Over the years I’ve become increasingly fond of the character Batman and the DC universe. He is a pretty dark and curious character. A guy who has been so affected by the murder of his parents that he dresses up as a bat and beats up criminals. He’d die for a city that is rife with corruption and crime, despite it never seeming to improve.
Before I get too far, let me just say that I don’t read the comics, nor am I an “expert” on Batman etc. Also this has spoilers – although if you’re worried about me spoiling Batman Vs Superman, Zack Snyder will take care of that anyway.
In film and games there has been many interpretations of Batman but none as bad as Batman Vs Superman. Yes, this includes Schumacher’s woeful film Batman and Robin. Schumacher was trying to make fun films suitable for kids with kerpows and silliness to make the little ones giggle. It was Chuckle Brothers does Batman. Kids like the Chuckle Brothers and thinking back, I enjoyed these films as a kid despite now hating them. Most other interpretations have been darker, such as Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Burton’s two films and the Arkham series of games.
Zack Snyder’s interpretation of Batman is certainly the darker version but aside from having some very odd dreams, he just seemed an angry and cruel person. Batman genuinely seemed more the villain than hero vigilante. I get he was meant to be pissed over the destruction of his tower (why no one thought to evacuate until he gave the order I don’t know) but he smashed up the place pretty good on his own!
The Nolan films and Arkham series showed him as stealthy and a great detective. Heck, the LEGO games at least show him as a great detective. However in Batman Vs Superman he seemed pretty brain dead. The fact that he stood out in the open awaiting Superman was just wrong. He should be in the frigging shadows. He was slow and cumbersome. He lacked agility and even grappling around he was like me the first time I played Arkham Asylum. It was woeful.
A common theme in the quality Batman films and games is the villains. Nolan and Burton brought us great villains who has a darkness and personality. Schumacher’s films lacked the darker element but at least the Riddler & Poison Ivy had a story and personality. The Arkham games are better than all the films with a range of villains who have a relationship with Batman, personality and you get to learn a little bit about them. Being able to understand or get to know a villain makes them appeal more as a character. I’m not saying to like them as you would a protagonist but ones who you want to see more, learn about their madness or make you think “ooo, what a bastard”. Take Mark Hamill as the Joker. He is crazy and an evil git but he’s funny, interesting and you want more of him.
The best villains have a goal – something they want to achieve. In Batman Vs Superman we are treated to two villains. Lex Luthor starts off with the potential of being interesting, held down by terrible rambling dialog, but by the end you don’t understand a single decision being made. Why is he warped like this? The film is bloody long enough to explain it! I’m meant to hate him but that shouldn’t be achieved through terrible dialog. Then Doomsday is a dumb beast like boss. Fine for a final battle in a film about the personal side, exploring morality, character’s back stories etc but the film bails on that too!
The combination of the Nolan films and Arkham series of games have set high standards for a Batman. A dark and violent Batman up against complex and interesting villains in a corrupt Gotham rife with crime. Batman hides in the shadows and brings fear to his enemies. Was Superman scared of Batman? No. Of course not. The only time we saw the stealthy aspects of Batman were when the camera lingered on a wall, although it was kind of cool seeing takedowns a bit like the game. Usually one of the more consistent parts of a Batman film/game is Alfred. The reliable, witty and caring elderly butler is a very likeable character… aside from BvS.
One thing that greatly annoyed me with the BvS film was the general story telling. Films of course have much less time to tell a story and provide the depth and range of stories and characters than a game but I feel we can do some comparison here. Both of them have multiple plots including more minor stories running in parrallel.
In Arkham Knight we had the intertwined story of Batman’s struggle with Joker & his decline into madness, Scarecrow’s attempt to infect the city and the Arkham Knight himself with added goodness of side quests that provide short additions to the main plot(s). These all tie in together and have something to add to the storyline. They can diversify at times but then come together. The storylines are all concluded without leaving things unfinished.
In Batman Vs Superman they’ve tried to introduce quite a few different sub plots and things going on but none of them get very much time to be well explained. As a result some of the story telling required corners to be cut and leaps to be made. Some stories just went nowhere. They may have had an interest at the time but they weren’t there to link things up or impact the ending. As plot devices they were pointless, for example they should have had Lois reveal that Lex is behind everything to Superman from her bullet investigation, not just you know… drop it.
It also contains several sequences that don’t add anything to the main plot and are nothing more than a trailer for future films. Adding in a few easter eggs is a cool way to hint at what is to come (it is a reward for people who spot them) but a good portion of the film was a prequel for the next film. After sitting through plenty trailers before the film, I don’t like them in the film.
As I mentioned earlier, films have less time to deliver the story than games. For this reason the odd plot device and little leaps can be acceptable to keep the story moving. BvS instead seemed to come up with many interesting ideas then run with all of them with only some actually being worthwhile. The film would have been much improved by picking only the story lines required to progress the characters and main story plus perhaps cutting down on destruction of buildings (we started with Superman smashing up Metropolis City and ended with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman smashing up Gotham).
So yeah, this was a very bad film. Very bad. Seeing it so close to the finishing a great game has set high standards and boy oh boy did this film fall below those.
One thing is consistent though in every Batman film, TV show and game though… he doesn’t kill his opponents.
Edit: Fonder memories…