By Jon Jebus
I’m watching the waves of fanboy schadenfreude once again making their way to the various social media spheres and can’t help but feel a little confused by all the hate that is being thrown at Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice. There seems to be great pleasure taken from the overblown demise of a movie that has over $700 million dollars in two weekends.
So, after watching the polarizing effect the movie was having on many of my friends, I decided to make some time and watch this messianic behemoth for myself. I went in with an empty cup and what I was left filled with was something much more interesting: Questions. Theories. And some harsh realizations.
Batman V Superman was a movie destined to fail based on the hopes and dreams of Hollywood projections and jilted comic fans. It was never meant to be an ode to an age of spandex and underwear sporting heroes from long ago. It is however one of the most adult movies I’ve ever seen produced on this scale. It has a weight to it. A heft. It made me ask myself what am I watching on a number of occasions, but I think that was some of the fun of it.
This movie doesn’t just spoon feed you. And while I do feel it lacks depth due to the number of checkboxes big wig execs and producers wanted the creative team to hit, I’ll say this: For all the shit sandwiches Snyder is going to eat for making this movie, I believe for what he was asked to do, he did a phenomenal job.
Many fans will disagree with me, but I can’t imagine being in his shoes and make anything more entertaining than what I saw on screen. I’d actually watch it twice to see if all these moving parts make sense. And I never say that. If anything, I typically find myself in movies trying to stay conscious from lack of interest.
BVS captures the imagination in a unique way. It’s like a movie that’s based on a true story. It’s inspired by real-life comics, but not subjugating itself to the influences. It’s a greatest hits remix. It’s like watching a DJ taking popular music and remixing it into something that makes you say Whoa… and then Oh.
I saw the 30% score that was given by the critics, who sit upon their thrones at Rotten and pelt this film with tomato after tomato. Hell, it even dropped to 29% and I dare any of them to really justify their scores with something more than a witticism and a thumbs down. Frankly, if you’re a reviewer uninterested in superhero movies, then recuse yourself. Go watch Zootopia again and give it another 99%.
I’ll tell you right now what will ultimately make or break this movie’s box office ambitions. It’s too American. You read that right. Everything about this movie is borrowed from a time when we were the world’s superpower. From the government conspiracy to the imagery, there’s very little that I could see in this movie that would whet the appetite of someone that didn’t already love superheroes. Movies that are breaking that billion dollar mark have a universality to them. A sensibility that says there are all sorts of culture and people in this world, and while Marvel merely scratches the surface, that narrative understanding gets them those coveted billion dollar touchdowns.
If I critique anything about BVS, it is the myopic lens that it views our world with. It’s a movie starring at the one percent. The one percent in power. The Just Us league. It’s a movie that watches it’s world react to these all-powerful human beings; helpless. Not heroes by the people, or for the people. They barely notice the people. Superheroes at their best are a response to a great outcry of injustice and for better or worse, there was none in this movie. It was all a game. A game between two caped crusaders facilitated by a DM named Lex Luthor.
The ambivalence I feel towards this movie is perhaps like nothing I’ve ever felt for a superhero movie before. I can’t tell if I like it more because everyone hates it so much or the fact that it was just a hell of a ride. It was a masterfully done spectacle. Isn’t that the reason many of us shell out to see these movies? Ultimately, it never broke its promise to me. The trailer never made it seem like something it wasn’t. It was a fight between a man and a god. It delivered in that sense. It’s not plotless. It’s a chimera of subplots. Something that may or may not make more sense from a second viewing, but I’d give it another shot.
I’ve come to bury BVS, not to praise it. It is a flawed movie. It is a movie that is arguably anchored by the DC universe it tries to uplift. But it is a movie worthy of going into it and making your own opinion. A movie that should not be hated for not being like other movies in the genre or the comics it pulls plot from. Basically, it is its own animal.
Nicholas Allen BKA Jon Jebus is a writer hailing from the Westside of Baltimore trying to keep his sanity in between being a patriarch and hitting deadlines. You can find his ramblings on Twitter @JonJebus and read his comic The C-Listers here.