Full disclosure here. I have never liked Superman as a character. I find it hard to care about someone who is invulnerable (Magic and Kryptonite aside) and is so powerful, the very idea that there needs to be a Justice League is laughable. That aside, I loved All Star Superman, Superman Red Son and the first 17 or so issues of the post 52 Action Comics, so I can like a comic he is in, just rarely.
The comic fans out there will have noticed that the above titles were written by Mark Millar and Grant Morrison, who are Scottish and you probably think there is bias there….you may be right.
Ok with that out in the open, strap yourself in.
Spoilers ahead – you have been warned!
Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s (I forget which), during a day trip to the granite city (I lived in a very small town back then) I wandered into a bookshop and picked up the Dark Knight Returns. I had started reading superhero comics a couple of years before but as they were all uk reprints, they were older stories. The editorials and features in these comics kept mentioning The Dark Knight Returns (TDKR) as a landmark series, so I felt I had to buy it.
What was contained in that book forever changed me. It contains my favourite depiction of Batman by far and is a really good story too.
What I saw on tuesday night was parts of that Comic Book, reproduced perfectly on the big screen. Snyder managed that previously with his take on Watchmen, so he has good form here. There were a lot of little nods to the comics and I would like to geek out and share them with you.
The Nightmare scene in the Injustice future (go play the game) with the Omega symbol, the Parademons, evil Superman – all perfect. I did not like Batman using a gun….that was a bad move by the film. Batarangs – yes. Smoke bombs or mini explosives – yes. Guns – no. if the directors cut digitally replaced the gun with the above, I would not be disappointed. Superman unmasking Bats and talking about the death of Lois….all done with attention to detail that made me a happy fanboy.
Flash appearing from the future to warn Batman – Crisis on Infinite Earths right there. Although I initially thought it was Waverider. A Flash with long, dark hair….It made me hope that Ezra Miller is playing Bart and not Barry (I don’t like Barry. Wally is my Flash. Yeah I’m fickle!)
Wonder Woman sounded Greek – yup that works. The fight at the end, she fought like a warrior and that is exactly how I hope her movie portrays her. The little smile before she leaps for her sword…..that is an Amazonian princess.
Lex….the cleverest man in any room at any time, years of being so above others has driven him slightly mad. The ticks (both physical and verbal) of certain types of mental illness, struggling to cope with it all…perfectly captured by the guy from Zombieland (which is the only other film where I have liked his acting). He had it planned out from the start. That line about “You do not want to pick a fight with this guy” deliberate and brilliantly placed in the movie. I can understand why some fans don’t like this Lex but let us be honest. Lex was already portrayed to perfection, it is just that it was in the Daredevil tv show and he was called the Kingpin. They had to go for a different style and personally, I like this one.
Superman – I liked Man of Steel and think Cavill was a good choice for Clark / Kal. This film may have not given him a lot to do but he pulls it off well enough. His face after the court hearing is blown up, the utter realisation that he failed….that is the moments I like the character.
Batman – I would watch Affleck read the phone book out, so I am biased. However he does give Cinema a great Dark Knight. The opening with the destruction of Metropolis and how Bruce reacts, just sets up the reasons why Batman must take down Superman in such a believable way. When the fight comes, it is perfect. Batman has planned ahead, as he always does. He hits Supes with the sonics first, knowing that it will just slow him down. It is in TDKR. Then the Kryptonite gas (again TDKR) then the battering begins. Like wrestling, the match has to have a switch and Supes recovers enough to start beating Bats. Oh No…what is happening…oh yeah…Batman just hit you with Krptonite gas again…boom boy scout…now stay down.
The ending of the fight had two effects on me. Firstly was the realisation that despite over 30 years of reading superhero comics, I had never noticed that Bruce and Clarks mum have the same first name!!
Secondly….it was one of the badly scripted bits and there are a lot of badly scripted parts in this movie.
Then Doomsday shows up looking like the cave troll from The Lord of the Rings…I was confused as I had been sure that the trailers had shown him with spikes etc. Thankfully it is explained and soon we get spikey Doomsday. His creation kinda makes sense in the spirit of the movie, in much the same way that the Watchmen movies ending made sense in the context of that film. I still hoped there would be a giant squid ending to that on the dvd but otherwise I was content to let it slide. Same goes here.
Supes fights Doomsday and they end up in space where the nuke hits and we have skeletal supes all deathly thin and pale. Then the sun light hits him and he is fine…yep…TDKR again.
Lois was really badly used in this film. In fact you could have cut her out completely and not really lost anything. This is a shame because Amy Adams can act and my only quibble with Lois from the Man of Steel, was that she patently had never used a camera before…which given that she was supposed to be a photojournalist, was jarring. However I know how to use a camera and that was the only reason I noticed that. Much like musicians can tell if someone is actually playing on film. Anyway Lois throws away the kryptonian spear and then goes to get it again…..way to use that character!!
The Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fighting together to take down Doomsday was a highlight for me. also when the inevitable death came, I was glad they did not wimp out. It happened in the comics back in the 90’s. It was no suprise to any comics fans. However it would have shocked those viewers who did not know that story. That is how to end a movie, with a glimmer of hope that he will come back (he will) and with Bruce and Diana looking for the other heroes.
About them……I am a bit sad that TV Flash wont be the movie Flash. Also when they inevitably cast a Green Arrow, I will be sad for TV Ollie. The little introductions were just enough to show the wider universe. Aquamans went on just a little bit too long personally and Flash…well it just seemed a strange one.
The for some reason they showed the creation of a Titan character. For reasons I have never understood, WB and DC keep trying to make Cyborg relevant. He isn’t. My step kids like him but only the Teen Titans go version because “he’s funny”. As a titan, he works. A powerful body, mostly cyborg, teaching kid heroes. He may be powerful enough to go toe to toe with the higher level bad guys but really there are many other heroes that would be a better fit for the Justice League. Still Geoff Johns likes him and that explains why he keeps getting pushed to the forefront. The fans ignore him and yet WB and DC keep pointing to him “look…he is a walking tank. Is that not cool?”
No….no it is not.
However He will be in the Justice League movie anyway and his creation by Motherboxx was pretty cool. I believe that is his new 52 origin anyway.
The final scene with Batman and Lex and the reveal that “He is coming”. That excited me. Darkseid should hopefully be the big bad that the fans deserve. Hell just do the film version of the first 4 issues of Final Crisis and you have a great first JL movie. Evil wins. Then you have the perfect starting point for part 2 of the JL movie. Just don’t use the the last 3 issues of FC for that. I love Morrisons work but that was not his best.
I was not keen on the Bat Branding though….thought too many people died fighting Bats. KGBeast was a nice touch though, even if he was probably put in the movie as a throwaway character. Finally Mr Fishburne is a really good Perry White too.
So while I can totally get why some people hate this movie, I loved it. right down to the coffin with the correct colour scheme too. I look forward to the Directors Cut just so I can own a film (loosely) based on my first ever Graphic Novel purchase. It will sit proudly beside my ultimate edition of Watchmen on my shelf.