Dick Fencing, Unexpected Heroines, and Pee Breaks: A Reflection on Superman vs Batman

Let’s not start with the fact that the film is titled like a college sophomore’s attempt at profundity.

Let’s not start at the fact that I nearly pissed myself because I scheduled my pee breaks badly during this 2.5 hour mess.

Let’s. Not. Start. With the god-awful relationship dynamics between Clark “Everyone is a Fucking Idiot, Just Put on Some Warby Parker Glasses and You’re Suddenly Unrecognizable” Kent and Lois “Totally Fucking Useless and Insanely Offensive Because of Said Uselessness” Lane.

Okay, one thing though: fuck Clark for jumping in that bathtub with his outside shoes on. That is quite possibly the most unromantic, whitest take on *love* I’ve seen in 2016 thus far. (Author’s Note: Adam is deeply offended by this. Sorry, not sorry Adam.)

Okay. I’ve gotten it all out.

Yes. I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And I was thoroughly appalled that this got through multiple producers, editors, and such. It’s a fucking mess. So, rather than diving into all the ineptitude and missed marks at trying to establish the following films (I really feel that this monstrosity was the sacrifice needed to allow the Justice League films to maybe be really, really good. Whether this wells up from a desperate desire to not see DC drag this Golden Age into the dust is another essay entirely.), I’d like to do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, is the hero(ine), both literally and figuratively, of this film. And, I think that, maybe, director Zack Snyder might be a closeted feminist, of the social justice buzzword and coffee table book variety.

Here’s why:

Wonder Woman, from the beginning to the end of the film, is one of maybe 3 characters whose actions and motivations make complete sense (during and post-viewing!) This is a painful truth for a film that, for all its mass and reaching for epicness, is as confusing as it is incoherent. 

That face you make when the men in your life can’t express emotions good.

When first introduced as a femme fatale, it’s clear that Diana has a mission in mind. If you look past the moody and sadly pieced together “emoting” of sad face Cavill and Our Friend Ben, you’ll notice that Gadot’s character is sharply mirrored by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Where Wonder Woman is resolute in reclaiming her incriminating photo, Luthor is very much interested in getting that Good Green Rock.

Furthermore, as Lex vacillates between traumatized mastermind and calculated madness, Diana is sound in mind and body and actually has a truncated but credible hero’s journey. This means that, in contrast to the dick fencing of Supes and The Bat, she has a pretty direct line of action – from selfish motives to greater heroic tendencies, Diana ultimately helps the man-babies defeat Doomsday.

Sure, Our Friend Ben gets a painfully overwrought montage of orphan issues, privilege, and trippy mutant bat attacks. And yeah, even Supes starts tripping at thousands of feet in the air on a mountain. But it’s only Diana who has a linear (see: simple and underrated) narrative that definitively serves the same purpose as her companions, but without pretentious speeches, faux moral issues, and grimy training montages that leave more questions than answers.

No, but seriously, is Batman on steroids? Old Man Strength is a thing, but there’s no way his joints should be able to sustain that activity after years of being flung into hard surfaces.

Anywho, when the Big Bad finally arrives and the Big Moments finally occur, it’s important to note that in the moment (and in hindsight), Diana is integral to the success of her penis-bearing counterparts — if not for her added strength and weapons (shout out to that lasso, ma), Doomsday would have obliterated the Caped Duo.

Remember when I said I wouldn’t dive into how horrible the film is, for no reason at all? I lied. I really did. I’d like to keep writing about how fine, functional, believable, and just enjoyable Wonder Woman was. But, the animal to be butchered here is truly the rotten carcass Snyder has presented to us as a cornucopia. So without much ado: now for something completely familiar!

Sorry. Not sorry.

In reality, BvS is a faux-noir jizz fest of epic proportions that serves to stimulate the reptilian pleasure centers of mainstream male youth between the ages of 10 and maybe 21, depending on the state. Ironically, (or maybe not, as my proof has made itself evident), it is a woman that redeems the films’ most salvageable pieces into something worthy of leading into DC’s answer to the mammoth success of the Avengers franchise over at Disney West. This is mainly because, if we’re gonna keep it funky, the simplicity of Diana’s piece of SvB is a shining light in the film’s toxic cloud of false posturing and musings on Big Thoughts and Man Feelings. Funny how this mirrors real life gender divides (at least, amongst cishet folks).

Even funnier is how the folks behind this particular film have failed to create a proper contender to the Marvel Franchise Factory. For, in providing spectacle in lieu of basic coherence, they have created their own Doomsday. It’s sure to run amok in its opening weekend, but it lacks the soul needed for a franchise that is arguably worthy and deserving of so much better.

Now, yes, I’m clearly biased. Marvel till I die.

But I’m saying this out of a deep love for cinema and narrative. And coherence.

For bloody sake, fucking coherence.

If there’s any one responsibility certain filmmakers have to their audience in creating features of this runtime, it’s some semblance of shared trust. We, the audience, need to trust that the auteur will bring us thrills, chills, and understanding (or lack thereof). However, we must also trust that the film, in its parts and as a whole, will include us and be enjoyable.

Put more simply, we need to be able to trust that we can derive some pleasure from the experience. And more specifically, a pleasure that is wrought from the interactions of the films’ pieces with each other and our own tastes and such.

While this is not true of all films nor all filmmakers, this is what we can pretty much expect from mainstream tentpole films — the processed candy of the film world, for better or worse. If we want to continue on this metaphor —this particular piece of candy will give you depressive thoughts, bloating, and acid reflux. This candy is not fit for consumption.

Yes it has some good parts (the final fight scene is really fun). And some good writing. And, as I said earlier, the implications for the impending Justice League films is exciting as hell. But those nuggets are out-shined by horrid pacing, inconceivably bad narrative choices, and just bad construction as a piece of cinema.

In my unprofessional and totally optional opinion I believe that, in making BvS, and in behooving us to watch it, the major players behind BvS have proven Lex’s theory — our nightmares will not come from the Global South, or even down the street.

No, they will be coming from the very people entrusted with entertaining us.

these boots mine.The Original Homeboy with a Keyboard ™,  dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. @dapisdope

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