Batman vs Superman: Yawn of Justice

Batman vs Superman is actually the story of two dudes who can’t communicate at all.

The biggest problem in the plot of this mildly spoiler review is that both Batman and Superman are 10000000% guilty of hubris and neither of them admit it.
I went into Batman vs Superman (or vice versa) Dawn of Justice with the same level of meh as I approach most things that have been spoiled in every trailer, preview and sneak peek that a major movie can offer…which is to say I was passive aggressive teenage girl ambivalent to everything going on.
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The movie opens recreating the events of Man of Steel where instead of seeing handsome Henry Cavill we see WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne driving through Metropolis with his woes (and the apocalypse raining down on him and his brand friendly Jeep). From that moment, 18 months ago, Bruceman er Batman is completely team “Fuck this guy”. For reasons not one person on the writing team for this movie can explain or cared to explore, Batman is reactivated across town in Gotham and wages a one man war, tearing through the streets of Gotham like a toddler mid temper trantrum. He doesn’t cause chaos in Metropolis, where the problem ACTUALLY is, but instead just beats mercilessly on petty thugs and crooks. The Daily Planet runs a piece on some asshole with a branding fetish leaving bat brands on the low lives of Gotham in thinly explained attempts to suss out the kinda racist sounding White Portuguese drug cartel and this is how you want to introduce the two leads? I end it with a question mark because I wasn’t even sure if this was an episode of The Wire, Breaking Bad or something else involved drug runners with cool names and thusly confused as to why Batwayne was so obsessed with figuring out who WP was/is because meanwhile here’s Superman doing Superman things like bailing cats out of trees, rescuing Russian Cosmonauts from explosions and otherwise being a god on Earth. Batwayne is every flavor of salty because he immediately zeroes in on SuperKent to figure out why he’s so hunky and dreamy. I mean…why he writes puff pieces on assholes in longjohns.
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Cut to bizarre party somewhere in wherever where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (she’s in the movie, did I forget to mention this?) are at a party but the punchline is the dialogue is garbage.
The dialogue is bad.
It’s REALLY a screenwriting 101 script written by casual Wikipedia enthusiast that was then passed off to someone else to polish and instead of actually proofing, they just post-it noted lines in before handing it to someone else and the only things that were filmed were the post-it scenes. The GLUE of a Post-It is what’s holding this mess together and even that isn’t doing much of anything.
Batwayne gets one upped by Wonder whatever her name is and he’s all beguiled and sad. SuperKent is confused because he only has heart boners for Lois Lane who’s given even LESS than Wonder Woman to work with the in terms of whatever post-it plots they came up with for this movie.
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The movie works best if we’re talking about the actual assembly of the JLA versus the grumbling mumbling hulking bros who just can’t get their shit together. The idea that Batman would actively want to beat the shit out of Superman because of damages and loss sustained during Man of Steel is cool and one man doing it is also cool but if he felt he was such a major threat, watching Batman recruit a batch other -snicker- metahumans to understand them and get them on the side of good would be a much more engaging movie than the one we wound up with.
Anyway more talking happens and some fun cameos occur that actually riled up the crowd I was with (we my have been drinking) and that made me want THAT movie, the one I made up with all my action figures and in my head that I hoped Hollywood would rip off. It never happens and that’s where the burden of what DC is doing becomes apparent. The writers (I’m being a savage and saying it was atleast ten people trying their best to mansplain years of nerd lore) tried to do what Marvel has done with four movies in one movie and it shows, good GOD does it show. It’s most apparent with how they’ve glossed over the rest of the league, wink and nods to each member in what is tantamount to a Veronica Mars tribute scene.
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The third act is cobbled together as complete 100% fan service to those poor fools who still think DC as a brand and entity respects them and I for one low key am pleased before I realize that I honestly could give a flying fuck about who wins the Batman vs Superman debate; the one who loses is the rest of us. How?! Man of Steel. We all lost by seeing that grim piece of shit overthought hunk of shit. We got a fantastic opportunity to tell the tale of a man stuck with being a god and spent it grim darkly trying to understand Kal-El’s beef with the world. Superman is an alien, an immigrant and we never in any permutation of him felt that loneliness and need to belong, to be respected; we have only ever gotten his god amongst men perspective. Conversely, Bruce Wayne is the little orphan shitshow that could. They are men burdened with being men who want to save a broken world but on their terms. In short, there’s not real risk choosing Batman or Superman; they’re not the dudes you want but the options you have. It’s basically like the 2016 elections so…
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Then, there’s Wonder Woman.
In the Synderverse she’s every humorless woman any basic fuckboy has told to smile; she hates everyone and would gladly squeeze the last breath from their lungs if it meant one less useless cretin in the world.

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So basically I’m in love.
She’s actually the reason to see this. With almost no dialogue, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is probably the best part of this 2 hour therapy session. She stares a lot, analyses and disappears. When she appears, the theater erupts. I look forward to the one time I pay for this movie to experience that euphoria. The masses demand a woman who doesn’t give a fuck; that solves a problem and shrugs when everyone else is completely flummoxed.
Remember in IronMan 2 when Black Widow was completely down played? Same problem. Many a think piece is being written about how women in these movies are completely bypassed (merchandise and actual focal point) so really, it’s done and over with but honestly…
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The final sequence happens exactly as you would expect a video game or a great weed fueled story to go. Fast, mad cut scenes, bright lights, fan service and of course hero shit. There are no stakes raised, no sense of loss or gain in this as you watch it, just a lot of “cool” or “they should’ve cleaned that up more in post” and “that’s it?!” There’s no sense of ramped up world building that follows movies like this, just the simple nod and “I saw that it was ok” and then onto the next one.
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When the movie ended, my nerd cohorts all puzzled over where to go and if we should keep drinking; no one was bothered by the movie, there was a sad sense of acceptance. We knew it would blow but we didn’t expect to ALL be devastated by how truly bland a movie it was. It just washes over you in a wave of sad feelings.
As I walked out and had a drink with a coworker we spent more time arguing how good Marvel was at these movies than DC and a MAJOR conclusion was met; DC banks heavily on the name recognition while Marvel wants to seduce into their world and keep you there for as long as possible. Superman vs Batman only holds the door open long enough for you to walk in, have your ass smacked by the swinging door and by then you’ve already lost time and money to whatever is happening.
There’s no investment in your delight or engagement, just simple shrugging and plot holes. It’s terrible that the Snyderverse/Nolanverse is grim tones and too much reality for people to handle; the joy of these properties is that there is someone out there watching for us and protecting us from ourselves and the things that endanger us all. There’s no mirth or joy in this universe which is why it’s funny to think the heroes are so dark while the team on Suicide Squad clearly snorted alot of cocaine in Scarface’s Miami and candy coated the most violent batch of lunatics. Juxtaposing these two worlds adds to the other issue that weighs down this movie; neither the villains or the heroes seem to be aware of either’s existence. That’s terrible. You’re telling me that Superman was unaware of the Joker gang running the streets of Gotham before the Batman finished him? Superman had to know there was fuckery abounding. For your audience to walk out completely wigging out and confused by what they just watched…that kind of reaction can spell the end times for comic book properties as audiences reach a sympathy level of nope when it comes to how much you can ask a non comic book reader to suspend their belief in things.

Truth be told, the movie will make a shit ton of money and for that, we should be sad because there’s no reason for subpar movies to make that kind of bank and still be considered good. We deserve much better than what we’re getting with this second round of Bat/Sup movies but ultimately the fandom will split; they’ll pick another comic book franchise to get behind that won’t treat them like they’re stupid.

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I hope that Marvel, still humbled by missteps, take this into account when it comes to Captain America: Civil War as that movie hinges entirely on the fandom in both the MCU and comic book universe to really think about who they’ve aligned themselves with because that’s the real problem; Team Cap or Team Iron.

Denzel Washington Is The Punisher, You Just Didn’t Know It

This Friday, super bae Denzel Washington returns to screens in The Equalizer, your standard tough guy R rated action movie designed to woo you back to the movies y’know since you never went back after seeing Guardians of The Galaxy. Now, I love me a good action movie, I love comic book movies, I love Denzel Washington so this is a win win for me but something struck me about the trailer, take a look:

A man with a past who just can’t let injustice fly and proceeds to right the wrongs with all the guns and bombs, protecting an innocent girl from a ruthless violent, vaguely Eastern European criminal? It sounds too comic book-y to be real, then again, Denzel Washington has been playing Marvel Comics vigilante Frank Castle aka The Punisher for the past ten years and no one noticed it.

Behold, the truth behind Denzel as The Punisher and why Hollywood can get this archetype right but Marvel, who owns the title, keeps getting wrong.

2004 Man on Fire

Dakota Fanning is literally a child in this movie and Denzel is her body guard. A quiet man with skills that make him a nightmare for people…oh…wait wrong movie.

There is a great line about his character, Creasey, his art is death. He brings pain and disaster to everyone in his way, the way you’d want Frank Castle to knock the living shit out of everyone in his way. In a stand out scene, he basically straps a dude to a car, drenches him in gasoline and plays a very dangerous game of 20 questions.

A lot of the real heinousness happens in cars in Mexico so, that’s something to look out for.

This is one of the first time where Denzel gets all grim death dangerous and it works. It so works.

2010 The Book of Eli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKK7LmywKOQ

Sure it didn’t of very well, the ending left people feeling a little let down and then there’s the whole iPod still works in the apocalypse thing but at the heart of it is a guy, just trying to live and protect Mila Kunis and deliver a book way past its due date to the library. Here we see Denzel in true dingy duster, western gunslinger badassery and one can truly appreciate the fact that a guy who is actually The Punisher would survive the madness of a desert America with mean Gary Oldman.

2012 Safe House

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IfQY4fNcnw

The ULTIMATE dude with a mission movie finds Denzel needing to get out of dodge quickly.

Tobin Frost is a bad bad man trying to stay ahead of the guys trying to lock him up and being chased by everyone’s favorite smart ass, Ryan Reynolds. This one has a few pretty good action sequences and a nice little twist towards the end, making it a little more like a bad guy gets the win movie than a vigilante saving the day movie HOWEVER, it does land in the Denzel is The Punisher with some of the hardest fight scenes and clever escape tricks this side of an old episode of Burn Notice.

2013 2 Guns

This one may be a cheat since he’s a good guy, posing as a bad guy with the added bonus of Mahk Whalbaghhh BUT, he still plays with the bad guys well enough to make them believe he’s one of them all in the game of saving the day. He plays rough to get the win. While I haven’t seen this movie (I know I know) it still lands in the vigilante have gun will travel and do what’s gotta get done category essential in arguing that Denzel is really Frank Castle is really The Punisher.

So just here’s the real question, given that Hollywood loves a good vigilante revenge movie, why is it that Marvel Studios has yet to produce a decent Punisher movie that hits all the notes of the comic book? The Punisher has basically had one of the longest runs in Hollywood  in the form of Denzel Washington action movies. You can say that yeah, Liam Neesan probably has a longer run but he keeps playing the father who’s kid somehow manages to keep getting taken so he doesn’t count. Especially when he’s Qui-Gon Jinn, Ras Al Ghul and the guy who fought wolves with mini bar bottles strapped to his knuckles; let him be that guy. Denzel is the guy you call when someone needs a complete ass kicking who will then strut off to a Motown song you will immediately Shazam upon hearing it.

In the same year Man on Fire was released, Thomas Jane’s 2004 Punisher movie made it’s debut.  While not terrible it lacked the bite that the above movies all seem to have, as though the producers were afraid to make a violent movie with a comic book character because of the fear that people have with alienating the presumed under age audience. Despite having an R rating, some of the action sequences lacked the grimness that Man on Fire had, even using the standard cut away bloodspatter in some scenes to imply that violent justice has been served. I’m not blood thirsty or a fan of mega violence but if you’re going to make a movie about a guy who does really insane things because his family was murdered, you can go ahead and show it, we know what we’re getting into with these movies. Punisher WarZone, the movie that pretended that the first movie never happened was even wilder with the theatrics, going so deep into comic book that the R rating was justified because Dominic West’s character Jigsaw’s head explodes like a Gallagher watermelon. Both movies are regarded as failures, despite their cult appeal and the success of other lesser titles in Hollywood both on TV and in films.

Marvel shows no interest in launching another film with Frank which is fine, we’ve been watching him this whole time.