Throughout Man of Steel (2013), there are vignettes of young Clark Kent performing acts of heroism in small settings despite his father’s advice. They’re acts of pure passion for Clark, compulsions, even though he’s terrified the world will hate him. They contrast with a dreamlike montage in Steel successor Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) of Superman doing amazing feats with an intense sadness and mechanical presence.This montage is interspersed with him being torn apart in the news media. It’s like the mental and emotional weight is holding him down way more than any rocket or ship. It’s so sad, and reminiscent of director Zack Snyder’s controversial Watchmen adaptation (2009) on multiple levels.
People think Zack Snyder is a hack. His films have been critically divisive for years, though his reputation is obviously powerful enough for him to continue to take on bigger projects. This makes him more than just a regular hack to people when it comes to beloved properties such as 300 and Watchmen, it makes him a dangerous hack. Zack has cemented himself among icons; superheroes, devils, gods. Now that’s he’s helming the start of the DC Extended Universe (Dawn of Justice) he’s become the only thing scarier than any of the above- a hack in a suit.
And now I feel like Lois Lane.
The creator of this world is a complex human being with feelings, just like the rest of us! Dawn of Justice uses its platform to heal humanity’s hatred. Childhood trauma leads Bruce Wayne down a path of bitterness and rage. Barely passing as a “normal” person himself, a fearful Clark Kent disses the Caped Crusader for working with the state to target and brutalize marginalized people. But despite what the trailers may show, its ultimate lesson is that our misunderstandings are not inevitable. Lois knows it from the start: the most heroic thing anyone can do is stop fighting long enough really try to listen to someone’s truth.
I’ve been talking about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in real life a lot the past two weeks, and it’s always fun to do. Batman vs Superman is one of those movies that’s about itself a bunch! Which was demonstrated when it came out: like its heroes, the film was wildly successful with people but then heavily shat on in the media. This is about how reality can shift around depending on perspective and press and fears of the moment.
The plot of BvS itself is triggered by real life – people responded negatively to its predecessor‘s relatability and collateral damage during fights so Batman hates Superman because of collateral damage from a Man of Steel fight and people find it hard to relate to Superman in BvS world. That the two are characterized as a racist billionaire and an undocumented immigrant respectively is also super relevant, this U.S. election season.
Of course my friends know about the film’s massively negative reputation but when I relate BvS to our everyday struggles with social media, it perks them right up. I’m increasingly worried about the iconic filmmaker behind the crossover, and the dystopia he depicts in film being so true to life that a perfectly good person is going to get crucified yet again for a planet that can’t – or won’t – relate to his beauty and grace.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters worldwide.