I began reading comic books in 1992. It was a big year for me, I turned ten years old, I discovered comic books by seeing the Batman and X-Men cartoons, and my parents started a tumultuous divorce that really sent me on a path of hiding from the real world by retreating into stories. To be honest, I resented my parents for putting me through all of that when I was a kid, but now looking back, I am grateful for the lessons I learned during that time. The biggest one was learning to cope.
Put more simply, I escaped the real world and lived in other worlds, ones with stapled bindings and colorful renderings of men and women who were heroic as the world fell down around them. Those stories did not remove my pain, but they did numb it for a little while, and I feel a great sense of indebtedness to the positive impact they had on me at the time.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and I have seen five men wear the cape and cowl on the big screen. I will be the first to admit that two Bat-movies do not exist in my heart, but reality is another beast altogether. We have even had two modern Superman films, one that flopped, but I imagine most people pretend that one did not happen either. With a track record like that, it is easy to see how tight some people’s buttholes would get with the anticipation of the first movie to feature both drawing near. I was nervous as well, but that was more due to the fact I did not enjoy Man of Steel as much as I would have liked (he killed Zod, even though Superman doesn’t kill). Once I found out Wonder Woman would be featured as well, the nerves shot up. Not because of the female character, but because it was a female character that I thought the producers would destroy with sexism and weak character development.
After seeing Batman VS Superman I can see why a lot of social media is hammering on the movie. It is not a fanboy film, just like Man of Steel was not made for the fanboys. But if you look at some of the plot points objectively, with a critical eye for possible foreshadowing, then you will see a much richer story than most common viewers would notice. Is this film the introduction of the Justice League? In a way it is, but it is not the JLA most people know. The word “paradox” comes to mind. It was spoken aloud by Lex Luther as he stumbled awkwardly through a speech. The so-called “dream sequence” could have been a clue as well that the world we viewed was not meant to be the one we already knew. It makes me wonder if there is something more in the development of Batman VS Superman than common pulp culture references with these heroes is enough to facilitate. And to be blunt, I really hope there is.
If not, then let me take on the pros and cons of the film. My favorite part of Batman VS Superman was how badass Batman and Wonder Woman were. The fight scenes were far more exciting than any from The Dark Knight Trilogy, and I was happy to see that Wonder Woman was not used as a damsel in distress character. In fact, she handled herself better than Superman did in my opinion. Of course, he just had his ass kicked by Batman, Doomsday, and a nuke, so there is that.
Now, as far as the cons of the film go, there were a few. Lex Luther did not reflect any of the Lex Luthers that I am familiar with in any other format. I actually think he was more like the Joker than any other character in the DC universe. I also did not like how the movie plot was a bridge between The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman. It felt like the source material was torn apart and shuffled together, only taking bits and pieces from each and trying to make an organic story out of it. It made the viewing of the story clunky and disorienting at times. Lastly, I am still put off by the fact that these heroes lean towards killing. I know the characters are not real, but it seems that the justice they want to serve makes them more like the criminals they are trying to bring down. I really hope they come up with a resolution for this for the first Justice League movie.
All in all, despite the differences from the source material, I really did enjoy Batman VS Superman. The characters are in a much darker world than the one I escaped into as a kid, but I’m more comfortable with that darkness now. It almost makes it more real to experience as the stakes are higher. If you are looking for the Batman and Superman from the comic books in this movie then you will be slightly disappointed. But if you are open-minded enough to see a different version of the heroes you grew up with, then Batman VS Superman is an awesome movie to escape for two and half hours. My recommendation is to go see it now, and then view it a second time just for the hell of it…