Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pre-BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: A Few Thoughts

Since the news recently that the characters of both Wonder Woman and Aquaman are both going to appear in the future Batman/Superman film, I've been having a few thoughts on the production. I know it's silly to write a blog post about a movie that won't be released until a year and a half from now, but hey, that's what movie blogs are for.

First of all, the title--which as of now is officially BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: THE DAWN OF JUSTICE. That's a fairly unwieldy title, and a very pretentious one. Why not just call it JUSTICE LEAGUE? Probably because the Justice League won't be formed until the end of the Batman/Superman movie, and more than likely JUSTICE LEAGUE will be the title of the follow-up to BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. Okay then...why not call it WORLD'S FINEST? Probably because Warners doesn't want to confuse people who don't read comic books, and besides, there might be someone in Mongolia who has no idea about WORLD'S FINEST, and you know how important the overseas box office is.

Second, this is going to be a very, very long movie. You've got Batman, Superman, and all their ancillary characters (Lois Lane, Alfred, etc.). Apparently Lex Luthor will be in the story--and he's going to be different than the Gene Hackman/Kevin Spacey Luthor, which means he's going to have a major amount of scenes to set him up. And then of course there's Wonder Woman and Aquaman....and who knows right now what other DC characters might make a cameo or a surprise appearance (I'm betting there's going to be at least one more major villain).

That's a lot of people to give proper coverage to. Before Marvel Studios made the first Avengers movie, they had already created a fully-fledged cinematic universe, and given a number of characters their own films, or at least supporting roles in those films. Thus when it came time to do the first Avengers movie, the audience didn't really have to sit through a whole lot of exposition. DC/Warners doesn't have that option. They can just go right ahead and jump in and pretend that everybody knows all the major information about the DC Universe--but they more than likely won't, which means we will be explained a lot of things that most moviegoers have a decent understanding of. That's not going to help the story construction. DC/Warners has had a hard enough time getting Batman or Superman right, let alone an entire cinematic world.

The fact that Zach Snyder is directing this has a lot of people on the internet in an uproar. I don't hate on Snyder the way a lot of people seem to do, but I will admit he has a penchant for grandiosity. Snyder is at his best when he is adapting a well-written work with a clearly defined vision, such as 300 or WATCHMEN. When he has to do things on his own, however....

It would be nice if the story of the Batman/Superman movie is based on an existing graphic novel or comic book story-arc which deals with Batman, Superman, and the Justice League. (Far all I know, Snyder and Co. might be doing this.) The DC movies seem to try to get away from the comics instead of moving closer to them. Whether BATMAN V. SUPERMAN will signal a change in that department, I don't know.

The last thought I have is this. No matter how good BATMAN V. SUPERMAN might or might not be, it will never live up to the worldwide expectations it already has.

The reason for this is simple. Ever since this movie has been announced, it has been endlessly debated and discussed on the internet over and over again...and it will continue to be, even after it finally makes the big screen. That means nearly two years of uninterrupted media coverage. No movie can live up to that (and that's why I worry about the new Star Wars feature, which is in the same boat). As I've said before, geek culture now rules mainstream entertainment, and that has changed how we view and interpret movies.

What geek culture--or more accurately the expectations of geek culture--has done is turned every single one of us into the Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons". We all would much rather discuss and argue about a movie than actually just sit and enjoy it--and I fully include myself in that "we". BATMAN V. SUPERMAN is going to be poked, prodded,and pulled about a million different ways by about a million different people way before it is seen by even one film goer. No matter how it comes out, the fan community will be disappointed in it one way or another. If it doesn't work, we'll all hear over and over again about how Marvel is better.....but maybe the DC characters are really more iconic than those from Marvel....and maybe the general public expects a higher standard for a movie made about Batman and Superman.

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