The backlash against Batman v Superman by the professional film critics and movie journalists has been puzzling at best and hyperbolic and insane at worst (one article I can’t find right now said this is the death of the DCU). Joe saw it last Monday and thought it was really good, Chris and I saw it this past weekend and thought it was good and here are 5 reasons why you should ignore the critical panning and see it (although spoilers will probably be below).
- The brutal Batman we’ve been waiting for: I would be legitimately interested in who most critics believe is “their Batman” Is it Michael Keaton? Is it Adam West? And if it is one of those (both of whom are excellent, don’t get me wrong) then are they trying to apply the tone of either of those to Ben Affleck’s Batman, failing, and then thinking this version is a failure? Zack Synder and Ben Affleck deliver a great spin on, specifically, the Frank Miller Batman of The Dark Knight Returns, All-Star Batman and Year One, all of which feature a darker, grittier and, yes, more violent, Batman than what came before, especially The Dark Knight Returns, which almost single handedly turned Batman from the goofier Caped Crusader of the 60’s and 70’s in The Dark Knight of the 80’s to the present. Is it strange that Batman is straight up killing criminals? A little but it feels in tone for the darker universe that WB has created and this is a new universe, it doesn’t have to be beholden to years of comics lore or previous incarnations of the characters. If Batman killing or causing deaths of criminals prevents you from enjoying inarguably the greatest Batman action sequence in movie history, than that’s your loss. WB was kind of in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position of making things like all the other incarnations and being accused of retreading or copying Marvel or, what they did, try something new and daring and now they are getting accused of betraying the core of the characters. The best Batman stories are always the darker takes on the character and I think I and the Everything Action crew are fully on board for future appearances from Affleck’s Batman.
- The implied history of the world: Since they are playing catch up (and will never catch up movie for movie unless they invent time travel) WB and Snyder did something extremely smart for Batman v Superman by dropping hints and implying a history to the DCU to make it feel much more expansive even though we are only two movies into the series. Batman has been fighting for over 20 years and there is so much intriguing backstory with the Robin suit covered in a message from what has to be the Joker to the burned out husk of Wayne Manor. There’s also the newly revealed other “metahumans” out in the world and the hundreds of years that Wonder Woman has been around (she has a great line about fighting things from other worlds before). Even if we never really get absolute answers for some of the things shown, they still fire up the imagination and lets fans have fun theorizing on who or what happened.
- Building excitement for the future: WB is going in the opposite direction of Marvel, because of the whole “playing catch up” situation, and putting everything they had into BvS and then going forward spinning off all the characters into their own movies. While most people seem to prefer Marvel’s build to the team up (and I do as well), BvS did a great job of making me excited for specifically the solo Batman and Wonder Woman movies that are on deck. I want so much more of Jeremy Irons’ Alfred and Ben Affleck’s Batman and it could go either way with a prequel to anywhere in the 20+ years before BvS or just picking up the story from BvS and I legitimately got chills the first time you see Wonder Woman and you hear Junkie XL’s amazing theme for her so next year’s Wonder Woman is immediately in the top of my most anticipated of 2017 list, as this was just a tease of how bad ass she will probably be in the future.
- The Batman vs Superman fight: The reason for paying the admission was well worth it as the fight between Batman and Superman in BvS is a classic battle between Supes’ brute strength and powers and Batman’s ingenuity and planning. The Batarmor is right out of the pages of The Dark Knight Returns and I loved how Bruce had everything planned out, from the gun and sound distraction devices to kryptonite grenades and the finisher of the kryptonite spear. The reasoning for the two to fight, which comes from the machinations of Lex Luthor, makes sense for both characters as well.
- Building on Man of Steel: The Marvel movies have done a great job of building on events from the previous films and, even though it’s just starting, BvS built on it’s predecessor Man of Steel in both continuing the tone and also using the events of that movie as catalysts for the events of this one. The fact that Bruce saw first hand the destruction of Metropolis during the finale of Man of Steel is great and things like the World Engine and General Zod’s body being major plot points in BvS also make things not just one and done but ongoing for the DCU. I don’t doubt that Justice League will be even another step up from BvS as the other members of the Justice League.