This is the year that DC started to truly compete with Marvel, at least as far as the idea of the Cinematic Universe goes. Marvel gifted us Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange while DC threw up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad; of course, I’m not going to pick any favorites between the studios at all… Today, we’re just going to look at two films and compare them to see which one reigns supreme, those being DC’s. Before anyone throws a term like “Marvel Bitch” around, I’d like to preface this with a little background on my DC fandom: I “grew up” with Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Trilogy (age 10 and on), and have been a huge fan of Batman and Superman all my life. One story that my mom likes to tell is this:
When I was little, we went out to eat as a family [Mom, Dad, myself, and my sister Lily]. When the waiter went around asking what we all wanted to drink, he addressed Lily as “princess” before leaving to go back to the kitchen. I, allegedly, crossed my arms and pouted in disappointment. My parents asked me what was wrong since I seemed so unhappy. I responded, “Well, that guy called Lily ‘princess,’ but he didn’t call me ‘Hulk’ or ‘Flash’ or anything.” They all laughed and explained, “Usually guys don’t call each other names like that.” “I don’t like that rule,” I said.
With that story, you can see (amongst other things) that I’ve always been equal parts Marvel and DC fan, and to this day, there is no unreasonable favoritism that I have towards either of them. I’m a fan of movies, and I like the ones that I think are good. At this point for me, Marvel is winning, but just because I’m a Marvel fanboy doesn’t mean that I’m a DC hater. There are some Marvel movies that I hate (Thor: The Dark World) and there are DC movies that I love (Man of Steel). Proportionally, they are about equal to me out of all of their films, but 2016 has done a lot to each studio… and threw them in opposite directions, according to the popular opinion.
Now, let’s just focus on Batman v Superman (BvS) and Suicide Squad (SS); both of these films were divisive to say the least. Batman v Superman was DC’s first film since Man of Steel (MoS); MoS was released in 2013 and was not much more than an “experiment” for DC and Warner Bros. They even refused to announce their future plans or a sequel until after the reactions to MoS came out upon the film’s release. So, BvS was highly anticipated and was set to lay down the framework of a story, characters, and tone for the rest of their films. They also filmed the entirety of SS and prepped that for release the same year. However, the studio panicked when audiences and critics alike responded negatively (mixed at best) to the tone and handling of the characters in BvS, and decided to pretty much remake SS in order to make it more “fun” for the audience. This, however, ruined the story and characters as well and gave the audience a mess of a film.
There is a lot to dislike about each movie, but at least it feels like the studio tried with BvS; writer/director David Ayer of SS was given just six weeks to write the film, and even that was re-cut after filming by the studio to make it more “fun,” which is a double negative. Two years and six weeks make a big difference, even when both of these films were virtually panned by critics; DC’s reactionary mindset that they go into making each film has been their downfall, and I’m hopeful for their future since they’ve realized that there has been a negative reaction to their films. Let’s dissect the problems that these films have: miswritten characters, a convoluted plot, emphasis on style over substance, and working more in making these movies to set up more movies than just make them great on their own. These next paragraphs will outline the issues that I have with these individual problems.
Characters- Batman v Superman
For fans of DC characters, this movie got everything wrong; Superman is supposed to stand for justice and hope for humans, but he kills a lot of people in this film, and he seems like an angsty preteen most of the time as well. He shouldn’t anger so easily, and definitely shouldn’t have fought Batman so quickly. I mean, they spoke very, very few words between each other before they tried to kill each other, and they did try to kill each other. Batman, on the other hand, is meant to be a moral compass for the justice league, but he’s even more of a villain than the bad guys! Sure, he’s cool and badass and Ben Affleck looks like a great Batman, but this is not a great Batman; he’s written terribly as a character, and written into a terrible story. Don’t get me started on Lex Luthor… he’s the least menacing villain that we’ve seen in years, and that’s not just a problem with the casting. I love me some Jesse Eisenberg, but I wouldn’t cast him as Bond the same way I wouldn’t cast him as Lex. This film got every character wrong except for Wonder Woman, who was glorious. Her outfit was a little unprotective with his hyper-sexualized nature, but I mean, she’s not easily wounded so I guess she can wear what she wants.
Characters- Suicide Squad
Okay, so this film is very Guardians of the Galaxy, or so it tries to be at least. However, none of these characters hardly have any characterization, except for Deadshot, Diablo, and Harley Quinn. Every other character is extremely forgettable and useless, and they serve virtually no purpose to the film, or even to other characters. There’s no tension because they’re all expendable, and that’s exactly that this film reminded me of: The Expendables. We get introduced to these characters as if they’re trading cards, and that’s almost all of the information that we get on any of them throughout the movie, and most of them are mentioned to have x, y, or z skills… and we never get to see those skills or hear about them again! This script was definitely written in 6 weeks, and it’s impossible to write, edit, polish a script while patching holes, and creating great characters in that time, so I don’t fault David Ayer; I love Ayer’s previous works but the studio screwed him and us with this film. Okay, so the Joker. No, no, no. This dude is weird and creepy but in the pedophile “stay-away-from-our-neighbor” kind of creepy- not the haunting and chilling kind as he should have been. I was never intimidated by him, I just wanted to shoot him so that he’d go away; he can’t be a great villain and be like the was unless he is written better, and given more to do. And that’s a huge problem with a lot of the characters: they don’t have anything to do. They just exist, shoot, and crack a flat joke every so often.
Plot– Batman v Superman
As I mentioned, Batman and Superman speak like once (maybe twice) before they fight, and the titular fight is like 8 minutes long before Batman was about to cut off Superman’s head; the reason that the fight stopped was because Batman realized that Superman’s mom is named Martha, just like his was. Sure, I get it: “but this shows Batman that since Superman’s mom has the same name as his, then that makes him more human and less alien and that he’s not as much of a threat now to humanity.” WHAT?! That’s ridiculous, and don’t tell me that the world’s greatest detective didn’t already know about Clark’s family if he knows where he works and who he is. That’s just some terrible writing, and then throw in Doomsday, the death of Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, introducing the rest of the Justice League, Steppenwolf (I think), etc. etc. etc. which would have made for a trilogy of great films, instead of one extremely convoluted one. This was a mess of a film.
Plot– Suicide Squad
What do you know, another blue sky-beam that people have to stop before the city is destroyed… thanks, every sci-fi film between 2011 and now! This film recycles so much and doesn’t add anything new to any of it, especially as far as plot goes. I mean, here: an archeologist travels by herself to find a secret treasure… and then breaks it like a true professional, and then gets possessed? And now she can kind of control it, kind of not, but obviously this demon/spirit is the antagonist, and so using this woman, who is part possessed archeologist, part businesswoman who is freely let into a government meeting, must do something to something something, bull shit this movie sucks. Of course, she “turns” bad, has a brother who helps her do something else while villains have to band together to stop them. These villains are completely powerless, and they’re only fighting because they have to, but then they learn the power of teamwork and friendship and now they’re not villains anymore, and Batman could’ve done all of this himself. There are no stakes and there are no risks and there is no reward because they all were back to where they started. One can say that they got time off of their sentences…but they probably still have like 12 life sentences, so no.
Style over Substance– Batman v Superman
As I’ve mentioned, there is no real substance here. This is a film full of great moments, but no scenes (check out this video to see what I mean here, all credit to Nerdwriter1) that tell a story at all. There are movies that are incredibly effective with the notion of world-building, but nothing feels special here at all. Let’s take a look back at Nolan’s Dark Knight films: when we’re in Gotham, it feels like Gotham. In the first film, we see the dirty streets as well as the big city, but we know which one we’re seeing in each scene. This carries throughout the trilogy, and they all feel like Gotham. In this film, Gotham feels like any city, and it even feels like Metropolis, too… it’s impossible to tell them apart and we never know which one we’re in… not only that but the last fight against Doomsday takes place on an island between the two. Since when did this geography happen, and why weren’t we told about any of it? There’s no exposition or world-building at all, and that is due to no establishing shots that tell us where we are or what’s going on. It’s just action action action and no story, characters, or places. But hey, at least it looks good because that’s all that matters.
Style over Substance– Suicide Squad
This film has the worst case of this disease that I’ve seen in a LONG time; the damn thing is like a 2-hour music video featuring the “hottest” artists of 2016. This film will be extremely dated in a few years, and re-watching this in 30 years will be just ridiculous and hilarious for teenagers. They’ll just say “Dad, this movie sucks,” and I won’t be able to argue. The reason that this trailer was so great was because it had every good part in it, and looked good because we couldn’t see how hollow it was. The movie is like a trailer itself, advertising quality but just teasing it instead of delivering it. There is nothing here to chew on, but there’s a lot to look at. The film is visually impressive (practically) but the CGI is pretty trashy when compared to other large blockbusters of 2016. The Joker appeared in an unrelated Rick Ross music video to show off his style… why couldn’t he have appeared in a scene in the film that didn’t get cut up or cut out? DC, you’re not doing it right.
Setting Up Future Films– Batman v Superman
This film has done more to try to set up DC’s future films that the people who work for DC right now (at least this movie is trying!). We don’t get any real characterization with Batman or Superman as we should have, yet we are shown Steppenwolf, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman, and they wasted Doomsday. All of those characters, save the last, are going to be prominent in future movies, and yet are teased in this film as if they’re prominent now. Many of those should’ve been an after-credits scene or left out of the film entirely. We get it, you have a lot of movies coming up, but don’t blow your whole wad immediately, because now we’re turned off and going to sleep, or going back to Marvel who can give us what we want. DC has tried way too hard with these films to make up for 8 years of being behind Marvel that they’ve ruined both of their 2016 films.
Setting Up Future Films– Suicide Squad
Well, this film doesn’t suffer from this nearly as much as BvS because that film had 2 years to stuff in as much as possible, whereas this film had 6 weeks to do it all. So, there was no extra time to gorge, but this film did suffer from setting up future films, but not intentionally. Take some great Batman villains, and put them in a movie together, and turn them into good guys? Well, now that they’ve saved a city, what is Batman going to do? Fight them? Batman or the other guy would be the bad guy, and they wouldn’t be able to do a Civil War-thing, so this was a mistake to use them so early. SS would’ve made a great 15th film in the franchise, but now these villains can’t be evil and still work as villains. This movie did almost nothing right, and it is the reason why DC has announced now that they’re changing their structure, yet again… they have a lot to fix.
Well, that was me trashing on the recent DC films for 2400 words; which one do I like better? I don’t like either, but I’ll have to go with BvS because at least it tried to do something; SS is just a sloppy half-assed pile of garbage, but don’t let me change or influence your opinion of the films, honestly. I love bad films and I love good films, I also hate some bad films and hate some good films, so it’s okay to think anything about any film. Like both of them, if you want to, just don’t let me tell you what you should and shouldn’t like:) Anyways, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!