I wasn’t inclined to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (or as I like to call it, The Super-Bat Showdown Show) from the very beginning. For one thing, the movie’s premise was obviously cribbed, at least in part, from The Dark Knight Returns, the hugely influential 1986 graphic novel by Frank Miller that I’ve never especially cared for. Yes, I know, I know… that’s heresy to the comic-book faithful. But I never claimed to be a full-fledged member of that particular cult. More of a dilettante hovering around the fringes and talking a good game. As for the color-desaturated visual style and the bleak, humorless, self-important tone that has come to define Warner Brothers’ film versions of DC Comics’ flagship characters in the post-Christopher Nolan era… well, let’s just say that’s not to my taste either. Contrast those dour slogs to the Marvel movies, whose characters also wrestle with questions of responsibility, power, and personal demons but somehow still manage to spare a moment or two to actually enjoy being superheroes. I mean, come on… part of the appeal of the entire superhero genre is wish-fulfillment. If you could fly or lift cars over your head or were effectively immortal, don’t you think there would be times, at least once in a while, when you’d just break out in an enormous grin because of the sheer awesomeness of what you’re capable of doing? And then there’s the whole matter of bright colors being more pleasing to the eye…
Still… I kind of had it in the back of my mind that I’d probably catch The Super-Bat Show eventually, maybe a few years from now when I stumble across it on television some Saturday afternoon. But after sampling the seemingly endless stream of bad reviews and even worse word-of-mouth over the past couple weeks, I’ve decided to not only not rush out to see this movie, but to actively avoid it. I suspect I’m receiving more entertainment from the bad reviews and rants I’ve been reading than the film itself could ever provide me
However, in all that tremendous, rushing torrent of boiling-white snark, disappointment, anger, and occasional cogent analysis of where, exactly, director Zack Snyder went wrong, there was one comment, one metaphor, that has really stood out for me, one that really encapsulates my sense of malaise over the whole Warner/DC thing. It comes from the writer Jayme Lynn Blaschke:
Once all is said and done, I can’t even bring myself to despise Batman v. Superman the way I do Man of Steel. The latter has an arrogant contempt for the source material that is simply wrong. This one… Batman v Superman is a hapless kid who sits in the back of the class and eats paste all day. You can’t hate that. You just pity him and get on with your life.
Like the fanboys writing into the old letter-to-the-editors column used to say, “Make mine Marvel!”