This year is shaping up to be a big year for superhero movies. There’s Deadpool, X-Men, Captain America, Doctor Strange, and of course, Batman v Superman. With Marvel still riding high, Deadpool and X-Men getting massive amounts of buzz, and DC still struggling to catch up, there’s a lot riding on Batman v Superman to be a success. But as more information is released, there are signs that the film isn’t going to be the slam-dunk hit the Warner Bros. and DC are expecting.
First there was the hiring of a new writer midway through filming, the mysterious 10 month delay, the incredibly dark tone, and the massive cast of characters. It’s still a bit too early to pass judgement on a film that people haven’t even seen yet, but things aren’t looking too promising. Here are 10 signs that Batman v Superman may prove to be 2016’s biggest cinematic disappointment.
10. The Troubling 10 Month Delay
Batman v Superman was originally going to be released in July 2015 before Warner Bros. decided that a May 2016 date was better. It’s not uncommon to have films pushed back or forward by a few months, but a delay of almost a year is too big to simply ignore.
The reasons behind this extended delay revolve primarily behind the film’s production. The official statement given was that the film’s extensive post-production process required the extra time. However, there were a number of behind the scene shake-ups that give some cause for concern.
First there was the hiring of Oscar winner Chris Terrio to rewrite the script midway through filming. This rewrite ties into the subsequent rumor that Batman’s initial role was expanded at the behest of the executives and/or Ben Affleck. For a big-budget film with the DC cinematic universe riding on it, it’s more than a little worrying that rewrites and creative changes are happening at the same time as filming. Let’s not forget, Akiva Goldsman won an Oscar for writing and yet he also penned the abomination that was Batman and Robin.
There’s a chance that Batman v Superman could pull a World War Z and surprise everyone despite a lengthy delay. But based on what’s been revealed so far, there’s also the very real possibility that the film could go the way of 47 Ronin and be a $200 million write-off for Warner Bros.
9. Director Zack Snyder
Batman v Superman already had a cloud of doubt over it right from the beginning when it was announced that Zack Snyder was returning to direct. The main criticism of Snyder’s directing style is that his films are heavy on the stylistic visuals but light on character and substance.
Man Of Steel garnered considerable criticism for its lack of meaningful character development in favour of some insane action set pieces and impeccable style. From the photos and footage released so far on Batman v Superman, it is going to be filled to the brim with the usual Snyder visual flair, but there isn’t a whole lot of evidence to suggest that film will dig deep enough to back up its pretty looks. There is plenty of moody lighting and dramatic camera sweeps, but the characters are shown to be doing very little other than looking gloomy, rushing head-first into battle, or sprouting witty quips.
8. The Dialogue In The Trailer Is Pretty Corny
Trailers give a decent indication of what a movie will be like. If the dialogue from the Batman v Superman trailer is anything to go by, the final film is going to be filled with campy lines and unsubtle existential musings.
Alfred’s “That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel” line is more pretentious hipster than philosophical musing. There’s also Perry White’s unsubtle nod to the audience “Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman.” Even Batman is given a line that’s both out-of-character and corny: “Tell me, do you bleed? You will.”
Sensing that the dialogue may need a polish, Oscar winner screenwriter Chris Terrio was brought on board during filming. The extent of Terrio’s contributions remains to be seen but it can’t be worse than “The red capes are coming!”
7. Captain America
When the Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped, it was met with open arms and adoring eyes. By contrast, when the Batman v Superman trailer first dropped, it was met with a more cautious reception. This contrast in reception for each respective films’ trailers may foreshadow what will happen when Batman v Superman and Captain America is released next year.
Batman v Superman has arguably the more unenviable position of showing its hand first when it is released next March. With the well-oiled Marvel marketing machine in full effect by that point and Captain America coming out just weeks later, comparisons between both superhero conflict movies will inevitably be made and Batman v Superman may come out as the loser. As Marvel have had numerous movies to establish their roster of superheroes and character relationships, the inter-team battle in Captain America will carry that extra emotional and tragic edge to it. DC, on the other hand, is still introducing and establishing their slate of superheroes, meaning that whilst Batman’s and Superman’s conflict sounds awesome in theory, it hasn’t quite earned that fight yet and is currently lacking the high-stakes feeling behind Iron Man and Captain America’s duel.
It is almost certain that Captain America will be awesome, but then again, maybe Batman v Superman has a surprise up its sleeve to help level the playing field.
6. Too Heavy A Slate Of Characters For The Casual Viewer
Superhero movies generally have a distinct protagonist that the audience can easily get behind and an easily identifiable antagonist to root against. But Batman vs Superman has the unenviable problem of pitting two beloved protagonists against each other and hoping that the audience will go along with it.
Superman has always been characterised as a sort of savior for mankind, but all the ‘false god’ stuff seen in the trailers seem to have made him out as a bad guy. Batman doesn’t quite fit his usual good guy persona either since he actively blames Superman for the destruction of Metropolis and is hellbent on taking him down. To the casual viewer, the premise of good guy vs. good guy is already a bit hard to follow. Throw in Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor – who is obviously going to be the film’s actual bad guy – it’s hard not to be confused as to what exactly is going on.
With two supposed good guys going toe to toe against each other, the bad guy playing third fiddle, and a series of supporting characters with mysterious motives, it’s easy to see how this film is already looking like a mess.
5. Too Gloomy
Ever since Christopher Nolan proved that dark and gritty Batman films can work – and be insanely profitable – most of the DC superhero movies have attempted to emulate that style to mixed success. When Man Of Steel tried to infuse a darker tone into Superman, it didn’t quite work as the film was sorely lacking that crucial element of fun and excitement. Based on the trailers for Batman v Superman, it looks like more doom and gloom is on the horizon.
Whilst the Batman material is as sullen as you’d expect, the cries of ‘false god’ seem to indicate that there’s no room for any humor in Superman’s half either. In their eagerness to distinguish themselves from the light-hearted and quippy Marvel movies, DC doesn’t seem to realize that the whole dark and gritty schtick doesn’t mean robbing a film of its warmth and life. Anything any character does in the Batman v Superman trailer seems to be done with a permanent scowl with barely a hint of a smile anywhere. It’s one thing to strive for realism in a superhero movie, but it’s another to have the heroes emotional range permanently set between angry and sad. Surely Batman or Superman have laughed to at least one joke in their lifetime?
4. Batman And Superman Relationship Is Already Underdeveloped
The Dark Knight Returns is considered one of the greatest comic books ever for featuring the first no-holds-barred Batman vs. Superman conflict and the subsequent fallout between the two characters. What made the comic so powerful and emotional was that Batman and Superman have been well-established as close friends who have been through hell together. By the time the two fight, it’s hard to not see their conflict as anything other than a tragedy. It is this crucial aspect that the Batman vs. Superman film is lacking.
Whilst the Batman and Superman conflict in the comics was well-earned due to all the groundwork that had been laid out, the film skips all of this important backstory. By introducing Batman in this film and having him take on Superman shortly after their initial meeting immediately robs their conflict of any emotion or stakes. Without their deep and close friendship as a backbone, the cinematic conflict between Batman and Superman feels cheap, unwarranted, and nothing more than an ego-driven brawl than a sad fight between two close friends.
After the filmmakers said that this is an original story and nothing is taken from The Dark Knight Returns, you can’t help but feel that they missed out on making something great by not using the comic.
3. Bruce’s Origin Story Is Explained (Again)
With two cinematic Batman origin stories already, the tale of Bruce Wayne’s humble beginnings is well-trodden territory and doesn’t really need to be told again. When it was announced that an older Batman would make his cinematic return opposite to Superman, it appeared that signs were pointing to a new Batman introductory story.
And then the Batman v Superman trailer dropped and everyone saw Bruce’s parents get murdered. Again.
Instead of introducing an older and world-weary Bruce and dedicating time to the Batman and Superman conflict, the producers are playing it way too safe and going down the same beaten path yet again. After a trilogy of Batman films that ended not too long ago, is there really anyone left who doesn’t know the story of why Bruce Wayne became Batman? What the film should’ve done was completely ignore the Christopher Nolan Batman films.
Instead, by doing another origin story only 10 years after Batman Begins, the film risks alienating audiences with something that is turning out to be little more than a retread.
2. Too Much Setup, Not Enough Of A Self-Contained Story
Marvel has taken their time in crafting a well-established cinematic universe by forming a solid foundation through several solo films. Sensing that they’re behind in the game, DC is rushing to launch their own cinematic universe by announcing a large slate of films over the next few years. However, DC’s ambitious catch-up plan could prove detrimental to Batman v Superman’s overall quality.
There’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done before the Justice League film drops in 2017. But with only Suicide Squad and the Wonder Woman film coming out in between Batman v Superman and the Justice League, DC only has a limited amount of movies to fully establish all the characters required. Seeing as how Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman are doing their own individual thing, it appears that Batman v Superman is having to do all the heavy lifting before 2017 rolls around.
With a massive cast that includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Lex Luthor, it’s difficult to see how this film will manage to introduce all the new characters, set up the DC universe for future instalments, and tell a satisfactory story that is self-contained.
1. Too Many New Characters And Storylines
For a film that has Batman v Superman as the headline act, there is an almost excessive number of supporting characters who are waiting on the sidelines. Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor are on the cards to play some significant supporting roles, whilst Aquaman, Cyborg, and a supposedly dead General Zod are all set to appear in some sort of cameo. That’s not even mentioning all the non-powered human characters such as Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, and the rest of the Daily Planet crew.
With so many characters to focus on, there’s also a lot of story to cover beyond Batman and Superman’s little spat. From what can be gleaned from the trailers and available information, there’s Superman and his conflict with the Government, Batman’s origin story and his guilt over the death of Robin, Lex Luthor’s mysterious plan as a third wheel, and the still-unknown reasons and motives behind Wonder Woman’s appearance. With a final tally of roughly 10 major characters, at least four major storylines, and presumably two and a half hours to squeeze everything in, it’s hard to see how this film will successfully juggle everything.
Considering the fact that Sam Raimi couldn’t prevent Spiderman 3 from collapsing beneath its many characters and storylines, and Avengers: Age of Ultron barely scraping through despite having Joss Whedon, what chance does Zack Snyder and Batman v Superman have?
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