I wasn’t originally planning on going to see Batman v Superman. I’m not a DC guy. But it’s been doing huge numbers so I grabbed a ticket for a Thursday evening showing. The theater was mostly empty so maybe the critics’ reviews have had an effect.
The movie starts in media res and I was a little confused at first, but it quickly cuts back to an origin story that gets interspersed in going forward. I haven’t seen Man of Steel, but I guess that movie didn’t cover this stuff. This is a new Superman for a modern world. He’s profane and irreverent, and his day job has changed from newspaper reporter to mercenary (not a lot of work at the newspaper these days, and nobody wants to watch a movie about a blogger).
The movie opens with Superman hunting down some bad guys. A boy scout like him is pretty concerned about the ozone layer global warming these days, so he is taking a cab instead of flying. Gotta keep that carbon footprint down somehow. He’s not just out to nab some bad guys, he’s got one target in mind. It’s Lex Luthor. I’m assuming. He’s not bald, but he’s posh and British so he’s gotta be the bad guy.
Superman has him and is to put decades of fighting to an end when—whoosh—in swoop Batman and Wonder Woman in the batmobile-plane (it isn’t invisible, so…). They don’t want Superman killing Lex Luthor and they want Superman to join the…I didn’t have a notebook with me, but it’s right there in the title…they want Superman to join the Justice League. Unfortunately, while they’re chatting Lex Luthor gets away and Superman flies away from Batman and Wonder Woman (straight down).
Oh and this interpretation of Batman is Russian. Which makes sense, since most oligarchs are these days. And why have a bat cave in a cave when you can have it in your mega-yacht?
We cut back to the origin story. Clark Kent is just a mercenary trying to make an honest buck until he meets a prostitute named Lois Lane at the local mercenary bar. They fall in love. Clark Kent gets cancer. He was probably exposed to some Kryptonite when he was a kid. Same thing happened to my dad.
A mysterious man offers Kent a way out and he decides he has to take it. But it’s a trap. Lex Luthor ties Superman up and starts exposing him to Kryptonite, which leaves him hideously disfigured. As someone with three, maybe even four, chickenpox scars, I appreciate the representation of a Superman who doesn’t have perfect skin. He finally uses his heat vision or something to escape, but not before he gets a beatdown from Lex Luthor, who I don’t remember being so strong.
Anyway, Kent doesn’t want Lois Lane to see him horribly disfigured so he never tells her that he is still alive. Instead he sews up his costume and goes hunting for Lex Luthor to make him remove the Kryptonite from his bloodstream, or something. In doing so he kills a lot of Lex Luthor’s men. A LOT. Apparently he hasn’t learned his lesson from Man of Steel. This must be why Batman is pissed at him. Boy Scout.
Blah blah blah, *SPOILER* Lex Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane, and Superman recruits Batman and Wonder Woman to go after them. They have to get past Luthor’s goons first. To be honest, Superman could’ve just thrown his “S” symbol at them, but he doesn’t have one in this iteration, and to really be honest, we were all just there to see Wonder Woman, amirite? And she doesn’t disappoint. This isn’t your mama’s Wonder Woman. She’s teenage, she’s goth, she goes by Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
The plot is, frankly, pretty formulaic, but the movie succeeds on pretty much every other level. Accepting the R rating and owning up to the gravity of the situations with realistic levels of blood and boobs works so much better than just doubling down on “dark” (which, absent an R rating, tends to just translate to…literally dark). The movie doesn’t commit the now common superhero movie sin—one that keeps killing franchises about another red-suited superhero—of trying to cram in too many villains. We really just have one, but one is enough if it’s a proper villain. The whole thing is witty and profane and irreverent and glories in breaking the Fourth Wall. In short, it’s fun. Who would want to go see a movie that isn’t any fun?
Batman v. Superman is now available on blu-ray.