Some Thoughts on Justice League and Dawn of Justice


Spoilers for Justice League are in this post! Don’t read if you haven’t seen the film yet.

With the recent release of Justice League, I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Justice League and Batman vs Superman and how they can’t be dismissed lightly because of how layered the films and the overall story are:

First of all, we can’t take the plot of these films too lightly. If you think Justice League is about the Justice League defeating the alien threat of Steppenwolf and his parademons, then you should go rewatch the film again (I say rewatch it anyways, cause it’s such a great film), as this is the secondary plot of the movie. The primary plot of Justice League is really about the formation of the team and the individual team members having to learn how to come together and unite to form an unbeatable force (it’s all right in front of us in the marketing of the film). They all have a personal journey to make, and they have to overcome their fears and doubts before they can begin to trust each other and work together. This is illustrated to us very well in the beginnings of the film as Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince contact the different metahumans, Barry Allen, Arthur Curry, and Victor Stone. The names of these three and others were given to Bruce by Amanda Waller as shown to us in the Oscar winning film – Suicide Squad, which occurred in between Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

We are also shown how invincible Steppenwolf is as he is able to easily overcome the individual forces, the Amazonians, the Atlanteans, and Man to obtain the Motherboxes. It isn’t until the League is able to unite and work together that they are able to defeat him, and even then they need some “super” help (sorry, couldn’t help myself. lol). We see how, without Superman, Earth is doomed and the inhabitants of Earth would be unable to defeat Steppenwolf. The League has to learn how to work together to bring Superman back and they all played a part in bringing him back with the help of one of the Motherboxes. It isn’t until Superman is fully back and unites with the League that Steppenwolf can be defeated and sent packing.

Some have thought that Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice only showed us 15 mins (or whatever it ended up being) of Superman and Batman actually fighting, if so – then you need to rewatch the film. Batman versus Superman starts in the Prologue of the film when Batman witnesses firsthand the destruction of Metropolis and he sees Superman and Zod destroying Metropolis and he decides Superman is dangerous and he then starts his quest to destroy Superman. The whole movie is Batman/Bruce Wayne’s machinations to destroy Superman.

Having Lex Luthor behind the scenes pulling the strings to drag Batman further down into the darkness is icing on the cake for this film. While Batman is distracted by figuring out a way to defeat Superman, the real villain, who is Lex, ultimately unleashes a devil to destroy a god, in which he eventually succeeds. Lex is aware that in defeating Superman he can bring in true chaos to the world by way of the Motherboxes. The effects of Lex’s plan is dealt with in Justice League, which in turn makes that last end credit scene in Justice League more meaningful and it isn’t just eye candy.

Lex would’ve triumphed except for he forgot the one thing that trumps everything and can’t be quantified- Love. Especially the love a son has for his mother, and how some men would do anything to protect their mother. He was counting on Clark Kent’s love for his mother to manipulate him into defeating Batman, but he overlooked Bruce’s love for his long dead mother. Maybe he thought Bruce was too far down the dark path and couldn’t be redeemed because of the crimes he had committed. Bruce Wayne became Batman because of the love he had for his mother and father. But he had lost sight of this over the past couple of years due to the darkness of Gotham. He was becoming the type of person he had initially set out to protect people from. Clark’s love for his mother broke through this darkness and reminded Bruce of why he became Batman in the first place. He became Batman to protect the Martha and Thomas Wayne’s of the world.

With Clark Kent speaking the name of “Martha” and to “save Martha” this snapped Bruce back to what he was all about in the first place and he also realized the being in front of him was more like him than he realized. He saw a chance to do what his pre-teen self couldn’t do – “save Martha”.  He saw that Clark cared just as much for his mother and that his last dying breath was for someone to save his mother regardless of what happened to him. This is why he was willing to spare Superman and go save Martha Kent while Clark went to deal with Lex. Thus the beginning of the Justice League and you can say the Dawn of Justice.

Advertisements

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

 

“There was a time above. A time before. There were perfect things. Diamond absolutes. But things fall, things on earth. And what falls, is fallen. In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”

As Batman vs. Superman starts we are shown a prologue that plays an important role in  the story and has major repercussions for the rest of the movie. I haven’t seen too many prologues that have such an influence on the rest of a film as this one does. In this prologue we are shown the death of the Bruce’s parents at the hands of Joe Chill, we see Bruce’s discovery of the caves near his home, and we see the final battle of Kal-El and Zod in Man of Steel but from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. This is a lot of ground to cover in the short 10 minutes that is devoted to these scenes.

The prologue starts with the Death of Thomas and Martha Wayne while the haunting score of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Beautiful Lie’ plays during this scene. We also hear the above quoted dialogue from an older Bruce Wayne during this scene.

In regards to the death of the Wayne’s, this is a scene that has been shown many times on the big and small screen. I myself have seen it four times in various formats prior to this movie. However, I believe this one is the most impactful of the ones that have previously been shown. This scene focuses solely on the mugging and murder of the Wayne’s. Only one word is spoken in this scene, “Martha”. This scene focuses more on the loss of Martha Wayne and how a little boy had to watch his mother die. While Batman Begins had focused on the relationship between Bruce and his father, Thomas, this movie is more about the loss of Martha. This scene is juxtaposed with the funeral of the Wayne’s and in this film, Bruce discovers the cave full of bats near his home during this time. As Bruce discovers the cave of bats they end up carrying him up to the light and out of the cave as the older Bruce says “In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”  These two short scenes are the essence of Batman and are the impetus of how he comes to be. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman because his parents are killed and he desires to right this wrong for the rest of his life.

From there we jump ahead in time to the events that we see at the end of Man of Steel (2013). Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis via helicopter from Gotham and witnesses first hand the final battle between Zod and Kal-El while driving on the streets of Metropolis. Bruce has an office building full of friends in Metropolis that he is trying to reach as Metropolis falls apart around him due to the World Builder wreaking havoc in the city. As Bruce reaches his office building, he is too late as he witnesses Zod destroy the building with his laser vision. Bruce can only watch in horror as his building collapses killing his friends and coworkers. Bruce then makes his way to the building to try and find survivors. He helps a security guard, Wally, who is trapped in rubble. He also is able to save a young girl from being killed as debris collapses almost killing her. As Kal-El and Zod continue to fight in the sky above Metropolis, Bruce watches with hatred towards these two aliens who are destroying a city and killing innocents.

This is the moment that Batman starts planning to stop Superman. This is the moment when Batman vs. Superman starts. A common complaint of this movie is that there were only a small amount of actual fighting between Batman and Superman. When in reality, Batman vs. Superman starts 9:50 into the movie.

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

Zack Snyder does an excellent job of tying in Man of Steel to this movie and propelling the overall story forward. Including this prologue scene setting up Bruce Wayne’s hatred of Kal-El and what he did to Metropolis was a smart move in more ways than one. Not only does it move the story forward, Snyder validates one of the biggest complaints from Man of Steel. This complaint is about the wanton destruction of Metropolis during the final battle and the major loss of life. Snyder doesn’t attempt to excuse or explain why it happened, but instead infuses those complaints into Bruce Wayne and his motivations for Dawn of Justice.

Before this horrific moment, the public and even Bruce Wayne did not know of Kal-El and his existence on Earth. Then all of a sudden in a matter of days, the world changes and these aliens are destroying cities and people are dying as a result of their feud. Dawn of Justice deals directly with this fear, from Bruce Wayne and others being scared of what Kal-El can do, to the media having a heyday with biased reporting and trying to pit half of the population against the other half. In real life we can’t even have a presidential election without arguing and protests, with the media fueling hatred for the two parties to go against each other. Imagine if an event such as what happened in Man of Steel actually happened and how the media would cover it and try to influence the population. I imagine it would happen pretty close to what is portrayed in this film, half of the population would hate Superman, the other half would love him and the media would do all it could to demonize the other half it doesn’t agree with. I believe this to be a genius move by Snyder and the story writers. This isn’t your father’s 1978 Superman feel good story, and nor should it be. A lot has changed in 35 years and a modern retelling of Superman should reflect that.

 

 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman-v-superman2

“Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”– Lex Luthor

Batman versus Superman. When this title was announced at San Diego Comic Con in 2014, it blew my mind! I was eagerly awaiting the announcement of a Man of Steel 2 movie, but this! This, my fellow nerds, was paramount to the Second Coming! Then to top it all off – Wonder Woman was announced to be a part of the movie too!

Batman AND Superman in the same movie?! The Man of Steel AND The Dark Knight at odds one with another?! Wonder Woman fighting alongside the two most iconic superheroes of all time?! Finally! This will be the first time The Trinity would appear on the big screen for fans to enjoy. For the first time we will see Diana Prince in action on film. The potential for greatness and movie making history was finally announced! And let me tell you, this film did not disappoint.

Wait, WHAT?! What is this you are reading? I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Am I truly reading a review of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that isn’t disparaging the film left and right?” or “Am I understanding this correctly? This guy actually LIKED this movie?!” The answer is yes, you are.

But all joking aside; yes, I did enjoy this movie from the first viewing. I saw it multiple times in the theaters, four times in fact. I would’ve gone once or twice more had I had the time to do so. I bought the Ultimate Edition when it came out on home video and my appreciation and enjoyment of this film grew even more. The storyline and character development was fleshed out to be more fulfilling and robust with the Ultimate Edition. If this Ultimate Edition had been released in theaters, I believe it would have been better received.

I intend to break this film down into various parts from beginning to end, as well as to write a character analysis for each of the main players in the film, over the next few weeks. To discuss and analyze everything this movie event has to offer would be too long for one blog post. I will attempt to win over those that dislike, are ambivalent, and even hate this movie; as well as reinforce the greatness of this movie with those that do enjoy it. I’m looking forward to this experience as I delve deep into this film, which in my opinion could be considered the greatest movie of 2016. It’s only competition being Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

But at the end of the day, if you don’t like the film – that’s fine, if you do like the film -great! Either way, life will go on and Warner Bros. will continue to produce and release films from the DC Universe for those that enjoy them.

Listed below are the topics I will address and expound upon, I will activate links to the various topics and characters as I finish writing them.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 2 – The Setup

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 3 – Investigations

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 4 – The Plan is Set in Motion

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 5 – War

Bruce Wayne/Batman

Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman

Lex Luthor

Lois Lane

Alfred

Zod/Doomsday

The Killing Joke

Batman-The_Killing_Joke_(film)

Recently, on July 25th, I went to see the animated release of The Killing Joke that was shown in theaters for a limited, two night showing. Once again, with my trusty sidekick, Marc, we went to a late night showing with a bunch of fellow nerds. This post will contain spoilers.

While the actual movie was shorter than I expected, we did get to see Mark Hamill reminiscing over his past performances of The Joker and how he was looking forward to being able to once again portray The Joker in The Killing Joke.

I was surprised at the animation style and how it didn’t seem to be up to par with other animated releases. I’m not sure if it was an artistic decision or a budgetary reason, but it did distract me from the story for awhile.

There has been some recent criticisms of the film (surprise!), which seems to accompany any film release nowadays. But that is the world we live in now, whether the criticism is accurate or not, someone is offended – but that’s a different argument for a different time and a different website. The criticisms vary from Batman and Batgirl having a romantic relationship to how Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, was abused by The Joker. I can see how the latter is concerning as it portrays inappropriate and damaging violence towards women. The former complaint doesn’t have merit for me. If Bruce and Barbara want to have a fling then that’s their decision, and the film clearly portrays them making a conscious decision to go forward with the relationship.

With that being said, the way The Joker kidnaps Jim Gordon from Barbara’s apartment and shoots her and then takes photos of Barbara to later try and break Det. Gordon is pretty accurate in relation to how it was previously portrayed in the comic book story. The story of Bruce and Barbara being involved in a relationship was not in the original story. I think comic book lovers get too involved with and concerned about the idea of “that wasn’t in the comic book!”. While I can appreciate general ideas and concepts and even a specific scene or sequence being portrayed on film, I would rather have the filmmaker add to the already existing story that was presented in the comic. Or even change the story halfway through and have a different ending. I think that movies, or animated features, or TV shows that follow the previous story exactly are boring and predictable, as we have already consumed that story in a different medium. I feel the same with novels or comic books that are based on a movie. If they are the exact same story as what was presented on TV or the movie screen, then I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything new.

The comic The Killing Joke is disturbing and intense to read. This style carried over to the animated feature. I believe the criticisms given are legitimate, but at the same time wonder why there wasn’t outrage when the comic was released. But again that’s another topic for another website.

While it was a bold move to release The Killing Joke in theaters, I don’t believe it was the right medium for this story to be told. The level of animation and directing didn’t rise to the level of a movie release. This release was strictly based on fan demand, in my opinion. I feel that like most animated DC movies, the straight to video format would’ve worked just fine for this movie. It’s perfect for home video viewing, but too small for the big time.