This post is filled with spoilers.
While we begin the movie, we see the distinct difference between how Superman’s and Clark Kent’s faces are lighted. Clark Kent is lighter normally, the features are softer and calmer. When Clark smiles, you see hope linger in his eye, you see him believing. Come Superman, keep shadows creep across his face throughout the movie. He is an outsider, there’s no splitting hairs about it, in fact people would have us believe that it is the point of the movie, and yet, this alone distinguishes the two.
Somewhere in the first half, Clark brings grocery home. Smile on his face, he is hoping to surprise the love of his life. Lois is worried, she asks him about the future, about the questions that are building up on them. They talk, Clark smiles. The cut ends in sex. For once, Clark seems to be having fun.
However, Superman seems angry at something, questioning himself. For the quintessential hero that has saved the world, someone who is portrayed so well by the papers, he seems apathetic. Only person he likes saving is probably Lois (and some times his mother). It breaks in, you are uncomfortable. You are uncomfortable because not much later from the first scene he flies full speed onto a terrorist, who is pushed through a solid wall. If Clark Kent even dares to believe in the power of press, Superman is so insecure that when full-metal armoured Batman pushes onto him, he throws him away (despite declaring that he just wanted to talk).
You can discuss about how toxic the masculinity is in this movie.
Snyder talks a big game, and there is imagery to support it.
While, Batman broods, branding criminals, and becoming one himself. Alfred justifiably questions his actions, however, batman’s attitude is unflinching, he is too far gone to come back. Superman is showed as Jesus. Everyone hammers that in. In a scene, you see Superman hovering over the flood victims. He is illuminated by the light from the back, he is heavenly.
Yet, Snyder does not believe in his own imagery, he hammers in the point through a series of interviews on TV, where one person brands him as a saviour.
Batman’s actions have gone completely rowdy, somehow he appears even more apathetic than Superman. In a strange sequence we see him move over the victims of a sex trafficker, only to interrogate him and brand him. He does not care about saving innocents, he cares about the “greater good”, a toxic concept when you are dealing with icons that have been altruistic for the majority of their runs.
But, we move on. Batman guns down people without mercy. If the original Batman comics show him as the Detective, here that goes out of the window. We have another icon, a Rambo-ish figurine who believes that guns are the best solution to the problem. At some point the question is raised, whether this vigilantism is necessary, but, that dies down. This is a film that is not interested in asking those questions. Even after compromising both of the icons morally to the point that they are cruel, it does not manage to ask the moral questions, which makes you wonder, what kind of universe are we really bringing home.
When we see the first sequence Martha Wayne is shot in the face as Bruce looks on. A scared Bruce runs, only to be saved by the bats which take him to the light. The second nightmare sequence denounces this immediately, Bruce doesn’t wish to be Batman anymore, and the Batman imagery leeks out of his mother’s and father’s grave, after all “mommy and daddy issues” is the one psychology that really connects the two heroes.
One wonders why does he do it at all. None of the superheroes are really interested in doing this. Batman wants to get the deterrent to Superman and he does not care much about Justice, heck, at some point I even believe that he would let everything go just to hit Superman.
Superman is so angry when he looks at people, the lighting on his face showcase him as a soldier, a soldier doing his solemn duty. One wonders why this duty needs to be done at all.
A nightmare sequence showcases Superman as an evil fascist, the parademons rain down. A homage to Darkseid.
Then we get Luther. Eccentric in everything he does. Yet, not effective. You can see him pulling the threads but, no where does he get character development.
Instead in a scene we get him throwing the tortured pictures of Superman’s mother at Superman, throwing perhaps the entire pathos of the character along with it. This is a clear homage to “The Killing Joke”, and a clear homage to the fact that the women here are only plot points and not characters. Lex is erratic, he would harm anyone and let anyone be killed for the sake of killing Superman. However, somewhere that is lost. His actions seem to be designed by a teenager who has one too many psychopathic movies. Lex’s character is like everyone else’s in character development though, throughout his conviction is never shown, and a lot of it seems to just appeal to the viewer visually. There is after all a more “fun” visual in a psychopath getting an elderly woman tortured, than the largest genius on Earth who misunderstands its greatest hero.
The movie doesn’t care though. it is a juggernaut. Batmobile mows through criminal after criminal like it out of a “Death Race” movie. Superman and Batman fight in a sequence that resembles a childish brawl in WWE.
When a 75 year old history of Lois Lane is thrown out to make a “damsel of distress” character. When the way to shut down Senator Finch is with a bottle of piss before her and a large bomb. When every single female character seems to be a stupid plot point. One begins to wonder if this morally reprehensible universe created by the same company which gave us much of our childhood? But, then as DC 52 moved onto the dark and gritty territory, morality has taken a secondary space to the “cool”ness factor.
No one is “cool” in the film though.
Except when Wonder Woman enters.
In a movie filled with testosterone, she becomes the only person you kind of care about. When she appears to fight in the movie, her motivation is clear enough, she is a warrior returning to war after a long time, and she rejoices. However, she also worries about the people in the city.
Snyder is worried too. In an attempt to stop the criticisms about MoS, the words uninhabited are hammered into our heads by different characters.
You walk out of the movie theater wondering what you have watched. Even when you have pushed out every character out of your mind, the images remain. We have reached the age where violence trumps over kindness. Where the question of xenophobia and vigilantism can be subverted because of a fist fight.
When Wonder Woman says “They do not know how to honour him”
DC itself seems to be the culprit.
We have lost, badly.
As human beings, we have lost our quality of selflessness and instead given into this cynical world. Apparently grounded in reality has come to mean that only the bad sides of the people matter, and not the good. Even our heroes dare not be good, since, in this world, that is not someone relates to. After all this WAS about the fight.
A Batfan in an interview proudly proclaims his plan to kill Superman and “win”
One wonders who wins over whom, finally.
One wonders if we were even allowed a battle field.
Till the answer comes, the fan in me believes in Wonder Woman, for she seems to bring the only dawn in the film