Monday, April 04, 2016

The Worst Movie of the Year: BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Forget Lex Luther. Forget the Joker, or Riddler, or General Zod. None of them even compare to the destruction wrought by Superman and Batman’s REAL arch enemy/super villain – Zack Snyder. This utter hack manages to kill two beloved superhero legends in one completely ridiculous, loud, inept, atrocious, tedious, shameful movie.

I of course am not alone in my assessment of this stinkburger. Critics almost unanimously have panned it. MANNEQUIN 2 got better reviews. And to be fair, audiences have liked it more than critics. But before Snyder can crow about how much money the film has brought in (so who cares if everyone hates it?), it’s worth nothing that week two it dropped a staggering 71% (against no competition). So in other words, the geeks who were primed to see it anyway flocked to the theaters week one wearing their capes and Dark Knight underwear. But they’re not going back. And they’re warning everyone else.

There are so many things I don’t understand about this colossal misfire, but one of them is this: I know at Marvel they take great care in monitoring and protecting their world and characters. So there is always a standard of quality and a unity of tone. For DC comics, it’s as if they don’t give a shit. Just give ‘em money and you can do whatever the hell you want with their characters. It’s like if Toys R’ Us sells you a franchise and doesn’t care that you sell dildos and ass-masters. DC has no regard for the integrity and consistency of their characters. Adam West can be Batman, Christian Bale can be Batman, George Clooney can be Batman. Superman can live in a dark foreboding apocalyptic world, and at the same time Supergirl can live in a brightly-colored fantasyland where she wrestles with dating etiquette.

By the way, Ben Affleck has now played both Batman and Superman. He portrayed George Reeves as Superman in HOLLYWOODLAND. I’m checking to see whether he played Wonder Woman in anything. Was Lynda Carter sick one week? I’ll keep digging. 

Also, I think there's a scene in HOLLYWOODLAND where Affleck is in bed with Diane Lane.  In BATMAN V SUPERMAN she plays Superman's mom.   Seeing Superman in bed with his mom should really cause the fanboys heads to explode.

What else can I add?  Hans Zimmer is the King Kong of movie composing.  Bring earplugs.  And the dialogue is so laughably stilted and bad you'd think it was originally written in Urdu and just translated by a first-year middle school foreign language student. 

From this point on SPOILER ALERT because I intend to give away many of the stupid attempts at plot points. So if you’re clueless enough to be surprised that eventually Superman and Batman bury the hatchet and team up, you might want to come back tomorrow. Or start collecting string.

So let’s see – Superman saves Lois and some terrorists are killed. Superman is blamed for the killings and suddenly the public considers him a bad guy. Huh?

Lois traces it back to Lex Luther because the terrorists fired bullets that turned out to be unique prototypes traced back to Luther’s company. Luther industries also manufactures experimental bullets that act just like any other bullets?

In an early flashback you see Metropolis under siege by some alien death ship that is slicing off the top ten stories of every skyscraper. Bruce Wayne has to call the top executive in his building to tell him to evacuate the staff. They couldn't figure that out themselves? They’re all on the 50th floor watching nearby buildings get sheared off and no one thinks to say, “Hey, who wants a Coffee Bean ice blended? I’m buying.”

And since when were Metropolis and Gotham next to each other like Detroit and Windsor?

In terms of a plot, there’s just a complete jumble of Kryptonite, creating a monster that Ed Wood would say is too schlocky, nonsensical chase scenes, CGI explosions and lightening bolts, a nuclear bomb, Lois Lane needing to be rescued every eleven minutes (Oh, and Lois – stop calling him Clark when he’s wearing his Superman suit), endless speeches on the existence of God that are supposed to sound profound but in fact sound like Sarah Palin wrote them, origin flashbacks (like we haven’t seen Batman’s parents killed in seven other movies), gratuitous CGI destruction, a storyline impossible to follow, and Wonder Woman.

But don't get too excited.  Wonder Woman shows up in the last ten minutes of the movie. Her name should be Sequel Woman. (Personal note: I do love the fact that an Israeli girl plays Wonder Woman.)

The running time is about 2:30. You could cut 1:30. Was it really necessary to have a scene on a mountaintop where Clark Kent gets a folksy story from his departed father, played by Kevin Costner. Since they used Costner, a much better scene would have been them playing catch. Instead we heard some bullshit tale about Costner turning back a river, which resulted in horses drowning while he ate a cake. Yes, this scene was vital.

And did we need to see Bruce Wayne training? As Annie’s writing partner Jon observed, Wayne is a billionaire with state-of-the-art everything but trains by pulling around a car tire?

And then there’s maybe the worst, most idiotic story turn in the history of motion pictures. Batman is about to deliver the killing blow to Superman but when he learns both of their mothers were named Martha he puts down the Kryptonite spear and they become BFF’s. I kid you not. That IS the major turning point in the movie. It’s beyond disgraceful. It’s beyond hack. It’s amateur night in Gotham/Metropolis. The filmmakers should be ashamed.

But wait, there’s more!

There’s an expression we writers have called “Schmuck Bait.” That’s a story turn that only a schmuck would buy. Like for instance – Superman is dead. The filmmakers REALLY expect us to believe that? They really expect us to believe that the inevitable sequel will not feature Superman? Wonder Woman, Batman, and maybe next time they’ll throw in Mr. Clean?  

What infuriates me most about this utter trainwreck is that I love Superman and Batman. From the time I was a kid I loved the SUPERMAN TV show, and the Batman comics were phenomenal. Batman in particular was a favorite because he was a mortal. He had a secret cave and all those gadgets and had to rely on his wits as much as his ziplining ability. But over the years he’s become a kitsch buffoon, a tortured soul, a matinee idol, and Mad Max in a cowl. Not only do you have to bring Superman back from the dead, you have to bring back Batman too.

Since Zack Snyder is probably going to do the sequel I won’t be seeing it. Whether Superman returns because he’s cloned, or he was always alive but hiding at a Tampa Bay Rays game, or he’s revived by spinach – you’ll have to let me know. I’ll be reading the old comics. 

Please God let Zack Snyder NEVER direct a comedy.  I don't think I could bear LUCY V ETHEL. 


Jeff Cohen said...

The only thing I object to is the idea that Superman could hide at a Tampa Bay Rays game. He'd be spotted immediately because he'd be the only one in the stands.

Peter said...

Ken, I think this may be your funniest movie review ever. I agree with most of what you said, though I didn't think it was quite as bad as you did. My first reaction after coming out of the screening was that it should have been called CGI V REALITY. The last 40 minutes felt like I was watching a video game. This is surprising, given that Christopher Nolan is producer and he made a big deal about his Batman films being grounded in reality and using practical effects. So getting the director who shot 300 entirely against a green screen is an odd decision.

Michael Bay has his critics but at least the action in his films feels real. Real explosions and real vehicles. Here Superman rescues a girl from a burning house and you can tell the entire thing isin a green screen studio and not a real location.

The movie's one saving grace was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She is a total babe. I'm looking forward to her standalone Wonder Woman movie that's shooting right now.

Apart from proving that Marvel handle their movies better, this film also proves once again, as though it needed to be confirmed, that the Burton/Keaton Batman films are still the best.

BA said...

From Tim Chamberlain's 'Our Valued Customers' website (attributed to a father talking to his adult son):
"How is it this nerd thing works? They repackage something you remember from when you were ten so you buy it again? Jeezus, what a racket."

DonR said...

I've read where there's another thing about the movie that's got the faithful PO'd. In an interview (I think it was in Entertainment Weekly), Snyder says there wasn't room in the movie for Jimmy Olsen, but, what the heck, let's put him in there for a bit and "have a little fun with him." Snyder's version of "have a little fun" is to have Jimmy Olsen killed by the warlords Lois Lane is interviewing at the start of the movie. Doesn't even identify him in the final cut, although I understand there's an outtake where he identifies himself to Lois. Some "fun."

Jim S said...

Ken, you make some compelling points. I agree with what you said and I was in the movie. In fact, I was in the first shot. I was one of the pallbearers. We spent hours filming from different angles. They had an entire staff making sure that our mourning outfits were appropriate for 1981. And they used 15 seconds. No wonder movies cost so much.

As to Gotham and Metropolis being so close together. They likened it to San Francisco and Oakland. I've heard others refer the situation to St. Paul and Minneapolis.

My biggest peeve is that a national newspaper hired Clark Kent despite him having zero training or experience. As a journalist who has seen 20,000 reporters' positions disappear forever in the last few years, that's just offensive.

To quote "Honest Trailers" "If you wanted a Superman movie with no color, hope or joy, then they've made the movie for you - psycho."

Peter said...

Two points I forgot to add.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex was dreadful. He completely hams it up in every scene with his affected performance.

And unlike Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill plays Clark and Superman identically. Reeve was quoted as saying that if he didn't play them differently, it would be a pair of glasses standing in for a performance, hence his brilliant acting talent in shifting smoothly from the heroics of Superman to the bumbling fool Clark. Snyder doesn't seem to get this, so he has Cavill play both parts identically.

Anonymous said...

Gotham and Metropolis are close because this is a different universe. You know like an elseworlds story? Kind of a dumb complaint if you're familiar with the copious amount of other universes in the dc multiverse. Why you thought this was earth 1 or 2 is beyond me. Did you know that in Nolan’s dark knight trilogy there was no metropolis!? That’s blasphemy I tells you!!!

Angry Gamer said...

We knew a stinker was coming. Everyone knew that at some point Superhero films would become harvested franchise stinkers like the Sequel disease that happened in the 80's. Rocky, Police Academy, Die Hard etc

The reason Avengers worked is the portrayal of a group of equals working together. If you remember the well crafted fight scenes that led up to the climatic battles. It was an effort to give Ironman, Captain America equal footing with Thor a God from legend.

You can't have a true Versus film without that establishment. Batman fights common criminals. Superman always fought larger than life threats. Without a well crafted plot your fight becomes mouse vs elephant and even the densest fanboy will not buy it.

I can just see a group of studio execs saying "look get a Bat vs Sup and Ben Afleck... then any monkey can make a winner with that setup"

Yep any monkey... just like they thought with Police Academy... then people quit seeing the crap and we had "oh noes Movies are dying studios are in trouble".

Crap products get crap revenues... it's a no brainer.

Still Angry
Angry Gamer

Dave Creek said...

These are not the Batman and Superman I want to see. I saw this mess just to make sure it was as bad as I expected it to be, and sure enough, it was. From now on, any of these connected DC movies are going to be a tough sell for me. I have no intention of seeing SUICIDE SQUAD. I might give WONDER WOMAN a shot because she was the only good thing about B-v-S.

I want a Superman who's an unabashed hero. If I want a conflicted hero that lives in some sort of dystopian hell, I'll watch DAREDEVIL or JESSICA JONES on Netflix. Marvel doesn't do much of the "dark" kind of material, but when they do, they do it well.

I don't want to make this into a knee-jerk DC vs. Marvel thing, but you're certainly right about how much care Marvel takes. They've been criticized for interfering with their directors (who are used to being the person in charge), but you have to admit that consistency of tone and the glimpses each movie gives us into what might happen in the next movie is effective.

It'll be interesting to see how CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR tackles some of the same philosophical/political ground as B-v-S. Especially since they probably won't just drop the idea halfway through like B-v-S did.

Pat Reeder said...

I won't see this because I have zero interest in comic book movies, but I'm enjoying reading the bad reviews, especially those that reference Ed Wood. My favorite line so far came from John Podhoretz's review in The Weekly Standard:

"I'm not saying that Batman v. Superman is a bad movie, but when Ed Wood—the guy who made Plan 9 from Outer Space—saw it in Purgatory, he said, 'Really, there should be standards.'"

Howard Hoffman said...

DC doesn't give a shit about other studios' properties either. Get ready to be pissed off:

DC’s ‘Hanna-Barbera Beyond’ Will Remix and Reimagine Classic Characters

Milton the Momzer said...

As a former journalist and editor, the depiction of the Daily Planet newspaper bugged me. They contained headlines no great metropolitan newspaper would ever run; even worse Perry White prepared air headlines with his hand waving across the imaginary page

Anonymous said...

Well... that reads like a review for just about any typical Hollywood fare of, say, the last 15 years? Yeah.

But for what it's worth, over here on this side of the pond they currently have TV commercials for some airline (I think...), "played" by Affleck and Lex Luthor in character with the message of how great a time it is now to visit "Gotham" (using said airline...). The delivery is so wooden, the "message" so totally nonsensical, the whole setup so plastic, it actually had me gaping in awe for a second. If that's any indication as to what to expect from the movie, I can only imagine the worst.

Tim B. said...

Sadly, this was predicted as a bad film, and I debated seeing it in the theaters - finally decided yes since I'm a big Superman fan. Encouragingly, it was better than I feared, but still (sadly) not even up to the stinkburger Superman Returns level. I'm a DC guy, and it pains me that the Marvel films are way better than the DC ones.

Way too dark, a bit too long, and way too many dream sequences - I was hoping for a fun action movie featuring my favorite Boy Scout, but I got Inception as seen through smoked glass. At least Wonder Woman was interesting - looking forward to seeing her film, and it'll be good to finally see a Justice League film (Aquaman looked awesome), if they can tone down the grimness. (I'm never quite as excited about Batman, and they were definitely playing up his mental issues here. Sheesh. Great escapist entertainment.)

Pete Grossman said...

Thanks Ken! Your review made me roar. Especially love "Seeing Superman in bed with his mom should really cause the fanboys heads to explode." I'm still laughing. :-D (Super)boy am I glad I didn't see this movie.

Chris G said...

I cannot believe no one at WB thought that maybe their Superman and Batman movies should be ones people can take their kids to. My 8-year-old LOVES Batman, loves superheroes, wants to be Batgirl for Halloween, and I would never in a million years let her see this flaming pile of crap.

The good news is, as you note, the box office dropoff since the first weekend (and the day-to-day drops that weekend were astonishing in their size). WB has turned DC into a franchise that makes some money, but not as much as they'd hoped, and that nobody cares about other than the really unpleasant nerdbro fanboys who think Snyder can do no wrong.

Markus said...

Well... that reads like a review for just about any typical Hollywood fare of, say, the last 15 years? Yeah.

But for what it's worth, over here on this side of the pond they currently have TV commercials for some airline (I think...), "played" by Affleck and Lex Luthor in character with the message of how great a time it is now to visit "Gotham" (using said airline...). The delivery is so wooden, the "message" so totally nonsensical, the whole setup so plastic, it actually had me gaping in awe for a second. If that's any indication as to what to expect from the movie, I can only imagine the worst.

blinky said...

I liked your review and linked it to Facebook and my friend defended the movie. I asked him if this happened:
"Batman is about to deliver the killing blow to Superman but when he learns both of their mothers were named Martha he puts down the Kryptonite spear and they become BFF’s."
He said it never happened. I didn't see the movie or ever intend too. So did that happen or was that a "broad interpretation" on your part?

blinky said...

OK real time Facebook update: My friend copped to it. He said it totally happen. Bam! Score one more for Ken Levine!

Roy DeRousse said...

"Nice" review, Ken. For those of you who remember Billy Mumy in the Twilight Zone episode "It's a good life," this is possibly the strongest condemnation of the movie that I've see so far (from his Facebook page):

"Yeah... I saw the movie.
Zak Snyder sent my heroes to the cornfield.
But I believe they'll rise and shine again.

Even though I am a long time fan of these heroes, this is not the kind of movie I want to see. I'm curious about Wonder Woman but not enough to sit through a bunch of grim and gritty stuff that doesn't even make much sense.

Al said...

I'm a lifelong DC Comics fan and I absolutely despised this movie. I don't understand why they would select Zack Snyder to direct 2 movies featuring Superman when it's imminently clear he doesn't understand or even like the character.

But as to why DC seems to allow just about anything to be done with their characters whereas Marvel exerts more control, I believe it's due to how they both came to the party.

Warner Communications has owned DC Comics since the 1970's. Both the original Superman movies and all the Batman movies (which are still some of the most successful superhero properties) were made with the studio in charge and DC just having to live with their decisions. So it seems there's an established relationship with the studio where DC just has to sit back and take it.

When Marvel started making the current run of successful movies with Iron Man, they financed them on their own and signed distribution agreements with other studios. They established the Marvel brain trust with writers from the comics who understood what worked and what didn't with these characters. They became a success and then were bought by Disney. Once they were bought, Disney figured if they're already successful why mess with a good thing and let them continue to direct their own properties.

In private conversations at conventions with some of the creators, I've got the sense that the studios often do whatever they want over the strong objections of the folks at DC, who are then trotted out on special features and in the press to praise the new movie through gritted teeth, all the while knowing it's a steaming pile of crap, but being obligated by being a part of this massive corporation. The creators I've talked to seem to be really bothered by it and are more and more leaving the company in order to not be subject to this sort of "synergy", which results in less strong creative voices in the comics and the spiral continues.

Astroboy said...

The greatest thing about Batman in the comics back then was his utility belt! Exploding Batarangs! Man, I really wanted that belt!

Patrick Wynne said...

After 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel, the idea that anyone would have expected this to be a good movie simply boggles my mind. For all of the crap a director like Michael Bay gets, at least his big, dumb movies have a sense of fun to them. Zack Snyder wouldn't know fun if someone stapled it to his forehead. I love both Batman and Superman, have been a massive DC fanboy for nigh on 40 years now, and have enjoyed most of the cast of BvS in other roles but I wouldn't see this movie if the fate of the free world depended upon me doing so.

thirteen said...

I've been reading the comics off and on since the spring of 1960. I'm told I was an avid fan of George Reeves in Adventures of Superman before that. So here goes.

I liked the film well enough; I have no desire to rewatch it, though. It didn't excite me. I did like Affleck as Batman.

Henry Cavill ... well, it's strange. I trust you've seen (or can find) the video of Cavill in Times Square last month, walking around the busiest place on Earth and even wearing a T-shirt with the Superman \S/ on it. No one recognized him, even with gigantic BvS posters all over the place. It's anti-star power. I used to live in New York, and I'd often see Christopher Reeve walking along West 57th or somewhere, and people would turn and go Wow and Isn't that? and Holy shit!, and this was Chris with his naturally medium brown, gray-flecked hair -- and wearing glasses, too. (There goes that theory.) One of the problems here is that Superman, Kal-El the Star-Child, needs a star to play him.

slgc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YEKIMI said...

Never saw a Superhero film franchise where I was thinking during the movie "Man, both these dudes need to be on massive doses of Prozac."

Todd Everett said...

Here's the Turkish Airlines ad referenced above.

Peter said...

Richard Donner understood the character perfectly. Yes the 1978 Superman is a bit too corny but it was fun and colourful. It would be deemed as too light on action now, but Superman II made up for it with lots of great set pieces.

It's a pity Warner Bros wouldn't even consider Donner for a new Superman movie, given how many hits he's directed for the studio and the fact that he basically gave birth to the big budget superhero movie. I would suggest that in his 80s Donner is still ten times the director Snyder is. A pity studios are ageist when it comes to directors.

Johnny Walker said...

I've been saying for years (on this very blog) that BATMAN was far too dour... and now he's infected SUPERMAN, the most cheery and positive of all the big superheroes. Sounds very sad.

Seriously: It's time to reboot the 60s BATMAN TV show. Batman is just too serious these days, he's rife for an ARCHER-style revival (and THE LEGO MOVIE kind of already got the ball rolling).

Anonymous said...

@thirteen, I saw the same thing. I think a huge part of it is that nobody much cares about the recent DC movies, so why would anyone recognize Henry Cavill (who's done, I think, just one other movie since Man of Steel came out)?

slgc said...

tavm said...

Is Affleck the only one to play both a Marvel (Dardevil) and DC hero? Anyone?

gottacook said...

I would only say that the 1978 Superman movie - which I gather is still one of the best-regarded - has its own completely ridiculous plot turn: that Supes could turn back time by reverse-rotating the whole planet on its axis. And if the filmmakers didn't intend this to be taken literally - if they merely intended to enable Supes to time-travel at will, and that's how they chose to depict it - then he can avert any disaster before it occurs, which renders further movies superfluous. (Something like this happens in the most recent JJ Abrams Star Trek film, where the villain uses a new technology to beam from Earth to a particular point on the surface of another planet, making obsolete the Enterprise and all other starships.)

gottacook said...

Anyone who appreciates the Twilight Zone adaptation of "It's a Good Life" should read the original story of the same title, by Jerome Bixby. The big reveal (i.e., where Peaksville is, and/or where the rest of the world is) is at the end, where it should be, whereas the Zone episode starts with it. This link looks like a correct version, with italics in the right places, etc.:

Paul Duca said...

You think this is a problem...Snyder has said he wants to do a new version of THE FOUNTAINHEAD

A. L. Crivaro said...

I did not see this movie. The reason I didn't see it is because I saw Man of Steel, which I thought was absolute dog shit. I don't know how many people shared my opinion, because this sequel, Batman V Superman, got made. HOW it got made, when Man of Steel sent the clearer than clear message that the filmmakers' very LAST concerns were things like STORY and CHARACTER, is beyond me. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that, by and large, people are so unabashedly desperate to see the characters they love portrayed in live action, realistically, on the BIG SCREEN, that they will attend a showing of a movie that delivers this at ANY COST--REGARDLESS of the manner in which these characters are handled or how the stories in which they are inserted are crafted. Never mind the fact their attendance--the handing over of their money--only ENCOURAGES the filmmakers to continue in their efforts. Which, make no mistake, is ONLY to capitalize on interests of nerds. Making these movies what they are: nerd-bait. Plain and simple. They're not the loving tribute of a filmmaker who grew up with comic books and a love for superheroes and story-telling whom fate finally afforded the opportunity to turn all his wild, nerdy dreams into a reality. No. They're nerd-bait. They're kitsch. They're the multi-million dollar equivalent of the cheap, hastily painted action figure your kid spots in the check-out aisle between the colorful candy necklaces and the strawberry-kiwi lip-balm.

Eric L said...

In Nerdist podcast had an interview with the head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe there was discussion of why the Marvel movies had done so well when superheroes movies up to that point had often done poorly. The head commented that they simply told the stories that they knew people already loved. They didn't try to add to much to the existing materials.

Gary Farber said...

"What infuriates me most about this utter trainwreck is that I love Superman and Batman."

Who is your favorite writer of Superman in the past thirty years?

Who is your favorite writer of Batman in the past thirty years?

Naming more than one is fine.

I ask because I see a lot of people around my age -- 57 -- who proclaim they love the characters, but they haven't loved them enough to pick up a single one of their comics in forty-plus years.

Whereas in my world, if you actually love something, you don't lose interest in it forty-plus years ago. If you love something, you keep up with it. If you love someone, but abandoned them forty years ago, that person might take your assertion that you "love" them more than skeptically.

But I'll take you at your word that you love Superman and Batman, so obviously you must be interested enough in them to still read them at least sporadically.

So I'm interested in who you look to as the best writers of the characters in the past three decades. Who do you think is the best contemporary writer of Batman? Superman? The best of the 2000s? The 1990s? The 1980s? How do you think the Eighties Batman/Superman differ from, say, the 2000 to 2010 Bats/Supes?

What did you think of the New 52? Zero Hour? Crisis on Infinite Earths? Infinite Crisis? Flashpoint? Night of the Owls? Convergence?


Thanks for any evaluations you might like to put forward.

J. Hauschild said...

I enjoyed the movie but te script sucked.....on the other hand, the movie originally was 3 hours long, so maybe the issue is more with the editing. I'm very excited for the uncut R rated version on blu-ray. WB released a very short cut scene which explains a lot of Lex Luthor's motives, at least if you know the comics . My theory is, that WB wanted a movie for the fans and Snyder went all in and than they made him throw away a good 20% of the film, to prevent an R rating and to loose some of the deep cuts, only the nerds would understand.

J. Hauschild said...

Ryan Reynolds played Green Lantern and Deadpool

Anonymous said...

Tavm, No, there are more. Halle Berry for one. Also, one of the characters in Elektra was in another movie, but I don't remember who it was. And did DC ever do Shaft or Unbreakable, or Snakes on a Plane, or...

Anonymous said...

Milton the Momzer said...
"As a former journalist and editor, the depiction of the Daily Planet newspaper bugged me."

You identify yourself as a former editor, yet that sentence makes no grammatical sense since it implies that "the depiction" is "a former journalist and editor," not you.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Batman V Superman Ken, and to a degree I agree with most of your comments. Too me, the first half of the movie seemed to exist purely as a set up for Justice League. I do fully realize that to a degree that is the point of this movie, but it just seemed to be one long trailer for "hey look what's coming next". There was no "bad guy" to fight, at this point Lex was just a character making future plans. Once Lex killed everyone during the Superman hearings is when I finally got the feeling that there was something driving the story forward. You are 100% spot on regarding the Costner and Martha scenes. So I guess if Clark's mother had been named Justice League???? The funny thing to me was that even though I have been reading comics since the late 60's and have seen every Batman or Superman movie, this was the first time it hit me that both Bruce and Clark have mothers named Martha. Weird, huh? I would have signed in with my Google account, but it would not accept my password.

Aaron Sheckley said...

@ Gary Farber:

Gary, you sound like every snotty fanboy who ever braced a female Batgirl cosplayer at a convention and accused her of not being a true fan because she didn't know who Neal Adams was.

You know why a lot of people have fond memories of superheroes like Batman and Superman? Because they read about their adventures when they were around 14 years old, which is pretty much the target demographic for superhero comics. Kids read comics, and then a lot of them get older and outgrow comics, and move onto some other sort of writing, and their image of those iconic characters becomes like a little time capsule for them.

I'm a fan of Spider-Man, yet I haven't read an issue of his comic book since the late 70's. That means I haven't kept up with about 40 years worth retcons, revisionist history, Spider Clones, a dead Peter Parker, a 20 year marriage that suddenly no longer existed, etc ad nauseam. I'm no less a fan of Spider-Man's because I have thankfully missed out on a lot of that, but by your definition I can't be a real fan nor formulate an opinion on a Spider Man movie because I can't name who was arguably the best Spider-Man writer from the 1990's. That's one of those fanboy credibility checks that don't have any bearing on anyone but another fanboy.

Based on Ken's age, he would have known the Batman and Superman of the 1960's, long before Frank Miller decided , “let's see what Batman is like when he gets old and cranky” and set the comics industry down the path of grim and gritty. Is Ken no longer allowed to say he likes Batman and Superman because he hasn't read every single issue of those comics since, say, 1968?

A movie has to stand on its own merits as a self contained entity; it's ridiculous to expect that a viewer be a rabid comics fan and undertake a graduate level course in DC or Marvel Comics history in order to be “allowed” to form an opinion on whether they liked a movie, or liked the way the superheroes were portrayed. That's because, as hard as it may be for a lot of adult superhero comics fans to admit, most adults have outgrown superhero comics; they are basing their likes and dislikes of a character on nostalgic 40 plus year old memories. It would be an interesting survey to see how many people leaving a theater showing a new Avengers movie had actually read an Avengers comic recently (or ever).

MikeK.Pa. said...

Too many funny lines to count in this blog. Yet, the public has spoken. WB has made enough $$$ that they'll be a sequel and numerous spinoffs (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc.). That was the whole point of this film. This move confirms that as an actor Ben Affleck is a very good director. Unlike Damon, who knows his range is limited - and like Harrison Ford - he knows to play to his limited strengths. Affleck takes risks that never pay off. He should have checked with Clooney (who's still smarting from BATMAN & ROBIN) before accepting this role.

Wondering if you're still into SUPERGIRL, or if that bloom is off the rose?

Saw this NBC NEWS piece (link below) tonight on the ChiSox announcer who has CP, I thought you would enjoy it, if you hadn't already seen it. I'm sure Jerry Reinsdorf is smiling somewhere. BTW, nice that he got into the Naismith Basketball HOF posthumously. Equally glad to see AI get in as well. Never been a player who played bigger than his size than Iverson. He was fearless driving the basket and took a lot of lumps as a result.

ASTRON3100 said...

I worked for dc in the late 70s and actually worked on the first superman movie and knew Donner and Chris ..yes, the last two dc movies were dog poo..the current Warner executives have no clue how to make movies..Snyder must have blackmailed someone to keep getting gigs.they could have made 100 good indie films for that money. .

DJ said...

I'm sure Jerry Reinsdorf is smiling somewhere. BTW, nice that he got into the Naismith Basketball HOF posthumously

Jerry Reinsdorf is very much alive. You're confusing him with Eddie Einhorn, his late partner with whom he purchased the White Sox in 1980.

MustafaJackson said...

Overall I agree with your various points of criticism, but I don't believe that it is the worst movie of the year.

DwWashburn said...

@ Gary Farber -- While I appreciate the points you make, I believe that one of them is far off base.

I started reading DC Comics in 1966 and enjoyed them through about 1985 when the Frank Miller story took Batman to a place I did not feel comfortable with. Because of the success of the Miller stories, DC decided that all of their storylines should be dark and psychotic. And they lost me.

I have sampled DC comics in the last 25 or so years but they are in a place I don't care to visit. This doesn't decrease my affection for the fictional characters and I have purchased many DC compilations of stories from the 40s to the 80s.

So just because I can't stand the direction current DC writers have taken these tried and true characters, it can't be said that I still don't like them. I just don't like the drek that's being passed off as stories and made into movies today.

Barry Traylor said...

I was not all that excited about seeing this film as the concept sounded lame, but when I read that Zack Snyder was doing it I realized that I was going to avoid this like the plague.

Johnny Walker said...

@DwWashburn Alan Moore considers himself at least partially responsible for the shift into darkness over the 80s, thanks to the success of Watchmen. However he's frequently lamented that the industry then seemed to get itself into a rut, repeating this darker angle many times, to the point that it drowned out everything else. I can only paraphrase his words, but it was along the lines that he was trying to do something NEW with the medium, not say "this is ALL we should do". As he put it: Why limit yourself to one side of the piano keyboard, only allowing yourself to play certain notes?

It's seemed to me that for the past 10 years the movie counterpart has fallen into the same trap (although Marvel at least is trying something new every now and again).

David in Cincinnati said...

"... endless speeches on the existence of God that are supposed to sound profound but in fact sound like Sarah Palin wrote them...."

This is why I read your blog every day, Ken. Your snark is by far the best on the Web.

Toby the Wonder Horse said...

Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Unknown said...

Not even close.

Francis DiMenno said...


Greg Ehrbar said...

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." - Adam West as Batman

WizarDru said...

As others note, many people are fans of the characters without actually reading the comics. In some cases, it's BECAUSE they haven't been reading the characters that they can remain so. Some interpretations of Batman have given rise to the term 'Bat-Dickery' for good reason. Batman and Superman have existed in tons of different media, of which the comics are but one (and sadly no longer the widest exposed). If someone only knew Superman from the Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice or Smallville shows, for example, they could still love him as much as any comics reader.

All of which is irrelevant to the quality of this movie. Snyder clearly has little love for the characters to produce a movie I can only describe as 'joyless'. I can live with plot holes, but this film is riddled with baffling narrative choices. It under-utilizes many characters (and criminally wastes Laurence Fishburne FOR THE SECOND TIME) and skims over important developments for nonsensical diversions. It has a lot of very talented people doing very dumb things. Merely by cutting half of Eisenberg's Luthor solliloquys and half the dream sequences, you could have had a much tighter (though no less unintelligble) movie.

I wanted to LOVE this movie. But instead I got one that showed that Snyder just didn't understand these cultural icons at all.

cadavra said...

Peter: Richard Donner is 85 and hasn't made a picture in ten years. I doubt he'd want to take on a movie of this size at his age.

Ken: It's always been my understanding that Metropolis is Manhattan and Gotham City is Brooklyn. It seems to make the most sense.

FWIW, I didn't loathe it as much as most people. As part of the generation that grew up with George Reeves and Adam West, we're well used to variations on a theme, and this is about as non-canonical as a comic book movie can get. And I was fortunate enough to see it in beautiful 15 perf/70mm film on the largest IMAX screen in the country (Lincoln Square in New York)--that covers up a number of sins. Plus it has my beloved Holly Hunter. So I couldn't totally hate it.

But I do believe Warners should make a one-off BATMAN in the style of the TV series. That would be a stitch.

Awf-El said...

"Batman is about to deliver the killing blow to Superman but when he learns both of their mothers were named Martha he puts down the Kryptonite spear and they become BFF’s."
[My friend] said it never happened. I didn't see the movie or ever intend to. So did that happen or was that a "broad interpretation" on your part?

Sadly, that happened precisely as described. Your friend is clearly no friend at all.

Lois Lane comes running in to confirm it to Batman. Even though she wasn't there to hear the reveal, and had no way of knowing what they were talking about.

Mike said...

No doubt the film suffers from filmy-wilmy-type problems. But I suspect that much of Ken & the commentariat's antipathy towards the characterisations in these recent DC films stems from nostalgia for the comics of their youth. Wheras I suspect that the films are not so much wrong as reasonably reflect the characterisations in current comics. As with TV & film audiences, comics readers have grown far more sophisticated. But uniquely, comics readers are now far older. Most of today's comics readers are probably middle-aged men (certainly in the UK). So currently in the comics: Batman is Jim Gordon in an armoured suit. Bruce Wayne has forgotten all about Batman and is far happier. Superman has lost all his powers (again) and has been outed as Clark Kent and as an alien. Having been only revered for his strength, Superman is now attacked by street mobs, angry at the illegal immigrant. Wonder Woman is the God of War. For fans of the TV series, there are Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 comics.

I don't think that either Marvel or DC have any great lock on the adaptation process. Much depends on the director. Zack Snyder performs a workman-like transfer from the script to the screen. Best adaptations: Stephen Norrington for Blade (Marvel) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (DC).

Denny O'Neil rejected camp Batman circa '70, to much acclaim. I don't accept that Alan Moore and the British Invasion of comics brought darkness so much as depth & creativity. The theme of Watchmen was that superheroes were real people, much copied through Kurt Busiek's Astro City, etc.

DrBOP said...

Does that particular Toys'R'Us have a website?

Mark L. said...

I walked out about 45 minutes in. The most enjoyable part was the popcorn, which was probably popped in China

Charles H. Bryan said...

Nothing to say about BvS, but about "spoiler alerts" - have you watched THE PEOPLE VS OJ SIMPSON? If there was ever an argument against spoiler alerts, it's that show. I loved it, despite everyone in America spoiling the ending for me twenty years ago. Bunch of loudmouths.

D. McEwan said...

Yes, that's pretty much how I felt about it also, except I'd have led with how much I LOATHED Jesse Eisenberg's horrible performance. He didn't just make me hate Lex Luthor, he made me hate Jesse Eisneberg,as in: I never want to see him again in anything else.

Dreadful downer of a movie.

Anonymous said...

Leaked movie batman v superman in here

Gerry said...

Superheroes are, first and foremost, cartoon characters. Treating them as anything more is what leads to things like this.

Wheez Von Klaw said...

Good Lord. That is just wrong.

Wheez Von Klaw said...

You're right. It's probably the worst of the last twenty five years, easy. Snyder is being hailed as the NE "Big Budget Ed Wood".

Peter William said...

Batman v superman was actually good.. really good.

Wow.... so may critics have missed the mark on superman v batman. I loved it. It was one of the best superhero movies. I would put it next to batman begins and deadpool (awesome job ryan...whoever was responsible for that first deadpool was a $#$%%... i know it was not reynolds fault... but someone was a total %&^^%% for doing that to deadpool). I also liked unbreakable a lot too. Anyways...the casting and acting was great in BvS. I expected that I would hate ben alfleck but he was spot on, a great Batman. And I liked this Superman more than any other. He brought depth to the character (Chris Reeve would be proud). More importantly, the movie is a thoughtful movie that presents real moral choices (and yes.. plenty of fighting). I'm kinda annoyed that some critics thought the movie needed more humor. These critics, in my opinion, have a tired one-dimensional view of what a good super hero movie should be. And failed to take the movie for what it was. Really... I'm amazed that so many critics has failed to see how good the movie is. After the movie I looked up the reviews to see what critics had disliked. I found many reviews talking about why the critics got it so wrong. And they have. These reviews that look at why the critics were off are articulate and spot on. There are a few small things in the movie that could have been done better. But I can say that about so many movies. Overall, this movie was much better than so many other superhero movies and I'm now looking forward to justice league. For those behind this movie, I hope to see you continue on to build this dc universe in film. Keep the same people involved. They did a great job here. And critics, you need to sharp your mind a bit more. In my opinion, critics have egg on their face and failed to understand what made this movie work so well.