A Thank You Note to the Critics of Batman vs Superman


CAU: 3.5

I anticipated the arrival of Superman vs Batman. I eagerly looked forward to it. But after its release the reviews started coming in…and they weren’t all positive. Many of the “fanboys” who were admitted to the release loved it—the critics, not so much.

Being a moderate fangirl, I bought my tickets in advance and spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday watching reviews as they came in, myself in varying states of enthusiasm.

When I went into the theater on Sunday afternoon (onacountta I’m a reserved seat snob) reviews prepared me for a movie that was dark, but I retained my eternal hope of it at least being entertaining. Which is why I owe a “thank you” to the haters.

Like any relationship, it was good that I went into my most recent interaction with Superman (our entre into the DC universe) with measured expectations, because they set the stage for me to love it.

I’m not gonna lie, “Man of Steel” left me wondering several things. Why was there a real connection between Clark and Lois? Yeah, he saved her, but in this day and age how does that actually garner love? Also, what the hell happened to the citizens of Metropolis who were touched by the rampant destruction of their city? (Something the Marvel Universe has mostly shuffled to the wayside.)

“SvB” picks up exactly where “Man of Steel” left off and lays the foundation for the conflict between Batman and Superman. “SvB” requires the viewer to look back on where this newest film came from.

I watched “Man of Steel” last night (which inevitably lead to a dream this morning of me making out with Henry Cavill up against a black SUV [shout out to my subconscious!] which may or may have not lead to a general affinity for the movie I saw today [that aside]) and in the previous movie, Faora-Ul, Zod’s right-hand, implies that Superman’s love for humans is the source of his weakness.

This is important because, when it comes to Superman vs Batman, not just the title, but the actual battle **SPOILER ALERTISH AND WHATEVER** his love for humans (one in particular) becomes his/their salvation. My point is, that it’s congruent with the already established story. That’s Snyder closing a loop. I appreciate that.

CAU: 5

The movie is also rife with allegory. The hook for this film immediately addresses the man-on-the-ground experience for someone who was at ground zero for a catastrophic event affecting a (the) major American city.

**SPOILER ALERT THAT PERTAINS TO THE FIRST 10 MINS OF THE MOVIE** If you see this movie and don’t immediately make the connection between Bruce Wayne’s experience of the destruction of Metropolis and 9/11, you’re just outright not paying attention. The use of Wayne as a human connection to the outrage of all Americans in the wake of 9/11 is a tool to make audiences directly relate the conflict that arises between Wayne and Superman.

There was unchecked rage and a call for retribution on the part of Wayne that his conscious (read: Alfred) could not/cannot quell. It creates a commentary on the highly questionable virtue of retribution.

The allegory continues.

Though one should really only be allowed one dream sequence per movie (Zack), there was a Christ-like moment for Batman where, **AGAIN, SPOILER IN A WAY THAT REALLY DOESN’T AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO ENJOY THE MOVIE** in a dream sequence, he is vulnerably suspended between two other accused to be judged by an irrepressible power. Sound like any other story we’ve heard? On Easter Weekend perhaps?

And don’t even get me started on the allegory in the conclusion…

No, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies in Zack Snyder’s superverse. And this movie made me appreciate that more than “Man of Steel”. Because Batman was always dark and I think my struggle with “Man of Steel” has been that Superman was supposed to be the light and the previous movie didn’t really represent that.

Though Sup/Kal/Clark still has a perpetually furrowed brow, in “SvB” we get to see that The Man Of Steel is more light than dark when juxtaposed against how dark we can go (and if you REALLY want to put a modern political context to it, how dark we have gone) in the very human, flawed and outraged Bruce Wayne/Batman. Set in such context, Superman’s internal conflicts aren’t that dark after all, but are a representation of what anyone struggling to feel a connection with humanity deals with every day.

So, thank you critics, for allowing me to alter my expectations and go in searching, with a little more depth, for a reason to love this movie because it’s definitely there.

Closing thoughts:
• There’s actual emotional intimacy and not just mutual admiration between Clark/Kal/Superman and Lois. Thank you!
• Don’t be “sad Affleck,” the Crossfit-style workouts are definitely working and you’re a mighty fine Batman.
• Henry, I’ll meet you in my dreams, up against a black SUV…apparently.
• Gal Gadot, you’re exactly what I wanted from my childhood hero and I can’t wait for you to be the first major female superhero to carry her own movie in the last decade!
• Aquaman….oh Sweet Jeebus, Aquaman! Yes!
• At some point, one of these heroes is going to have to deliver some joy to this franchise otherwise we are going to get angst fatigue. The promise of some sliver of happiness is basically what makes a world worth saving.
• I love that Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is kind of a surly drunk. I would be too.

Now everybody calm the eff down and go see the movie. But when you do, take Superman’s lead; Look for the good, not the bad. If you go in with the mindset that it’s going to be bad and you’re not going to like it…guess what…it’s going to be bad and you’re not going to like it. But if you go in with the hope of being entertained, you probably will be.

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