Friday, May 20, 2016


I've saved myself over $100

It’s finally happened.  I am done paying the $12 movie experience cost to see a DC film.  It’s been one disappointing film after another.  Being generous we’ll say the last decent DC film was The Dark Knight Rises.  That was followed by a very solemn Man of Steel (2013) which kicked off the DC Cinematic Universe.  While Man of Steel was not the film I hoped it would be it had the potential for sparking a fun film franchise.

The first image that came up when I Googled "fun film franchise"

Man of Steel was a disappointingly dark film but it ended with a twinge of expectation.  Superman resolved to be a beacon of hope for the world and protect humanity.  It paved the way for a sequel that wouldn’t be so bleak.  Then comes Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), a film even darker than its predecessor despite the critic and fan outcry of its predecessor. How could DC drop the ball so badly?

We're sure The New 52 was a catalyst

The quick answer is director Zach Snyder, the Michael Bay of comic book movies, minus all the sexist and racist jokes, actually minus humor of any kind.  Based on viewing his recent films one might gather his parents killed his puppy in front of him as a child.  He doesn’t believe in hope, just hints of hope fueled by pessimism.  Can we really blame Snyder for all of this?

How could he have fooled us for so long? How?
The real culprit is Warner Brothers Studios/DC Comics’ failure to understand what audiences loved about The Dark Knight trilogy.  Prior to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) we were given Joel Shumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997); a campy take on Batman with some fun special effects, flamboyant set designs, Bat-Nipples, and awful dialogue.  It was a giant leap from the gothic origins of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).  Burton’s film receives mostly positive accolades despite its lack of an easily understandable plot and over acting from Jack Nicholson as the Joker.  Burton’s film focused on gadgets and an unbelievable film score by Danny Elfman.  After the dissolution of the Batman Quadrilogy Warner Brothers rebooted the franchise with Christopher Nolan leading the charge.   Nolan went back to the dark grittiness of Burton’s film without any of the classic Nicholson overacting.  Nolan’s Dark Knight films were a massive success with a combined box office intake well over $118 billion.

We can't tell if he's a nerd because of the accent but he definitely understands how to treat us right.
During the Nolan trilogy period Bryan Singer restarted Richard Donner’s 1970s Superman. Superman Returns (2006) “underperformed” at the box office, grossing $391 million and fell flat with critics causing WB/DC to pull the plug on the new franchise and Brandon Routh’s career.  The think tanks at WB/DC deduced from the “failure” of Superman Returns that audiences wanted dark and gritty.  What they failed to understand was Nolan did not create dark and gritty.  He focused on character development and plot.  They also missed the whole premise of Nolan’s Batman.  That despite all the corruption and evil that surrounds the world, people are inherently good and evil can be overcome.  So for as pessimistic as Batman appears the underlying tone of the Nolan trilogy is optimism.  It’s a story about a man who overcomes a childhood trauma takes control of his life and devotes everything he has into inspiring others to do the same. 

He needs some bat-nipples on his costumes.

So when we get to the Superman reboot it’s all doom and gloom.  We were willing to give Snyder some latitude because he was developing a film universe but the follow-up Batman v Superman squashed any chance of inspiring tales of hope.  As you sit through the film, it’s a world questioning the actions of a man who flies around helping people.  This is a far cry from the comic book allegory about a refuge immigrant who is adopted by the country he flees to after a mass genocide and goes on to become loved and revered as their greatest citizen.  Perhaps the film reflects too closely on today’s America and defeats the purpose of a film being created for escapism or life inspirational life lessons. 

Batman and Superman spend their entire time hating one another because the title of the film tells them too.  The film tries to explain why and build up to some awesome action sequences but falls short.  Superman who’s supposed to be the beacon of light in the DC comic world is too depressing of a character to get behind in this film version.  Batman is written well and is the mysterious brooding loner as portrayed quite well by Ben Affleck.  Wonder Woman receives much of the praise in the film because she’s the only one with any energy.  She comes in throws out quick one-liners and moves the damn plot along without all the Emo Freak complaining of her co-stars.  When your entire film is two tough guys sulking in a corner than you’re going to love the girl with spunk telling everyone what needs to be done. 

Unless you're Ed Asner you love Wonder Woman.
That’s the real bulk of the issue with the DC Cinematic Universe.  It’s too damn cynical! The writing is weak and the stories are a bummer.  A character like Batman gets away with being a downer because that’s basically been his character throughout his fictional history.  A character like Superman or Wonder Woman need to be more upbeat like their comic counterparts.  I’m not saying throw personal/moral dilemmas out the window, I’m saying they should face these dilemmas and come out of them with a better and more positive persona much like Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. That’s what audiences want from a comic book film. 

That and for this guy to make a damn decision already.

Written by
Joseph Ammendolea
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®