We saw BATMAN Vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE today. When I was a boy and on into my early-mid teens, I read a lot of comics, especially Marvel. . .DC seemed a bit square in those days. I had turned my back on Batman because of the Adam West TV show, and Superman, too, was pretty dopey then. It did occur to me that someone should make a non-campy, more serious Batman and Superman. I used to visualize how it would happen. (The guy who made it happen was Michael Uslan–you can see his credit on all the newest Batman stuff, indeed going back to the TIm Burton one–he basically bought the rights to Batman *cheap* after the Adam West debacle. He rescued Batman.) And in those days there were many forays into Superhero Vs Superhero. Spiderman and the Human Torch got mad at each other and fought. The Hulk and The Thing had a tiff. Make your own list. They’d get mad for no particularly good reason and fight for no particularly good reason but *comics fans enjoyed it* because it was *fun*. It looked cool graphically, and it satisfied an itch comics fans had. (And that’s basically what Captain America: Civil War appears to be, Cap vs Iron Man)…Soon I got out of superhero comics, until The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. Those graphic novels impressed me, especially Watchmen. My nostalgia about superheroes was rekindled, up to a point…

So when I saw the Batman Vs Superman movie was coming, I figured it was the same sort of hero vs hero marketing gimmick and appeal to fun–and it was and is–and I looked forward to it. I could tell early on that it was going to use some of The Dark Knight Returns. And it does. And I did notĀ  expect too much of it. . . Also clearly it was a set-up for the Justice League. And I was into that. And people forget that’s part of what it was.

The movie is uneven. I did not think it was the mess some other people thought. But I didn’t think the whole thing worked in every particular. It’s not the epic film it hoped to be. Still, I would say that if there was a category of film criticism that allows two and three-quarters stars, just short of three stars, it is that. Actually I enjoyed it a good deal, so maybe that’s up to 3 stars. Wonder Woman might deserve her own “star” in the rating…

Of course, one problem with superheroes fighting superheroes is: if they’re so heroic and good, why are they fighting? Are they drunk or something? So there has to be a rationale. They tried hard on the rationale for this one–I will say it’s better than the rationales that appeared in the comics, because they built it up a good deal. People reacting to the movie may be forgetting that Batman doesn’t know much about Superman at this point, in this particular story continuum. There *was* a kind of invasion from Superman’s planet, in Man of Steel, and Superman’s battle with the supervillain in Metropolis did do a lot of damage and did, presumably, hurt a lot of people, as a side effect. Not really Superman’s fault but people blame him for it. Some moviegoers –and the studio reacted to it, in this new movie–and some fictional characters in Batman Vs Superman were down on Superman because of that. So in the context of all that, and people acting like Superman was a God, and giant statues of him looking rather fascistic in public squares, and Lex Luthor manipulating both Batman and Superman to pit them against each other…theĀ  Batman /Superman fight is just believable enough. People also forget that this is a set up for Justice League so it’s not supposed to answer all questions.

The thing is, if you’re a fan of “adult” (and one really needs those quotation marks) superhero stories, this film has some great set piece scenes, an excellent Batman scene…the demonic “Bat” of Gotham rescuing sex slaved women, for example…and those scenes are very good realizations of the more “adult” and non-campy use of superheroes.

To me, the movie –though two and a half hours–was well paced, didn’t seem too long and largely came together pretty well. It was cogent enough for a strong momentum, and for me to follow a bit more than the gist. BUT…there were things I didn’t like, and I can’t really talk about them now–except to say they’re toward the end and I thought they were over the top and they were emotion-milking and they seemed a bit absurd to me. Do not want to say more, too spoileristic. I will say that the inserted (felt that way) scene with the Flash talking from some possible alternate future, and Batman’s apparent vision of an ugly alien haunted world to come, was confusing and, though it sets something or other up…maybe it shouldn’t set up whatever that is. Anyway it disrupted the flow of storytelling and confused a lot of people. (I didn’t even know that was the Flash till I read it later.)

I had no problem with Ben Affleck as (remember!) an *aging* Batman. He was perfectly fine. He’s a good actor. And I had no problem with this new version of Lex Luthor–in fact I dug it. The production *had* to do a Lex Luthor that contrasted with the one from the other Superman movies, and anyway as this one is the ultimate tech bro and I dislike tech bros, well, that’s a meaningful contemporary villain…I thought the guy acted that character really well…

On balance I thought it was definitely worth the price of the ticket; I enjoyed this Batman, I loved Wonder Woman (she was actually in several scenes) but–the production committed the same sin all vain, overpaid teams of writers and producers and directors of blockbuster films commit now, perhaps because they face the challenge of offering more, more, more all the time…the sin is putting in more, more, more. They just put too damn much in these big superhero films, and they need to learn how big and powerful is not too much. They’re like that Jon Hamm character at the beginning of Bridesmaids where he’s slamming it to the girl in bed, really hard, as if to impress her and she’s rolling her eyes…Dude, there’s such a thing as too much.

Bottom line is, expect a lot from contemporary superhero movies, but don’t demand too much, or they’ll do too much; and don’t expect perfection, because hey, it’s a superhero movie. Are myths perfect? Does the story of Jason and the Argonauts have to be perfect? These are modern myths, as Michael Uslan pointed out. Long as they’re reasonably grown-up in style…just enjoy them. That’s what works for me.


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