Friday, December 4, 2015

Batman v. Superman: Yawn of Justice ?

Karen: A new Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer came out late Wednesday, so if you want to stay unspoiled, just ignore this post. If you want to know what's what, proceed oh true believer...

Karen: Your hosts exchanged some email remarks about this trailer yesterday. Without ado, here they are, and please jump into the comments with your own thoughts.

Karen: Thoughts on the new trailer? I just find myself not excited for this one. I am wondering if I have prejudiced myself. But I look at it and I dislike Jesse Eisenberg's Lex greatly, I think Doomsday looks like uninspired, mid-90s CGI...I don't know. Curious what you think.

Doug: Ha! I was just texting with my son about it. I get pretty excited for the Marvel trailers (well, nothing related to Deadpool *8-| rolling eyes), but all the publicity for BvS leaves me flat. The only positive I'd say is that for wanting the look for Batman of TDKR, they nailed it.

I admittedly watched the trailer without sound the first time, so will have to correct that. Not sure it will make a difference. And I'm still put off by the messianic imagery surrounding Superman. Just bugs me.

Karen: I only watched it once on my phone this morning, but I am just not sold on it. I ask myself if part of the problem is because I grew up a Marvel fan, but I honestly don't think so. I loved the JLA cartoons and I would welcome a well-done live action version of the DC characters. I re-saw a good chunk of Man of Steel over the weekend and although I like Henry Cavill, I felt they got just about everything about Superman wrong. That's the feeling I get from this trailer too. There's a sort of ugliness to it all that rubs me the wrong way.

Speaking of Batman's look, both my husband and I noticed that in this and the mini-trailer they put out a few days ago, Batman looks a lot like he did in the Red Son graphic novel. I wonder if they are utilizing that story or at least elements of it in some way?

Doug: Here is a text from my 24-year old son [Yeah it's just going to be bad]:

Blogger's summary of the trailer:

Act I: Bruce Wayne is Batman and makes his way to Metropolis where him and Clark Kent/Superman get feisty like two little school girls. Act II: Lex Luthor does something to make them turn against each other. It’s obvious Kyrptonite is involved or else Batman wouldn’t stand a chance. They even show Superman de-masking Batman, a detail that is so unnecessary to know going into the movie. Act III: They kiss and make up to defeat Lex Luthor’s monsters and have a beef off to see who is going to slay Wonder Woman.

Yes, that seems to be what I saw!

Karen: Your son is right to the point! My 20 year old nephew, who loves all  this stuff, also posted on Facebook "Wow, what an awful trailer." So I guess it's not just us old curmudgeons complaining.

Do you think part of it is that we really don't want to see our heroes fighting each other? But then, how do we explain the excitement over Civil War? I suppose you could argue that Marvel has built that universe up so that we have had many films with these guys on the same side, so we have an investment in the characters and it means more for them to be turning against each other. But I don't think it's that either.

I think it just doesn't look fun. It looks like it's going to be a slog through a dark, ugly, unpleasant world and I don't have much interest in going there.

Doug: One comment we made to each other was the continued destruction of cities in the DC films. I remarked that at least the Avengers felt guilty about it. This was one of our knocks on Man of Steel, if I recall.

It would not bother me to wait to see this. I felt strange about not going to see Fantastic Four -- shoot, is that even going to be released on video? Let's say I'm over it. I don't care if I ever see Man of Steel again, and the last Batman trilogy really wore on me. By the end they were not enjoyable. I don't think Batman should be portrayed on film as even close to the 1966 version; but c'mon -- the man could have at least a little personality. I guess I would have thought that grim-n-gritty would have gone out of style after 20 years.

And I'll admit to being ignorant on the following posit, but DC sure seems to find success in their television universe (which I don't watch). I'm just not sure why they can't translate that to big budget motion pictures.

And in regard to the basic premise of the heroes battling: I think we accept it in the Marvel Universe because that's the way it was almost from Day One. Witness the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch in the Golden Age, and at the dawn of the Silver Age the internal bickering within the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the X-Men. Stan tapped into that tension and played it for all it was worth. But the DC we grew up on, at least up to 1985, was unicorns and rainbows. So although Dark Knight, etc. was 30 years ago, it still seems out of place in the DCU to me.

Karen: Both film franchises find themselves in a position of having their characters deal with the repercussions of the massive destruction they have caused. Superman, for the destruction of Metropolis in his first film, and the Avengers, for what happened to Sokovia in Age of Ultron. Yet, as you mentioned below, with the Avengers, I always felt they were doing their very best to save everyone and minimize the devastation, whereas in Man of Steel, it never seemed like Superman gave a damn about the utter demolition of the city that he was contributing to. Never an effort to get people out of harm's way (maybe that one soldier) or to prevent the Kryptonians from destroying the city. So I sort of see Superman as part of the problem but I feel the Avengers really still are the good guys. I suppose we'll have to see how Batman v. Superman addresses what Superman/Clark has done to pay the city back. Assuming he does. Of course, the Superman I know never would be in this position in the first place.

I'd like to see a version of Batman similar to the one in the JLA or Batman animated series -a smart guy, a driven guy, but one who still has a strong sense of compassion at his core. That has been missing for me. And of course, no more grunting voices...Bat-fleck is also way too hulking but that's Dark Knight for ya.

I have been watching Flash, and still watch Supergirl, although I am not impressed with it. Flash at least has that sense of fun and heroism that seems to be missing from the Batman films and (so far) Superman. But the TV and movie DC universes seem light years apart.

Doug: You know, it's funny what you said earlier about investing in the characters, because although I've never been an Iron Man fan outside of the Avengers I have loved Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of the character in the films. Portrayal only -- I really don't like the MCU Iron Man. I love Captain America, and Chris Evans has brought the character to life. Part of the draw for me from the Civil War trailer is Tony Stark's odd point of view that he and Cap had been "friends". I would certainly disagree with that in the MCU, so I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

So that Batman and Superman are going to fight... cinematically there's no investment in any prior relationship. One look at it and you know you're not dealing with "World's Finest". Do I really care that they are going to be at each other's throats?

DC should not neglect that they do a pretty good job of feature-length animated movies, and I'd argue that some of those are better than the live-action stuff. There's just no market for such things in the theaters.

Karen: We know Batman and Superman are going to fight, and then they (and Wonder Woman) are going to team up to fight Doomsday, but yeah, since we've only seen Superman in one film before and the  other two not at all, how much will we care? It will be interesting to see if DC can pull off this sort of reverse version of the way Marvel did things.

On this Civil War tangent -I do agree that the tension between Cap and Stark was always there, with little friendship evident. Maybe they had a form of mutual respect. But I was perplexed at the end of Age of Ultron when everything was hunky dory between the Big Three. I saw most of Iron Man 3 again over Thanksgiving (this is what you do when you're sick, watch TV), and while I don't hate it as much as I used to, Stark's never been a bigger jerk than in that film. He really is a selfish, arrogant ass most of the time! It's only Downey's charm that sells the character.

I watched the Batman v Superman trailer again, and I just want to say again I really dislike every scene with Jesse Eisenberg. I can applaud the idea of trying to come up with a different take on Luthor, but this Luthor is too crazy -he's like a Joker-Luthor. And must everything be so dingy? I miss color!

Doug: I have to admit that watching the trailer for the first time without sound -- I had no idea at first that it was Luthor! By the end of the clip I figured it out. So now we get maniacal Luthor, tattooed Joker... at least on Gotham I can see the Penguin in the portrayal.


Edo Bosnar said...

So that guy who acts like a WWF promoter is supposed to be Lex Luthor? Oh, man...

Yeah, you guys make some good points about this, from the apparently immense carnage (which superheroes are supposed to - you know - prevent), through the dark and dismal tone and colors, to the marbles-in-his mouth growl that's supposed to be Batman's speaking voice.
The only part of that trailer that mildly (very mildly) caught my interest was Wonder Woman, but that feeling dissipated pretty quick - she's not going to save what looks like another trainwreck of a movie. And in line with previous discussions here of her 'look,' I still think it's off (and off-putting). So yeah, I'm not even remotely excited about this one.

Martinex1 said...

Karen and Doug, I think you captured my initial reaction as well.

I think DC films are overly pessimistic. They almost have a feeling that everything and everybody has a dark side and that corruption is inevitable. The previous DC films seem to suggest not that with great power comes great responsibility, but with great power comes great risk to all. The hope is missing, and I think that sense of hope is something Marvel films retained.

In comics, DC or Marvel, there was always a sense of the heroes doing what was "right". That mainly manifested itself in protecting and saving people, but also in sacrificing themselves for others. The heroes continually put themselves in harm's way for others. I cannot put my finger entirely on it, but that element just seems to be missing from DC films. The responsibility seems burdensome in DC films. The action of the heroes seems offensive not defensive.

I've mentioned it here before that Pa Kent's advice to Clark in the most recent Superman movie was along the lines of: stay out of it, protect yourself, it's not your fight, you owe them nothing. That is the opposite of Uncle Ben's advice, but I think that attitude pervades DC films. I think the Marvel film heroes enjoy their work. They may have weaknesses and struggles, but they want to help others. The DC heroes so far have been more "woe is me, I have to go take care of this and it's destroying MY life". Again, I cannot put my finger on it but the heroes in DC films seem more selfish. And that's not entertaining. I don't root for them.

B Smith said...

Man, comics used to be for kids, you know....just lots of scenes of characters punching each others' lights out.

But now comics aren't just for kids - they even make movies out of them...and what happens in them? Lots of characters punching each others' lights out.

Anonymous said...

This morning I bought the DVD of Ant-Man - I'm not really a fan of super-hero movies but Ant-Man has had good reviews and I was curious. By the way, Deadpool is great and the movie trailer I saw seems very faithful to the character.

david_b said...

Colin, I never saw Ant-Man on the big screen, but will pick up that Blu-ray for my 'slightly-smaller' home screen, thanks for the hint.

As for this DC flick..? C'mon isn't the idea of Ben Affleck generating enough adrenaline as it is..? (tongue-firmly-in-cheek).

Frankly, I haven't any DC offerings since 1989's Batman, with the exception Batman TAS, and the Green Lantern animated series.

david_b said...

Sorry, forgot those animated DC Shorts with Supergirl/Batgirl/Wondergirl.., those were a hoot..!!

Anonymous said...

Martinex, in contrast to your reference to the recent Pa Kent advice, I seem to recall in the first Christopher Reeve film he said something like: I don't know why you're here but it's not to score touchdowns.

That advice is more like it to me.

And I echo all your thoughts Karen and Doug. I doubt I'll go see this.


Garett said...

I think this looks good! Ben Affleck looks better than I expected as Batman, I like the playful attitude of Lex Luthor (which Gene Hackman had-- he was great, Kevin Spacey was boring). I like that Wonder Woman is making an entrance, and even though the sword and shield look is not my favorite, there's something about the actress here that makes me think it can work.

I didn't see Man of Steel as the trailer didn't grab me, and Superman Returns didn't hit the mark. I liked one out of the 3 recent Batman movies, Dark Knight. The latest Batman movie was way too bleak for me, but I don't get that sense from this trailer-- it has some energy and pep. I would like to see a Neal Adams/ Jim Aparo type Batman on the big screen in a solo movie.

J.A. Morris said...

I have low expectations for any DC comics movie these days. I thought the 2nd Batman movie (with Ledger) was good. The most disappointing thing about this trailer is that they've decided to keep the silly "Bat-voice" used by Bale.

But I'm with Martinex, I'd like to see the DCCU heroes act like they actually enjoy what the fact that they're heroes. So far Supergirl is the only recent live action DC adaptation that shows the character likes helping people. No, it's not a perfect series, but I'll take it any day over 'Man Of Steel' or 'Dark Knight Rises'.

dbutler16 said...

Lex Luthor seems to be acting like the Joker. Doomsday reminds me of one of the bad guys in the Hulk movie.
But the real question is, where is Aquaman??

Pat Henry said...

Inre "the recent Pa Kent advice, I seem to recall in the first Christopher Reeve film he said something like: I don't know why you're here but it's not to score touchdowns. That advice is more like it to me."

I thought Pa Kent in that first film was pitch perfect, and Clark's grief at having all these powers but not able to save even the ones he loves was just astonishing. And I compare that to the modern films, and the contrast is remarkable. All the hope and joy is stripped out and replaced by carnage. It's funny, 'cause DC used to be the "hopeful" one when I was a kid, and Marvel was the one that, for every winning step forward there was some bummer step back (which kept you reading, for sure). I can hardly remember Superman ever throwing a punch, because to do so would be world=shattering.

But what's remarkable to me about the MCU vs the DCU is Marvel seems to be true to their characterizations. I watched the end of the original Thor a few weeks ago, and it was remarkable how upbeat the ending was, even the credit crawl was fun. I imagine there'll be a grim and begrudging handshake in the wreckage at the end of this mishmash, and that's about it for catharsis and heroic payoff.

William said...

Looks like I'm taking the minority viewpoint today.

I will start by saying that I absolutely loathed "Man of Steel". Especially every single thing about Pa Kent, from his totally out of character philosophy to his stupid and pointless death. But I digress. However, aside from the dillweed they got to play "Lex Luthor", I am actually looking forward to this one. Mainly because it looks to be as much a Batman movie as it is a MOS sequel.

I have been waiting for a halfway decent comic-book representation of Batman on the big screen since the first movie back in '89, and this looks like it's going to be about as close as we're every going to get. And since there is no way we will ever see a Marshall Rogers / Neal Adams / Jim Aparo version of the Dark Knight in any kind of live action form, I'll take what I can get. (At least Batman is wearing a two-tone costume instead of an all black rubber suit).

I do agree with most of the comments about how much more hopeless, and bleak these films are than they should be. But it's the same with today's comics. (Which is why I don't read them anymore). However, in the case of the movies (the Nolan Bat-flicks, and Man of Steel), I think it's mostly due to the personal taste of the directors of those films.

For example Zack Snyder must really like brown and gray, because that's the predominant color pallet of all of his movies, from "300", to "Watchmen", to "Man of Steel", and now apparently "Superman vs. Batman". All of those films were also extremely dark, and grim in tone and story as well.

I don't really think it was a universal policy of DC Comics, or WB, that all of their superhero movies would have to be dark, muddy, and violent, I just think they turned out that way, mostly due of the success of "The Dark Knight". I blame it on the billion (or so) dollars that flick raked in for what we are seeing from DC/WB now. All it takes is one successful film like that for the suits to say "OK, that's what people want in a superhero movie, so let's make them all just like that -- even Superman."

If you go in knowing the movie is going to be dark, then it's a little easier to take. Plus, this one looks to be a little more fun than any of the Nolan Bat-films, or MOS. I especially think that Superman seems to be a little more like "himself" in this movie. I'm not saying it's going to be a great movie or anything. But it looks intriguing enough for me to go see it and decide for myself. Besides, whoever thought we'd ever see Frank Miller's version of Batman brought to the big screen, and fighting Superman no less?

Doug said...

Hi, gang --

A couple of programming notes today: You might have noticed that we've switched away from whatever color background we've been using since January and have gone back to plain ol' white. That was for aesthetic purposes, as you may have noticed some of the images we've posted that have a white background didn't look so nice against the color. However, you may also have noticed that our type today is sometimes highlighted. That is in direct relation to my first comment -- when Karen copy/pasted from our emails there were white boxes around each chunk of text. She managed to use a highlighter to get it pretty close to the same color as our background. However, jump-the-gun Doug switched the background and then could not get rid of the highlighted text!

This is a microcosm of how my day has gone... Thanks for your understanding.

And seriously -- Wonder Woman's shield stops Doomsday, who killed Superman?


Russ said...

I think conceptually it was a brilliant way to create some energy in the DC Movie Universe,which has been in danger of being left in the dust by Marvel. Just the idea of Superman and Batman fighting will be a huge draw. I'm also betting that most of the audience won't know or care what's happened in the comics, or have much of an opinion on what the "truest" interpretation of the characters might be.

Karen said...

On the plus side, I think this Batman looks more like the comic Batman than ever before, with his grey and black outfit, and he doesn't look like he's wearing a suit made out of rubber. But it kills me to see him carrying a gun in those final frames. Batman should never use a gun.

Redartz said...

I will reserve judgement here. Agreeing with most of the comments today; DCU could certainly lighten up a bit ( in tone and in lighting). Thinking I might catch it , just to see the take on Wonder Woman...and yes, where in the 52 worlds did this version of Luthor come from?

Anonymous said...

Batman has a gun???

OK now, I'm with William - while there might be valid concerns from fans, I for one am cautiously optimistic about this film, not so much on what we've seen so far from these trailers but moreso on the hope that DC gets it 'right' on the big screen. DC seems to be faring better with their TV shows (Arrow, Flash, Supergirl) than their films.

I have to agree with Russ; the sad truth is most people will watch this just because it's 'Batman fighting Superman' and they probably won't care about the characterizations or all the backstory from the comics.

- Mike 'wanna see Batman vs Spider-Man next' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

RE Redartz:
Young Lex Luthor originally had a beautiful head of bright red hair, but lost it when Superboy put a fire out in his lab and the spilled chemicals created a fume that left Lex follically impaired. Since then Lex became a super villain and they have been implacable enemies.
This also explains Patrick Stewart's numerous murderous rampages over the years.

Edo Bosnar said...

M.P., yeah, but Telly Savalas was even worse. Who can forget his reign of terror during the '70 and '80s?

By the way, is that Jeremy Irons playing Alfred? I would have been perfectly happy if they had cast him as Batman. I will agree, though, that Batman's apparently two-tone costume is an improvement.
Doug, about Wonder Woman blocking the impact of that tactical nuke explosion from Doomsday's face to save Batman (but not the rest of the several city blocks around them): that was pretty much the only thing in that preview that I liked, as it came closest to some of those great f-yeah! moments you get from the Marvel films.

Steve Does Comics said...

Doug, re the highlighted text. Above your editing box, on the right-hand side, you'll see a large letter "T" with a small red cross next to it. If you've not tried it yet, highlight the text in question and press the "T". With any luck, it'll get rid of the problem.

William said...

M.P., glad you brought up Luthor's original red hair. (And loss thereof).

I always thought that LL had one of the most hilarious origins of any super-villain ever. He basically turned evil because he went bald.

I know how he feels. Every time I look in the mirror myself these days, I feel the darkness growing inside me. LOL

Martinex1 said...

I actually had some free time late last night and watched Man of Steel again. It was not as bad as I remembered it. I must be a bit biased. I still disliked the levels of destruction, weird parental advice, and religious parallels. But I did like the Krypton scenes and thought Henry Cavill did do a good job as Superman. Maybe it was just not my nostalgic Superman. A little more humor or even a smile here or there may have helped. But again it was not as bad as I recalled it.

Pat Henry said...

The screen version of Batman has no personality, I thought I’d seen someone comment—all growl-y rage, very little joy at swinging around town dropping a well-deserved net on crooks. And I think that might be a problem in general for the DCU compared to the MCU.

Marvel always had pretty well developed personalities, or at least well developed schticks that delivered the appearance of personality. Spider-Man might be the premier example of a completely rendered personality (to the point whenever he acts out of character it is utterly jarring and does not ring true); and while others like Iron Man and Thor and Hulk had less developed personalities, per se, they had a “voice.” Ben Grimm’s “voice” *was* his personality.

I remember reading somewhere Julie Schwartz’s frustration at being unable to find a proper “voice” for Superman. A guy that can knock down the toughest crook with his pinkie can’t exactly talk tough, issue threats, or even crack wise much. He always came across as a bit stodgy and righteous and sometimes, well, a superdick. And evidently a Batman without Robin is like Holmes without Watson—no one to chuckle with afterward. And that strikes me as a problem rendering these characters to film.

DC-TV gets around this by building a cast of “friends,” and the friends seem to have most of the personality and hangups and schticks. It could very well be that the thing that made Marvel more of a thrill to read in heyday is also the reason Marvel translates better to film.

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