Since it was out there already, Warner Bros has released the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer. It wasn’t done as classily or as coolly as Marvel handled the unintended release of the first The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, though I guess in the end is all that matters is that they did the inevitable.
I produced this image in Pixelmator, and it looking at it, it got me thinking about what bothered me so much about Man of Steel (the movie that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is a sequel to).
Which was, in a nutshell, that the film makers took a relatively simple and optimistic character and attempted to turn him into one that is dark, brooding and complex. Such an approach works well with a character like Batman, not so much in the case of Superman, who’s prior to Man of Steel was all about optimism, often in the face of incredible odds.
Which was part of his charm. He was a boy scout in a world that needed boy scouts. He was the best of us that somehow never managed to rub his blatantly obvious superority in.
In fact, I suggest that in making him more complex they took away a lot of what made Superman, Superman.
Sure, they left the costume, and a lot of the superficial trappings that on the surface made the character who he is, but neglected the most important thing of all, namely the hopeful, almost innocent nature of the character.
Which brings me to the leaked version of the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (located here). I have to admit that it’s better than I thought it would be, if only because it appears to be tackling head-on some of the issues that Man of Steel raised, such as who watches the watchmen, and who is a man with god-like powers truly answerable to–other than himself) and hopefully will do so without a lot of heavy-handed allusions to Jesus (like in Man of Steel, when Supes is falling from Zod’s ship, arms extended like, literally, Christ on the cross) and really twisted moralizing (there’s no way that Clark’s father would even suggest that he should have let a bus full of people die when he had a chance to stop it, just to keep his identity secret).
Then there’s Superman’s seemingly new-found murderous tendencies–and don’t even think of mentioning that “Superman has killed people in the comics before because that was few and far between and tended to be a special circumstance, akin to ‘Sweeps Week‘ on television–which I found off-putting and unnecessary.
Though what was worse was that it wasn’t the death itself more so than the writers didn’t convincingly make the case that he had no other option. After all, before that point literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people had died already and Superman didn’t seem concerned enough to actually attempt to save at least one of them–so why would three or four more bother him all that much?
And sure, you could argue by trying to stop the World Engine that Zod had employed, he could have saved many of those lives, but he’s Superman. I would have been okay with the dying if there were a few shots of him trying to save–by, I don’t know, using his super-speed to stop a few people from being dashed to paste–people instead of the constant trying to punch his way out of problems.
And that’s not to say that it would have even worked, but there’s something really odd and disconcerting to see a character who’s in the past been defined by caring for others seemingly not give a crap.
Then there’s the whole issue with stopping a killer by…killing them? That’s an understandable response for regular, desperate and frightened people; not so much when you’re virtually a god.
As I have always said: Man of Steel was a terrible Superman movie, but a pretty good alien invasion story.
And I understand that he’s not a real character, which is why I am a bit pissed that David Goyer and Zach Snyder put him in such a no-win situation to begin with.
Hopefully, this time around they get the “Superman isn’t a killer” part right.