by Thom Yee
So first of all, some site news — GOO Reviews is going on hiatus for retooling.
We’re looking at a website redesign (don’t worry, we still don’t know enough coding to go beyond just picking a different template), a change in our grading scale, some structural alterations to our review format, and a bunch of other improvements we haven’t really thought through because we’re such big fans of overpromising and underdelivering.
We’ll be back in August, but in the meantime, here’s my reaction to the just-released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Comic-Con trailer.
In case you haven’t seen it:
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I loved everything I saw in that trailer, and it almost brought me to tears how true it is to my vision of what the DC Cinematic Universe should be. For all the respect I have for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, few if any of those movies are substantially more than fun, self-aware adventures executed with a high level of respect for and understanding of the source material. Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky that those things have become table stakes in most of the MCU movies we’ve seen so far — and I still strongly believe that we’ve yet to see one truly bad MCU movie — but the stories that best exemplify DC Comics have always operated on a headier, more mythical level. That doesn’t mean the best DC stories are better or more enjoyable (though I think they are), but it does mean they can be trickier to get right.
It seems like the majority of people either disliked or only marginally enjoyed Man of Steel, but for me, at its best (and this was something I felt through everything from the camera direction to the acting choices and especially the film’s score), it spoke to a broader sense of superheroic responsibility and the idea that the heroes aren’t here to do our jobs or fix our lives but to catch us when we fall. It’s why I always get a little choked up at the film’s end when Superman tells us “I’m here to help,” because that’s an important message no matter how simple it is and how easy it is to overlook. But that’s also me projecting, and I’m not going to argue that the movie is without some significant flaws.
When you hear the words “Batman vs. Superman”, a fight between two of the most well-known and recognized fictional characters in the world, it’s easy to feel the inherently juvenile nature of the concept, the fanboy/fanservice nature of what that story would be, but what really sold the trailer to me is that it starts with a very human perspective from Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. When you see that initial image of Bruce Wayne running towards the danger that everyone else was running away from and you see the rage he’s consumed with at what’s happening in the wake of Superman and Zod’s battle, the same type of rage that fueled Batman’s origin, you instantly (or I instantly) start to understand how this story makes sense. As viewers of Man of Steel, we may have gotten some great shots of that fight, but to most people in this world, it’s hard to say what happened and it’s extremely hard to make sense of the world they now live in. Those people don’t know that Superman tried to save them or that he wasn’t far enough in his career to make better decisions against an enemy who outclassed him in terms of fighting ability (Zod: “I was bred to be a warrior, Kal, trained my entire life to master my senses. Where did you train, a farm?!”), all they know is their first contact with aliens life forms led to the most catastrophic terrorist action ever seen on American soil on a scale and power level that far outmatches anything else on Earth. That’s pretty scary.
The world of Batman v Superman is a hard, dangerous place, and like Pa Kent said, “When people find out what you can do, it’s gonna change everything,” and like he knew, maybe not for the better. This is a world where Batman has already been through the traumas of his own superheroic career, where Alfred has become a hardened and maybe even bitter person, where Lex Luthor finally looks like he might truly be dangerous, and where… well, Wonder Woman still looks too thin to me. That was a pretty awesome shockwave she created though.
It’s a heavy world, one informed by the true cost of the potential of super-humanity, and as much as that can translate into a movie that’s more downtrodden and at times joyless, it makes it feel that much more true to me and it makes everything that happens matter that much more. Batman v Superman might not be as fun Guardians of the Galaxy or Iron Man, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as good if not better.
As long as they don’t screw it up.
On the Edge
- I can’t help feeling that that savior shot of Superman descending towards that family with the sun at his back obscuring his identity might actually be a misdirect and might be involved with the implications of whatever will result from Zod’s body being unearthed.
- Ma Kent: “Be their hero, Clark. Be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be. Or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing, you never did.”
- That might feel a bit off from the classic vision we’ve had of Clark’s parents, but it also feels like a moment that’s very true to being a parent.
- Was that a Robin costume? Is he dead? For once I’d like to see Robin portrayed as a badass rather than a boy (or girl) hostage/joke.
- It occurred to me that the way Lex Luthor looks at Superman might be like the way.
- So we know Batman’s perspective, what’s Superman going to say back to him? “Sorry”? “It wasn’t my fault”?