DC on Film: A Logical Incoherence
The Suits at Warner Brothers/DC
I want to start by saying that I watched Green Lantern (with Ryan Reynolds) and Man of Steel (with Henry Cavill), over the weekend, on DVDs which I borrowed for free, from my local public library.
In my mind, Green Lantern, Man of Steel, and Suicide Squad are all 7 out of10-caliber films. They are solid, workmanlike, functional films that do what they need to do: give us the origin of those heroes, and in the case of the Squad, that covert government-commissioned team of "dirty dozen"-style trouble shooters.
I do think that Green Lantern and Man of Steel need sequels, to complete the character arcs of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Kal'el/Clark/Superman --- so that they can fully evolve into the personality, behavior, and outlook that fans of the comics can readily recognize. As it stands now, many think that the inner journeys of Hal Jordan and especially Clark have not yet been fully realized.
Let's talk about Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017).
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I think I saw a hoof twitch, so let me grab my crowbar.
Let me start by saying that Batman V. Superman and Justice League (in the form that was released in theaters), are two films which, by rights, SHOULD NOT EXIST!
I really want to stress this point: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (in the form that was released in theaters) are two films that should not exist. Because the suits at Warner Brothers/DC forced Batman V. Superman into existence, all that followed cinematically, flowed naturally, logically, and of course, incoherently. For this reason, which I will justify momentarily, I do not think it is even fair to "review" those two "movies," as independent, self-contained, cinematic projects.
Midnight's Edge has reported the following:
- Man of Steel was released and failed to earn one billion dollar-plus in worldwide ticket sales.
- This fact sent the suits into a state of despair and panic. This caused them to erroneously reason something like this: Okay, if Superman alone didn't get us our billion-plus, let's put Batman in a film together with Superman. This will get us our billion dollar-plus!
- The suits cancelled the film that director Zack Snyder wanted to make, and was ready to make: Man of Steel 2.
- The Justice League was original conceived by Snyder as TWO FILMS, presumably at least four hours long in total story.
- The suits cancelled the part 2 and mandated that Justice League tell whatever story it had to tell in one movie.
- Barring the two-part project, the single Justice League movie was supposed to be at least three hours long.
- Again, the suits said no to a three-hour film, and said: Cut off an hour!
- Reshoots were extensive. The suits were reacting to the supposed displeasure of fans with the dark, serious, gritty tone of Batman V. Superman (a film that should not exist, remember). Levity and jokes were needed.
- Director Joss Whedon was brought in to help with the levity. Even had Snyder not had to leave the project due to the tragic suicide of his daughter, Whedon was coming in to "assist."
- By the way, I should have mentioned that when Batman V. Superman did not garner the suits their billion-plus, they, once again, reasoned something like: Okay, we didn't get our billion-plus with Superman and Batman. Surely the entire Justice League, six superheroes will get us our billion-plus. Hell! We'll surely get two billion-plus off that!
- Finally, Midnight's Edge reported that this severely depleted Justice League movie (remember: from two films to one; and from three hours to two) was rushed, so that it could meet the November 15, 2017.
- This severely depleted film was rushed into theaters so that then Warner Brothers head honcho, Kevin Tsujihara really, really, really wanted his bonus!
- It seems that Warner Brothers was merging with some other mega corporations (I don't remember which); and he, presumably, would not retain his position in the aftermath of that merger. Therefore, if Justice League did not hit theaters by November 15, 2017, just before he was to be ousted, he would not get his performance bonus.
The big point I want to make at the outset is this: The single decision of the suits at Warner Brothers/DC to panic because Man of Steel did not garner a billion-plus in worldwide ticket sales, quite logically and inexorably led to the incoherent subsequent cinematic events in Batman V. Superman and Justice League.
Let's get into this.
- Well, since Snyder was forced to do a film with both Batman and Superman in it, instead of his planned Man of Steel 2, you might as well have them "fight," since they "fight" each other in the comics.
- And since they are going to "fight," there needs to be a "reason" for their mutual antagonism.
- The perfect jump off point is the last fight scene, between Superman and Zod in Man of Steel, from the perspective of Bruce Wayne/Batman: the heat vision that is slicing that big skyscraper apart.
- We can therefore imagine Bruce Wayne/Batman saying to himself something like: Superman, you menace!!!!!!
- If Batman is mad at Superman, Superman, then, needs to be mad at Batman for being a, say, "vigilante" or something.
- The Dark Knight and Man of Steel just have to "fight," and we have to have a WWE-type result of Batman "winning," "defeating" Superman. Why, you ask?
- So that Superman, who is about to be choked out, can use his last breath to say "Save Martha." It turns out that Clark and Bruce Wayne's mommies are both named Martha. How Sweet!
- Why does this have to happen? So that a seed can be planted in Batman/Bruce Wayne's mind: Gee whiz! Maybe Superman isn't so bad after all.
It is crucial that the seed of (Maybe Superman isn't so bad after all) be planted in Batman's mind, so that subsequent film, Justice League, can be largely premised on referring back to a film that does not exist, that was not made: namely, Man of Steel 2.
Remember I mentioned that I think that Green Lantern and Man of Steel need sequels to complete the character arcs of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and especially Kal'el/Clark/Superman. I think Snyder would have completed that character arc with Superman, if he had been allowed to make Man of Steel 2.
But, in order to retroactively justify Batman V. Superman and lay the groundwork for Justice League, the existence of the nonexistent Man of Steel 2 had to be assumed.
I know, I know, but I stand by that.
A nonexistent thing had to be presumed to exist, in order to retroactively justify one movie and set the groundwork for the subsequent one.
The following is what I presume to have been the general mindset of the suits.
Hey, Let's bring in Wonder Woman for no reason. The Gal Gadot eye candy will provide extra insurance to help us get our billion-dollars-plus.
Anyway, Superman and Batman, more or less, make up: kiss-kiss, hug-hug. The addition of Wonder Woman provides for that delightful comedy about: "I thought she was with you."
Now, since it is known that Superman "died" in the comic books, at the hands of Doomsday, you might as well add Doomsday to the Batman V. Superman film, because now the Man of Steel, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Who did she come to the party with?) are in a buddy cop movie.
Question: Batman, as you know, wore a rip-off Iron Man suit to "defeat" Superman in the "fight." Why didn't the Caped Crusader wear the rip-off Iron Man suit to help Superman and Wonder Woman fight Doomsday?
Answer: So that the odd were not too greatly stacked against Doomsday, so that he could, somehow, manage to kill Superman, as it was prophesied in the comic books.
The Silly Little Scene at the End of Suicide Squad
Okay, we're doing good. We have the seed of (Maybe Superman isn't so bad after all) planted in Bruce Wayne/Batman's mind; and the Man of Steel, himself, killed off.
We also know that Superman was revived, come back to life in the comics, so that fact must, naturally, be cinematically recreated.
By the way, Warner Brothers/DC wasted the death of Superman. Anyone even casually familiar with the source material can tell you, that in the comics Superman's death was followed by the emergence of a procession of pretenders/successors.
Some of them were clones who thought they were the real Superman.
Some of them were clones who were pretending to be the risen Superman, but knew that they were not.
Some were cyborg/clones.
Some of them were ordinary people, inspired by Superman, who picked up the fallen banner and continued the good fight. By the way, remember that silly movie called Steel starring Shaquille O'neal from 1997?
In it, basketball great Shaquille O'neal played the titular character, "Steel," real name: John Henry Irons. John Henry Irons (Steel) was one of those ordinary citizens who had picked up the fallen banner to continue the good fight of Superman.
What a waste! This one storyline of Superman's death could have kept DC on Film going for the next fifteen years.
- Because the suits panicked that Man of Steel did not make a billion-plus...
- Because they subsequently forced Batman V. Superman into existence and cancelled Man of Steel 2...
- Because this necessitated a "fight" between Batman and Superman, which gave us the WWE result of Batman "winning" the "fight," in which Superman endearingly squealed "Save Martha," which planted the seed of (maybe Superman isn't so bad after all) in Batman's mind...
- And because Superman had to "die" at the hands of Doomsday...
Bruce Wayne had to threaten the government of the United States of America, in the end scene of Suicide Squad (2016).
The Suicide Squad is made up of some of the DC universe's worst villains.
Anyway, those of you who saw Suicide Squad, saw Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) confront Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a CIA operative. Wayne basically tells her to shut down the Suicide Squad program, or he and his pals would shut it down.
Now, isn't that TREASON or something?
Remember, Amanda Waller did what she did, in putting together and running the program with the full knowledge and authorization of the government. All of the military men in the conference room, with all those medals on their uniforms, smells like the Pentagon to me.
And we know that, under our system of government, the Pentagon is under the authority of something called the Executive Branch of the federal government --- where the President hangs out.
Bruce Wayne, then, is threatening the United States of America, by telling its central government to stop doing something, or else he and his friends will stop them from doing it. Basically, Bruce Wayne is saying: "I'll be forming the masked hero teams around here, thank you!"
At that point, Bruce Wayne should have been set upon by many soldiers and put in chains, flown to some out-of-the-way spot on the Earth, and water boarded within an inch of his life.
But since we need to have Bruce Wayne/Batman around to be the catalyst for the formation of the Justice League, let's let this detail go.
The rationale for putting the Justice League together is Bruce Wayne's/Batman's dreams that evil is coming; and we need a collection of superheroes to deal with it. You know: "You Can't Save The World Alone."
If you look at this film in isolation, an immediate objection is raised.
Stop, stop right there, you say. Dreams and premonitions are not how Batman works! The point is so obvious, I shan't insult you by even bothering to explain it!
Nevertheless, logical incoherency requires The Dark Knight to work this way, requires him and the movie in general to, again, refer to a movie that does not exist: The cancelled, thwarted, nonexistent Man of Steel 2!
I am referring to all that "World Without Hope," business, that, I believe, would have been cinematically, in actuality, justified in the physical manifestation of Man of Steel 2.
I know this sounds crazy, but even though Man of Steel 2 does not exist, IT MUST BE REFERENCED!
If this is not the case, then the justification for the Justice League team, internal to the movie, Justice League collapses.
In other words, Batman forms the Justice League because he dreams of an evil coming, and a superhero team needs to come together to combat it; and besides, its is what the beloved Superman (again, the nonexistent Man of Steel 2) would want.
In still other words, logical incoherency requires Batman to behave like a Superman fanboy, and president of the Kryptonian's fan club.
This reality, in addition to all of the other limitations placed on the film by the suits, does not leave a lot of room for an interesting plot or an interesting villain. Though, one would think that an interesting villain would be the result of, arise from a fundamentally interesting story.
In Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dark Knight wears a rip-off Iron Man suit, which allows him to "defeat" Superman in their "fight," does he not? Well, why then, does he not wear the rip-off Iron Man suit to fight the "Born To Be Wild" villain Steppenwolf?
So that the odds are not too greatly stacked against "Born To Be Wild," with Batman jacked up in his rip-off Iron Man suit, and Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash.
We need to forget about the rip-off Iron Man suit so that the Justice League can look as pathetic as possible against Born To Be Wild, so that Bruce Wayne/Batman can moan that "We are not enough," and propose that they wake up Superman, who will save the lives of the sorry Justice League (oh and the rest of the Earth as well) with his godlike power and goodness (the nonexistent Man of Steel 2).
What ends up happening, of course, is that the revived Superman vanquishes Born To Be Wild singlehandedly.
However, the "fact" remains that Batman, wearing his rip-off Iron Man suit, "beat up" The Man of Steel and nearly "choked" him out. Why didn't Batman simply don the rip-off Iron Man suit and singlehandedly vanquish Born To Be Wild?
Because Batman is not a rip-off Iron Man. He is The Dark Knight, the world's greatest detective, a most extraordinary non-metahuman, one of the most dangerous men on Earth. One of this world's smartest people and supreme martial artists. He is ninja. He is Shaolin.
And in this version of a "Justice League" tale, he is nothing more than the prophetic vehicle for the return of Superman.
Thank you for reading!