Jimmy the Geek Speaks: Bat Brained


Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers about the film Man of Steel, as well as comic storylines affecting various DC characters.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

I think it’s fair to say I am a bigger Superman fan than I am a Batman fan. I can see the appeal of Batman and I don’t hate him as a concept, but right now I am in a very “Anti-Bat” place. I think, contrary to his mythology, Bruce Wayne is responsible for a lot of society’s problems, and I think we need to do something about it, because now it’s hurting Superman.

Let’s be clear about this, Man of Steel was not a good movie. It completely missed the point of Superman. It made him broody, focusing on his inhumanity and his inability to cope in a human world. This is completely the wrong thing to focus on when dealing with Superman. Superman can cope with anything. Making Superman mopey doesn’t work. Superman is idealistic almost to a fault. He sees the good in people and tries to bring it out. Oh, and he definitely doesn’t murder.

So what this movie did was make Superman more like Batman. I can kinda understand why, in a roundabout way. Batman, for better or worse, is the only hero that Warner Bros consistently make a profit out of. Unfortunately when you do it with Superman you get a terrible movie. BUT! It’s ok, WB have a solution for the sequel! What, get a better scriptwriter? someone who understands what Superman is supposed to be and make them write it the way it should be? No! Of course not! Let’s just put Batman in there!

Moving past the point of Bat Over-saturation, we now have a situation where the biggest question in this new SUPERhero movie, about the trope codifier for SUPERheroes, is “Who will be Batman?”. Ok, fine. If this gets us closer to a decent Justice League movie (spoiler, it won’t and if it does, the Justice League movie will be awful), I can deal with having Bruce Wayne appear in the movie. The interactions between Batman and Superman are always really interesting. Bats is a dark, gritty hero who relies on trickery and deceit to further his goals, whereas Superman is a public figure, out in the open being honest and trustworthy as possible. There is a good dynamic there for conflict because they are methodologically opposed, but they are aiming for the same thing, so they will eventually agree. Unfortunately, Batman and Superman come from the same place in these modern movies. Dark, brooding heroes, unsure of whether to tell the world they exist or not. The real problem is that there isn’t any conflict to draw from… or is there?

There needs to be a contrast between them and they are showing no signs of lightening Clark up. With the casting of Ben Affleck (A decision I agree with aside from the fact that now everyone is complaining about who is playing Batman in this Superman movie) who is a very good actor, they might be leaning towards a less dark, less insane Batman. More along the lines of the Adam West or the Animated series. Again, this in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Batman could definitely use some lightening up.

But, in this movie about Superman, we now have Batman being the more fun of the two of them. I am really bothered by this, because Batman comes from a very different escapist fantasy than Kal El does. Superman is supposed to be “I can do anything because nothing can stop me doing them” and Batman is more “I can do anything I want because I have money”. In my mind, having the money to afford a plane is nothing compared to the ability to fly. I know which one I would find more fun. In this age of the 99%/Occupy protests, you would think Superman would resonate more, but nope.

[img_big]center,9541,2012-09-19/Injustice_TGS_3.jpg,Superman vs Batman in Injustice: Gods Among Us[/img_big]

And it still gets worse. Batman doesn’t kill. This was established way back in Batman Begins (which ignores all the deaths that Batman was responsible for in the 89 and 92 movies). With Superman murdering Zod at the end of MOS, Batman now holds the moral high ground. Against Superman. In a Superman movie, Superman is not the hero we should be looking up to until Batman convinces him that killing is wrong. No. No no no no no no.

There are only two reasons Superman and Batman have ever fought. Either Superman turned evil or Batman was being an uncompromising dick. It works to both of their characters that way. If you have Batman telling Superman what’s right and wrong in any other circumstance, it invalidates the idea that Superman should be a paragon to humans (You know, like what The Dark Knight is supposed to be).

You know who the real victim is in all this? Wonder Woman. The single most popular female superhero before you knew who Black Widow was. Did you know that LEGO Wonder Woman is appearing in two movies before the character has been considered for a live action movie of her own? AND (if the rumours are true) she isn’t even being put into the upcoming Justice League movie. And that is a crime. She is ESSENTIAL to the League. She balances out the triad dynamic for Bats and Supes. Two Earthlings, one Alien. Two metahumans, one human. Two men, one woman. Two people who understand how the world works, one outsider. There’s a balance there that has kept the flow of the comics going for generations now. But she’s not showing up, and Superman will take her plot point because Wonder Woman killed a dude.

I’m oversimplifying here, but Maxwell Lord was murdered by Wonder Woman. He was a horrible person who killed several innocents and The Blue Beetle. One of the big sources of tension on the team has always been her willingness to go the extra mile where the other two believe that they should never kill. That plot point is going straight to this murderous Superman and as a result the most interesting conflicts of three of the most interesting characters gets around not having that third member. I could put forward my theories as to why DC doesn’t want Diana to show up and kick some ass, but it would be a moot point now. If and when she shows up, they won’t know what to do with her, so they’ll probably put her in danger or make her compete with Lois (pro-tip, if you’re reading a book where Superman and Wonder Woman get together while Lois Lane is alive and that book is not called Kingdom Come, it’s written by a hack).

Justice League

Justice League

And I mean, even if for some reason they couldn’t think of a way to throw Diana a bone and make her appear in MOS2, the original plan of these new DC movies was to remind people that they have other heroes that have nothing to do with bats, and they are awesome. They have the fastest man alive, a detective with bird wings, Steve Jobs crossed with Robin Hood, The Space Police and a shapeshifting martian. Are you seriously telling me that the the most interesting character they could have used is a rich kid who plays dressup?

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