Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. DC Extended Universe has finally arrived!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
The title may be a bit misleading. Officially the DC Extended Universe started in 2013 with Man of Steel. The DC Extended Universe is meant to be to the DC Comics what Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is to, well, Marvel Comics. So far things have gotten off to a rocky start. Man of Steel received only mixed reviews, certainly not the critical acclaim that Iron Man brought to Marvel. At the same time DC Comics couldn’t start the series with Batman, its other main comic book hero, as Batman has only just ended with its movie series in 2012. This leaves DC Comics in the lurch.
You can imagine the risk they took by re-hiring Man of Steel director Zack Snyder. Things got interesting when David S. Goyer was hired to develop the script. Goyer caught my attention with the seminal Dark City in 1998. Since then he has also written the scripts for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Recently he also developed Da Vinci’s Demons which was the cause of frequent binge watching on my part. Goyer developed a script that put Batman against Superman, Ben Affleck (or Batffleck) against Henry Cavill. If you then imagine Zack Snyder bringing themes from Watchmen and 300 into the mix and should have a solid start. Shouldn’t it?
Alas early reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have been largely negative. Reviewers are calling the movie a complete mess when it comes to storytelling. Few fans could believe a showdown between Batman and Superman is even remotely realistic. The bottom line is that the concept is interesting, it just doesn’t work. Zack Snyder’s darker theme might help set the DC extended universe apart from Marvel but it also makes the superheroes look like super-assholes. Batman v Superman might not be a super-bad movie like Fantastic Four but don’t go the cinema’s expecting a movie like The Dark Knight (Rises). One problem with superhero movies is the propensity to include ever more heroes. Batman v Superman pretty much has anyone who is anyone in the DC comics. The next Marvel movie, Captain America Civil War had a troubled development because producers started complaining of the Deus ex Machina that certain superheroes can cause. The inclusion of Spiderman didn’t work for me in the trailer.
Wonder Woman 2017
Arguably a major element of Batman v Superman is the inclusion of Wonder Woman played by the rather mysterious looking Gal Gadot. Despite my enthusiasm for a female comic book heroine getting her own major movie release (here’s looking at you Marvel) I am not certain why Wonder Woman is in this movie. Sure, her role does add to the otherwise testosterone fueled feud between the titular characters. I suppose calling the movie Batman v Superman + Wonder Woman would have been too much. Luckily Gal Gadot will star in her own feature, to be released next year as imply Wonder Woman. The movie is directed by Patty Jenkins who was briefly attached to Thor: The Dark World but left due to creative differences. Yesterday Jenkins released a promotional still from the movie featuring Wonder Woman and three other characters: her mother Hippolyta, her military aunts General Antiope and Antiope’s lieutenant Menalippe. And yes, that is Robin Wright on the right as General Antiope.
My first reaction was whether this was to be a Wonder Woman/Xena reboot mash-up with all the leather and armor outfits. Some might criticize the look, but Patty Jenkins defended the decisions by saying, “To me, they shouldn’t be dressed in armor like men,” Jenkins says of the women’s battle wear. “It should be different. It should be authentic and real—and appealing to women.” “I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time—the same way men want Superman to have huge pecs and an impractically big body. That makes them feel like the hero they want to be. And my hero, in my head, has really long legs.” Wonder Woman is set for release on June 23, 2017 and will also star Connie Nielsen, Lisa Loven Kongsli and Chris Pine.
What to expect from DC Extended Universe?
So what are we to make of all of these comic-book film series? I suppose it boils down to the fact media technology allows producers to create movies, computer games and series with ease and thus ensure a much wider audience compared to paper-based comics. Sadly, superhero movies have also become too generic and gimmicky, the recent release of ant-man being a good example. As this is a Science Fiction blog I will readily admit that any kind of serious science fiction theme is usually absent from such movies. Which for me is another major con. Sure, some have sci-fi elements, but usually they are no more than some technology gone awry. At the same time superhero powers are also more often explained though fantasy. All combined I am starting to feel fatigued with superhero movies and shows. I really don’t watch them all anymore, I don’t even try…