March is a milestone month for Batman: The 30th anniversary of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, debuting in Detective Comics #27, the end of the Snyder/Capullo run on The New 52 Batman, and the recent theatrical release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In the 77 years of Batman’s storied history he has managed to remain in the public consciousness in one form or another. It’s not all smooth sailing, hits and misses abound. Every piece of commercial entertainment is subject to creative changes of the artists interpretation, and Batman is no different. That’s probably why Batman has been able to endure, he is one of the most malleable characters in comics, in media, -Hell!- in popular fiction. There are different versions of the Batman mythos in various media told in the guise of varying aesthetic motifs. Batman is not a terribly difficult character to get, it’s a dirt simple origin to understand, and go…
I guess that brings me to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Warner Bros./DC Entertainment made a decision with this movie to cram as much as they possibly could in two and half hours. Because Warner Bros doesn’t want to be Marvel. An not all of it sticks landing, but I have to give it to them for trying.
In a comic book sense this was the prologue issue or the one-shot issue that will set up things to come. In the end, just treads water until the real Justice League movie arrives.
For me, this should have been two parts. Or a multi-part Justice League movie series from the get go. I don’t need another retelling Batman’s origins even if its in the credits sequence, I just don’t need it… like, ever. This goes into the Warner Bros decision not to be Marvel an not have solo hero films to build up to the team movie. There is so much going on at one time in Dawn of Justice it leaves little time to unpack what’s going on, and can be seen a distracting with some of the things they throw into this film without explanation.
I brought up Batman earlier not only because he has top billing in the movie title, but because he was actually good. Now, don’t get me wrong this isn’t a Batman I like whole heartedly, but it is one I can appreciate. This is a pulpier more a brutal Batman, but this is a Batman that’s been at it for over 20 years in the context of the story. This is where Frank Miller’s hardboiled characterization comes in when Batman doesn’t retire and keeps going. Where do you go from there? You become darker, and less forgiving of criminals. He’s BRANDING criminals with his bat symbol straight out of an old pulp novel. (Or if you like in a comic reference, like Lobster Johnson)
This movie could have done without Bruce Wayne’s vivid dream sequences or the training montage, and a little more Wonder Woman. Her character glides effortlessly in an out certain scenes without any real development or explanation. She shines in the final act of the film.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther really annoyed me. He’s either doing discount Joker or a cross between South Park’s Tweek and Butter’s Professor Chaos. I could do without the goof ball mannerisms and a more reserved Mark Zuckerberg type, a individual Eisenberg has actually played. Or if Eisenberg wanted to play the Riddler then they should have cast him accordingly, left Lex to someone who could play him more stern, and stand toe to toe with the likes of Batman. I think that’s what annoyed me the most about the portrayal of Luther is how slimy he was. To me, many of Batman rogues are dark reflections of Batman/Wayne’s psyche than the same could be said of Superman. Lex should be the selfish cynical realist reflection of Superman. He may not have the pyschical power of Superman, but he has power none the less. In Dawn of Justice we get none of that. Instead, we get: smarmy, recycling throw away lines about, “the oldest lie in America,” and weird daddy issues. To which, a Superman foil does not make.
Henry Cavill is Superman. It’s just, the Superman he is playing is… unfortunate. Any further opinions on the current Superman will be links to Sheriff Mark Waid’s Twitter or comic con panel he is attending.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a step in a right direction. Even if it is taking baby steps to get there. Does it drag in places? Yes. Does it have interesting visuals? Yes. Does it take to long enjoying the smell of it’s own farts? At times, Yes. I don’t think DC’s cinematic universe is dead on arrival. It just needs the time we gave Marvel. This was the Ironman 2 of the DC cinematic universe, in my opinion. A lot of setup, teasing of things to come, climatic fight scene, and cliffhanger. This is a severable prologue of things to come.
That’s all… For now.
In The Shadow of the Bat
If you ask me, the single most important creative force behind what we know as the iconic Batman is the late Bill Finger.
Without Bill Finger instead of the classic form we know as the Batman pictured below:
We would have this… Oh boy, please forgive the “in memory of Bob Kane” I did not draw either of these pictures.:
It’s that simple. Bill Finger’s influence reaches many of the core elements that make Batman -well- Batman.
[Art by Phil Cho]
A “high spot” is a term in professional wrestling that refers to a maneuver in a match that is considered exciting or dangerous. I’m using it to feature the things I find interesting and wish to share with those that read this blog.
Today’s High Spots are Screen Junkies Honest Trailers and Cinema Sins.
A surreal noirish take on a trip to Disney World. Not surprisingly, Disney did everything they could to prevent this movie from being released.
Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s latest collaboration.
Before people start questioning my whereabouts. I’ll start by saying hello and welcome (or welcome back) to The M Spot Blog. The last two months have been hell for me: injury, being let go from my job, dealing with stress of my new job, and all the while trying to fit new comics into my shrinking budget (shrinking due to said injury.) An trying to figure out what to write about the American comic book industry without sounding repetitive. Rest assured though, I am working on new content for the Inveterate Media Junkies website I really hate letting those guys down. When I can I’ll try to post more stuff on here. So, in the meantime you can catch me on Twitter @TheMSpot and in the comments section of the Inveterate Media Junkies website.