wish that the score was a little less obvious and bombastic.
Finally, I think that the whole movie takes itself way too seriously. There are no lighthearted moments at all in BvS that I can remember. The constant po-faced, grim darkness is very wearying. Wonder Woman was much better in this regard.
Aye right – it's waaaaay tooooo lonnnnng (especially if you watch the extended version … why oh why did I watch the extended version … folks, do not watch the extended version), and yet there's almost no single aspect of it which is given enough time to properly breathe. Even the aspects which individually drag on are still clearly rushed and perfunctory … which, I dunno, to pull that off requires some fairly special ingenious power of warping & wasting everybody's time.
But if they had made it long enough to properly deal with everything they attempted to, I'd probably even now still be watching the extended* version!…
*Please avoid the extended version.
I only got around to watching it earlier this year, almost fell asleep during it because as you say, it’s way too long.
I figure most of the problems were also studio issues (trying to cram way too much into the film) causing it to be a long chaotic mess.
I hope they can turn it around once they have a simpler plot (Wonder Woman was a great film for example), but they have the Justice League coming up next I think which may end up just as messy.
I never watched this one because of all the backlash, but I did check out Wonder Woman back in June, and that’s a pretty damn enjoyable, basically Marvel-style superhero movie. As much as the DC movies have sucked in the past, I do have some hope for them going forward if they can make other movies like WW.
I liked the Watchmen movie too, but considering I never read the comic it’s based on, that doesn’t mean much. The source material is pretty much always gonna be better at least in a plot sense, just because they’ve got a whole book or series worth of material and not just two hours.
I think Wonder Woman, like Deadpool before it, achieved a higher quality by virtue of having a creative team passionate about the property, COMBINED with the corporate executives mostly dismissing and ignoring it because they didn’t think it was worth their time.
Now that Wonder Woman (and Deadpool, incidentally) has been a hit, I’m worried the sequel is going to be just as much smashed beneath the weight of executive meddling as the rest of the DCEU movies.
Worse – they might be smashed beneath the weight of a massively expanded budget.
Lot’s of first movies are really good because budget constraints force the director/editors to prioritize and cut out anything genuinely extraneous. Then the second movie comes with a massive budget increase and not only are they indulging themselves, they’re adding in shit just to burn the money.
I’ve read the comic and seen the film of Watchmen, and it’s a pretty good adaption; one of those where pretty much every scene in the film you can tie to pages of the comic. The only slight issue I have is the change to the antagonist’s plot; in terms of time and simplicity it makes perfect sense, but it changes the motivation of some of the characters in the ending.
Wonder Woman I mostly enjoyed; it went a bit off once they got to the front, and the final battle was a bit of a mess, but I enjoyed the rest of it.
I really liked the Wonder Woman movie until the shit at the end with Ares. I think his inclusion harms the theme and the central arc of Diana’s character (also he looks fucking stupid when he morphs into the heavily armored war god but still has the mustache). Diana’s a naive character who thinks people are intrinsically good and that all evil is the result of one source that if defeated makes the world happy and nice again and instead learns that people are complicated and the world is cast in shades of grey. The inclusion that Ares really was prodding and moving people around the whole time doesn’t destroy this theme, but it muddies it. I might change my mind on this if there is a Wonder Woman 2 that takes place in WW2. Seeing how Diana reacts to an even more catastrophic war that this time is entirely within the hands of humans might be the completion of her arc.
And I don’t think I could disagree more strongly to that. Granted, I grew up in the UK and not the US and my experience of the Cold War was therefore somewhat different — and make no mistake, the comic’s tone and worldview is inundated in a Cold War mentality — but I feel Zack Snyder fundamentally cast the comic through the wrong lens.
His ‘battle scenes’ glorifies the physical violence and vigilantism that Moore presents as repugnant, he turns Doctor Manhattan and Silk Spectre’s conversation on its head and switches the active and passive role so he ends up being the one guiding her rather than the other way around, and he axed the entire chapter with the psychiatrist and especially its ending monologue that underlines just how warped Rorshach’s worldview has become and what it means to care. And then, as a final insult, he has Night Owl punch Ozymandias in the face and tells him ‘he’s a betrayer’ as though that little piece of machismo allows for some redemption of his character after just permitting a mass murder to pass by without comment.
I think the core problem between my own and Zach Snyder’s visions is that fundamentally Zach Snyder sees the characters in the source material as ‘cool’. And I just see a bunch of very flawed, very human characters that aren’t. They’re fundamentally unhealthy people, making unhealthy responses to a very unhealthy society they live in that could end any moment in a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the USSR. The film has no self-discovery, no real reflection. Even when it sticks to the script and says the words, it never seems to admit to itself, in tone and theme, that its characters could be *wrong*.
Yeah, have to agree on Snyder’s Watchmen. He took that book, missed a load of it’s points, and made some pretty violence instead.
There’s a lot of subtlety and nuance in Watchmen, and if there’s one thing that Snyder (IMO) can’t do, it’s subtlety. If you can’t slap your audience in the face with your message, then it’s not a point worth making, right?
(Similar to the way that civilians either worship Superman or hate him in BvS, with no middle ground)
Though thankfully it’s not the awful hackjob he made of V for Vedetta. That might be the worst adaptation I’ve ever seen.
Vendetta is on Wachowskis, though
*Googles it* Oh. Oops.
So it’s not just Snyder that ruins things. Fair enough.
But hey, at least The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie was faithful, right?
Well what about The Killing Joke? I haven’t seen that one, was that one at least…?
And who can wait for the Hollywood version of Lost Girls?
So, I watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and liked it quite a bit, but never bothered to look up how it was made, so I just assumed that movie was the product of someone trying to wring the last bit of money out of a few well-known franchises that are by now no longer under copyright. Or something to that extent. Never would it have occurred to me that it could be based on a series of comics.
Uh, based on the fact that I liked the movie, would you recommend the comic series?
That’s… difficult to judge. League is definitely adventurish and light-hearted compared to Moore’s Watchmen and V for Vendetta, but a certain graphic event in Watchmen is mirrored in League. If you don’t mind your comic books bloodier and darker but don’t want to go full Sin City, League is a good place to go.
I also personally feel it is incomplete. This happens with a lot of Moore’s work. I don’t know if that is because he moves on to other projects, because he has a comic book background and it is okay to feel like the world goes on after a story ends because another writer might pick it up, or if he is constantly a victim of DC trying to grab his work. (The latter is definitely true with League, I just am not sure if DC had not tried to force themselves on him if he would have written more or not.)
I started Moore with League, but I think a better starting point for typical comic book readers is Top 10 (which I love).
That sounds like I could enjoy it. Now only to find the time…
Graphic novels are so short, they are like popcorn! (compared to full novels)
I usually have more problem justifying the expense/length compared to other forms of entertainment (written or otherwise). I haven’t experimented with digital versions of comics (ebooks helped get me back into novels after a dry spell), but I would hope there would be some innovation to help fit them into busy lives.
I never read the comic, but I quite enjoyed V for Vendetta as a movie. I don’t think it would have benefited qua movie from trying to wodge any more complexity in there.
I always treat movie adaptations as a completely separate work of art from the original that should share some character names (characters almost always have to be cut entirely or merged) and a thematic framework. The difference between what you can do with a literary form of art and what you can do in a movie is enormous.
@jennifer: agreed (not particularly about V for Vendetta. I enjoyed the book and only vaguely remember the movie, but neither were favorites for me.) I almost prefer the adaptation to be wildly strikingly different than the original work (see Lord of the Rings vs Shador of Mordor/War, or Dirk Gently tv vs books) or otherwise try to examine a world from a new angle (not sure what would be a great western example of this, this seems to be more common in anime/manga). From what I understand The Expanse is pretty faithful, so there is that.
That being said, sometimes it would just be better if it was an original work than an adaptation.
My problem with the V for Vendetta movie wasn’t the complexity, it was the bits they changed – all for the worse.
The Book: The aftermath of a fictional nuclear war/winter drives Britain to fascism, a kind of believable situation that’s scary because it says ‘given the right situation, normal people could well do this kind of thing’.
The Film: It’s all some dumbass conspiracy by the government using a bio-weapon on its own people. There’s even a line about ‘America’s War’ [Iraq 2003] being partly responsible. And they all rise up at theend to save the day. So a comment on human nature is reduced to toothless, GoT-level “POLITIKALL KOMMENTRY”.
The film chops up the timeline, changes the ending, changes V, changes a lot of the themes, mostly so it can just sport obvious and simplistic POLITIKALL KOMMENTRY, or pretentious action sequences.
I can understand the argument that an adaptation is its own work. Especially across media. But it just so happens in these situations there’s a very similar work that invites comparison…
Specifically comparisons like ‘Holy cow if you’d just copy/pasted the story, it wouldn’t have been so painful! What were you thinking?’
I’m still mildly irked by that film. The comic is making an argument about anarchy and, or, actual terrorism being the only effective response to a fascist regime.
The film jettisons that and goes for, “hey, Anonymous can save the world.” (And, yes, I do realize I’m somewhat flipping this around, because Anonymous took a lot of pointers from that film, rather than the other way round, but still.)
It took a fairly coherent piece of critique and lobotomized it. @BlueHorus is right, though.
Good points, I don’t disagree, but for some people, nuclear war is just as dated/topical as the Iraq war. Remember that V was published the same year the wall came down. The movie was released in 2005. What was showing up in news magazines at the time? Avian superflu.
So here we have the directors putting their stamp on a modern classic, updating the events to be as contemporary as the original for a new audience, and tweaking the issues/themes to be about the themes they see as resonating both with the story and with the new audience. I don’t think that those are poor objectives for an adaptation.
Sure, Moore wasn’t a fan, but remember that, like Watchmen, V was part of how DC used the standard author’s contract in a new way to keep control for far longer than was typical for a contemporary piece, and to produce subsidiary properties over Moore’s objections. By contrast, League is one of the few films he kept his name on the credits of, and it is strikingly different than the plot of the books.
Snyder also skipped out the part at the end where Dr. Manhattan tells Ozy that
the peace he created, with so many victims, would only be temporary.
Yeah, I agree with most of that.
One thing that’s really necessary to unpacking Zack Snyder as a director is his background with comics. As a kid he was consuming 2000AD comics. So, stuff like Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Heavy Metal. When his friends would try to put “conventional” American superhero comics in front of him like X-Men or Superman, he just didn’t take to them. I wish I could remember the specific quote, but it was something to the effect of they felt, “watered down.”
If you look at the comics he was introduced to, it’s a lot more like Frank Miller’s 300, than, well, anything you’d get with a DC or Marvel imprint slapped on. Even stuff like Vertigo or Marvel Max don’t, usually reach quite that range.
For Snyder, he has an image of comic books as this very brutal genre. Legitimately there is some stuff that goes straight into that. Like most of Frank Miller’s post Marvel work, the old 2000AD comics, some of Dark Horse’s lineup. He’d be a fantastic directorial choice, if you wanted to revisit The Mask, and dig back into how truly messed up the original comic was. He’d also be a great choice for something like Warhammer 40k. Where the insanity and brutality are dialed way up.
That said, he’s not a good choice to handle characters like DC’s headlining characters, or Watchmen. He can create compelling visuals, but his approach to storytelling is fundamentally incompatible with the way those characters are structured. There are a few DC characters he could probably do some decent work with. Hitman (unrelated to the video game franchise) comes to mind. He’d be an excellent choice for 100 Bullets. But for Watchmen? Where the comic is a pretty severe criticism of superheros using violence to save the world? Not so much.
“Anyone capable of successfully adapting Watchmen shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Superman”
That’s actually kind of a funny opinion. Not saying it’s wrong, per se, but the writer for Watchmen, Alan Moore, has also written some of the most highly acclaimed Superman stories: “For the Man Who Has Everything” and “Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Neither were deconstructions of Superman. Or at least not on the same level as Watchmen. I think if the original writer could do both types of stories, so could a movie adapter, but it’d require said adaptor to have range, which Snyder doesn’t.
Alan Moore started to write a deconstruction of a character that was basically a superman rip-off, but was persuaded to adapt it into his own work. Dr. Manhattan was supposed to be Captain Atom in earlier drafts, but was changed to Dr. Manhattan.
Moore was not unaware of the connection between Dr. Manhattan and Superman, he was well aware of the connection and worked it into his writing. But to Moore, they were only loosely connected and ultimately separate characters. Dr. Manhattan is not written as a criticism of Superman himself in mainline DC continuity, but rather a warning of how a character like Superman could be perceived if he was in the real world.
Snyder sees Dr. Manhattan, the character, as a commentary on Superman, but not as a commentary on our world. He doesn’t understand how or why the Watchmen universe was created and why Watchmen-style stories are inappropriate for DC Universe characters.
Watchmen was a commentary on comics themselves. Most specifically that a novel-like structure would be far better than the indefinite publication of their current soap opera serial.
All the other stuff, all the stuff about how a true superhero would change the world just by existing, that can’t happen in the traditional comic publishing model, stories where characters grow and change have to have a limited lifespan.
There has to be an end, for any of the path to that end to make sense.
Yes but Moore is a genius.People like him can do the impossible.
Actually I think there was no confusion when they were hiring Snyder for this.The confusion came before that,when Nolans batman brought them money,and they thought “Hey,what if we replicate that,only with superman instead of batman”.
Snyder is a guy I would get if I had a script nailed 100% down and needed someone to make it pretty. I don’t think he should be making creative decisions. On the other hand I don’t think DCs problems can be laid at any one persons feet. All there most recent movies (from Dark knight rises on) smack of being designed by committee with little consideration for source material or the stories it could be used to tell. Basically I think they are opening Excel before they ever go near Word. Even the best of their movies (Wonder Woman) had moments where I don’t think anyone actually thought about what was being put on the screen.
This. This, 100%.
Either the committee writes the movie, or they step in with ‘notes’ and interfere in it during development.
Is BvS already over -long and -complicated? The suits don’t care – slap Aquaman and Wonderwoman and the Flash and Cyborg in there as well! Use a crowbar if you have to – gotta setup that Justice League movie!
Fans love it when they pay to watch a movie that’s part advertisement for the next movie in line!
Other example: I really got the impression that Suicide Squad was a coherent movie until the committe got hold of it. (Also, those are the rumours I heard.) But it really seemed like it had been butchered post-filming and actively turned into the mess it was.
Which is a real shame, ‘cos on paper, Suicide Squad is a fantastic concept with potential to be so different…
All blockbuster tentpole movies are made by committee. When $150 million+ dollars are on the line, there are a lot of stakeholders who want to have their say. The studio is trying to set up their cinematic universe. The brand managers want to make sure the characters stay on whatever they think the brand is. The comic book guys think they’re the experts on the characters and their stories. The toy-makers want their say in how the characters look. The accountants say we have to film in Georgia because of the tax breaks, or China because of their huge market, and we have to force-fit product placement because Turkish Airlines is giving us $X million dollars. If the lead actors have enough clout (e.g., like an Affleck), they’re also going to want creative input.
What Marvel has really had going for them is one guy at the helm with a vision, who’s also canny enough to hire the right creative people for the jobs and mostly stay out of their way. And even he had to deal with office politics and internal power plays. DC has tried to position Snyder as their Kevin Feige, but he’s not a long-time company man with a genuine affection for the company’s product, he’s a hired gun who likes the awesome visuals from a couple of funny books. (Warner brothers finally put Geoff Johns in charge of forging a vision for the DCEU, which hopefully rights the ship in time.)
Yeah, that’s probably very true. Any big movie’s going to have dozens of interested parties all pulling in different directions.
Also, Marvel certainly isn’t immune to meddling and studio politics: remember Age of Ultron and Thor’s random vision? There was a lot crowbarred into that movie.
(Warner brothers finally put Geoff Johns in charge of forging a vision for the DCEU, which hopefully rights the ship in time.)
First I thought ‘LOL way too late’ – but since the films ae still doing OK, I think this is more a matter of just getting their act together. If/when a good Batman or Superman movie comes out, it will do well – critics will see it and word will get out. Hell, BvS did OK.
It’s more like they’ve squandered the chances to make MORE money than they did with products so far (like Shamus’ complains about EA Games or other game publishers) than they’re at risk of tanking the enire franchise.
That wasn’t executives crowbarring something into the movie, that was executives taking an axe to it and cutting stuff out. The Thor sequence was originally intended to more clearly set up Avengers 3 (i.e. Thanos), but the studio made Whedon chose between removing the Thor sequence or removing the Hawkeye farm sequence to trim the running length.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was also overloaded for the run time they had. Sometimes you have to be ruthless with your work and say “there isn’t room in here for this”. Movies in particular suffer from this issue and always will, simply because they are pretty much the most time-constrained narrative art form out there.
Another sad sufferer from this trend was Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. If you want to talk MESS, that one even offended ME, and I’m quite patient with messy but otherwise fun movies.
According to what I read, Suicide Squad was originally intended to be a serious movie, and after the success of Deadpool they backed up and tried to make it more “darkly humorous” instead. With predictable results for that sort of change that late in production.
What I heard was that they made the serious movie, then backed up and tried to do “darkly humorous,” and then tried to combine the two as some Frankenstein’s monster of a movie.
I still admire the movie for, after 15 years of hard work in a dark, isolated room, the writer came up with the coolest, hippest scene ever: Will Smith’s get-battle-ready montage to Eminem’s raddest hit!
…and then no one had the heart to tell him that 15 years had passed since…
Like it ðŸ‘
One other major problem with this movie is that it is so BLUE.Its tinted blue to the fucking max!And I am a person who loves blue so much that I have painted my bedroom in two different shades of blue,so its baffling how this movie managed to irk me with its blueness.
Aye right! Look, Snyder, blue sensibly or we'll take away yer blue and NO one'll have any blue to blue with.
Don’t worry, I’ve seen the latest Justice League trailer and now there’s orange and red. Two whole colours to saturate the whole screen with!
It all comes down to the ease of digital recoloring, and Hollywood doing the typical Hollywood thing and going way overboard with a trend…
costumed heroes torn down by by applying
when you're running out of stories to tell
Damn,I was about to make the “too young for DC joke”,but then I remembered how old you are.Why must you ruin jokes with your age,old man Shamus?
Before I read the article’s contents: Yes! (Not having a vested insterest in any comic book characters) I ended up feeling like I had to watch it after watching so many reviews making fun of and lamenting it. And in the end found it fairly enjoyable and really liked the Dragonball Z style all out fight at the end. I think because I already knew the story, its nonsense didn’t bug me and I just got to watch the fights.
By contrast with the nigh universally acclaimed Captain America Civil War around the same time, which I found utterly dull and annoying except the Spiderman action bit.
Funny, I found the whole shoehorned Spider-Man bit to be the most annoying part of Civil War.
*just his action scenes, not any of the rest of it
Meh, I even found that annoying. His only action scenes were part of the big showdown, which was supposed to be charged with the emotional turmoil between close friends who must now fight each other, but in the middle of it is this newcomer who doesn’t seem to take things as seriously as everyone else. Frankly, he kind of ruins the whole scene.
By everyone else you mean black panther and maybe scarlet witch?Because all of them are still pulling their punches and quipping more than actually trying to do damage,which is natural for friends who argue physically.Thats why the airport scene is mostly just property damage,contrasted to the final fight where there is blood.
The quips of everyone else were a thin covering to hide the tension. Spider-kid was just quipping for the sake of it; there were no conflicting or suppressed emotions behind it, and his level of humor wrecked the emotional pull that the scene should have had.
And I would hardly call what happened to Rhodes “property damage.”
The kid was nervous and excited,he got to meet and fight living legends.So yeah,there were plenty of emotions behind his quips.
As for rhodes,that was an accident,not deliberate like in the final fight.
I liked the Vision/Scarlet Witch parts the best, personally. They worked really well to both establish their relationship AND drive home the emotional impact and cost of the Civil War.
As a relative outsider to the franchise having seen only the Avengers 1+2 films, I wasn’t a fan of the seemingly teenager vs parent “you’re grounded / no I’m not” bit, but was happy to see them turn up for the airport thing for what I thought would be them completely outclassing the rest and having an ultimate showdown, then was disappointed that it didn’t really happen.
Haha! Ie. all of Greek and Hindu mythology :D
Also Watchmen was terrible. (I haven’t read any comics). Except Ozymandius.
Did anyone else think that Batman’s action scenes and in particular the warehouse showdown looked and felt a lot like the combat in the Arkham games? And yeah, I also think that Affleck looks pretty fantastic in the role and still have some hopes for the solo Batman movie.
But we can all agree that Snyder just doesn’t really “get” superhero comics. That doesn’t make him a bad director, though.
I’ll raise you one more: the aesthetic and score of Batman Arkham Asylum (and later games) really, really reminded me of the the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Almost certainly by design.
Shockingly, It’s like DC decided to stick to something they knew was sucessful while making similar material. (That’s my take anyway.)
Unfortunately, this means they tried to make a Batman movie out of Superman…
Hmm, that’s curious, I never saw a resemblance between Nolan’s films and Arkham. I mean, Arkham always seemed to be inspired by the comics above all else, and to a lesser degree reminded me of the animated series because of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill.
The scenes where Batman fights Scarecrow and his goons in Batman Begins is very AA. The rest of the movies, not so much. And those scenes were very similar to the start of TDKR comic in the first place, where he fights cops stealthily in a building.
Well, now that you mention it…
Yes, it did feel like the Arkham series.
Erm… The link is dead. It just loads a white screen for me.
Okay, that’s weird. I meant to link to this:
No, being incapable of constructing a whole scene is what makes Zack Snyder a bad director.
I disagree about the cynics being “right” in Watchmen. The ending line deconstructs the notion of the “the ends” in the first place. Veidt has done something extreme, and the other characters only go along because they can’t undo it and think that revealing the truth would be even worse. When Veidt seeks validation from Dr. Manhattan he refuses to give it to him.
The ending is dark, but it’s meant to be a commentary on the idea of a superman coming in to solve all of our problems. It’s what happens when someone with power and no accountability decides to change the world without respecting that world’s moral framework.
It’s also ambiguous who ‘wins’ in the end, given that Rorschach’s diary has the potential to explode the whole conspiracy.
Not really though – Ozmandias’ plot was to unite the world with Dr. Manhattan as the villain. If Rorschach’s diary exposes the conspiracy then Dr. Manhattan is still in on the plot and everyone unites against him and Ozymandias anyway.
In the comics Dr. Manhattan is nothing to do with it. Veidt’s only plans for him is “get him out of the way”, and he’s 99% on his way to that by himself anyway.
The movie ending wouldn’t work because the whole point of the setting is that it’s on the brink of nuclear war, a bunch of cities exploding would mean everyone launching everything because they aren’t going to wait to figure out why a city just exploded because if they do all their other cities might explode.
And this diary, with all its implicit power, gets given to another random guy who’s also just explicitly been given no accountability for what he does next, and who just happens to be the opposite of a costumed hero (uncharismatic, unfit, unhealthy, apathetic). I only just got the full extent of that mirroring.
One thing Ive been thinking about is why this movie doesnt work* as a superman/batman movie,yet justice league gods and monsters cartoon works,even though that one is blatantly an elseworlds story**.Practically half of gods and monsters focuses on how the back stories of these heroes are different and how these differences have changed them.Meanwhile,the only (somewhat) different story we get in bvs is supermans story,back in man of steel.Also,these guys are constantly portrayed as the canon heroes everyone knows,while the origins of at least one of them are radically different(superman whose father told him to let a bunch of kids die would not grow into a benevolent savior).
Also gods and monsters is more coherent,less blue,and not stupid.
*Aside from it being a bad movie
**Superman is ruthless,batman is a vampire,and wonder woman is stab happy
She’s not that stab happy. I mean, the guys she stabs are armed terrorists, not purse robbers.
But yeah. If anything, I think you’re underselling Gods and Monsters here. It’s easily one of my three favorite DC movies (after Judas Contract and maybe Under the Red Hood).
It has everything you’d want from a Superhero movie: politics, violence, philosophy, improbable but highly moving tragic backstories, betrayal, Superman punching tanks and helicopters, a ridiculously convoluted supervillain plot, legacies, idealism, redemption, and Lex Luthor as Stephen Hawking (not necessarily in that order).
I’m honestly surprised, looking back: they managed to cram more things in this movie than they did in Batman v Superman, introduce a whole different universe, in a shorter time and without any of it feeling rushed.
So yeah, if you’re in the mood for a Superhero movie, I absolutely recommend Gods and Monsters. (and The Judas Contract; and Under the Red Hood; and Assault on Arkham; and Crisis on Two Earths; etc)
It is right there in the link you posted
Writers: Alan Burnett (story), Bruce Timm (story)
I am still amazed how DC still employs the guy who did the shared motion picture universe half a decade before Marvel, did it as well if not better than Marvel, yet doesn’t think maybe we should ask him to try it on the silver screen.
I liked the Flashpoint Paradox movie for similar reasons. It gave us an alternate world in which slight changes so drastically change the world. It also helped a lot that they tried pretty hard to find a good reason why the good guys were bad guys, and the bad guys were good guys in most cases.
…Am I the only guy that remembers that movie fondly?
Thought Spawn himself was really cool, with a unique power-set, and I’d personally never been exposed to the idea of a demon going rogue and seeking redemption before.
Now the ‘for the evulz’ human guy was really, really lame even back then, but the demon designs themselves were also freaky and cool, and for the time most of the effects were amazing.
…Granted, I will admit that the movie hasn’t aged well and is basically concentrated 90’s, but I’d still argue that it’s still a fun if slightly goofy superhero movie.
Yeah, I kinda liked it too. I mean, I’ve never read a single comic of Spawn, so I have no idea how it compares, but as a stand alone “thing”, it was fun and funny in a….Very ’90s kind of way.
The real problem with Spawn is…
In Japan, it’s a standard thing to have Character Designer as a position when you’re making a game or manga or original anime. In Western comics, there’s no distinction between character designer and writer, which is why the creators of so many classic characters had to fight for (and sometimes lost) legal recognition that they created the characters.
Anyway, Todd McFarlane is a fantastic character designer. Terrible writer, but great artist and fantastic character designer. It’s basically the same problem the creator of Bleach has, and in retrospect it’s not surprising that basically the same thing happened to both series.
The longer you read, the more characters will be introduced and the less plot resolution you’ll get. In the end, you’ll notice that the writers seem incapable of giving you plot resolution instead of new characters, and you’ll started getting annoyed at all the characters, old and new, and just give up.
In manga it’s far more common for the artist and writer to be the same person than it is in western comics.
Spawn is a product of a lot of artists at Marvel going off to form their own studio (Image) where they would get to own the copyrights on things they made. Unfortunately without taking any writers or managers with them, so Image at first produced a lot of really good looking books that weren’t well written or even close to on time. And given that Rob Liefeld and Todd Macfarlane were among those artists Image was the most ’90s comics house in the entire ’90s.
(Image now have some really good stuff, Chew, Saga, Rat Queens, I Hate Fairyland, and so on, and still delivers on the creator owned side.)
I can agree with the stuff about McFarlane. He’s a terrible writer. Just, flat out. But, his art was fantastic. I’ve still got trades of the first couple years of Spawn around here somewhere, because of that. I stopped when he migrated over to being only a writer, and hired someone to do the art.
I watched the Spawn movie for the first time last month, and it felt like an exploitation flick. Bad acting, bad plot, bad effects, bad dialogue (“You don’t have the guts”, she says, to the professional killer.)
…I’d watch it again.
The live action film was not great. Credit to the actors, they’re all doing the best they can, and there are a few good performances. It can be fun to watch but, it’s not a great film.
The HBO cartoon, with Kieth David voicing Spawn, was pretty amazing for the time.
I didn’t see BvS, so I don’t have much of an opinion to add in that regard.
My contribution in this will just be to say that I’m fairly worried that we’re rapidly approaching diminishing returns on superhero properties. No matter how good any of these might end up being, audiences are going to be exhausted by a market oversaturated with superheroes.
I mean, Marvel is releasing two movies a year, and we’re moving into lesser known heroes like Doctor Strange and Black Panther. DC is trying to meet the same schedule, plus its animated shows and movies, plus its own streaming service(?).
Then there’s the flood of TV properties: Arrow, Flash, Gotham, The Gifted, Agents of SHIELD, Inhumans, Supergirl, all of the Netflix shows, on and on it goes. Most of these appeal to different audiences, and some are certainly better than others, but it’s just SO much. There was a time when a single super hero movie a year was considered a huge success for this segment of the culture, and you could be satisfied with a few cartoons that weren’t terrible.
I just worry we’ll turn a corner and the powers that be will turn their backs on the genre as a whole. “People are done with superheroes. We did that, and they don’t want it anymore.”
At least its not zombies.
What Id like to know is what will be the next link in the cycle,before we go back to zombies once again.
I think The Mummy was supposed to do that.
Marvel Zombies series announcement in 3… 2… 1…
I'm fairly worried that we're rapidly approaching diminishing returns on superhero properties.
Whaddya mean ‘approaching’? I can’t be the only person who thinks “OH HELLS NO” when I see this.
It just seems to be the way of things, particualry in pop culture. Thing gets popular, thus more of it is made, it becomes a franchise. Franchise then gets driven into the ground and everyone abandons ship for the next big thing.
Remember those Terminator films?
I think “You’re joking if you think I’m shelling out to see all those in theaters, or at all.” followed very quickly by “Gorram it, where’s my black widow movie?! Seriously, you’re giving me more Ant-Man and no Natasha?” and then I run off to my current happy video and giggle at it for a bit.
I’ll see Thor because Thor and Loki and awesome actors, and then Avengers 3, or at least that’s the current plan. I figure if Civil War still made sense even though I hadn’t (and haven’t) seen a Spiderman since the 2nd one in the early 2000s and haven’t seen Ant-Man either (don’t care enough to bother really), Avengers should more or less work.
I’m thinking “since when does May come before March?”
You win! ;-)
Honestly, looking at the MCU with the perspective of other franchises gone bad… I’m kind of surprised Marvel is doing a job this okay so far. Things are getting formulaic and repetitive, but they’re still pulling out surprises, new formulas, new genres, etc.
Spiderman was not like Civil War was not like Doctor Strange was not like the first Avengers.
I agree that the well is close to running out (I don’t think I’ll keep watching after phase 3), but so far even the lame movies were pretty good by action blockbuster standards (except for Iron Man 2; nobody liked Iron Man 2).
Between the MCU and Star Wars, Disney now has two ongoing movie franchises they intend to milk annually, in addition to their usual animated/pixar schedule . That is very unlikely to keep working forever. There is bound to be talent burnout at some level, be it writer, actor or director.
Heres the thing:Disney has been milking fairy tales for half a century now.It often came out bad(direct to video sequels),but no matter how many times they made utter shit,they always had a gem here and there.And those gems are worth it.
So no matter how low the mcu sinks,the best ones in the franchise will still be worth the ticket price.
*Which they really have to go a long way to achieve now that theyve stumbled on the formula,seeing how even the worst ones are just inoffensively meh and formulaic.
The direct to video part is the key. Those didn’t need to be as expensive. But they’re talking about 3-4 full budget cinematic releases a year now. There has got to be a limit as to how many good crews they can put together and keep from burning out.
How long are the movies going to be good enough to keep the minimum required audience numbers to pay for them? There will be gems, sure, but if the majority are meh, they may have to go back to direct to DVD, and how many of the big name stars will they retain if they do that?
We live in a world where shitty movies like transformers can get enough money to be profitable.Meh movies will last way longer,if for no other reason than the pure momentum of the franchise.
I’m desperately hoping the Star Wars franchise burns out. Not so much the new films (Force Awakens, Last Jedi, etc) because they have the potential to become something different/go somewhere new. Yes, so far Force Awakens was a re-tread of the first film and Last Jedi looks like it’s a clone of the second but at least Rey and Finn and Kylo Ren are new creations that might do something different, in time…
But Rogue One? A Han Solo prequel movie? These are just milking the past. If this trend doesn’t die off, in 20 years we could still be watching Darth Vader walking down a white ship corridor, slaughtering rebels.
Just mining that nostalgia money, for ever and ever.
…i liked Iron Man 2…
Not to sound smug, but I tuned out ages ago. I lost interest sometime after Avengers, and that may have been the last Marvel film I watched.
There’s already an element of franchise fatigue forming. The only thing since then that I’ve actually watched was Daredevil (and I’ll probably watch The Punisher), but, when it comes to the films, I’m seriously burned out.
EDIT: Hell, I almost passed on The Tick, simply because I was feeling so fried on Superhero content. I’m really grateful I let my significant other talk me into watching that series because, one: I love The Tick, back to the original comics, and two: it was a reminder of why I love superheros as their own distinct genre. But, man, Marvel and Disney are setting themselves up for a serious collapse.
I was confident this was going to happen the first time they rebooted the Spiderman movies. We’re half a decade on from there, though, and while series rise and fall there’s no real sign of the wider genre’s momentum fading.
As long as I have a way of sorting out the Legions from the rest, I’m happy.
Off-topic, but the spoiler/strike tag is broken on the version of the Safari browser that iOS uses. I’m never able to read what’s under them. They stay brown blocks even when highlighted, and the “context menu” I get by holding my finger on the touch screen doesn’t have any special options.
This has been true since at least the big site update you did last, but I could live with it while it was mostly in the comments. Since you used the spoiler tag in the actual column, I thought I’d mention it.
Boring technical details: I have an iPhone 5c, it’s running iOS 10.3.3, and I’m useing the default browser.
In addition to that, you can’t close a footnote on an iphone unless you click on another one. And those boxes can hide a lot of text on a cellphone screen.
“The entire movie will feel like it's taking the editorial position of, ‘Yeah? Well I think this character is dumb and if you like it you're dumb.'”
See also: the Starship Troopers movie.
If you want to write a response to the themes and ideas of Starship Troopers, go right ahead. In many ways, Haldeman’s The Forever War was just that (and had better characters and a far more coherent argument than Verhoeven’s pile of rotting fish). But Verhoeven’s movie clearly hated its source material and micturated all over it.
As to Wonder Woman? Great protagonist; excellent action scenes. But it’s The Birth of a Nation for a new century. Why are the antagonists bad? Because they’re German, of course, and as all right-thinking people know Germans
or in previous generations black people/Arabs/Japaneseare inherently evil and using them as irredeemable antagonists requires no further justification.
I left the theater holding Patty Jenkins in great despite. That opinion has not moderated in the months since.
Did you leave the movie half an hour early or something? The film is very clear Ludendorff is an exceptional bastard willing to murder other Germans to keep the war going. Or just for saying something he didn’t like. And
he’s not even the main villain! The real big bad was among the ranks of the British general staff the whole time! At the very end when he’s defeated, the Allied and German soldiers are shaking hands and embracing each other, which all right-thinking people know is what you do with people you consider inherently and irredeemably evil.
What are you taking issue with, the portrayal of the brutal occupation of Belgium? Because that’s what actually happened. So spare me the histrionics if you please.
Also, WW has this bit near the end where she goes into a rage and beats/kills up a ton of German soldiers who were loading the plane – and feels guilty about it almost immediately afterwards, and not just because Ares wants her to treat Germans as disposable foes, but because she clearly realizes they are mostly kids.
For that matter, she spends 99% of the movie believing that if she can defeat Ares, the war will end. She doesn’t believe that because she thinks the Germans are inherently evil, she believes that because she believes ALL people, even the Germans, are basically good people who have to be pressed into war. She “learns otherwise,” but she doesn’t learn that Germans are basically evil – she learns that people are complicated, that they contain war as well as goodness.
Verhoven’s reaction to Starship Troopers was rooted in actually growing up in Nazi occupied Europe. He’d seen the extreme endpoint of the arguments made in the book and wanted no part of it.
The problem with Starship Troops:The Movie was it was a little too subtle. Not really a criticism, the best parodies are when you take a concept just a little step further and play it straight, no need to constantly stop and waggle your eyebrows at the audience.
But considering the mantra of “hoo-rah!” that was in many movies of the 90’s, it kinda flew under the radar for a lot of people. It would be like someone trying to parody Macho Man Randy Savage. He’s already over the top, so a parody needs to be careful not to go full on crazy, but at the same time someone watching it may not realize they’re poking fun, because he’s ALREADY over the top.
Thats because even the cast of the movie was mislead as to what they were acting in.And people say how trolling cant be art.
Has anyone EVER told the cast? ST: Invasion and ST: Traitor of Mars both featured the cast and seemed to have missed the memo (and the latter even featured a writer of the ST movie).
You have two choices when playing it straight. Find a godsend like Leslie Nielson, or you can just neglect to tell your actors it’s a comedy and hope they invest in the script. ;)
It wasn’t all bad, the good parts were just undermined by not having been earned by the rest of the movie. In a better movie the Clark/Bruce conversation would have worked really well. Batman and Superman have always been opposing ideologies and their first meeting is the best way to explore that and Snyder missed.
Now to actually read what you had to say.
“Of course people will hate it if you turn the World's Greatest Detective into a cruel, hateful, rage-fueled murderer.[LINK]”
I’m disappointed when I clicked that link, and it didn’t go to sometimes about Sherlock Holmes…
I struggled to get through the director’s cut of this movie. It’s a tedious, boring and depressing run. Every single time Snyder would pull a Jesus allegory my eyes would roll back into my head – right down to the kryptonian spear of Longinus.
Christian Bale’s “death metal” Batman voice? And here I always thought it was a “severe sinus congestion” Batman voice!
Seriously, I think his mask completely blocked of his nasal passages.
It’s old and you maywell have seen it, but it still makes me chuckle.
Bale wasnt that good of a batman anyway.Oh sure,he was better than Clooney(which wasnt that tough),but Keaton for me is the best batman.The argument many people have against Keaton is “He looks nothing like batman”,and that is the point.When batman gets unmasked,your reaction shouldnt be “Oh,its that guy.Yeah,I can see that”,but rather “Bruce Wayne,why are you dressed up like Batman?”.
I think the consensus has always been that Bale makes a great Bruce Wayne, which was the whole point of Batman Begins. Also, the voice in the Batman Begins was alright, but they really screwed it up in the later films.
In 1994, when they were looking for replacements for a bolting lead actor and director, I would have KILLED to see what a Batman movie directed by Chuck Russell with John Cusack as Batman might have looked like.
Aye, I'm with you on Michael Keaton as Batman. As I happened to say on this very webzone during the Arkham Asylum season:
That was two-and-a-half years ago, though (doesn't time fly?). I have watched Batman (1989) again since then – fairly recently, in fact, and on re-watching that scene I guess I do have to admit that I'm absolutely right.
I hesitate to say this out loud, but I’am still not a fan of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She is a lot of fun in both movies, don’t get me wrong, but I never felt as if she had the necessary, I don’t know, screen presence, perhaps. I always thought of Wonder Woman as more similar to Lucy Lawless as Xena, way more athletic and fierce than Gal. If ever there was a role suitable for an MMA fighter, this is it. Gal Gadot just never clicked as a warrior figure for me, both in terms of stature and facial expressions. And, well, she isn’t really a good actress, so no points there. I don’t want to offend anyone, I know that a lot of people love Gal Gadot and that’s great. That’s just my opninon that has been gestating ever since the casting was first announced.
You’re not alone. I actually loved the Wonder Woman movie and think Gal Gadot didn’t detract from it when playing that particular role, but that’s because she was mostly playing the naive fish out of water character, and the movie as a whole seems to be about her growing away from that and into the badass, self-assuredly moral heroine of the comics, which I’m less convinced she can do that well. You’re right, she doesn’t seem to have the sort of charisma required to carry such a strong character … but give her time and maybe she’ll grow into it as an actress. Not like she’s had much opportunity to test her acting chops before.
That’s true, but I’m also bothered by the physical aspect, mostly because it clashes so much with their approach to male characters. They seem to be looking at the character designs from the late 80s and onward when dudes were super buff. Affleck is easily the most buff Batman ever, Cavill is bulging with muscles. They even got Khal frickin Drogo to play Aquaman, who usually looks like an underwater Prince Charming. Even the Flash gets bulky armor that makes him look bigger. And then there is Diana with her impossibly long and slender everything. She looks absolutely amazing in her many dresses, but in that armor she looks like a cosplayer. This is not in any way a criticism of Gal Gadot, who can’t help the way she looks and is absolutely stunning. But someone decided that an Amazon warrior should be pretty first and imposing second, which, in my opinion, doesn’t do the character justice.
So it’s a deviation from the topic, but I was so pumped when I heard that. Imagine it – Zack Snyder’s Aquaman, done by Jason Momoa: a dark-haired, shirtless, gravel-voiced badass who stabs people to death with his trident in graphic slow motion.
Imagine him facing off with Superman, trident raised, delivering the ‘Do you bleed?’ line from BvS.
It would have been frikkin’ hilarious.
Sadly, the new trailer seems to be injecting some fun into Aquaman’s character, Joss Whedon-style. Ah well.
I share your thoughts.She does a fine job of acting the part,and I love her accent,but she doesnt look like wonder woman.Personally,I wouldve cast Jaimie Alexander in the role.She played lady sif in thor,and she definitely looks like a warrior goddess.She also plays an uber soldier in blindspot,and she definitely passes as one.
Yeah, that’s a great pick. She was great in Thor and SHIELD. I guess they could have had cast her if it wasn’t for that, actually. She really has that fierceness in her eyes.
She is already a Marvel actor. I doubt she’d be able to any DC movie due to contracts. The only one I know who has is Ryan Reynolds. He’s done multiple Marvel movies, then flopped in Green Lantern and back to Marvel. I’d be surprised if contracts normally allowed that.
Im not sure if you can put such a clause in a contract,but I wouldnt be surprised if “you were in a movie opposing ours,so fuck off” is a reason behind a lot of casting decisions.
Don’t feel bad about missing the satire in Starship Troopers – people to this day are still arguing whether Heinlein’s novel was satire or straight. Most of Heinlein’s work is very pro-libertarian but he flirted a bit with authoritarianism/fascism in real life.
Kid you not, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (taxpayer-funded channel) actually used “Would you like to know more?” as a tagline briefly when they were implementing their web portal as a way to get “more detail on this story”. Very quickly it was changed, but for a while I was going “whaaaa?” during radio news segments…
I’m imagining some intern going “uh guys…. have you seen this movie?”
Have you seen how “smart” people who watch satire are?If not,just google szechuan sauce.I bet you that if they rereleased starship troopers now,people would believe the message of the movie as genuine and demand the military to be a requirement for being a citizen.
Keep in mind CBC is considered, even under Conservative governments, to be very liberal leaning, or at least left of centre.
So the idea of promoting authoritarianism or citizenship-by-merit would seem a bit off-character for them.
I’m on the definitive minority in the case that I don’t think this movie is bad at all, just misunderstood. And no, I’m not one of those “you just didn’t get it because DC makes movies for adults” kind of guy, I’m fully aware that the reason it’s misunderstood is the director’s fault. The thing is, I can see what his intentions were, I just think he didn’t properly convey them so the general public can understand. Me? I’m an overanalzying nutjob (which is the reason for which I did not care for Civil War at all, even though everyone’s singing that movie’s praises), so I guess I was the target audience for the film.
People say that Snyder doesn’t understand the characters, but I don’t see why. The characters are perfectly fine, they’re just reacting to a grittier, more realistic universe. And sure, you can claim that Superman is being seen as moody all the time, but in the end he always makes the right choice, which I feel makes the character more admirable. It’s easy to stand up for what’s right when everyone’s on your side. But to sacrifice yourself for a world that doesn’t want you there, after everyone has told you that you owe nothing to it? That’s much harder. And sure, Batman is killing people but he’s done that in every other Batman movie out there (save for Batman & Robin, mind you) and no one has complained despite the fact that this is the first film that provides an acceptable reason for it.
The major problem with these films (and, arguably, every Zack Snyder movie) is that the guy makes the stylish action so in-your-face that people simply refuse to accept the existence of subtlety in them, so they rarely pick on on the subtle background storytelling. Again, it’s all Snyder’s fault, so I don’t fault the people for it.
I agree that the movie failed parts because it didn’t make its point clearly enough. But it also failed in parts because it was just bad writing. Lois’ side misadventure in the spear pool added nothing, and should have been cut. Lex first tricking the ship computer into accepting him as a kryptonian and then into suspending all ethics routines because all kryptonians are dead was…dumb. It should have instantly revoked his access by Lex’s own logic. Also, why was he doing any of what he did? And how did shoving jelly beans into senators mouths make that possible?
As for Snyder not understanding the characters: He didn’t. He didn’t care who the audience believed these characters to be and willfully went against those expectations. He made an even grittier than nolan batman at a time when people were groomed by marvel to want more upbeat SUPERHERO stories. It was as bad a move as Batman & Robin offering a worthy contender to the Adam West era at Frank Miller’s Batman’s height of popularity: It’s just not what people wanted to see their hero do. Similarly, Superman was generally known as the shining hero, the icon of hope. The Supergirl show captured that brilliantly, but Snyder instead gave us a Watchmen character.
Yes, a hero who helps others against hostility is an even greater hero, but he doesn’t need to brood and despair to do that. Take Captain America, or even Wonder Woman. They don’t brood, they just go and act heroically.
A lack of appreciation for subtlety wasn’t this movie’s downfall; it didn’t hold together tightly enough to warrant that kind of analysis.
The movie’s problem, in addition to what Shamus listed, is that you have to be very good at what you do to make something that is both a great example of a genre and a great deconstruction, and Snyder isn’t that good. He should stick to one, or the other.
“He made an even grittier than nolan batman at a time when people were groomed by marvel to want more upbeat SUPERHERO stories.”
I’m sorry, but I fail to see how that’s a problem with Snyder and not with the public. People should be able to accept different ideas and not want everything to be the same all the time. What you’re saying is real, yes, it happens all the time, with movies and videogames but understand that it’s not a good thing and we should not just go with it.
For one thing, people still blame Schuhmacher for ruining Batman with B & R, and sadly I don’t see anyone defending him.
Snyder failed on two counts here: First, he didn’t set this new interpretation up properly in his movie, which left the audience seeing strangers in familiar costumes. Second, he knew this approach to Superman was creating friction with the audience from feedback to Man of Steel (which was aped Nolan Batman but didn’t even come close to being as popular), yet he doubled down on it.
In essence, he was given DC’s two most popular characters to make a popular superhero movie with, but he couldn’t get over himself sufficiently to not instead deconstruct those two popular heroes in a manner the audience had already told him wasn’t popular.
Um…it’s the people’s fault for for not liking the film? That’s…not the best argument ever.
As Ehijen implied above: Is it a fault of the public that they hated Batman and Robin?
It is the film’s job to entertain you, not your job to be entertained by the film.
Other superhero films with different tones have happened in the past and been successful at it.
People get what Snyder was going for,but that does not make what was shown on screen any better.Take for example the infamous MARTHA scene.Batman was all like “If theres only 1% chance of him going bad we must stop him!”,but then suddenly MARTHA,and that whole reasoning goes out the window?Its contrived,its hackneyed,its silly,its stupid.We get the point of the scene,that these two finally came to senses and started looking at each other differently,but that does not make the scene any less bad.And all the scenes are like that.
Also,there is no subtlety in this movie(or in the man of steel).Compare it to wonder woman:Ares tells diana that people are bad,worthy only of contempt,and that she should not help them.She believes that ares is the one corrupting them for almost the entire movie,and that without him people would be better towards each other.She kills him in the end,but we know that second world war would still happen after that,and yet what does she do in the end of the movie,set after that war?Fly off to help people.Despite ares being right in that he was not responsible for the sins of men ,diana still wants to help them.Thats subtlety.Having superman constantly crammed into various jesus imagery throughout the movie in order to “sacrifice” himself for “the sins of men” in the end is not.
I don’t actually see the MARTHA scene as that bad. It’s not the best, but for me it works. It’s the moment where Batman realises that he’s not fighting an alien monster or a godlike tyrant. He’s fighting a boy worried about his mum. He’s fighting the very kind of person he created Batman to protect.
It could have worked great, if only we’d had a clue who these batman and superman characters were. But since Snyder refused to either give us the versions we were familiar with or properly introduce his versions, the MARTHA fell as flat as anything else in the movie.
But thats the thing,none of those things are bad IF context context context.However,all of them are stitched together either with no context,or in such a way to contradict the intended context.If batman actually had a legitimate non insane reason to want to kill superman,and was unsure whether to do it or not,then such a slight push wouldve worked.But no,he was a stuborn lunatic adamant to kill superman because IF THERE IS EVEN 1% CHANCE THAT HE IS BAD I MUST END HIM.
No, some of the stuff in the movie was just bad. Other stuff was ok, some even good but let down by the rest.
In the MARTHA scene, Batman suddenly remembers why he fights, and that a 1% chance is not enough to justify killing a frightened son. He suddenly realised just how far he had fallen (which the audience has seen all through the movie).
Batman realised that he was insane for wanting to kill Superman. And thus he chose to stop.
There was an element of that scene trying to do that. It failed. It was akin to a runner tripping and falling over his own shoelaces. Yeah I see what you tried to do but it was bad.
Now see, your are just proving my point here. For all the complaints about the “Martha” scene, no one seems to actually remember how it went. Batman didn’t stop trying to kill Superman because he mentioned his mother’s name. He was momentarily taken aback by it, but he was still going to do it. It wasn’t until Lois came and told him it was the name of Superman’s mother than he realized he had become what he was supposed to be fighting. He stopped seeing Superman for a dangerous alien and saw him as a human whose only dying wish was to save his mother (something Batman can most definitely appreciate).
That is subtle. So subtle that people don’t get it, but it’s very, very clearly there. It’s also not helped by the aforementioned confusion people seem to get about that scene. Now, if Marvel had done that scene it would have Batman call Alfred:
Batman: “What have I done? I was going to kill this man and all he cared about was saving his mother.”
Alfred: “Something you can relate all too well to, sir.”
Batman: “In my rage, I almost turned myself into what I hate the most… I will make it up to him. I will do for him what no one did for me that night. Tonight, Martha lives.”
Alfred: “And then we can all go for a nice meal together. I suggest tacos.”
Batman: “What did I tell you, Alfred?”
Alfred: “Alright, alright. Batacos”
Batman: “Now we’re talking.”
And therein I believe lies the problem. People are so used to Marvel films spoon-feeding them every little detail that they just don’t stop to think for themselves (this isn’t an attack on Marvel films, I’m merely pointing out they have a different style). It happens all the time, many movies are disliked at release by the general public and only appreciated later, once they’re watched with another mentality not tainted by other current popular movies.
Oh please.I deliberately did not want to drag marvel into this because the pointless “The comic book movie I like can beat the comic book you like!”I deliberately compared it to wonder woman,a movie in the same franchise filmed at about the same time,only by a more talented director.
You say its a subtle scene and people arent remembering it correctly,but here you yourself are portraying it wrong.Batman stopped wanting to kill superman because FLASHBACK TO WHEN HIS PARENTS DIED AND HIS FATHER WHISPERS MARTHA OMG SO SUBTLE,and he was back into his threaten-bad-guy-until-they-spill-the-beans mode.Then lois came and explain “Its his mothers name”,because I guess superman couldnt have just said “Lex has my mom”,he had to cryptically say “Youre letting him kill martha!Find him,save martha!”
Again,people get the intent,people did not miss the subtlety,because there is none.Its blindingly obvious that this is the scene when batman finally figures out “ZOMG!Space aliens love their mothers too!Wow,was I a dick for telling him that he wasnt even a man seconds before.”
The problem isnt that the scene is subtle,but that it is forced,with zero subtlety,stupid wording that exists simply because they had no idea how to finish the fight,and it makes no sense in universe either.Imagine if any other criminal tried that “Im just a criminal because my poor ma is starving,and I needs the money”,then batman helps them deal that crack,or smuggle those people,or whatever,instead of maiming them.What,he didnt know those guys have mothers as well?That their mothers could also be suffering for whatever reasons?
Thats why people hate bvs and like wonder woman,and not because they are marvel fanboys,or viewing the movie wrong,or whatever other excuse there is.Bvs will never become a classic like the thing,but maybe it one day becomes a classic like the room.
It was not subtle. Nothing Snyder does is subtle. Ever. Michael Bay is more subtle than Snyder.
It was simply badly done.
Between Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman, Wolverine Origins’s Deadpool, Robert Downy Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes… does bishÅnen Wolverine also exist? Or is that the only example out of four that is actually hypothetical?
I forgot Deadpool was even in that movie. I didn’t know much about him at the time, but I knew he was in the movie. When I saw it I had no idea what that scene could have been in a much better movie. Still don’t but that is because of how forgettable it was.
I want to say that second wolverine movie with the robot samurai set in Japan, but I don’t actually know what bishonen means, so I’m probably off the mark?
Then…the x-men trilogy? Rogue, Jean and even Mystique fawn over him at least once, each.
I have to point out that Snyder also directed 300 before Watchmen. So MOS was his third comic movie.
All i can think about while i’m reading your post is this
I like both The Nostagia Critic and you so I guess great minds think alike.
I think I’m satisfied with having skipped it. Man of Steel demonstrated that I wasn’t going to appreciate the Snyderverse very much, and then only watched Wonder Woman because it wasn’t a part of the Snyderverse.
Having watched it- Oh, my gosh: THAT was what the DC Films should have actually been about the whole time.
Super Heroes and Gods thrown into a realistic setting and still struggling to fight the good fight in spite of the realistic settings, because that’s just who they are.
Superman was a lot more fun when he was in that interrogation room in the military base in Man of Steel; the moment he broke his restraints and explained to the generals why he was there and why they needn’t fear him was perfect.
It was just… so emotionally void and dead, that I couldn’t empathize with anyone.
I hope that DC allows Wonder Woman to be the model that future properties are developed on.
I’m with you on this, Shamus. I actually avoided watching the movie entirely based on the critical reception but I enjoyed wonder woman so much that I watched this soon afterwards.
I enjoyed it for what it was. Yes, the story was stupid but I didn’t think it was as stupid as I had been led to believe based on Internet commentary.
My problem with it is that I didn’t really find a story there. Movie felt more like an incomprehensible, unconnected string of scenes.
I kinda feel like the DC Universe rules TV (we’ve got 4 DC shows with high ratings and one Marvel show with low ratings, plus a spinoff with even lower ratings). But Marvel rules the movies, and DC can’t seem to get itself off the ground. It has Batman AND Superman. Two of the most iconic superheroes ever, and yet it can’t seem to generate a decent superhero movie. Even the Batman Trilogy isn’t ACTUALLY as good as you thought it was, when you go back and actually LOOK at the movies.
Doesn’t really help that I hated #2 and absolutely despised #3. If Batman were just willing to kill someone, he could have saved hundreds or thousands of lives in each. (If he’d hit the Joker with the Batmobile in 2, he would have saved hundreds of lives at the hospital at the cost of one irredeemable supervillain….)
I get the idea that good guys can’t kill, but it’s an absolute that is like “I cannot tell a lie.” If a friend runs into a room and says “Someone is chasing me, and he wants to kill me! I’m going to hide in the closet!” and a minute later a complete stranger covered in blood, wielding an axe comes into the room and says “Where’s Suzie!?”
You tell him the truth and he finds Suzie and murders her. You lie, and it saves her life. Sometimes, there’s no such thing as absolute morality. And sometimes there’s a case where absolute morality dictates an action that is the opposite of traditional morality. Like killing someone to save the lives of others.
True, Batman didn’t know The Joker was going to kill those people. But based on Joker’s prior actions… it was a pretty good bet. And he nearly killed himself in the process of NOT killing The Joker. So he did two idiot actions and got hundreds of innocent people killed… all because he can’t kill.
The Joker may be the villain of the film. But Batman’s his accomplice.
Thats a false dichotomy.You can also remain silent,or try to stop him from doing anything,or engage him in a conversation about why he wants to kill her.You dont have to just lie or just tell the truth.
As for batman joker thing,joker has set a bunch of events in motion that wouldve happened whether he was dead or not.Not to mention the fact that if batman didnt do a thing,joker wouldnt have been captured in the first place,leading to even more dead people.The chain of events can be stretched pretty far like that:If gordon did something else in his youth,if gothams politicians had more balls,if……
To me,the whole kill/not kill thing was best done in batman begins.He does not kill people,but when an evil person is going to die,batman simply refuses to save them.Thats a good middle of the road solution.
And since Joker later convinces Harvey Dent to go all Dirty Harry on the mob and the corrupt cops, even the “saving innocent lives” bit isn’t black and white. Who knows how many people Maroni and Dog Guy would have killed if Joker hadn’t been there to take them out.
Why is Batman morally obligated to kill the Joker? We have capital punishment in this country. Batman has plenty of good reasons to not kill other than just some kind of nebulous ‘one rule’, one being that operating as a vigilante is -illegal-. As long as he doesn’t kill anyone he does not create an imperative that he be taken down, he presents an issue of only minor concern to the Gotham Police – sure, he’s operating extralegally, but the worst crime he’s committing is battery. He is creating a legal shield for himself – so long as Gotham PD has actual murderers to pursue they can’t really justify putting a lot of resources into attempting to apprehend The Batman. This is not a purely selfish interest for Batman either – if he’s being hunted by the cops he has to expend valuable resources in evading them, or worse he’s doing more damage by fighting cops to avoid being imprisoned – and if he is imprisoned, that’s the end of Batman, even if he is released or escapes, because now his identity is publicly known.
Batman isn’t Superman. Batman cannot survive being unveiled. At that point he loses all of his assets and access, tools necessary for him to be an effective defender of the people of Gotham.
There is also the issue of The Idea. Batman Begins posits an idea – that Batman is more than just a man in a suit – devoted to his ideals, he is a legend that can inspire. Batman inspires people with the idea that they can stand up to evil without themselves -becoming- evil.
Batman doesn’t kill because doing so would undermine his goal. He wants to uplift Gotham, put it back on its own feet. He must limit himself to aiding the police. As soon as he usurps the authority of the courts, he will have failed. Instead of a city of law and order that is safe for citizens, he will have reinforced the rule of the gun and everyone will have to fear vigilante justice/revenge from anyone who might not like them.
I know this is just a footnote, but I’d like to say I think spiderman 3 is not that bad. I think its still way better than a lot of super hero films. Plus the whole thing with him not acting like himself was due to the venom thing and it felt really triumphant when he got rid of it.
I agree – I certainly very much enjoyed it, anyway. Apart from perhaps not quite seeing where that dancing scene was coming from, I think at the time people thought that it was just trying to cram in a little too much, what with Sandman and Harry and Eddie Brock.
Poor naà¯ve us! In hindsight, compared to overstuffed … stuff like Amazing Garfield 2 and indeed Batman v Darkseid v Wonder Woman v Lex Luthor v Lois Lane v Some Terrorists or a PMC or Something v Superman, it begins to seem sparsely taut and restrainedly well-paced.
One defining moment in that film for me: Spiderman is pinned on a girder by Venom during the big fight, while Sandman is pummelling him with giant sand-fists. The camera zooms out and we see a news helicopter. Cut to this scene being shown on a TV screen, with a reporter in front of it.
Reporter:”Oh no, Spider-Man is in trouble!”
HOLY SHIT MOVIE HOW DUMB DO YOU THINK I AM?
Also, he swings past the Stars and Stripes in slow motion at one point.
Though, all the faults the film have fit the rumour I heard about it: that director Sam Raimi had a plan for the third film, but the studio stepped in and told him he had to do something else – cram Venom AND Sandman AND a new Green Goblin in.
So he did what they asked, but half-assed it and/or made it especially crappy as a FU to the people that wouldn’t let him make his film.
Aye, Raimi did like his corn and/or ham. ðŸŒ½/ðŸ– If he'd have made a Superman film you just know at some point there would have been a cutaway to some extras pointing to the sky and loudly arguing over whether that was a bird or a plane…
I wonder … has there (in any genre) ever been an example of a studio stepping in and unequivocally making improvements?
(Maybe the original Star Wars? I don't know enough about the story, but I do recall hearing of artistic tussles whereby Lucas' wildest imaginings were somewhat reined in, as well as much additional polish being applied at the editing stage. Not sure if the studio as such can take credit for much if any of that, though.)
Seems like positive meddling would be hard to spot; wouldn’t you only know if the director complained about a scene people liked? How often are they going to do that?
Originally,it was the governator himself who was supposed to narrate conan the barbarian,but the studio thought it was a bad idea.I love Arny,but that was definitely a good call.
Also,there was no ash the android in the original alien,until some of the suits invented the whole corporation conspiracy thing,giving birth to the iconic* weyland yutani.
*Thats proper iconic,not ubisoft iconic.
Moving from pre-English speaking Arnie to Mako for a narrator needed suit meddling, really? (He learned the language during the filming, and you can actually see which order the scenes were shot in based on his speaking ability).
I love Arnie, too (even in Genysis), but any English speaking narrator would have been better than a beginner. Picking Mako was a very good choice, too, though.
And they had James Earl Jones right there, if they couldn’t get Mako or anyone new! Sure, he was the villain, but even a villain narrator could still have worked far better than a barely comprehensible (at the time) beginner level English speaker.
I do believe you, Lucifer, I’m just baffled.
Also, the suits invented the wayland evil suits yutani corps? That’ not just iconic, that’s ironic.
Ah but those both kind of already exist though? Latter half of Origins: Wolverine has evil sewn-mouth deadpool (although Wade was just fine). And Robert Downey Jr. did an awful lot of brawling.
Also, while it is *far* for unprecendented for Batman to get his murder on (or to even just shoot people with guns if you’re willing to go far back), it’s jarring to go from a no-kills batman to one that definitely murdered like 12 guys. I’d say this is definitely a more practical batman though compared to the standard “I’ll just render these people half-braindead.” morality.
At least with RDJ’s Sherlock it was at least mildly plausible because a) he loved to box, and b) just because you correctly deduce who done it doesn’t mean the sod isn’t going to try to escape anyway. “Well it’s a fair cop, I guess it’s off to gaol with me…” ;)
Had they not had those scenes where he slo-mo over-analyzes his opponent in order to deliver a precise KO punch, I think it might have been a bit more jarring.
Sherlock Holmes being a pretty badass fighter is accurate with the books, it just doesn’t fit with the common popular perception of the character as a dry intellectual in a deerstalker. The RDJ movies are one of the best adaptations of the books in my opinion, capturing not just Holmes’ brilliance but also his bizarre mindset, and treating Watson with due respect for both his prowess as a fighter and for his own intelligence.
Offtopic, but so awseome it’s worth it.
A guy made a fantrailer in GTA V and it’s on par or better than what Rockstar did.
Oh god. BvS. It doesn’t help that, for about the first hour, the scenes are all setup. only vaguely connected setup. The first hour was pretty much me screaming “WHY IS X HAPPENING. WHERE ARE WE NOW. WHAT EVEN IS THIS??”
Both Batman and Superman are not the heroes you’re looking for if you want to do a gritty realism plot. Unless you’re doing a cop/lawyer drama and how frustrating it is to ‘work’ with someone who catches the baddies then never shows up to give evidence in court. I dunno if DC has a She-Hulk equivalent.
The latter parts of the movie were an improvement over the start. But that’s not saying much
One of the best general readings I’ve seen as Zack Synder as a director, is that he is fantastic at shooting *moments*. Those shots that just scream to encapsulate everything into a second or two (usually in slow motion in this film) that you remember long after the rest of the movie has faded.
But the problem is, he’s an average or below average director in many other aspects, chiefly in BvS with regards to scenes. Almost all of the shots he gets are more focused on *getting* to those big *moments* that he doesn’t do the right work in getting them properly set up.
I mean, the whole Martha thing *makes sense* if you realise it’s Batman realising that he has become the thing he so despised, but
a. it is so poorly conveyed through setting up the scene, all we get is that *moment* of Batman realising comes off more as Batman being shocked that 2 people have the same name and,
b. BATMAN SHOULD NOT BEING DOING THIS SHIT! At the very goddamn least, he should have worked out who the fuck Superman was, because as good a reporter as Lois Lane is supposed to be (and a pretty damn cool character) Batman’s detective work is supposed to allow him to be on even footing with *gods*.
Also, I’d like to post *this* video as I really like how much better BvS could have been if they did this (also it’s a cool analysis)
I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t think it was that bad either. Once you accept that this version of Batman is not ‘the world’s greatest detective’ or even ‘Nolan film mental problems’ but ‘batshit insane obsessed vigilante with the money and free time to indulge his mental illness’. Oh, and that this Superman isn’t a hero.
Because that’s the only way you can justify Batman’s vendetta and Superman, despite knowing what Batman’s been doing, actually giving a multiple murderer a ‘warning’ to stop killing. That’s fully justifiable if you accept that this Superman doesn’t want to be a hero. ‘Its not my problem what you people do to each other – don’t make it my problem’.
And Suicide Squad? Except for the fact the entire reason they went on the mission in the first place was completely pointless – seriously, the military team that went with them did just fine on their own until abandoned – was decentish. Until wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube women shows up.
Yeah but then you’ve looped back round to the problem that Superman in this film isn’t really very identifiable with Superman in popular culture (apart from looking like him).
I pretty much agree 100% with Shamus’ comments in the article – there were plenty of things to like in the film. But the way they were put together didn’t work. Some of these elements could have worked great if this was a film that came after a Batman solo film and a WW solo film. But it didn’t work here.
My biggest peeve with the film (among many others) is that they went to all this effort to establish that Batman and Supes had differing motivations and worldviews and that conflict was coming… and then the plot said “and now Lex Luthor blackmails Superman into trying to kill Batman”. Yeesh. Why can’t conflict just arise from differences of opinion like in the real world?
Or like in the cartoons.
Seriously,when the animated versions of your characters are more life like than live actions ones,you really have to stop and think a bit about what you did.
I found the film to be somewhat enjoyable, but since it’s a lot darker and less snarky than Marvel, I did find it hard to get into the movie. They should definitely brighten up Superman, give Batman more detective ability and get origin stories for their other superheroes going.
DC Comics will never be exactly the same as Marvel movies, but they should have traits that give them some advantage over the latter.
For starters, you get two of the most iconic superheroes in history. Superman and Batman should be easy to juxtapose one another and give the movie a different atmosphere.
Honestly, I’d go so far as to say that Batman is the main good thing about this movie. I disagree that turning “the World's Greatest Detective into a cruel, hateful, rage-fueled murderer.” is necessarily a bad direction to go in, because that’s… not actually the opposite of who Batman is. Rather, many depictions of Batman portray that as a part of him that he wrestles with constantly. That’s his dark side, the monster he could become if just… slipped, one day. Remember that Batman alignment chart?
“Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I’ve always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in and I thank heaven for that.”
“He knows surrendering his crusade would put him face to face with his own neuroses… and also that prevailing will eventually wear him irrevocably down. But the question becomes whether or not he will know. When he finally loses it, will he know?”
“Bullets don’t hurt me. But I know pain. Sometimes I like to share it with people like you.”
There’s a LOT of dramatic potential in telling a story where an older Batman has fallen into that abyss. Where he’s become the monster that he always feared he would. And honestly, it’s not all that of a niche concept anymore. Even the Christian Bale movies skirted with it at times.
The problem, I think, is that there’s no contrast. Tell me a story of Superman as the fresh-on-the-scene saviour, full of idealism and earnest belief in humanity, contrasted against an older Batman mired in the pit he’s clawed himself into, come out of retirement to rage at the upstart, because how dare this god among men come to save the world that broke me, how dare he have hope, how dare he say, “I’m here to help,” when he wasn’t there to help me. Where was he when I scrabbled in the blood and muck against the filth of humanity?
To me, that sounds like dynamite that’s made of awesome and ready to blow.
But it requires a screenwriter who gets Superman, and more than that, it requires the courage to frame it as not a Batman and Superman Story, but a Superman story about Batman.
YES. Exactly this. I don’t think Batman-who-murders-criminals is an awful concept, particularly if you tell a story in which he realises that he is fallen far and claws himself back to a more idealistic approach. But you need to have a proper contrast by making Superman into the idealistic hope-filled hero that (a) he’s supposed to be and (b) this film actually seems to think he is (even though it barely ever depicts him that way).
Man of Steel left Snyder way behind the 8-ball on that. If I were the studio head, here’s the dialogue I’d imagine would happen between me and Zack Snyder:
“So…that happened. We’re behind the 8-ball now, so how are you going to bank us past that?”
“THAT Dark Knight Returns fight scene? I’m more a Frank Miller guy than a superhero guy.”
“Okay. So, we are talking that kind of re-interpretation of Superman against an Adam West-y Batman, right? As a clever inversion of the original set-up?”
“I’m giving you gold here.”
“I…uh…know you are. I’m too shallow for that.”
“Sigh. Fine. It’s not like anyone else really wants to work with us on a decent Superman adaptation. The crap we’ve had to reject. Get cracking.”
(Zack Snyder starts to leave.)
“And remember, try to world build a little!”
“I’ll regret that in three years. Asking a reckless idiot to world build ‘a little’.”
This article as broken encoding:
I read all your texts about Mass Effect and agreed to everything. Then I read this text and I cannot agree when you say that this movie lack structure. It’s funny because I said the exact same thing (liked his Mass Effect review but felt his BvS critic was lacking) this week to John Stevenson blog “The Writer’s Bloc”.
I know you are probably very busy, but I suggest you read this piece I did analyzing and dissecting BvS. You may still not like the movie, but I don’t think we can say that it’s lacking structure.
I didn’t read this post. All I have read is the title. That is all I need to see to confidently tell you that your are wrong
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