Spoilers ahead, and some profane language. I’m going in, no holds barred. I’m going to be making wild speculations that could be completely wrong or totally right. Comments will be open for dialogue for all of my fellow comic followers!
Ok If you’re still here I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie OR you’re one of those strange hellspawn type individuals that like spoilers.
I’m going to take you through the stages that I watched this movie so that you, dear reader, can understand exactly where I’m coming from. A lot of “stuff and things” have been said about this film. So I’m going to try to filter it all out and get to the bottom of it all.
So the first 30 minutes were boring. We relive Bruce’s parents being killed. Interesting point here, Thomas Wayne attempts to punch the mugger. This doesn’t usually happen, and when it does it usually denotes some sort of, alternate universe. When it happened in Justice League, it was Batman’s favored reality brought upon by Mongul’s starfish creature. Now of course, this time he still loses, but this tiny change could be an indication of a fractured universe/timeline, especially since we see flash come through the speed verse specifically to tell Batman “you were right all along.” A clear allusion to the Flashpoint run, one of the biggest game changers in the DC universe. Brings about the new 52, changes hero origins, puts superman and wonder woman together, completely mishandles Static Shock. You know, the big stuff.
Thomas Wayne’s fist clench initiated that whole line of thinking. Different universe, fractured timeline. Now the question is, what’s going on? Superman has already shown he’s willing to kill, Luthor threatens his mother, who, we’ve already seen what he did the LAST time that happened (Zod). So I’m thinking maybe Justice Lords? (more on that later)
Back to the movie. Lane goes to some desert in order to follow a story. Shit hits the fan, superman comes in and tackles a guy(presumably human) through two buildings, apparently that doesn’t kill him, or it does, whatever who cares at this point, everyone’s dying. And that’s the point. The next scene an African woman who was there describes in detail to the US Senate, the horror she felt when seeing him come down from the heavens, bringing his wrath.
This whole time Lex Luthor is discovering a giant piece of kryptonite and figuring out how to use it. While, as usual he has legitimate concerns about a seemingly all-powerful being operating under no one’s laws or supervision, his plan to handle it is devious and flat-out evil.
The movie gets a bit confusing (ok a lotta confusing) if you don’t follow the comics and or TV shows at this point. Dream sequences are thrown in apparently willy-nilly and are not explained at all. The desert scene with Batman would seem completely nonsensical. It actually made me angry how completely out of the loop the writers and directors left the casual film goer. Batman is tricked into believing the kryptonite is in the truck, they turn on him killing everyone. Batman starts fighting, takes a gun, starts shooting. As all of this fighting is going on all of a sudden from the sky, Mosquito men come down.
(Ok I always called them that since I was a child, but I was informed by Lord Darkseid himself they are called parademons).
But anyway, ALIENS COME DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS. With no explanation. Batman is knocked out and wakes up to Superman killing two of his comrades. Then he wakes up again and is in front of his batcomputer and Flash comes through the speed force to tell him “Batman you were always right about him.”
WTF kinda fevered ass dream was that? If you don’t know about justice lords, Darkseid, Apokolips, AND Flashpoint you’re gonna be completely in the dark. Reason one why I can understand a lot of people giving this movie bad reviews. You shouldn’t have to have prior knowledge of 3 separate timelines in order to “get” a film.
A great part of the movie is the bombing scene. Where the Senator slowly realizes her tea is “granny’s sweet peach tea”, and allusion to an earlier conversation she had with Lex, the bomb goes off right after, leaving superman the lone survivor in the building.
Batman breaks into Luthor’s building and steals the Kryptonite, of course, he meets Wonder Woman there. Her role is pretty small, but opens the door for the Justice League to form.
Anyway following some great fight scenes with Batman, and some Messiah like scenes with Superman, it’s time for the final battle.
The hardest thing to write, I believe, must’ve been that fight. But I give all the kudos here. It was extremely well done. Full disclosure, I’m a Batman fan so I know why Superman fans are mad but go ahead and take the losers cape so you can be super mad at this. Batman beat his ass. At one point Bats LITERALLY DRAGS HIM. Now I don’t say this often, but at that point I was like YES DRAG HIS ASS!
The way the fight goes, it’s clear that Batman had the upper hand the entire time. He knew they’d end up at the bottom, right where he’d planted the spear (why a spear, idk, probably something about Jesus).
The fight was a great battle and showcases the difference between the two, brute strength vs skill. The fight ends right about here–
The only thing that stops Batman from killing Superman, is Superman begging for the life of his mother. As she happens to share the same name as Bruce Wayne’s mother, he pauses. It’s an extremely thin thread but they hang the plot twist of “let’s be friends” on it.
While Batman is saving Martha, Superman is watching Lex birth Doomsday. Strange that he let Luthor sit there and talk when he could’ve stopped him…
There’s a giant battle between Superman, Doomsday, and Wonderwoman. It’s a flashy battle with of course, lots of CGI. But It gets the point across I suppose.
Superman sacrifices himself to kill Doomsday which I suppose solidifies his “good guy” status with Wayne because he seems kinda torn up about it. The movie ends at Superman’s funeral. Bruce is talking to Diana(Wonder Woman) about starting the Justice League. Dirt begins rising from Clark’s tomb indicating that, of course, he isn’t really dead.
Which brings up a problem because Clark Kent has been declared dead as well, though his death was regulated to a back page of the Daily Planet. Won’t it be weird if he comes back as soon as Superman does?
All in all there were a lot of allusions to the comics…but that’s really a double-edged sword here. On the one hand, a lot of it was unfair to expect a casual film goer to understand. In the context of the dream sequence it was not explained, which was the problem with that. But some things like the weaponized Kryptonite gas, needed no explanation, but Frank Miller fans immediately recognized it. The line when the bad guy is saying “I’ll kill her!” and batman says “I believe you.” Classic, pulled straight from the comics and animated film. That kind of homage shows the respect and dedication that these people had to this film.
Themes and Philosophy
Woven intricately throughout the entire film are several intense questions.
What makes a hero? What makes a deed heroic? What is bravery? Is it saving a life?
If all it takes for you to save a life is you pressing a button and you have no consequence, are you a hero or merely a decent living creature with bare minimum empathy?
It’s always been an interesting theme to me and I’m glad they explored it here. What makes someone like Superman good or bad? If he sees a mugging and doesn’t help is he bad now? He has literally no risk associated with helping, so does that make him responsible? If so, his hearing has been demonstrated to be so strong that he can hear things around the world. So, is the only responsible thing for him to do is to sit in a chair listening all day? Because if he doesn’t, surely he will miss something and someone will die because he wasn’t paying attention. And wouldn’t that technically be his fault?
“I’m worried I didn’t see it, because I wasn’t looking.” This hints that he may start his plan of bugging and watching everyone. Locking up anyone he deems suspicious or dangerous seems like the logical end to his current thinking. Which kind of takes away people’s lives and free will.
How about collateral damage?
So many people died in that fight with Zod. You saved the world, great, but there were times where you literally threw him through buildings which subsequently fell, killing and endangering even MORE people. It was great to see the ramifications of his actions there as well. Far too often it’s seen as “The good guy saved the day, the end.” But in this world of hardcore politicians, policies, and ever-changing structures, like they say in the movie “every action is political.” It’s never over. As Friedrich Nietzsche poses in the book Beyond good and evil, nobody is all good, or all evil. So, if Superman does even one thing bad, with his powers…what is that bad thing and how many people does that wipe out?
One of my favorite lines is “You aren’t brave, Men are brave.” It’s said in the midst of the big fight, but it’s poignant and necessary in the argument of who is better, Batman or Superman. Again, Supes has little to no risk associated with his “acts of heroism.” So for instance, when Bruce Wayne ran and saved that little girl from the collapsing rubble, he could’ve died.
That was heroic. That was brave. He put his life on the line.
For superman to do that? It’s laughable to call that heroic. I mean, it’s nice but, it’s clearly not the same thing. Another juxtaposition that, while isn’t back to back, is there in the film.
Superman does literally nothing to achieve his powers. He wakes up and he’s a chiseled, super strong, sonic boom flying, son of a krypton. In the film they show how hard Batman pushes himself in the gym BIG UPS to Ben Affleck properly conditioning himself to do that scene. Phenomenal work man.
And therein lies the true, huge difference.
Batman has mentally and physically pushed himself to the limit in order to become a person who CAN be a hero, Superman just has to get out of bed and passes judgement.
As Doctor Ian Malcolm once said-
“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it.”
In the context of Superman it’s, you didn’t earn the power for yourself, so where’s your sense of responsibility? Clark Kent wields his power as if the only thing he can do wrong is NOT catch someone. In this film Batman sees this danger and goes to take care of it.
Because in this world, Superman, is a God. And what kind of God gives his people free will knowing they will suffer countless atrocities for it? The kind that wears a lab coat or a sweater and takes notes while silently judging you sure… But definitely not the kind that wears a cape and desires your love and acceptance.
A good point that Superman does bring up (as Clark Kent) is the fact that Batman has been hitting underprivileged areas hard, and because of this he believes the Daily Planet isn’t covering his attacks. Especially the act of branding that he’s been doing that is essentially a death sentence for prisoners. Batman’s “in the dark” methods stray greatly from Superman’s more “boyscout” style. However in this movie, both heroes are a bit more grim, and more willing to hurt people so, each character calling out the moral failings of the other are a bit muddy.
There are many reasons to hate this movie, but I’m already past 2000 words so I figured, I’d just talk about it in general. There are characterization issues mostly, and they just stopped the entire movie for an email attachment to tease Justice League, which could’ve been handled far better. Dream sequences all over the place with no real transitioning. A couple of the redundant plot holes like why would you let the bad guy press a button when you have super speed…
But overall though, the movie was fun and intelligent. They may have overextended themselves, but the message is still there. In the next films they won’t be trying to do so much outside of the main feature. So it should be a bit more put together. I’m look forward to seeing what comes next from DC.
Thanks for reading!