Heresy of the Week – What is Batman v Superman meant to be, anyway?


batman v superman

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

Having announced their plans to ape Marvel’s success, DC hopes to break into popular consciousness with the amusingly titled Batman v Superman. But leaving aside the obvious problems DC labours under, what is this film actually supposed to be?

I’d like it noted, officially and on the record, that I haven’t laid into Zack Snyder on this blog since April. Got that down? Good.

Now, where were we?

In 2016, DC Comics will purportedly be launching their film “universe” properly with the laughably titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This follows on from the mediocre Man of Steel, and is presumably a tool to introduce the other DC character who people can name. If we accept that this probably won’t be the big screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns — because you don’t start of any superhero franchise with a story that daring, particularly if you’re DC — then we have to accept that it is probably going to be every inch as mediocre as Man of Steel.

There are a litany of reasons why this is likely to be the case: Zack Snyder, the slapdash nature of DC’s rush to ape Marvel, Zack Snyder, the fluctuating number of heroes meant to appear, Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck in a superhero film, Zack Snyder, Jeremy Irons wasted as Alfred, Zack Snyder, the Bat-symbol looking like it’s in desperate need of a diet.

Oh, and Zack Snyder.

But one of the big questions I have to ask is this: what exactly is this film meant to be? See, the Marvel plan always made a surprising amount of sense. One by one they introduced their heroes — leading with an Iron Man played by the ever charasmatic Robert Downey jr — and used Samuel L. Jackson in an eyepatch to weave them all together eventually into the X-Men. Sorry, the Avengers. What DC appear to be doing is using a Superman film no one was terribly keen on to launch everything at once.

Io9 a while back had what alleged to be DC’s schedule for the next four years, and it looks like this:

  • May 2016 – Batman v Superman
  • July 2016 – Shazam
  • Xmas 2016 – Sandman
  • May 2017 – Justice League
  • July 2017 – Wonder Woman
  • Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
  • May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2

They dwelt on the idea of a Shazam film before…well, before almost everything. But what strikes me about this is that this B/S film is neither Man of Steel 2 (coming in May 2018, apparently) nor Justice League (a year before MoS 2). But if B/S is going to have Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even an Aquaman played by Jason Mamoa (by a long way the most interesting thing it is offering) then why not just call it Justice League? That’s what it basically is, right?

This seems needlessly drawn out, and actually leaves B/S without much place in the grand plan. Whereas the idea of the Avengers was always present through Marvel’s phase one films, each of the major characters (Hulk, sadly, aside) got their own development. Here I’m looking forward to probably two thirds Batman, a cardboard cut-out Wonder Woman, and maybe a moment where Aquaman accidentally wanders into shot?

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong. Maybe DC will pull it out of the fire, and this will be known as the film with which they broke out and made people care about them.

Oh, no. Hang on. I forgot: Zack Snyder.

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