Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Superman is Going to Fight Batman and I Am Not Excited About It.

In 1998, Marvel Comics and New Line Films released a movie about a vampire hunting vampire named Blade. The movie was called...well..."Blade".

The movie was significant in that it was a superhero film (kind of) that didn't suck, and made some money. This was important because a few years prior, the film "Batman and Robin" had been released, and it was so terrible, and bombed so badly at the box office that it was decided that no one anywhere should ever make a superhero movie again because only NERDS like superheroes, and apparently nerds have no purchasing power even though, you know, Apple and Microsoft and Google and whatnot.

But "Blade" made enough money that Marvel Comics started licensing all kinds of it's properties to all kinds of film studios. 20th Century Fox made an X-Men movie. Sony made Spiderman. Sony made Fantastic Four. 20th Century Fox made Daredevil. Marvel made a whole bunch of money. Marvel made SO much money that eventually, they said "Screw these film studios who don't even understand superheroes ANYWAY and let's do this ourselves." So Marvel Studios was born. On top of bringing their film production "in house" Marvel launched a really grandiose plan- they would release four films, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk that would all exist in the same universe, and would culminate in one big movie "The Avengers", where all of these characters would meet, and Marvel would, hopefully, make all of the money.

Which they did. "The Avengers" made $1.5 billion dollars worldwide, making it the third highest grossing film of all time. And that doesn't count merchandise sales, and DVD sales.

Other comic companies have licensed their properties and caught some of that sweet, sweet superhero movie money too. Dark Horse made two "Hellboy" movies, and DC Comics, Marvel's biggest competitor, made a whole bunch more Batman movies.

And they were really good! DC made 3 really good Batman movies. And the Batman movies also made all of the money, but compared to the Spiderman, X-Men, and Avengers franchises, the money that the Batman films made was just a drop in a pond. Oh, DC tried to leverage their other properties into films. They made a Superman movie (Superman Returns) and Green Lantern, but those films were duds. Oh, and they made Watchmen, but the less said about better.

For some reason, DC just couldn't capitalize on it's properties (other than Batman) the way that Marvel did.

And by "Some Reason" I mean "DC did a really bad job making movies. They got shitty directors and mediocre actors, and writers who didn't really understand, or even care about the characters they were writing films about, and guess what, they made some shitty movies." As opposed to Marvel where they got AWESOME directors, GREAT actors, and writers who actually really truly cared about the characters they were writing about. Also, Marvel realized that they synergy that worked so well for their comic book universe would also transfer to their film universe. Like, hey maybe people might like seeing the Hulk and Thor hang out!

So DC took the note.

Over the Summer, they finally made a movie that was a hit that didn't involve Bruce Wayne. They made "Man of Steel".  Despite middling reviews, "Man of Steel" made all of the money. Why? Well, people really do love Superman. He's a popular character. Also, they marketed the movie really well. I mean, the trailers were awesome. Regardless, the execs at Warner Bros. (which owns DC) could finally breathe a sigh of relief because they could FINALLY say that they made a movie with no Batpersons that was profitable.

You may ask yourself "How will they follow up this box office success?"

And the answer is some Marvel style synergy.

They're making a movie with Superman and Batman...together.

That's right, Superman and Batman. In the same film. The world's finest team! Together on the big screen for the first time ever! Aren't you nerds excited!?!? Don't you want to see Zack Snyder direct a movie with the world's second and third greatest superhero?!! Don't you want to see a kind of adaptation of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns"?!?! Don't you want to see Superman fight Batman?!?!

Well sure, I'd love to see a Superman/Batman movie. Those are two great characters who go great together. It would be SUPER neat (see what I did there) to see Superman and Batman team up to save the world from Lex Luthor and the Joker. Or Darkseid!

But here's what I DON'T want:

1. I don't want Zack Snyder to direct the movie. I kind of hate Snyder as a director. I think his films represent some of the absolute worst tendencies of nerd culture in film form. Like the 300 is a great action movie, but it's also super racist. And Sucker Punch is visually stunning but it's insanely sexist. And Watchmen...well don't get me started on Watchmen. I could write a book about how crappy Watchmen was. Watching Zack Snyder make a movie is like watching an internet troll at work in a message board. WOULDN'T IT BE KEWL IF SUPERMAN KILLED ZOD?!?! BECURSE Y WOODN"T HE? HE"S SPURPERMAN!?! HE"S THE MORST PERLWFUL SURPERHERER! ALSO BEWBIES! No, I don't want to see Zack Snyder direct this film. Or any films.

2. I don't want to see Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" adapted for the silverscreen. At San Diego Comic-Con, when they announced the film, they read an excerpt from Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns". And apparently Frank Miller has been hired as a consultant for the film. Now, don't get me wrong, "Dark Knight Returns". It's one of the most influential comic book series in the history of the medium. Along with "Watchmen", it helped the genre to grow up, and ushered in the "grim and gritty" comics of the eighties. But you know what? Frank Miller's interpretation of Superman is wrong. In "Dark Knight Returns", Superman is the ultimate tool of a fascist US government. When Batman goes too far, the evil government sends Superman to put him down. And because he's a good toadie, Superman does just what they ask him to. Batman then proceeds to beat the living bejeebers out of Superman. That's the comic. So Frank Miller's Superman isn't a beacon of hope, he isn't a champion of the weak, he isn't a symbol for us to aspire to- he's a jackbooted thug. I don't want to see that Superman in the movies. An "Elseworlds" comic? Sure. But an "in-continuity" movie? Oh, heck no.

3. I really don't want to see Superman and Batman fight. There's this classic superhero thing that happens where two superheroes meet, there is a misunderstanding, they fight, they realize the misunderstanding, and then they go fight some bad guys. I don't want that. I'd rather just cut to the chase and have them team up and fight crime, or an intelligent sun (Solaris4Life), or something. It's like in a harold (for my improv literate readers)- scenes are more interesting if two characters are working together towards a common goal rather than fighting each other and putting up roadblocks to each other's progress.

So...I'm less than excited about this film. Just like "Man of Steel", I am hopeful that it will be good. I mean, I want every superhero movie to be good, but with superheroes of the caliber of Superman and Batman, I want the film to be extra good. What I don't want is a dark, jaded, gritty movie where the two characters fight each other for 90 minutes. I'd rather they spend those 90 minutes punching injustice.

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