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Cassandra

DC Movies- if at first you don't succeed...

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Yeah as I've said many times before, people who don't like Superman loved the new movies.  People who were actual fans, hated them.

Well, yes and no. Personally I've never been much of a Superman fan and never really cared much for the Christopher Reeves movies. (A little too cheesy for me, even as a teen.) But I still hated MoS because it was an hour and a half of illogical emo whining from the Indestructible Man Who Is Inexplicably Terrified That Someone Might Try To Hurt Him, followed by 30 minutes of soulless destruction porn. The fact that they "changed" Superman is a valid criticism, but it's far from the only one.

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Changes to a long-standing character don't bother me in principle. Times change, people's expectations change, it's fair for these characters to evolve with the times. I'm bothered by changes to the fundamental qualities of a character who has remained very popular literally for generations. There's a reason why that character appealed to people for so long.

 

Before he was ever given the MoS director's position, Zack Snyder was on record as not liking the character of Superman. IMO that should not be the person directing a movie about Superman. I liked Man of Steel, and I was willing to accept its somber tone as a path to Superman discovering who he really is and his purpose in life. I don't feel like my acceptance was rewarded in BvS. To me it looks like Snyder still doesn't like Superman.

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Superman was only tolerable as a character because of his moral code which prevented him from crossing certain lines.  The indestructable, handsome, all-powerful hero is really unlikable and impossible to relate to unless he specifically limits himself with a code of behavior which is appealing.  Drop that and he's a terrifying, marauding alien stomping around on earth, unstoppable and unlikable.  He's only heroic by happenstance, not will or design.  He may save the kitty from the tree for a little girl or he may burn the tree to a cinder while fighting someone else, frying the little girl, too.

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I kind of feel the same way about changing Superman or Batman to such an unrecognizable degree as I do about the Abrams Star Trek movies. When you change the characters that much, along with their history, I feel you should just invent new characters. I mean, that's what they are anyway: entirely new characters. But the old names are appropriated in service to bigger box office returns (the studios aren't dumb, they know that bait and switch tactics do work).

 

So if you want a Superman-type character that snaps the necks of his adversaries, then by all means do so, but please don't call him Superman! Because that's not Superman.

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I am the first to admit they were fun as a Kid.

But as a Kid I did not bat an eyelash about "flying so fast around the planet to turn back time, yet not to fsat enough to catch both missiles"(1), "throwing his S" (2), "Super Amnesia Kiss" (2), "Wall of China Repair Beam" (4), "a sentient supercomputer that somehow lacks basic Chemistry knowledge"(3) and "squeezing coal so hard it turns into diamonds"(3).

And those are only the mistakes I have not supressed utterly.

 

You're complaining about superhero science/physics?  Seriously?  In the movie you don't like?  I assume then you're also upset about the magic skull that incorporates all DNA from one species into a baby by touching it to its chest and resurrecting a dead Kryptonian as a gigantic machine of destruction that overcomes all means to kill it.  No?

Also, telling people who disagree with you about a subjective piece of art that they're brains are turned off is becoming pedantic, dude. 

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Caught a rerun of the Supergirl episode "Truth Justice and the American Way" tonight while channel-surfing in my hotel. I found this quote relevant to our discussion.
 
"It's never going to come down to a battle of strength or smarts or wills with you. Ultimately it's going to be a battle of values. Your values versus that or enemy's. If you were willing to abandon those values, what makes you better than Max Lord?" - James Olsen to Kara

 

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Some of this reminds me of the Batman Knightfall comic series when for a few years people were annoyed Batman wasn't more violent/punishing of his villains. So they specifically wrote a series (introducing Bane who later comics tried to ruin) wearing Bruce down before breaking his back. Then Jean (Azrael) became Batman and people got the uber violent killing "Batman" they wanted, and then complained he was to violent etc.

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Before he was ever given the MoS director's position, Zack Snyder was on record as not liking the character of Superman. IMO that should not be the person directing a movie about Superman.

Exactly this. I felt the same about Jar Jar Abrams helming anything with the words "Star Trek" in the title.

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I'll be honest, I liked BvS. It's kind of weird to me that one can absolutely hate this film, and call the first Thor movie anything more than a guilty pleasure, and not a particularly well done one.

 

The two complaints that get brought up the most are the moral one and the whole "Martha" thing. I think both miss the boat.

 

(this is not saying, as far as cinema, that it is the greatest, but that it is on a par with most comic book movies, specifically ones that are part of an arc. For example, Captain America I is miles better than the second(and the third better than the second as well), which is mostly just an action movie and could have had all the characters replaced by any action heroes and villains. The first Thor movie is totally unmemorable. The second Avengers movie, like the second Captain America movie, had no legs. Guardians of the Galaxy was good, and had to be, as most non-comic book fans don't really know those characters.)

 

Anyway, the crux of the moral issue is, Superman punches ordinary people through walls. And then they are conveniently alive. As has occurred in decades and decades of Superman comics. The very reason they see the problem in this is the very deconstruction of comics they seem to dislike, before that deconstruction, Superman could punch racist grannies through walls and no one cared, as comics became marginally more realistic, expectations changed.

 

I think the reason I dislike this argument is because, frankly, it goes nowhere. Deconstruction occurred, instead of giving Superman a place in that reality, some people want him to stay the same. But one cannot complain about the poor millionth thug punched through a wall, and then not see that having a person exist with his powers and then writing him so flat that, in his entire learning to be good process, he never, due to the sheer magnitude of his ability to good or harm, does great harm, or finds himself having to do harm to do good, one is left assuming that he remains what he has too often been, moralizing to the reader on what 'good' is based on a set of criterion that no good person ever had.

 

As for the Martha thing, that particular argument is just terrible. I'm not even saying that that whole scene is that great, it's definitely heavy handed. But the argument is usually put in the framework, "Oh, you know Kyle? I know Kyle! Let's be friends!" However, this misses the clearly(and heavily) twice foreshadowed nature of the whole scene. It is totally not just about that they both have mother's with the same name, though that was clearly used to give Batman a sense of Superman actually being a person, not someone who thought of themselves as a god. It was about Batman as Joe Chill. Standing over a man about to die in one case Bruce's father, in the other, Superman, both of whom utter the same name. Not Kyle, not two people who were friends, but a core memory that defines why Batman is Batman. It was heavy handed, it was that for sure, but it also is pretty obvious why it makes sense.

 

Actually, the only real problem I had with the movie was the kryptonite spear sequence.

 

I understand liking different versions of the characters and wanting to see them. I'll probably never see the Rogue I want to see, or the Elektra. I'm actually glad that DC is making the good decision to take a different tact than Marvel, instead of competing directly for the market for characters largely as they were.

 

I went into this movie fully expecting to dislike it, the very premise sounded like exactly what ticked me off when I saw Avengers II, an action movie that I will never need watch again, because besides being an action movie, not one element of it lived because of the source material; if I want a similar experience, I could watch any blockbuster action movie.

 

But, I find that this movie was clearly being critiqued by many with a lens that absolutely did not get used for the entirely vacuous and empty second Avengers movie. Or the first Thor movie. Or the second Captain America movie. This movie is demonstrably better than all three of those as films, despite its problems. Yes, it may have a black heart, or at least a heart more grey than three color. But at least it had one. Not one of those three movies seemed to at all, it was action fare to get me to buy tickets based on the success of the first movie.

 

If a year ago you would have told me I would be defending Ben Affleck as Batman, I would have thought you were crazy. Ben Affleck? I never liked that guy. And yet, I feel everything I don't like about him worked well for Batman in this movie.

 

Anyway, I can understand wanting to see your Superman, I totally get that. I just see a rather shifting goalpost going on in regards to comic book movies that seems more informed by what some wanted to see with the character and what they got. If this is a bad movie, and Thor is good(or even okay), I'm afraid I'm not getting what criterion we're using at all. Thor wasn't even memorable. In the least. It was a totally uninspiring script, totally uninspiring story, just fell flat from the word go. As a movie. And the critics are not exactly disagreeing on this one. Or on Iron Man 2-3-4-5-which number are we on? Or on Avengers 2.

 

Oh well. I liked it. I recognize there are reasons one might not like it; I just don't get the hate. I expected it to be horrible even before it came out, had no investment in a single actor in it, and enjoyed it. Just to add fire to it, I liked the Wonder Woman theme music. There, I said it. And that's so not a techno beat!

 

All right, let's do this. Flame throwers at ten paces!

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My two sentence review of BvS; BvS battle good. CGI monster battle bad.

 

I don't really care about all the nuances that bothered other people. I am also not counting on the DC movies to cement or destroy the comic book movie adaptations. Marvel already proved there is a place in the market for them. If anything, the comic book movie market is starting to trot on tired legs. Like vampire movies, I'm getting the "been there, seen that" feeling. I worry a bit about oversaturation and what that will do to box office receipts. 

 

I will still love them because I'm all about explosions and violence. Heck, I loved the Transformers movies all the way through the one with the Dinobots. I don't go to see comic movies for the story. I go to see the amazing special effects and occasional humorous moments (Hulk/Loki/'nuff said). If I happen to get a really good story (I liked Winter Soldier and Civil War a lot) then that is icing on the cake. Now I will admit that crappy comic movies like the late run Schumacher series of Batman or any of the Fantastic Four movies tested even my generally easy going nature. 

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Hmm.

 

I kind of feel that my capacity for superhero movies is really no different than my capacity for superhero comic books. As long as they are well written and competently visualized, I will continue to be an avid consumer. Superhero comics have been around, with little interruption, for nearly 80 years. There always seems to be a contemporary audience hungry for superhero stories, whether they are told in a form you read or a form you watch.

 

Westerns suffered from very quickly becoming period pieces, whereas superhero movies will probably always take place in our preset or near future, keeping them from ever feeling like a genre stuck in an irrelevent past.

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Its okay to like the film, if you want to. But it seems an awful lot like you didn't really read what anyone wrote before this because everything you brought up has been dealt with like 87 times in the previous 29 pages.

I actually had been following this thread for a long time, a lot of my awareness of the movie and people's views on it came from this thread and links off of this thread. I just find that there is a bit of an odd double standard. For example, the original x-men trilogy was fun because finally a comic book movie got a special effects budget that allowed it to also be a blockbuster action movie. Unfortunately, it hasn't aged well, which, for blockbuster action movies, usually means that they were merely eye candy from the get-go, and as soon as better special effects came out, there was little reason to watch them.

 

The first Captain America, I watch it all the time. The second hasn't stood up to nearly as many viewings, though I do enjoy the cast, which gives it a leg-up on most of the X-men movies I have seen, though I'm told that a couple of them are quite good, and am looking forward to seeing them.

 

if these flaws are supposed to doom DC's movies, I'm not seeing Marvel sharing a separate fate at all.

 

But perhaps I missed something from the previous pages that you could point out, I may have forgot something.

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I don't really care about all the nuances that bothered other people. I am also not counting on the DC movies to cement or destroy the comic book movie adaptations. Marvel already proved there is a place in the market for them. If anything, the comic book movie market is starting to trot on tired legs. Like vampire movies, I'm getting the "been there, seen that" feeling. I worry a bit about oversaturation and what that will do to box office receipts.

I think this paragraph spells out why it would be a bad idea for DC to go the same route as Marvel, as in a faithful and non-remodeled homage to the years of stories without altering the characters and maintaining a lighter tone. That would mean almost every comic book movie would be so stylistically similar that it would kind of kill the market. So I support the DC's darker tone in this, especially because of the inclusion of Superman. The great Superman stories are almost always outliers and not as central to the character as we like to think, imo. The 'morality' of Superman has actually always simply been comic book physics. Joker stabs a guy he dies, but Superman punches a thug across the street and he will definitely survive. No choice he could make under such physics will tend to create a moral question. This plays well for kids, but not for adults, ime. So, while now it's movie physics, which isn't that different, at least the themes can be honestly pursued. Humans can annoy him. I don't mind that change.

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I'm going to assume that the thing I wasn't commenting on is that a few feel these movies are an appropriation of their favorite characters. So I'll respond to that.

 

Rogue was a whitewashed version of the character that had the most compelling storyline of hers taken completely out.

Wolverine had been appropriated long ago, within the comics, into going from gruff loner without a past who regenerates and then was turned into immortal overwrought character who cannot be destroyed, even if his cells are, because adamantium-midichlorian silliness.

 

Captain America, as he was originally written, would NEVER NEVER NEVER have gone against anything the U.S. government deemed worthy.

 

Batman would have killed, then he wouldn't have, then he was campy, then he went more serious again, then crazy and probably killing occasionally.

 

One problem of the Superman character is, quite frankly, there is no motivation for him to act evil. There is absolutely no advantage in it for him. There is really nothing for him to gain. Social relationships are quite literally the only thing he might struggle with, assuming no evil Kryptonians are around. And the physics of the genre basically have him acting as a thug with consistently good results. No one he punches will die. And then, even with this character, you have old punching minor thugs around Superman, you have Superfriends Superman, Perez Superman(which was good, and didn't stick whatsoever), etc. Only Perez Superman can you consistently say had a Superman who had to make tough decisions, because he was no longer omnipotent.

 

The problem with expecting that a Superman story must always be about doing the right thing is, quite frankly, you lose almost all the classic stories that way, because of course anything he did was going to be the right thing, even punching people he didn't need to, killing little miniature Supermen that he could summon for some reason, heck, didn't he even kill Bizarro once as a mercy killing?

 

If you really want a story about him making the right moral choices, you have to make a character capable of making the wrong ones. and almost no writers have managed to do that with Superman.

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I heard someone once explain the popularity in America of Superman and Spider-Man as follows: 

  • Superman is who we wish we were - omnipotent and with the highest ethical standards
  • Spider-Man is who we think we are - great power with great responsibility, muddling through while fighting the good fight

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