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.

Mighty Morphin Diversity Rangers

It’s been said that television reflects our society’s evolution and cultural diversity; art imitates life and life imitates art. Many of us were fortunate to grow up during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers craze of the 90s and with the recent announcement the series was being rebooted, the internet went into a frenzy not unlike the series initial run.

It was an innocent time where we jumped from our couches and high kicked the ever-loving snot out of a playmate (or an unfortunate sibling) until we were put on time out for knocking them over. The Rangers helped us develop an early interest in martial arts, in space travel and appreciate the art of kaiju monster movies of the 50s and 60s. The Rangers reveled in everything camp, super camp and mega camp but we never watched without learning a valuable lesson: anyone can and should be a hero.
The legend is simple: Jason, Billy, Trini, Kimberly and Zach were all high school friends are handpicked by floating head Zordon to be the guardians of Earth. With the help of their nifty Morphers and Zordon’s sidekick Alpha 5, they protect Earth from Rita Repulsa.

The initial Power Ranger uniforms were red, black, yellow, pink, blue with dinosaurs assigned to each.  The mysterious green and later fabulous white would join the team later, played by the same character. Fairly basic color palette but an interesting connection to how we are trained to respect the world: “I don’t care if they’re red yellow, blue or green with white polka dots, you have to respect them.” The truth is, you have to respect the Rangers because they were anyone and in essence everyone.

Like any good bad guy, Rita had her share of special friends. She kept a close circle of weirdos; Goldar, Squat and Baboo were the best yes men an evil space woman could ask for but no villain is complete without disposable henchmen. Where Master Shredder had his Foot Clan, Rita had her Putties, drab gray clay soldiers that were baked in a giant kiln and shipped to Earth to frequently bother the and torment the tax paying citizens of Angel Grove. They made strange gobble sounds as they kicked punched and flipped around being pains in the ass. They weren’t the best henchmen since a simple kick punch combo or fancy dropkick to the chest would destroy them but you get what you pay for and Rita always had a pile of them.

If the putties didn’t do their job, Rita would send in her ringer, some terrifyingly warped version of a Disney mascot flopping around downtown somewhere, causing problems until Zordon and the Rangers caught wind of them. Sometimes they were giant fish, creepy birds, or amalgamations of the stuff you found at the bottom of your junk drawer and if things got too rough, Goldar would volunteer as tribute. They were always conveniently sent to the middle of downtown Angel Grove, where they could knock over as many things as possible. Rent rates in Angel Grove must’ve been super cheap.

The Rangers would respond in kind with their hyper kinetic Morphin sequence, summoning their respective Zords and naturally, they would win. For all it’s cheesy special effects, awkward cuts, bad dialogue and terrible fight sequences, the Might Morphin Power Rangers gave us as kids something to cheer for.

Each of these members of the Rangers represent a segment of our lives that is commonly found in high schools, community centers and in the streets. Any one of us could be a spandex clad superhero pilot a Zord and save the world. We see that people have to band together to defeat common enemies, no matter how ridiculous they looked, because we were chosen to defend the Earth. They had the qualities needed to be a great leader, a warrior and champion for change. They knew of the Rangers but had no clue who they were, despite five kids wearing suspiciously color coordinated outfits to school. Those selected to be Rangers were all unique in their skills and had distinct personalities that almost mirrored the traits exhibited by their respective Zords.  It was a formula that worked.

The next crop of Rangers were shocked when Zordon pulled them to the headquarters and told them of their collective destinies, their Morphers handed to them by the same people they passed in the halls at school. By the time the series hit fever pitch and the Might Morphin Power Rangers movie was released, the Rangers had decidedly undergone a significant change in their starting line up. Kimberly, Trini, Jason and Zach left the team and were replaced by Aisha, Rocky and Adam. Tommy, who had been the villainous Green Ranger was now the heroic White Ranger and defacto leader of the team. Their Zords also changed. Gone were the dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers, replaced with bears, cranes, tigers and frogs. Interestingly enough, where the first Zords represented strength, size and power, the new Zords mirrored unique fighting styles and personalities. Tommy still got the best Zord; he went from the Green Dragon (which was basically MechaGodzilla but sshh) to the White Tiger Zord and a Morpher named Saba that spoke to him. Tommy was easily the favorite.

Yet despite the change in guard, the Rangers carried on with their core mission, defend the Earth, be all-inclusive, seek change, evolve and wear spandex. Just as the Rangers had changed, so had their enemies.  If Darth Vader was allowed to be restriction free evil, he may have been Lord Zedd, a power mad flayed man with a massive Z crown who took over the command as meanest guy in space. He played no games.  Zedd’s first order of business: He violently banished Rita Repulsa. He then rebranded the Puddies, as Z-Puddies, who were still the same putties with a Z on their chests, and commanding a bigger fleet of monsters.

He aligned himself with the bearded Purple Menace Ivan Ooze, who had managed to enslave the world’s adults (well, only Sydney, Australia’s adults) with his purple goo, Ivan’s Ooze. It seems like all is lost; it’s the perfect metaphor for what it’s like growing up. Here you are, young and working in the world only to be consistently knocked on your bottom almost daily. You want to give up but you can’t and won’t because there are far too many people depending on you and your team is willing to carry you though. The change in Rangers and Zords signifies the need to grow, let go, find yourself and trust that you are stronger than you feel.

Having struggled to find their new identities, destroy old Zords and become new heroes, the Rangers successfully defeat Ivan, send Zedd back to Rita’s old castle and have morphed (yes, that’s a pun) two different versions of the team into one cohesive unit.

This movie, while sounding simple, ultimately sets up the next chapters of the Power Rangers-verse. Since it’s launch in the States, the Power Rangers franchise has undergone dozens of changes, evolutions and developments that has taken it lightyears away from the original series but at it’s core, it’s still a series that encourages diversity, acceptance, teamwork and courage. While mainstream media seems to struggle with pan-ethnic casting, the Power Rangers have been flexible in casting ethnicities and genders in roles of leaders, villains and heroes. It is one of the few series on television that tells viewers, no one cares what you look like, you’ve got something that we need and we want you. That type of inclusion in a series can drastically change the way a child sees the world and subsequently create a real world hero from a basis of fantasy.  Granted, when Zach and Trini were serving as the black and yellow Rangers respectively, one had to wonder if it was intentional that the African American ranger was the black Ranger and the Asian-American Ranger was yellow. The kids were all different, male, female, black, white, they were all kids that represented the best of the human race when it came to the wild world of being a Power Ranger and they reflected the kids who obsessed over the series.

Despite poor costume to ethnicity ratios, each of the subsequent teams that would form under the many titles in the power ranger titles) feature racial and societal differences amongst the rangers exhibiting the same type of strengths and team ingenuity that made the originals such an effective squad. They’ve dropped the ball a few, okay, a dozen times, with newer updates to the Rangers mythology, the concept remains the same: Take kids that you would never expect to band together to fight in the protection of mankind, put them in spandex, have them run around in suits and be awesome.

Changing who we associate ourselves with can broaden our world views, accepting that inside every nerd, jock, smartass and gymnast is a hero and of course, the most important lesson of all…every time is Morphin time.