Ben Adams, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather gather to overthink Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder’s and starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. It’s Warner Bros.’s opening salvo in the DC Cinematic universe, sure to grind joylessly forward in a dutiful blue-tinged miasma of confused storytelling, half-drawn characters, and contradictory philosophizing. Our take is not as bad as some of what you’ve heard out there.
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When you have so much packed into one movie, it’s horses all the way down.
Also I like the idea of the parting shot a regular segment
Excellent discussion. Was the lack of a ‘post Overthinking It credits’ scene an homage to Snyder’s decision not to include one in this movie?
Maybe. Or maybe it was the result of a rendition of “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down that was so bad the world was better for its deletion.
Interesting how often we use horses to increase the emotional impact of suffering. The first thing I thought of seeing the the riderless horse at the beginning of the film was the screaming horse in Picasso’s “Guernica.” Also, in Kurosawa’s autobiography he talks about seeing a dead horse in the rubble following the 1923 Kanto earthquake when he was a small child, and he later put a slow motion scene of a toppled horse ineffectually kicking at the air in a battle scene in “Kagemusha.”
Horses are very large, and strong, and beautiful, so when bad things happen to them it is tragic in a nearly Aristotelian sense. They are also pretty dumb, so when they are hurt or killed they have the added pathos of all animals, from endangered whales all the way down to a child’s pet goldfish, who will never comprehend all the things we do to them. They are practically the Lennie Small of animals.
They occupy a special place for us as a species, like dogs, as animals that we have domesticated but do not eat or make into clothing. We’ve dragged them along behind us on our journey from animal to thinking humans. But we also use them as machines, to pull heavy objects and to carry us from place to place, and when they can no longer work properly, we just shoot them. I’m not sure if there is any other animal that is so perfectly suited to wringing pity from a viewing audience from so many different directions.
Now, it could also be that Snyder is just snapping up disparate bits of “The Dark Knight Returns,” as he does throughout the film. The climactic moment of that graphic novel, when Batman takes back control of a ruined post-apocalyptic Gotham, is a big splash page of him on a rearing horse, leading a squad of likewise mounted at-risk urban youths. And there is the scene where President Reagan convinces Superman to bring Batman to heel by comparing him to a willful stallion that needs to be broken because of all the trouble it’s causing on the ranch.
There are so many problems with this movie it would be excruciating to list them all, so I’ve picked one. This movie thinks we are so stupid that we need to be shown the Waynes’ murder TWICE, two separate times, and yet still thinks it’s OK to have Batman use guns or kill people or both in almost every action sequence.
Now the whole “Martha” thing, I actually really like. In concept at least, even if it was handled incredibly clumsily (who would say “Martha” in that situation, rather than “my mother”?). I don’t think I’ve ever seen the coincidence that both their mothers have the same name addressed before, and I liked that something was attempted to be made of it at least. The characters were created at different times by different people, without the knowledge that Batman and Superman would ever be famous, much less the most famous characters published by the company, much less part of a shared universe and they’d be friends and hang out all the time. But that’s what happened, and so we have the coincidence. And it’s nice when things like that are used by the narrative somehow.
I was actually thinking of what story I would rather be watching when I got out of the theater last night. I’ve always wanted to see Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne interact more in the context of their shared status as billionaire captains of industry. I mean, they basically have the same job, and they live, what, a couple hour’s drive from each other? Probably less. They probably go to a lot of the same functions, know a lot of the same people. They’re probably thrown together a lot, and their interactions must be full of awesome subtext. For one thing, Bruce not only as to hide the fact that he’s Batman, but also that he’s even the sort of person who cares about the sort of things Batman cares about, justice and such, because Bruce Wayne the playboy doesn’t give a shit about things like that. He even has to hide the fact that he’s a genius, that he’s arguably as smart (or nearly) as Luthor himself. There’s a lot of potential there, I feel.
Amid the discussion of various symbols in this movie, I was surprised not to see discussion of the crosses seen in the background as Wonder Woman and Lois Lane lowered Superman’s body after he was killed by Doomsday.
Superman arose as a expression of powerlessness by two Jews during the Depression and WWII. Ironic then that Man of Steel turned Superman into a near fascist and Batman v Superman turned him into Christ (albeit not for the first time).
Yeah, the religion stuff could have been its own entire podcast. I put into the same broad category of “big ideas the movie gestured towards but never clearly communicated.”
To add to the Christian symbology, at the end, the image of Wonder Woman holding Superman’s dead body reminded me a lot of the Pieta image:
“Superman arose as a expression of powerlessness by two Jews during the Depression and WWII. Ironic then that Man of Steel turned Superman into a near fascist and Batman v Superman turned him into Christ (albeit not for the first time).”
Is it so ironic though? Israel, on paper, created as a refugee for Jews in the shadows of fascism, becoming fascists itself.