It took 78 years, but we finally live in a world where Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman have appeared together on film. The movie is out in the wild, so go forth and see it if you are so inclined. You may have heard that there are a few reviews out there that give the movie less than stellar marks, and even our own io9 thought it was a step down from Man of Steel. Some people are comparing it to Amazing Spider-Man 2, Fantastic Four, or Green Lantern. I’d say it compares most to Man of Steel, but if I had to pick a Marvel movie to compare it to, I’d go with Iron Man 2.
UPDATE: Apparently 11 million or so of you went to go see it this weekend! Looks like Justice League will get rolling without any hiccups.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS. MASSIVE, THROBBING SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Above: Michael Turner
If you liked Sucker Punch or Watchmen or 300 or Man of Steel, you’ll love this movie. It was not perfect by any means, but it is worth seeing in theaters. I did read a lot of the reviews before seeing it for myself, and I understand a lot of their gripes. Superman Kills. Batman Kills (a lot). Wonder Woman doesn’t have enough screen time. It’s pacing was strange. Its parts were greater than the whole. These are all valid observations. But I’m no critic. I’m just a dude with an opinion. The funny thing is, everyone has one. From the last few days online, though, it seems like many critics shared the same one.
This movie wasn’t for die hard DC fans. It was made to appeal to mass audiences. Many themes and characteristics of the characters were changed to fit in this new Universe that Snyder is building for the WB, and some people might be turned off by it. I’ve heard many people say the movie was boring or that it’s plot didn’t make a lick of sense - but If you’ve seen Justice League: War or read or seen Flashpoint or the Justice League comic since the start of the New52, you have a pretty good idea of where the expanded universe is headed. This movie was made for a general audience whose exposure to the character stops at Man of Steel and Nolan’s Batfilms. It has a lot of slow motion, Michael Bay style money shots. Dresses are short and muscles are big and explosions are plentiful and the Bat-toys are awesome.
Earlier I said it compares closest with Man of Steel. Snyder decided that Superman should kill in his origin story this time around, and I’ve generally defended that decision as plausible: Zod/11 was Superman’s first foray as a superhero, and was on his heels the entire fight. The only time he had the upper hand was with Zod’s head between his arms. Superman didn’t know what to do, so he reacted - snap. That guilty yell he bellowed immediately after indicated that killing just wasn’t for him.
But then Lois went to the desert to interview a terrorist.
Lex had some hired mercenaries at the camp acting as security, and as soon as Lois arrived, her photographer was outed as a CIA agent or mole or plant. The terrorist took Lois in for questioning, and Lex’s men massacred the terrorist’s men. Knowing Superman was close by, they immediately bugged out. Superman crashed through the ceiling, nailed a superhero landing, and the terrorist made the biggest mistake of his life - he threatened Lois’ life. Lois let go of the terrorist’s arm around her neck, and braced herself. BOOM. Superman moved so fast, you couldn’t even see him. Or the terrorist, as he was body checked through at least three cement or adobe walls. There is no way that terrorist survived.
As a DC fan, I was able to forgive Snyder’s decision to have Superman kill Zod, because it was the defining moment in his career that he decided never to kill again. Literally the next time we saw him (chronologically, I’ll talk about that amazing opening sequence in a minute), he pancaked a terrorist into oblivion.
I also compared Batman v Superman: Into Darkness to Iron Man 2. I love all of the Iron Man movies, but understand that most peoples’ issues with Part Deux is that it spent more time setting up the expanded universe than it did focusing on Iron Man and his problems. Batman v Superman: Empire Strikes Back spends a lot of time setting up the Justice League and Wonder Woman movies.
At one point, Bruce Wayne decides Batman needs to break in to Lex’s house to get information from his servers. Alfred (on of the better Alfred portrayals in recent memory) rightfully reminds him that Batman was 0 for 6 in getting information, and that it was time for Bruce to give it a shot. Bruce complains, and Alfred shows him an invitation to a fundraiser hosted at Lex’s house. Bruce goes, and finds a server room. Bruce downloads all of Lex’s encrypted files (just like Stark in Avengers), and after a little cat and mouse with Diana Prince (she wins - as she does throughout the movie), decrypts the information. Lex had a file called “Metahumans” or something similar, with individual files on Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman.
Each file had it’s own logo, which will probably be used in marketing for their stand alone movies and Justice League. Diana was after a specific photograph (the reason she wants it is never explained, but the fact that it’s a posse shot of her and Steve Trevor and some other dudes in Brussels in 1918 probably taken from the production of Wonder Woman leads me to believe she doesn’t want just anyone knowing she’s a demigod and doesn’t age so fast). There were Easter eggs a plenty (perfect timing, by the way), and almost too many to mention.
But, as I mentioned, I liked Iron Man 2, so when I saw all the extra world building, I got excited. Like, overly so. We saw the Flash in action twice. We saw Cyborg get busy with a Mother Box (phrasing). We saw Aquaman dispatch some aquatic drones, because this is HIS HOUSE. We got a glimpse of Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman with Steve Trevor. It was glorious.
So, the movie wasn’t the best Superhero movie, but it was fun. Remember: Iron Man kicked off the MCU, but it really didn’t find it’s stride until Captain America: The First Avenger. It had to get Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 and Thor out of its system before the fun really started. Give it a shot, you might be surprised. I set the bar a little low after reading the initial reviews, but I liked it, a lot.
Above: David Despau
1. People always joke about the fact that Clark Kent’s disguise is horrible. A slouch and some glasses and no one can tell he’s built Ford tough. From the first scene of Superman in action in the desert, one thing became apparent: Lex knows who Superman is. There was no mysterious Superman folder in Lex’s Metahuman server. He didn’t need it. Lex knew that Superman would come to Lois’ rescue because of how close they were. The desert plan was two fold: Get the public questioning Superman via the framed deaths of all those terrorists, and confirm that Superman and Lois are close. I think the scene with Lex introducing Clark to Bruce solidified that knowledge for Lex. When he shook Clark’s hand and hit his chest, he finally confirmed Clark was Superman.
As for Bruce, I believe Lex has known about his identity for some time. When Lt. Dan blew up Ms. Incredible and the rest of the committee and the attendees, Lex had already sent Bruce the note “You let your family die.” When Lex explained his crazy to Superman on top of Lex Tower, he remarked that all it took to get Batman ready to fight was a little goading, like the notes he was sending.
Also: Thinking about the files for each member of the Justice League (save for Batman and Superman), it is absolutely this Lex’s style to be neurotic enough to create logos for each person. Lex is a genius, and the fact that he so easily pegged (again, phrasing) Batman as Bruce and Superman as Clark so early on, was a good indication of that.
2. Speaking of: I don’t think Bruce knew who Superman was until Lois jumped in and told him that “Martha” meant Superman’s mom, not his. I think Bruce was so hell bent and enraged at Superman for Zod/11 that he simply didn’t care who Superman was when he didn’t don the cape. Superman figured out that Bruce was the Bat of Gotham when he heard Alfred talking to Bruce through the ear piece at Lex’s party. I know Batman had a plan in that final battle scene between he and Superman, but when Superman landed and immediately called him Bruce, his step back was half plan and half “holy shit.”
3. We have seen death of Thomas and Martha Wayne so many times now, it feels like this generation’s Rick Roll. I half expect to see it in Supergirl and Flash. But this time, I don’t think it was used to give us a background on Batman, I think it was for that one moment when Batman freaking out that Superman said “Martha” and Lois told him it was Superman’s mom’s name. He realized that Superman was a person, just like him, and had people he cared about. Superman wasn’t the complete monster he thought he was. Notice: Thomas’ last word was “Martha,” and the majority of that flash back focused on Martha dying; not Thomas.
4. Zod/11 from the perspective of a man on the ground was intense. Say what you will about Man of Steel, but seeing how easily the Kryptonian technology and Superman and Zod’s heat vision cut through Wayne Financial was impressive. I had forgotten that the Generation Ship Zod and Superman fought on as it flew through downtown Metropolis was just slicing through those buildings.
5. Batfleck is the best representation of Batman that I have seen since Adam West. Hands down. Many of the recent films focus on his ass kickery and gadgets and fancy armor, but this one finally gave us a glimpse of the shadow Batman is. He’s been operating in the shadows for 20 years, and still is considered a legend. We also got to see the detective side of him, with Bruce doing all that sleuthing. I can’t wait for the solo Batfleck movie, whenever it is.
My only issue, and I mentioned it earlier, is that Batman kills. A LOT. The Batmobile chase scene had a few deaths (he dragged a car full of bad guys and used it to squish another car full of bad guys). The Batwing scene when he found Martha had a few deaths (he shot up a few cars, causing them to explode with bad guys in side). When Batman saved Martha, he ignited the Mercenary’s flame thrower, and killed at least two guys. When Batman was getting to Martha, he used one guy as a human shield and shot a few dudes. Batman had a dream and he used a machine gun on like 15 dudes. Hell, he brands especially bad bad guys so the other bad guys in prison will kill them for him.
Lately, Snyder has been defending this and Superman’s kills by comparing them to Star Wars and Marvel movies. That’s different, though. In Star Wars, the bad guy killed 5 billion people. In Marvel, none of the heroes has explicit no-killing policies. Sure, Captain America and Iron Man and everyone else kill on the regular, but they’ve always been cool with it. Batman and Superman was set apart specifically because they didn’t kill. It was a little jarring.
6. Bruce had a dream with him in the desert, fighting Supergoons and Parademons. Yes, those were Parademons. Darkseid is coming. Bruce saw the Omega symbol burned into the ground. Interestingly, at the end when Batman confronted Lex in the jail cell, Lex said the “bell was already rung,” and that “he” was coming. Is it possible that Lex had similar visions? If so, why? Why did either of them have those visions? I think (although it wasn’t mentioned in the movie) that Lex learned of Darkseid while making Doomsday. The computer (operating at only 37% efficiency) told Lex that it contained the knowledge of over 100,000 systems. I’m sure when trying to figure out how to make Doomsday, something about Darkseid was mentioned.
7. When Lois first approached Secretary Sanwick about the bullet from her notes, he said if she was looking for a statement, General Ferris was right outside. OH BOY.
8. Wonder Woman was my favorite part of the movie, I believe. She was always one step ahead of Bruce motherfucking Wayne, and I completely dug the music swells whenever she appeared on screen as Wonder Woman. When she saved Batman from Doomsday’s heat-face-vision, I cheered. I loved how they portrayed her in the fight. She might have got knocked down a few times, but she grinned and got right back up. Whatever you think of Wonder Woman in this movie, it made me look forward to Wonder Woman that much more.
9. We saw Flash twice: Once on the surveillance video in Lex’s files, and in a vision to Bruce Wayne while he was asleep at the computer while it decrypted Lex’s files. Here’s the thing: I think Bruce remembered the Flash vision as a dream, when in actuality it really happened. I believe that when Flash went back to warn Bruce, the effect was such that it felt like a dream instead of just some guy popping out of nowhere in the batcave. Maybe Flash’s time traveling is what prompted Bruce to have the visions in the first place?
Also: When Flash warned Bruce that he was right about Superman and that Lois was the key, and then realized he was “too soon,” he was wearing some kind of Flash armor. I think, much like Stark and Spider Man, Flash will have his own suit, but Bruce will improve it or make him armor as a member of the Justice League. When we saw Flash in the convenience store, when he used his speed, all the electric circuits and lights and shit exploded into sparks. I think in the DCEU, Flash’s use of the Speedforce causes interference with the environment around him. His suit will be more of a containment suit than a friction suit (like CW’s Flash). That way he can safely use his speed without nuking his surroundings as he runs by.