I said I wouldn’t do this. I said it was pointless. It is pointless. But I’m doing it anyway.
You may have already seen my guide to coping with ‘Batman v Superman’, but I do feel a need to dig deeper. There have already been plenty of reviews doing the rounds, but I want to cover the specific failings of the film. I want to go through, in as much detail as I can manage, the individual components that set this movie apart as being of a lower quality than its peers – and I want to do it as objectively as possible.
1 – The Subjective Stuff
Ignoring my previous assertion, the first thing I want to get out of the way is the subjective, qualitative aspects of the film that led to my dissatisfaction with it. For one thing, it’s just boring. It goes on forever, it suffers from a worse case of “Ending Gore” than ‘Return of the King’, and the action sequences are so overblown and so saturated with special effects that at no point did they feel dramatic or tense.
I genuinely enjoyed Batman’s contributions during the first half, and would have enjoyed the post-apocalyptic dream sequence a lot more if it had been tied into the plot in any way. But I didn’t care for the pacing, which was all over the place, and Snyder has reached a new low in presentation – everything was so dark and moody that I found it to be a visually depressing experience.
The story itself was not particularly compelling, and there were no performances which were actually entertaining in a stand-out way. Jesse Eisenberg did his best but missed the mark drastically in terms of characterisation, and the rest of the cast were perfectly capable but not particularly engaging. It’s too easy to make comparisons between ‘Dawn of Justice’ and any of the Avengers series, but the fact is I genuinely enjoy the performances of Evans, Downey Jr. and Johanssen – they’re not necessarily better on a technical level than Affleck, Cavill or Adams, but they’re just a bit more fun.
Which leads me to my final gripe with ‘Badman v Supertwat’ – Zack Snyder can’t do comedy. Well, maybe he can, but he doesn’t even seem to try. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy defined the current trend of dark and edgy superhero movies, but Nolan was still able to inject little moments of levity and humour into proceedings. Snyder seems to believe that the cities of Metropolis and Gotham are populated exclusively by people who are genetically incapable of lightheartedness.
This is best exemplified by Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler-sidekick. When played by Michael Caine, Alfred was a sassy but sensitive character, capable of engaging with the heavy themes of the movies but still able to crack wise. There are some genuinely touching and funny moments between him and Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader. In ‘Batfleck v Henryman’, Alfred is reduced to a muttering old man who makes the occasional quip about Bruce’s lack of progeny. The humour, and consequently the warmth, is gone.
This is true in most of Snyder’s other films, too. Ironically it’s ‘Watchmen’ that has more funny moments, and also happens to be the darkest. Meanwhile the inane ‘Sucker Punch’, the depressing ‘Man of Steel’ and the fairly marvellous ‘300’ (if you’re into that sort of thing) are all played almost entirely straight – depressingly so. In fact, it was his directorial debut (and now that I’ve used that phrase, I think I’m qualified as being a “real critic”) ‘Dawn of the Dead’ that has remained the funniest film he’s done to date.
2 – The Whys and the Wherefores
Now let’s get onto the measurables.
There is exactly one character in this entire film whose motivations are laid bare – Batman. The film opens strongly, with Bruce Wayne witnessing the rampant destruction of Metropolis and the lives lost due to Superman’s callous disregard for collateral damage. Bruce’s fury with Superman’s actions are clear. How could a being of such power, and with a total lack of oversight, possibly claim to serve humanity whilst wreaking that level of catastrophe on a human city? And what happens if even more of them show up?
Every other character, however, fails to present a reason for any of the things they’re doing. Superman seems to float from scene to scene, essentially looking grumpy at every development and never particularly making a decision for himself. I have no idea of what he was trying to achieve throughout the film. There was no revealed villain at any point whose plans he was trying to thwart, I have no idea of whether or not he wanted to be accepted by humanity, or not – he just seemed to angst about it throughout, without ever reaching a conclusion.
Wonder Woman was Doing Things. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what it is she wanted with the stolen data from Lex Luthor’s house, or indeed why she was even there – did she know Bruce Wayne would be turning up with a data hacker? Was she just waiting for him to attach it? What was she doing for the entire rest of the film? She grudgingly decides to participate in the fight against Doomsday, but why? Maybe it’s to protect the planet, but we don’t know enough about her to make that assumption.
The most egregious offender on the subject of Motivation. The entire point of including a villain in your story is to offer challenges, obstacles, resistance for your heroes to overcome. In that regard, the motivation of your villain can be as simple or complex as you like, as fantastical or mundane as is needed. This is played with beautifully by ‘Die Hard’s Hans Gruber – his objectives are at first mysterious, but are revealed to be really quite pedestrian – he’s a thief, he wants money, and his actions are in line with his goals. Hence, he is an effective antagonist.
Lex Luthor? Lex Luthor has no goals whatsoever, and certainly none that would be a result of his actions. At first, he seems to want to legalise the importation of the mysterious Kryptonite into the US, and so pressures legislators to do exactly that. Except that when they refuse, he simply smuggles it in anyway – something for which we find out he was preparing all along. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that his battle to legalise the import makes up the entirety of his scenes in the first half of the film.
Later, it turns out he wants the Kryptonite so that it can be stolen by Batman, weaponised, and used to kill Superman. So set is he on killing Superman that he then proceeds to mix his own genetic material with that from the corpse of General Zod to create an indestructible Kryptonian monster – a plan so zany, it might just work. And his intentions for killing Superman?
Well, there’s the rub. It doesn’t seem to be personal, beyond Lex’s declaration that he is an atheist following an abusive relationship with his father. It could be for money, if he wasn’t already so rich as to have apparently limitless resources. Maybe it’s for power – but it’s never explained how killing Superman will achieve that. So, why does Lex do any of the things he does?
The best answer I have is that he does them because they are villainous, and he is a villain. And we know he is a villain because he keeps doing villainous things.
3 – More Than A Sequence Of Plot Points
This one gets down to the very heart of storytelling, because ‘Shitbird v Turbodouche’ is sadly replete with plot points, played in a sequence, and drastically lacking in story.
The most offensive example is the “dream-sequence-within-a-dream-sequence” flash-to-the-future segment, in which we see a duster-wearing Batman gunning down soldiers bearing Superman’s symbol in a grimy dystopian future, before being captured by Superman himself. At first, it might seem like this is a reflection of Batman’s fear, his own vision of what the world will become if Superman isn’t stopped. Except that he snaps out of this dream-prophecy to find a mysterious cybernetic character reaching to him through some kind of time portal.
So, is this film introducing a time-travel plot? FUCK NO! Because Batman then awakes from THAT dream to find himself alone. So, did he dream up the specific characteristics of the mysterious cyborg that he’s never seen before? Did any of that actually happen? Does it have any bearing on the plot? And are these all rhetorical questions? In reverse order: Yes, No, Nobody Knows, Apparently So.
Undoubtedly this scene is a set-up for future films from the Justice League franchise, but it’s loaded with so many problems. For one thing, the whole segment is roughly ten minutes long – or at least feels like that. For another, it adds literally nothing to the film in which it appears – you could remove it entirely without any knock-on effects. Indeed, the movie would arguably be improved by its removal.
And I have to ask, is that what DC movies are all going to be? Just extended trailers for the next release? Naturally, Marvel pulls this off in a much better, if equally clunky fashion – the after-/during-credits sequences in most Marvel films are little more than advertisements for future installments, but it’s key that they A) are entertaining in their own right and B) sit outside of the main feature.
All a sequence such as this is really is an in-joke for audiences of films that have not yet been released, and like all in-jokes, they fall flat for everyone not in on the joke – unless they’re done well. If you want to see in-jokes masterfully implemented, you should go and watch ‘Arrested Development’ twice the whole way through – once in the correct order, once in reverse order. You’ll notice all sorts of little asides and references which are funny for established fans – but in no way affect the flow of an episode for a first-time viewer.
Or, watch ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. This has a great example of an in-universe in-joke, where Indy and Elsa see a depiction of The Lost Ark, the mcguffin from the first film. They have a brief exchange in which Indy casually identifies it with a simple little line. It’s a moment that’s quick, it adds to the movie for new audiences by further establishing Indy as an expert in his field, but for people familiar with the franchise it’s a great little touch that further adds to the celebratory tone of the trilogy’s final film.
An entire dream sequence that is visually and tonally distinct from the rest of the movie into which it is shoehorned purely as a set-up for films that are yet to even be written is such a poor treatment of this movie’s audience as to be insulting. Maybe in six films’ time we’ll look back and see how “it all came together”, but there isn’t even anything clever about this bit – there’s nothing to “pay off”.
The same goes for the ten-minute sequence in which Wonder Woman checks her email inbox and finds Batman’s note about the other METAHUMANS. We are treated to three cheesey vignettes of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, each of sharply declining quality. The Flash’s sequence manages to actually mostly fit with the overall aesthetic of ‘Branston v Pickle’, but the Aquaman bit looks like it was lifted straight from ‘Smallville’, and the ‘Cyborg’ segment is so poorly done it would look more at home in an episode of ‘Lois and Clark’.
And regardless of the quality of these little insertions, once again they contribute NOTHING to the film into which they have been added. They would have made a great after-credits sequence, where Bruce shows Wonder Woman what he’s found, takes her through his plans to build a team, but instead we get this forced sequence where we witness the excitement of a woman in her pyjamas browsing fan-made Youtube videos of the three superheroes that were too boring to be included as a main part of the film. It’s holding the audience in contempt for the sake of advertising a product. I’d rather have seen a BMW badge on the Batmobile.
I’ve just written several hundred words about two sequences, so let’s have a look at some other plot points in this film that exist for no reason. I’ll even do them in list format, for the sake of brevity:
- Superman is introduced rescuing Lois from a terrorist cell in which a CIA agent’s identity is revealed, landing her in jeopardy. Neither the terrorist cell nor the CIA feature ever again in the film, so why her capture had to be so convoluted is beyond me.
- Batman is tracking down and interrogating and branding a band of people-smugglers in a one-man crusade against dickery. It turns out the people smugglers are working for Lex Luthor, but not as people smugglers, he’s just using their boat. The people-smuggling plot does not feature again.
- Lex Luthor has been keeping tabs on METAHUMANS and has a collection of data files on them. Since none of them actually appear in the film, this proves irrelevant, as already discussed.
- There is a series of scenes revolving around the need to legislate Superman and his abilities. The committee tasked with investigating the matter is blown up in the first half of the film – the matter is not subsequently revisited.
- The committee’s destruction, and that of the US Capitol building, is the result of Lex Luthor’s manipulation of a man wounded in the climactic fight of the previous movie. Several scenes are dedicated to Luthor’s manipulation of this man, apparently to make the explosion look like the work of Superman; however, Superman is not subsequently blamed for the bombing, and this plot thread is never revisited. The actual reason for planting a bomb in the wounded man’s wheelchair is never given.
- Clark Kent wants to write a story about Batman, but his editor shouts at him for not writing about a local sports game. This occurs over multiple scenes, with no pay-off.
- As previously mentioned, there are multiple discussions in which Lex Luthor tries to convince legislators to allow him to import Kryptonite to the US for research. When they refuse, he smuggles the substance in, but according to information given by Batman earlier in the film, this had been his plan all along. The legal importation of Kryptonite is not relevant to any aspect of the story.
- Over the course of three scenes, Lois Lane travels to Washington DC on a hunch to find the origin of a mysterious bullet fired when she was captured by the terrorists. The bullet is an advanced prototype produced by Lex Luthor’s company. His reasons for equipping mercenaries with a unique, special bullet are never revealed, and the information is never passed on by Lois to any other character in such a way that it affects any decisions that are made.
- Wonder Woman steals Bruce Wayne’s data-hacking device, only to return it to him a few days later claiming she could not break decryption. Her purpose for stealing it is never explained, and the data device itself serves only to reveal the existence of other METAHUMANS – who do not feature in the film.
Again, I know it’s bad to make continuous comparisons to Marvel, but in ‘Avengers Assemble’ just about every scene follows on from previous scenes and advances the story. From Loki’s initial heist of personnel and materiel from the SHIELD research lab, through to the final battle scene, everything revolves around the main story, and leads to consequences further down the line. There are still missteps, don’t get me wrong, but in general the narrative is focused.
In contrast, ‘Blahblah v Oopsiedear’ features over a dozen distinct plot threads, none of which interact with one another. This makes it difficult to follow, forces its audience to sit through scenes which are ultimately redundant and which – crucially – just aren’t that entertaining. If a film is going to make its audience sit quietly for two-and-a-half hours of their time without any humour or real drama, it had better not be packed with filler.
4 – Self-Cannibalisation
You’re crafting a story. You spend a lot of time building up the main conflict in this story. You manage to create a compelling narrative for one of your lead characters, shape his motivation to something that the audience can understand, with which they can empathise. Despite all of the chaff you throw into the rest of the story, you manage to get your two leads together into a climactic conflict, leaving the audience to guess at how these two incredibly powerful beings will resolve their differences.
Then they become best friends because their mothers both had the same first name.
Look, let’s get one thing straight: if you’re going to tug on Batman’s heartstrings, if you’re going to tickle his empathy organ, you’re going to do it via parental trauma. That much is obvious. But here, in this film, Superman gasps his own mother’s name as Batman prepares to deliver the killing blow – he pants about saving “Martha” – which just happens to be the name of Batman’s mother, the late Mrs Wayne.
Okay, sure. This is set up previously in the film, so I won’t slap it with the old “Deus Ex Machina” badge of shame. But Batman suddenly relents in his hate- and anger-fueled quest of vengeance against Superman because their mothers share a name. You take the most compelling and relatable piece of characterisation in the film, and the ONLY comprehensible element of motivation, and dismiss it all with a simple coincidence.
I mentioned in my previous article my issues with Batman’s willingness to casually slaughter his enemies via grapple-hook-induced road traffic collisions, and the truth is that I am less annoyed that his “One Rule” has been ignored and more frustrated that it wasn’t used as a character point.
One of the things this film really gets right is its characterisation of Batman – of a grizzled, weary vigilante, consumed by his quest for “justice”. He’s cruder, more brutal, almost barbaric at times, and it’s fantastic. He’s been fighting evil for so long that he has become twisted. Hell, he comes across as someone who’s emotionally void, except for the smouldering core of anger that throbs in the dark cavity of his chest.
So, imagine this. Imagine if, as Batman renders Superman helpless, as he prepares to land the fatal strike to the heart, Superman simply tells him “I’m not afraid to die doing what I know to be right.” Or, maybe he says “If you kill me, you’re no better than the people you fight every day.” Or maybe even simply “I thought you were better than this.”
Or SOMETHING. I’m not a scriptwriter. Blow me. But have that challenge from Superman. Make it something inspiring, something defiant, hopeful. Something fitting the icon of inspiration that Superman is meant to be. Then have Batman actually realise what he’s done, what he has been doing, what he is about to do. Make Batman’s descent into darkness an actual plot point in the film, hell, make it THE plot point of the film. Everything’s set up for it to be that way.
Instead, they went with the cheap option. The easy option, the least satisfying. In the space of two minutes, Batman and Superman suddenly shift from being mortal adversaries to “friends”, fighting evil together like “bros”. All because their mothers have the same name. The fact is, nothing about Superman has changed, he’s still just as powerful and dangerous as he was before. And the fact he has a mother doesn’t exactly distinguish him from the countless other thugs Batman has fought – and killed – already. It’s just a convenient way to resolve a difficult conflict between two characters, and it selfishly devours the best parts of the film.
5 – Uninspiring
Throughout the film, we are informed that Superman is some kind of god-like figure to the denizens of Earth – a hated beacon of fear for some, but a loved icon of hope for others. And, as with so many other elements of this film, Superman’s status amongst the humans is handled as cack-handedly as possible.
First of all, the only heroics of Superman’s that we witness occur in a 30-second montage in which he rescues some astronauts from a launchpad, pulls a ship through some ice, and then saves a little girl from a fire – after which the locals reach out to him to stroke his beautiful muscles. And sure, these are nice moments, I suppose, but that’s all we get of the “inspiring” side of Supes – half a minute of dialogue-less cutaways.
We do, however, get several minutes of screen time in which Clark Kent pointlessly argues with his boss. Oh yeah. Superman wants to write about Batman, but Perry White wants him to write about some random game from some low-key local sports team, it’s all terribly thrilling. Oh, and, again, adds nothing to the overall story.
This is a post that has recently been doing the rounds on social media. I will be honest, I wouldn’t be very interested in it normally, but it does an incredible job of demonstrating exactly how Superman can be a hopeful figure, even in the context of a very dark narrative. Superman’s value is not his ability to punch invincible villains for hours on end – it’s his messianic ability to do whatever needs to be done to help humanity.
And once again, this all ties into some of the best aspects of the movie. My favourite line from the entire two-and-a-half hours is when Bruce Wayne justifies to Alfred his intentions to kill Superman. “He has the power to wipe out the ENTIRE human race, and if we believe that there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to treat it as an absolute certainty.” It’s a cold, ruthless perspective, and it makes absolute rational sense. Superman is en entity of extreme destructive capability, and no earthly weapon can stop him – the danger he poses is absolute and undeniable.
What’s even better is that the argument doesn’t change. If we had seen more of Superman doing heroic things, saving people, acting for humanity, then at every turn Batman could have broadcast the same footage from the destruction of Metropolis, of the collapsing buildings and of victims falling thirty storeys to their deaths. And as Superman does ever more heroic things, pulls off ever more dramatic stunts to save people, uses more and more of his power to do good, Batman’s message gets stronger: “But what if he turns? That power which right now helps humanity could just as easily destroy it.”
And as I explored in my previous segment, when it then came to that climactic fight between the two of them, when it came to that brutal contest of ideologies – hope versus vigilance, inspiration versus independence – you can make that fight mean something. Give it more significance than a fist-fest which gets resolved by maternal insecurity. You could have fully half the human race cheering on Superman whilst the other half call for his destruction.
The fact is that Batman wins the fight. Man defeated God, and he always will. And Superman should be defeated because, as I said above, his value is not derived from his own strength, but the strength he gives to other people. Render him helpless and vulnerable, put him at Batman’s mercy – hell, have Batman crucify him if you really want to hammer the point home. And then, maybe have him simply ask Batman to take care of the world. Maybe Superman tells Batman that the people don’t just need someone to defeat the bad guys – they also need someone to help the good guys, to protect the innocent. That it isn’t enough to destroy evil, you must inspire good in people – do things that nobody else can, that others might try to do the same.
Maybe Batman will ask why so many people think that Superman is on their side, and Superman will answer “Because they have faith.” I mean, this whole thing is about Superman being a god, right? That’s what the film keeps telling us. So whack us round the head with the religious aspect. In a godless time of danger and instability, Superman is the omnipotent protector that the world needs, that the world deserves.
Why not get cheesey with it? Why not have Superman’s supporters try to help him, try to save him, regardless of how helpless it is. Have them display a level of kindness and compassion that this Batman hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Maybe the two heroes are fighting in a burning building, surrounded by fire and smoke and brimstone, and Batman watches Superman’s believers throw themselves into the flames, work together despite the danger to preserve the life of someone they believe to be good and righteous. Have it mirror a scene from earlier in the film, where Superman instructs people to work together to save an imperiled family. Maybe make some of them previous enemies – cops and robbers working together, rich people and poor people, sworn enemies united by their own faith in something good.
Make that the thing that convinces Batman. Make it meaningful, relevant to the story, and relevant to the things these two heroes represent. Batman, the one who would sacrifice his own safety every day to prove that humanity at its base level is more than an evolved pack of animals. Superman, the one who lifts humanity from its base level to something greater. Batman, the violent thug who justifies his brutality with antiquated notions of justice. Superman, the demon with the face of an angel, who at any given moment might enslave all of humanity.
Instead, we get a ten-minute fight scene in a dingy ruin, isolated from any onlookers, which is resolved by a ten-second moment of realisation that Superman cares about at least some people, I guess.
The thing is, you can still have darkness and grit in a hopeful tale. I get that everyone ejaculates uncontrollably every time they see a film that is “dark” and “gritty”, but those things alone aren’t indicators of quality. They’re elements that can be used well to make a story more compelling, or believable, or relatable, but that’s all they are – storytelling devices. In the same way that a kid’s film can be sad and upsetting whilst still being colourful and bright, you can have a more mature film that can be positive and uplifting whilst still being dark and gritty.
6 – Show, Don’t Tell
There’s one final element of this mess of a movie that I would like to call out, and that is its refusal to adhere to perhaps the one unbreakable rule of film-making: show, don’t tell.
This ties into my previous segment, where Superman’s heroism and inspiration is never visible to the audience. We are told that he is inspiring people, but we never really see how. Simlarly, we are told that Batman is executing, by proxy, those villains that he brands. That when those people reach prison, they are murdered by other inmates, but we are never shown this, only told it through news reports.
An actual depiction of one of these incidents would not only be more interesting, but might also give us an insight into why these inmates are murdering Batman’s targets, why they are doing his bidding. It would go a long way to defining how Batman is seen by the population, by the people it has locked up. Instead, we get a few seconds of news footage before being whisked back to more random wittering by Lex Luthor.
Lois Lane travels to Washington to discover the origin of the special bullet used to kill terrorists, and she is told that it was made by Lex Luthor’s company. Yet another plot thread that goes nowhere, but I have to ask: why not show this? Why not have a scene where, instead of Lex Luthor trying to convince a minor politician to change import laws, he briefs his own mercenary squad, gives them the special ammunition, explains some of his motivations? It’s not as though his villainous nature is a secret to anyone by this point, so why even bother with the cloak-and-dagger stuff?
Instead, we focus on Lois Lane’s exciting quest to ask questions of a minor character from the previous film in such glamorous locations as a men’s toilet and a park bench. And as soon as she finds out, the thread gets dropped anyway. It’s baffling to me that they would include scenes like this, but not a scene that actually works to strengthen the film’s antagonist.
Despite Superman’s mother being used to bait him into fighting Batman, they only actually share a single scene together. In it, they stand in a field, in the dark, and Superman’s mother tells him that he can either be the hero he could be, or he could not – basically, a repeat of the themes from ‘Man of Steel’, almost verbatim. It’s a scene that exists primarily to remind us that Superman has a mother before she is kidnapped and used against him.
Maybe, instead of the stupid mother thread, you could have shown what happens when Superman stops being Superman? Show people calling out for him, even praying for him to come help them. There’s an entire sequence in which he hallucinates the ghost of his father on top of a mountain, and his father does even MORE “telling”, relaying a lovely story about digging ditches and drowning horses. Why not show the impact Superman’s absence is having? Why not show him watching from afar, weighing up his choice of not getting involved against the suffering he now sees occurring? Why do we need a scene from Kevin Dead-ner talking about farming and pie, when we could have some actual characterisation for one of our two main protagonists?
Wonder Woman steals Batman’s data thingy. Later on she returns it to him, telling him that she couldn’t access it because it was encrypted. Again, WHY would you not show that? Why wouldn’t you show her trying to access it? Give us an idea of the resources at her disposal and, more importantly, give us a hint at what she might be up to? Once again a character with no motivation is denied valuable development for the sake of expositing a minor plot point.
We have a brutal car-chase where Batman attempts to retrieve a supply of Kryptonite from Lex Luthor’s thugs. It ends abruptly when Superman stops his car and tells him to fuck off. First of all, there is no reason for Superman to pick this particular moment to talk to Batman, he seems to just do it for the sake of it. Secondly, Batman later actually steals the Kryptonite from Lex Luthor’s secure research lab – and it happens off-screen! Again, I am left baffled – we are shown the failed attempt that happens to involve the Batmobile (and its immediate destruction), but denied what would have been a fun display of Batman in action actually infiltrating and fighting. We get dark and murky special effects when we could have had an interesting heist scene that actually shows of Batman’s capabilities.
So much of this film is done in such a backwards fashion that it strains my suspension of disbelief. I have an easier time accepting the existence of a bullet-proof, flying God-hero than I do the fact that people were actually paid to come up with this story, and the way in which it is told. There are so many missed opportunities to make this film good that I actually wonder if it’s not a post-modern experimental piece that got a bit out of hand after an accounting error put a couple of extra zeroes on the end of its budget.
7 – In Summary
So, if you enjoyed this film, that’s fine. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you go on happy with your life. But when you really break it down, there’s a lot here that’s just awful from a story-telling perspective. I have only seen the film once, and have no intention of doing so again – I personally found it boring, dull, monotonous, bland and absurd. I will be very interested to see the thoughts of people who watch it a second time – and wonder if it will match up to their initial positive assessment.
I think what really galls me is not what this film is, but what it could have been. Marvel’s ‘Avengers Assemble’ was a joyous romp with a lot of fun characters and silly moments. It was not particularly deep or meaningful – indeed, you might almost call it shallow, lacking substance. But it at least entertains, and that in itself is a quality all of its own.
‘Batcock v Supernips’ fails to entertain – or at least, it did for me. And what’s more, it missed out on a key opportunity to appeal to those who tire of Marvel’s unrelenting action-comedy. ‘Beatnik v Uberdriver’ could have loaded itself with a weighty plot about godhood, social responsibility, faith and optimism. Instead, it abandons a strong developing story for the sake of angry punching and ludicrous CGI. It dips its toes into the water of meaningful narrative but loses its nerve, running back to the warm safety of greenscreen and people shouting.
What I really hope comes out of this, and I’m sorry to say it, is that Zack Snyder gets his arse fired and they bring in a director more capable of depth and subtlety. Snyder can create a visually stunning film. ‘300’ is a classic for me because of how aesthetically revolutionary it was and, to an extent, of how “pure” it was – it stuck to its simplistic premise like glue, and was all the better for it.
But ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Sucker Punch’ and now ‘Bloodbath v Seasonal-Affective-Disorder: Bored of Just This’ have really shown Snyder’s limitations as a story-teller. He did a fine job with ‘Watchmen’, but that was a beat-for-beat recreation of the original graphic novel. As soon as he tries to tell an original tale, Snyder’s reliance on special effects, shadows and slowing things down and then speeding them up again really starts to hold him back.