In Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” DC Comics’ two greatest titans go mano-a-mano.
The loser: Audiences.
Warning: There be spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film – and I encourage you to wait until it’s on TNT some Sunday morning next year – tread at your risk.
In the closing credits, director Zack Synder acknowledges the works of several DC creators who influenced his bombastic CGI hit – and the two names most prominent, tellingly, are Frank Miller and Dan Jurgens.
Jurgens might be the greatest hack who ever worked in comics.
Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” miniseries in 1986 was an astounding “Elseworlds”-style opus – an alternate look at how Batman might turn into a rancid crime-fighter, his soul curdled as he aged.
The work was so successful, however, Miller’s viewpoint has poisoned the modern canon. Snyder’s take on Batman is so disastrous, I wonder if he even read that story – or simply heard about it from a friend.
Batman. Does. Not. Use. A Gun.
The trauma of watching his parents die showed him the nightmarish power of firearms. The key to understanding Batman is this: He channeled his grief to become the best crime-fighter possible so that no other child would ever suffer a loss such as his. That’s it. That’s his reason for putting on that cape every night.
The film early on reveals Batman is now resorting to branding criminals. He burns the image of a small bat into the skin of all the felons he captures.
That’s the work of a psychotic.
Even worse, all those with a Bat-brand who enter prison are murdered by their fellow prisoners. Batman is essentially condemning others to death – and he knows it – and that doesn’t bother him.
The Batman-is-insane thread reaches its fever pitch when the caped crusader is about to deliver a killing blow to Superman.
The only thing that stops him from piercing Superman’s chest with a spear tipped with Kryptonite is that Superman happens to utter his mother’s name – Martha – which just so happens to be the first name of Bruce Wayne’s beloved mother.
I counted four dream sequences here, including one that reunites Supes with Pa Kent. In a weekly series, you can have these diversions to enhance the characters. In a film, it screams filler.
Remember that no-name photographer accompanying Lois Lane who was shot in the head?
That was Jimmy Olsen.
Snyder told Entertainment Weekly ” … We don’t have room for Jimmy Olsen in our big pantheon of characters, but we can have fun with him, right?”
Nothing says fun like offing an iconic character – Superman’s best friend – without even identifying him to the audience or explaining his significance.
I didn’t hate everything about “Batman v Superman.”
Jason Momoa will make an awesome Aquaman, assuming he gets more than five seconds of screen time.
The last half-hour or so – when the trio team to fight Doomsday – were pretty epic. Getting to that point, however, was hell.
Warner has charged Snyder with the two “Justice League” films scheduled for 2017 and 2019. Maybe he can squeeze in some reading of the source material. Otherwise, given his bloody sensibility, we could be looking at the Sopranos in capes.