In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Last week we got a brand new look at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and with it came the usual discourse. Half of us loved it, the other half hated it. I, for one, am a member of the “Loved it!” camp, and I’d like to share with you what it is that I find so compelling about BvS‘ potential, and why I’m so ridiculously pumped for what looks to be one of the strangest sequels ever made.
1. This is my favorite version of Superman.
I am still in disbelief as to how much I’ve had to defend my love for Man of Steel, but I staunchly maintain that it is the best Superman movie we’ve ever had, mostly due to the refreshingly relatable take on America’s favorite alien savior. Call me crazy, but focusing on the human element of Superman’s psyche – his weaknesses, his insecurities, his outright flaws – served to take a character who is typically at arms length, and make him into someone I can identify with. It also allowed for him to have character growth (the common criticism that he didn’t start and end the movie as a flawless paragon of perfection has always baffled me), and BvS appears to be an extension of this very thing. Man of Steel was Supes’ trial by fire, and BvS will be his appeal in the court of public opinion. He will be forced to answer for the mistakes he made, and it is my hope, and belief, that he will be forced to grow into the “Big Blue Boy Scout” that so many critics lament was absent from the original film.
2. Ben Affleck has the potential to be a great Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Yes, yes, Daredevil was an absolute mess, but we really cannot attribute the poor quality of the film solely to Ben Affleck. That one would have been a failure no matter who donned the suit. Of course I don’t wish to absolve him entirely, but Affleck has more than proved his acting chops since then, and is certainly aware of the enormity of what it means to don the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight. It’s safe to say he won’t be phoning it in. Affleck is capable of being both brooding and charming in equal measure, and the latest trailer shows him exercising both extremes. Heck, he’s even got laugh lines, both in and out of the Batman suit. By the way, that Batman suit? Perfection. It’s the first suit to really capture my favorite era of Batman comics AND JUST LOOK AT THAT NECK MOVEMENT!!
3. Batman v Superman looks … weird.
Despite a few unavoidable common elements, the latest trailer exhibits a movie that, for the first time in ages, looks considerably different than the standard superhero output. This is certainly not a dig at Marvel, who continue to blow me away with almost every movie they put out, but as indicated by the trailer for Captain America: Civil War, superhero films are all starting to look a little samey. It’s refreshing to see a movie that looks a little bit odd – offputtingly so at points. For all the criticism DC gets for aping the Marvel model, BvS kills that notion dead. What they are doing is decidedly different from Marvel’s plan, and while some accuse BvS of being merely a tool to rush into the construction of a cinematic universe, I must respectfully disagree. Yes, DC is working its way to a Justice League movie, but they have chosen a distinctly different path from Marvel, one that, as franchise fatigue begins to set in, could prove to be a benefit in the long run.
4. Wonder Woman
It’s about time Wonder Woman joins the pantheon of film superheroes! She is the female equivalent to Batman and Superman, in terms of notoriety and comic book history. She’s been around nearly as long, yet it took until 2016 to get her on the big screen (and required an appearance in a Batman/Superman movie to even get it done). As far as female-driven superhero movies go, we have a very long climb ahead of us, but I’ll always applaud progress. It is my sincere hope that Wonder Woman steals the show, and when her inevitable franchise takes off, the audience flocks to it (check out the animated Wonder Woman movie – it’s the best of the bunch). I also really dig the “is she with you?” gag toward the end of the trailer. Classically, the Wonder Woman discussion has always been limited to “is she dating Batman or Superman?” Gross. This moment in the trailer appears to subvert that notion. She’s not dating either of them. And if she is, she’s certainly not defined by it. She’s Wonder Woman! And she’s way too busy saving Batman and Superman from Doomsday to be thinking about some lame-o love triangle.
5. Batman and Superman are going to fight.
I mean, what else do you want? I’ve read this match-up a hundred times, and now it’s finally going happen on the silver screen. Even if the movie outright sucks, I’m confident that the throwdown between the two biggest superheroes the world has ever known will be, at a minimum, mind-blowing. Say what you will about Zack Snyder (and I’ll refute you – I think he gets a raw deal), the man knows his way around an action sequence.
So where do you stand on it? A pending masterwork? A slap in the face of good taste? Somewhere in the middle? Let’s see some feedback in the comments!