Cards on the table. I’m a pretty big DC Comics fan. For over 30 years, I’ve been waiting patiently for a film to bring together my earliest memories of the Super Friends together on the silver screen for the first time. I grew up adoring DC Comics to no end. The iconic trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were my Saturday mornings, my after-school sanctuary and my little plastic best friends when I needed to wage my own childhood infinite crisis. Famous comic book artist George Peréz was like God to me when I was a teenager, penning some of the most iconic and fantastical artwork for the ‘Justice League of America’ and ‘The New Teen Titans’ which made other artists work look like glorified doodles in comparision.
For years now, watching Marvel movies come to life has secretly saddened me. Although I do have a special place in my heart for the X-Men cinematic universe and appreciate what Bryan Singer has done with the franchise, seeing the likes of C-listers Ant Man and Deadpool get a cinematic treatment, really just twisted the dagger. If it wasn’t for the The CW stepping in and making some of the best super-hero TV in way of ‘Arrow’, ‘The Flash’ and the amazing time and space adventures of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’, I might have lost faith in the DC Multiverse ever making it to the silver screen and resigned to the fact that everybody just fucking loves Batman.
After seeing Henry Cavill dawn the blue spandex and red cape in Zack Synder’s ‘Man Of Steel’, a new hope was born, a fresh, new way of presenting CBMs was now a reality, something even Bryan Singer couldn’t do with ‘Superman Returns’. Zack had turned a complicated story like ‘Watchmen’ into a cinematic masterpiece and I throughly enjoyed all of his directorial work including his take on ‘Dawn Of The Dead’, ‘300’ and even the oddly-enjoyable ‘Sucker Punch’. Zack did to movies what George Perez did to the comics. He brought an incredibly rich colour, movement, tone and depth to moving images that we really hadn’t seen much of before. He was quickly given the keys to Kingdom Come and was tasked with bringing the Justice League to life. And with that, a sense of relief washed over me. I trust Zack Synder. How could he screw this up? And so the wait time of three years began to commence…
Along the way, DC haters began their diatribe. Marvel super fanboys had opinions on every trailer, every announcement, every casting decision, every marketing move – and it became tedious. But my faith in Synder never wavered. Was I worried? Of course. Was I scared? Of course? Was I defensive – you bet. I can’t tell you how many healthy debates I had down at the pub with my fellow Marvel movie fanboys who just didn’t get it. “DC Sucks” was a constant slur I had to defend. But at least I had answers in way of ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D’, because well, not everything that Marvel does is exactly gold dust. I mean, who really wants an entire TV show about ‘Agent Carter’ and Netflix’s ‘Daredevil’? Really? Talk to the hand, Stephen Amell has been a lone, powerless vigilante defending his dreary, dark city as Green Arrow for four seasons now…don’t tell me Daredevil and Jessica Jones is the end all, be all of comic book television. Being a hardcore DC fan, although massively enjoyable, was really hard work though.
So, on Friday morning at 12.01 UK time, I set out to a London movie theatre to watch ‘Batman V Superman – Dawn Of Justice’ for the first time. I literally could not believe everything that was put in front of me. It was genius. The story, the visuals, the thought behind everything was detailed and even cerebral. Yes, it was a long lead into the actual fight night between the Bat of Gotham and the Last Son of Krypton, but well worth the wait in my opinion. I absolutely loved the real-life questionability of how would we handle God on Earth and what are the consequences when many are killed and lives are destroyed for the greater good. What happens when even our military are powerless against outer planetary threats and the inner-struggle of Superman who whether he likes it or not, was destined to be the God amongst man that his father wanted him to be. What if he impossibly just wanted to be like everyone else? It was clear to me that ‘Batman V Superman – Dawn Of Justice’ was a film you had to think about, it poses questions, it took risks and springboards a universe of stories that is set in realism. And, it didn’t take dozens of movies to lead up into this universe either.
Of course critics hated it. They hated it before seeing it, all along the promo trail, because well, it’s been cool to hate DC Comics for no reason for the last three years. It’s been cool to pass judgement on a film that isn’t your standard Marvel popcorn flick because it’s different, forward-thinking and well, dare I say it, more artistically dominant. What do you mean you don’t use humour to tell a story? What do you mean the movie is more than two hours long? What do you mean there are subplots? What do you mean Batman and Superman fight? What do you mean the visuals are dark? What do you mean kids won’t like it? Oh my God people, just stop with your pre-conceived notions and go into a film with an open mind and accept the fact that Captain America and Iron Man aren’t the centre of attention here. In fact, it’s easier to make Marvel films because well, Captain America and Iron Man aren’t historical cultural icons and in Wonder Woman’s case – a feminist icon. Much like bringing the bible to life on film, bringing DC Comics to film was always going to be met with critical eyes and everyone is going to have an opinion, because in some ways DC Comics has touched every single one of us in some way, shape or form.
OK, maybe this review has turned more into a personal defence of DC Comics rather than an actual review. But truth be told, I fucking loved the movie. Yes, there are a few holes in the story, but when you have to cut 30 minutes from the film to keep major stakeholders happy, you know something has to give. For example, I liked ‘X-Men Days Of Future Past’ but I LOVED the blu ray Rogue Cut even more because it made so much more sense when you have the complete picture. And show me any film really and you can bet I’ll find holes in it, even the most Oscar-worthy of films. But the more and more people talk about this film, the more and more it continues to dominate at the box office this weekend. And really, if no one was talking about this film, it would actually be a true death. I’ve always said that when a film makes you angry and invokes emotion, it’s because it’s a good film. If a film makes you feel nothing, that’s a bad film. If a film can make you think, cry or make your eyes go Superman heat vision red, then that’s a really good film.
One thing is for sure though, you can bet all those critics damming ‘Batman V Superman – Dawn Of Justice’ are going to be the first one in the queue, cashing in on their press passes for ‘Suicide Squad’, ‘Wonder Woman’ and for ‘Justice League Part 1’. Except next time, it will be far more difficult for them, because they have pretty much wasted all their adjectives, witty put-downs and provocative prose on a film that is just the springboard into something much bigger.
Bravo Synder. Bravo Terio. Bravo Roven. Bravo Cavhill. Bravo Affleck. Bravo Gadot.
‘Batman V Superman – Dawn Of Justice’ is not a bad film. It’s an outstanding film. And for anyone to call it garbage, well it’s easy to throw stones. What’s harder is using your brain to examine something contextually that isn’t what you expect. And really, that says a lot about us as human beings now doesn’t it…