Overall, watching the movie felt like work (but then, the second and third Nolan Batman and MAN OF STEEL felt that way, too). It did a solid job of connecting dots and storytelling, especially considering all the items on the film's to-do list (re-establishing Batman's backstory in the MAN OF STEEL universe, introducing Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and other metas, and of course, pitting Bruce and Clark against one another). Thing is, I'm not sure it was fun. But then, I suppose that's the nature of the DC movie universe, its tone set by Nolan's Dark Knight films and continued in the MAN OF STEEL. It's not just that nothing funny happens, but that nothing not miserable happens. Even the characters are humorless.
Like I said, it felt a bit like work. I heard a kid sitting behind me twice say, "I'm bored." Never got a good read on how old he was.
Also a huge F'd up negative—alas, that the film itself had no control over—SO MANY PEOPLE UPDATING THEIR FARMVILLES DURING THE MOVIE!?! WTF? One guy in the front row had his phone on and up for everyone to see for like 1/4 of the movie. At least three different people yelled at him to put it away. I'm amazed that people closer to him didn't pressure him. At the end of the film, someone said that "security" came in to talk to the guy, but I didn't see that, and the guy (*and* others) were taking out and using their phones throughout the running time.
F'ing A! Someone's gotta come up w/a fix for this b.s. I almost get that disabling phones can be an issue—gotta be able to get a call or txt from the babysitter, right? But how about if you're expecting to be contacted, you pick up a beeper on the way in. It gets sync'd to your phone/number. And every phone that's inside the movie auditorium is forcibly deactivated or signal-blocked (altho that might not be enough to keep people from Fruit Ninja-ing when someone's not killing or scantily clad on screen : P).
The best part of the film for me was Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Not clear on how practical her armor is, but her weapons are badass and physically, it's plain that she is a heavy-hitter. I love that she enters the fray (repeatedly) with a smile on her face. At the end of the movie, given the hints at her backstory, I wondered if she might have been re-written as a Vandal Savage type, a unique, long-lived, and powerful human, someone who's remembered for her exploits as a mythical figure over the millennia and gone into periods of seclusion.
However/unfortunately, I saw that there was a photo released of the lead Amazons of Themyscira for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. So, not a loner. Unless… Maybe she was orphanated kinda like Kal? Raised by humans in the "World of Man," comes into her abilities as a mystery, then given the armor and weapons she was found with, and sent out into the world to make her way. And perhaps she found (or will find) her way back to her origin on Themyscira. Maybe that's why she's interested in the sword that cut the Gordian knot? Even if it's fake… Tracking her own history and origin thru clues to a lost tribe of Amazons…
Crazy talk? Maybe. =)
Still. Themyscira in the WW film, and the DC movie universe. That's good. Opens up a path to the powers and personalities of Pantheons, as well as a hidden kingdom (or rather, queendom), perhaps to match another—Aquaman's Atlantis.
I wonder—How do their realms fare in the Apokoliptic future of Batman's vision?
I will say that—sucker fanboy that I am—I really liked/responded to the callbacks to comic book moments and story elements.
LOVE that they threw the time travel in there, and, like, without no hoopla. And Bruce doesn't share the info with anyone. Was the warning/advice to Bats from the future actually useful in the events of the film? The Asian guy in beat up red armor or tech (Impulse?) told him that Lois Lane is the key. And, well, maybe she sorta was, but I'm thinking that that info was intended for a later, Apokoliptian crisis. In the events of this film, telling him that Martha Kent is the key would've been useful.
Hrm… I guess that vision/visitation was also more (cryptic) motivation for Bruce to commit to taking down Supes. That he's focused on acquiring Kryptonite in that future implies that the Big Bad of that future is Superman, right? So, cut him down in the present, that future never comes to pass. Actually, pretty good misdirection.
See, I'm getting the idea that this movie wanted to be a few episodes. It's telling a story that would've been a great 4 or 6 parter in a monthly book. And unfortunately, we're feeling it. That may be part of where the "work" is coming from.
The color palette doesn't help any, either, tho.
That vision was pretty sweet, altho a desert New Apokolips/Earth is kind of a downer. It's a good/logical extrapolation, but the overdeveloped tech-ghetto aesthetic of Apokolips of the comics would've been amazing to see realized. Would've liked to have seen a Firepit up close. The parademons were cool, altho again, a departure. I like the chunky wrestler look of them, tho. These seemed way too insecty and drained of any Kirbyness.
Highfather, but I hope they do Darkseid in a properly Kirby-ominous fashion.
Would've LOVED to have seen a spent Lantern Ring on someone's finger, or a the logo on a scrap wrapped around one of Batman's colleagues. Conspicuously absent from Luthor's metahumans files, altho the Corps' existence must be in the Kryptonian database, right?
Included in Lex's files:
Wonder Woman / Diana Prince
Cyborg / Silas & Victor Stone — a Mother Box origin/connection
Flash / Barry or Wally? Maybe Wally.
Aquaman / Maybe they won't even bother w/the hybrid origin? Arthur Curry?
Lex got access to the Kryptonian database way too easily. Like the computer somehow WANTED someone to get authorized so that it could do something sketchy. Brainiac?
Lex was kind of a throwaway in this. Crazy and unhinged, but annoying/aggravating. What is/was he? Inventor? Businessman? A genius? A polymath? Annoying, but I guess he kept things moving.
And what did he learn from the database? Information on 10,000 worlds, including, apparently Darkseid? Did he send a message? That bell can't be unrung…ding ding ding ding? Kinda lame.
Is he worth keeping around as a baddie? Maybe he becomes Desaad? Hrm… That could be interesting. How badly did his father abuse him? Wouldn't be worthy of the Desaad of the comics, but could be an interesting adaptation. A Luthor as a snapped, psychotic, Darkseid sycophant. Cuz, yeah, given his state/status at the end of this film, Lex is probably best suited as a husk to be filled by or manipulated by some other villain or force. He sure as heck ain't running for president.
MARTHA! That was nice. That was a little bit of obvious genius. Gotta hand it to them. Martha. =)
Okay. Now I'm gonna try and just dump a list of good and bad and try not to ramble too hard, cuz otherwise, everything leads to something else and this'll never come to something resembling an end…
- The average citizen of Metropolis forgets about one of Superman’s most remarkable powers: Superhair! (Superhold?) I'm here to tell you that this film does not forget. =)
- I like that we clearly see Gotham and Metropolis treated as cities across a harbor (river?) from each other. Of course, it makes you wonder how these guys aren't always in each others' business, in one or another identity, right? Also dig that it's Detroit that plays both. Given the Smallville-Metropolis geography, it's fitting, and one of the options I always imagined even if it feels odd from the street level. If you just read each hero's books, or even watched most of their films, you'd think Metropolis = NYC and Gotham = Chicago (which I thought worked well for that World's Finest where Bruce and Clark meet at that orphanage halfway between the cities). Would love to see an official map of the DCU, for the comics, TV series, and/or movies.
- Batman vs. Superman fight wasn't bad when you look at the individual blows, but the steps and tempo of it wasn't great for me. I get that there was a plan to how Bats set him up and softened him up, but after the first two hidden surprises (w/no decoys) it didn't seem all that choreographed until the spear finale. Sonics, artillery, Kryptonite, then some physical abuse. That was okay, but wouldn't the sonics and artillery have been more effective after an initial dose of Kryptonite? And no electricity?
- I thought Batman vs. Lex's goons was pretty poorly shot. I get that some of the moves were cool, but only after the moves were executed. Just wasn't fun to watch (see episode 3 of DAREDEVIL season 2 for fun to watch).
- There's a matter of a body count when it comes to Batman v. baddies in this film. I don't think we see him explicitly kill anyone, but he kind of Rube Goldberg's it, by allowing them to most likely die…This Bruce *is* in a place where he is actually *branding* his work, so maybe we're encountering him on the precipice, for whatever reasons. Or maybe it's the "Martha" motivation, which drives him to be extra vicious, to save (a) Martha this time. I think the one death that made me pause during the movie was the grenade. After that, I just told myself that this Batman has a notion of manslaughter vs. homicide, or collateral damage/acceptable losses when it comes to multitasking. Okay.
- Superman recovering in orbit from sunlight. Any comics fan is going to get that and appreciate that, but I think it could've been better envisioned somehow. I know, easy for me to say. Why don't I go out and shoot and CG it myself, right? Blerg. How spent is he at that point?
- Superman vs. Doomsday. Okay. I kind of LOVE that EXCALIBUR is on the marquee of the movie outside Crime Alley in Bruce's flashback to his parents' death. I saw that and was a little disappointed w/not seeing ZORRO, but it said something like "EXCALIBUR NEXT WED," a coming soon message, so maybe they *did* see ZORRO (altho I can't recall any swashbuckling pantomime/horseplay on the way out)? But having that there and then having Kal do the thing with the Kryptonite Spear vs. Doomsday Spike. It worked.
Is that good filmmaking? Good storytelling? A cheat? I don't know. But it worked on me.
- I don't get what Lex "stands for." I get that he's got a massive ego, but I didn't really get how Superman offends it. Senator Finch (Granny's Iced Tea was nice and horrible) was more of an archenemy than Superman. He talked about man and god and monsters, but where's the personal connection/offense? I like when Luthor doesn't like Supes moving in on Metropolis. Or when he's xenophobic, considering Supes to be meddling in human evolution and civilization.
Maybe it'll read better when there aren't a dozen phones lighting up the room. Bleah.
- The Kryptonian Siri told Lex that the Council outlawed "such abominations," as if they'd happened before. A piece of Kryptonian history that we'll never hear about again? Or are there more Doomsdays somewhere Out There?
- Don't love the "science" of Doomsday's creation. Zod + Luthor = Doomsday? Would've liked for Krypto-Siri to voice over what we'd expect, or maybe some kind of diagnostic on screen? Doomsday doesn't get a chance to charge up the way a Krypto-Sapien does. Only seconds or minutes of exposure to Earthican atmosphere, and NO direct exposure to yellow sun radiation. But, who wants to add another couple of minutes to 210, right?
- Did Clark really leave Kryptonian tech all over the planet? What about the one fully intact shuttle that Zod used to get to the 20,000 year old colony ship? Was really rooting for Kal to have created a Fortress of Solitude after MAN OF STEEL. Boo…
- Clark's coffin. I really would've liked for a reversal on the end of DK. Have Supes come back from the dead, but only Bats knows about/detects it. Alas, not quite.
- I appreciated the "Nicholson" garage or whatever it was that Bats busted out of w/his Batmobile by the Gotham docks.
- How the heck did Bruce build this batcave?
- Loved seeing Robin's costume in its case. I hope someone goes back and tells/directs that story in film. Can't remember what the Joker's graffiti said. "The Joke's on you!" ?
- Appreciated Bruce telling Diana that he's known women like her, and of course, WW doubts that possibility. Catwoman and maybe Batgirl or Huntress are NOT Wonder Woman. =)
- Couldn't Kal have kept the Polaroids to show Bats? *sigh* Of course not. Couldn't have a conversation when everyone (except Supes) wants a fight.
- The spear drama. Necessary? Lois's actions made sense, but maybe she could've waited to talk to Clark about how best to dispose of it, before chucking it into the mystery water below Gotham-Detroit (see ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE =). And then having her nearly drown… Echoing Lois in the Earthquake in SUPERMAN. Could Kal play the time travel card in the MAN OF STEEL universe? Maybe w/help from a Mother Box or the Speed Force, but not on his own.
Actually, it was good to pull Supes out of the Doomsday battle for a while, for his moment w/Lois before spearing Doomsday. But what about that? Superman stagger-flies w/the Kryptonite a couple of feet from his body? Dramatic, but… comic-book-sensible? I scoffed a bit in the moment. But when he went EXCALIBUR, well, I forgot about it.
- I enjoyed two Bat-silhouettes. One when he's launching himself into the warehouse to rescue Martha Kent. You see his shadow against the windows for a second before he smashes thru. And two when he's perched on the side of a building, I think it's in battle vs. Doomsday (maybe earlier, w/Supes?) but there's a flash and it's basically one of the DK covers, altho his body isn't actually in the motion described by the pose, since he's hanging on a building.
- I was hoping that Doomsday and the destruction he causes would be enough to bring the JLAers out of the shadows. But it's right that they're not out in the open yet. Interesting putting Batman in charge of assembling them, tho. The detective loner, doing it in Clark's honor, somehow. And having an even bigger menace be the cause for their formation makes sense. Darkseid… Oh, would love a Starro cold open! =)
Click here for some of my kooky "before" thoughts.
Keep on keepin' on~