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Batman vs. Supermen (a.k.a. Was your mother Martha too?)

I knew this movie was bad. Like really, really bad. And not because of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne: I like the idea of an older, more disturbed Batman, I like where it draws from (The Dark Knight Returns, anybody?). But before I start getting into details of the movie, just let me be very clear […]

I knew this movie was bad. Like really, really bad. And not because of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne: I like the idea of an older, more disturbed Batman, I like where it draws from (The Dark Knight Returns, anybody?). But before I start getting into details of the movie, just let me be very clear about something: albeit you can consider me a fan of all comic books, it’s safe to say that I don’t like DC. At least statistically.

The core concept behind DC stories is to show gods roaming around and protect earth. And I generally say “screw them”. Marvel is well known for their different approach: that’s why you have so many “origin stories”: part of the interest in those stories is to see how humans cope with the responsibilities bestowed upon them with those great powers (and I hope you all appreciate the length I went in order not to quote that literally). That’s generally why I prefer Marvel and that’s why, if I have to pick DC, I go for Batman. Bruce Wayne is an exception in a world full of spandex-clad jerks roaming around and shooting lasers from their arses: the guy pushes himself to the limit in order to put up with said gods and you can see his struggle, his pain, in stories such as The Dark Knight Returns. This approach is part of the reasons that made me interested in this particular movie: if the story was going to revolve around the legitimacy of supermen, and Clark Kent’s right to be Superman, I wouldn’t be interested in that. On the other hand, the story behind the miniseries by Frank Miller is much more complex, deals with the right of any superhero to do what he does, with heavy sprinkles of politics. I liked, however, how the movie gave Batman a much better reason to return wearing the cape, as opposed to Miller who solves it with an episode of The Mark of Zorro. And you wish I was joking.

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The movie neatly ties his return with Superman and his being an alien. That was a promising start. Unfortunately, that’s also where it ends. The whole business of Superman being appointed by Ronald Reagan to arrest Batman, as it happens in Miller’s comics, was evidently something Zack Snyder & co didn’t want to mess with, so the movie is much less about the other half of the story (Batman is a criminal and should be stopped) and much more about the Superman half. With Wonder Woman as a third inconvenience because, I guess, boobs.

 

So, aside from the promising start, what has this movie that’s good? Not the stupid guy from Tudors as Superman, that’s for sure. Jesse Eisenberg was highly praised as Lex Luthor and I have to admit he delivers a compelling performance, especially if you consider he’s the Zombieland guy. He’s a fine actor and I can’t wait to see what he will do with Gericault in Peter Webber‘s The Medusa. That’s a movie to look out for.

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Before you go all snake-headed, Gericault’s Medusa is this one.

So no, I’m not against Jesse per se.
I’m against the idea of a teenage Luthor: it simply doesn’t work.
That kind of villain, you see, is based on a simple concept: he toys with people, he’s a child. Not a merry child who wants to have fun and doesn’t care if people get hurt: an evil bastard of a child who plays with people to get what he wants and then he wants to get rid of them. In order to toy with them, he uses his resources and skills: one of an adult. If you take that idea and turn it like a sock, you see why it doesn’t work: you leave everyone wondering where the fuck are his parents, why doesn’t he have a tutor, why is his money not blocked in a fund, why people put up with him and don’t have him committed or something, where did he study what he knows, etc. etc. etc.
These are questions you can cope with if you make a movie just on Luthor. You need time to expand.
If you don’t have that time, you need to take those questions out of the equation.
This doesn’t happen in this movie.

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Although I would admit that the logo is cool.

What also doesn’t happen is a plot that makes sense of anything. You have resurrected aliens, bombs, the brave journalist who turns damsel in distress and can’t really accomplish anything more than being a damsel in distress, the amazon who turns up at the end and really doesn’t amount to anything more than making sure we don’t forget who she is. You have the worst possible reason for two enemies to come together. Your mum was Martha too? Seriously? Is that your point? Who wrote this thing? The final fight is lousy. Not lousy as Batman and Alfred both dying of a stroke in Miller’s story, I give you that. But it gets close to being lousy as Doomsday wanting to fight Superman because he saw the commercial for a wrestling show. And you wish I made that up as well.

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If I have to mention one think I liked in this movie, that would be Alfred. And not just because I simply adore Jeremy Irons. Ok, mostly because I adore him, but not just because of that. I liked the scripting there, the irony that just goes very well with his style and acting. The character is inconsequential under all points of view, his attempts at stopping Bruce’s suicide attempt of going face to face against Superman are weak, his technical contribution completely shadowed. But still he has great lines.

Even you have gotten too old to die young, sir.
Though not for lack of trying.

When it comes down to anything else, I would consider this a lousy movie. But Justice League is worst. Much much worst.

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