Warning: This article contains spoilers from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you have not watched it yet, read on with your discretion.
As a child, I loved Batman: The Animated Series. My attention span did not allow me to follow the storyline with much detail, but I adorned the fight scenes between Batman (a.k.a. Bruce Wayne) and Gotham’s diverse villains. From Mr. Freeze and his ice gun to Clayface and his shape shifting abilities, watching Batman beat up these unusual characters made me appreciate the world of science fiction and fantasy.
But then, I saw The Dark Knight in July 2008, and everything changed. Never in theaters had I seen a superhero movie that made me regret drinking such a large soda with an embarrassingly weak bladder. When The Dark Knight made its way to Netflix, I watched it back to back for three days straight, getting full use out of my one-month free trial.
What I loved so much about The Dark Knight was the level of realism that was captured within the Gotham City universe. Because of The Dark Knight, I believe that it was possible for a superhero to walk amongst us. If Mark Zuckerberg decided to take an eight-year hiatus from Facebook and train his body and mind to fight crime, he could fund a vigilante lifestyle. Although he might not be as successful as Bruce Wayne, knowing that the possibility of a Batman actually existing is enough to deem ‘The Caped Crusader’ as my all-time favorite superhero.
Upon hearing that Batman v. Superman was becoming a movie, I was not as excited as I thought I would be. I could not imagine how Batman could go from fist-fighting with Bane to trying to take down a man that flies and shoots laser beams out of his eyes. Excitement somewhat grew once I heard that Christian Bale may reprise his role as Batman for the film. Months passed, and then I learned that the new Batman would be played by none other than Ben Affleck.
Ben Affleck? Gigli Ben Affleck? Daredevil Ben Affleck?
Even as I walked toward the movie theatre, I was hesitant about the film, but once I spent $14 to view an oversized television screen, I knew there was no turning back.
“The devils don’t come from beneath us, they come from the sky.”-Lex Luthor
Batman v. Superman starts with a brief clip that shows the murder of Bruce’s parents (SPOILER! Bruce’s parents die!!), then fast forward’s to the fight scene between Superman and General Zod in Man of Steel. Amongst the chaos, Bruce drives toward Wayne Financial in downtown Metropolis, and watches his building fall to the ground, while Superman and Zod battle in the sky above him.
From Gotham to the African desert, Superman created fear amongst those unaware of his true intentions. He was the cause of protests and Senate hearings, with the United States government unsure how to deal with a being who many looked to as having the powers of a God. To his mother, Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent) was a country boy from Smallville, Kansas. To Batman, he was a man who needed to be stopped before becoming corrupted from all the power he held.
I soon realized that to appreciate this film, I had to forget about the The Dark Knight, Christian Bale, and all the graphic novels I had read. I kept trying to compare the movie with everything that I loved about the DC Universe and it was hindering my overall experience. Upon doing so, I was able to grasp what I believed the focus of the movie was: The concept of Good v. Bad. The fun part was figuring out who was actually “good” and who was “bad.”
“No one stays good in this world.”-Superman
In theory, there is no traditional good guy between Batman and Superman. As you may recall, Superman snapped General Zod’s neck in Man Of Steel, and there is a moment in Batman v. Superman where Supes strongly fights the urge to light Lex Luthor’s head on fire. Furthermore, this is not the same Batman that many fans are familiar with. This Batman will take your gun and shoot you with it. The act of killing is not something that Batman frowns upon. What’s interesting about the two men is that Bruce Wayne is honest about the way he lives, acknowledging that he is a criminal, while Superman consistently refers to Batman as a “Bat-vigilante” who is “above the law,” without recognizing his own transgressions. Here lies two men who are about to fight based on a different understanding on what it is to be “good” and what encompasses justice.
Eventually, the two bond over a conversation about Clark’s mom, and unite against Lex Luthor and his plans for (World? Metropolis? Box office?) domination. Once Doomsday is released within Metropolis, the movie is no longer about good v. bad because a clear distinction between the two is never made. Batman and Superman shared elements of both, but one thing that neither of them were was evil. Doomsday was evil, and the movie shifted its focus to the battle between superheroes that were motivated by good intentions, fighting a threat that was deadly to everyone—evil.
“We fight, we kill, we betray each other, but we can rebuild, we can do it better. We have to.”-Bruce Wayne
Overall, I greatly enjoyed Batman v. Superman. Even though I miss the Tumbler and Morgan Freeman, I can get used to Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot with ease. This may be the beginning of a very beautiful relationship.
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