Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Why The Movie Was Shit
Last year it was widely reported that Warner Brothers sent out the following studio memo: from now on there must be no jokes in the DC Movie Universe.
Which was a weird thing to do, wouldn’t you agree?
Comic Book. Comic. Jokes. Comics and jokes go together like strawberries and other strawberries. Or like jokes and comic book movies.
Why wouldn’t you want to make your audience laugh? To entertain them with laughter? That reassuring rise and fall of your rib cage while a guffaw passes your lips and serotonin courses to your brain. It’s nice, Zack. It’s a fucking nice experience, you asshole.
I have no good answer for why the DC PTB’s came up with the Joke Embargo – or what they thought would happen next. But the people responsible for DC’s shitty movie Universe did it anyway. Then they spent $400m creating Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Excuse me while I die laughing.
But beyond this tale of the inexplicable is a deeper and tragic narrative stretching back 20 years, through the myriad lows and two highs of DC movies. Twenty years in which two movies hung over WB like colossal movies hanging over shitty studio executives.
One movies an extreme success and one an extreme failure.
When completed, this meticulously crafted jigsaw puzzle (which will be read by three people) shows us that Warner Bros have literally no idea what they’re doing. This is a movie studio that only got involved in the Christopher Nolan Batman game because Nolan came to them and convinced them. There was no foresight on their part. It was a fluke.
Beyond Nolan’s films the DC Universe is a catalogue of extremental disappointments. Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and Catwoman being perhaps the triple-titted nadirs. Apparently. So I hear. Never seen any of them. And you’re fucking nuts if you saw any of them. Harsh but fair.
Although, I should mention that my sheer hatred for the last hour of Man of Steel is boundless and deathless – much like the two main characters in that fucking fight.
They’re not geeks, these WB suits – that’s the fundamental problem. They’re not geeks and they know less than jack shit about DC’s comic book history, its characters, and why millions of people read those books and love them. The WB execs are bean counters who are great at counting beans. And the problem is, how you get the most beans is creating exhilarating and entertaining superhero movies. And that doesn’t involve the counting of beans.
What makes The Dark Knight great?
The Dark Knight is pretty much universally praised. For many it’s the high water mark of the entire comic book movie subgenre.
It also made a billion dollars worldwide.
Therefore, WB’s goal was simple: figure out what worked so well in The Dark Knight and replicate it every few months from now until the end of time.
So let’s do this. Let’s do what WB did after The Dark Knight hit. Let’s look at what actually worked in The Dark Knight… and then compare it to what the WB execs think worked.
What actually worked…
1) It was entertaining
It’s a fun film to watch. The characters are fun, the escalating Joker vs Batman plot is fun. There are jokes, there are goofy moments. Good action scenes. It’s fun.
2) The Joker was funny
Yeah he’s got menace and performs some gruesomely “dark” violence, but The Joker is really funny in this movie. Laugh out loud funny several times.
3) It had likeable characters
Joker was likeable. Alfred was likeable. Gordon was likeable. Harvey was likeable. At times Bruce Wayne was likeable.
And now here are the lessons Warners took from The Dark Knight…
1) Everything should be grim and dark, dour and hard to watch
No it shouldn’t. Nothing should be like that.
2) No jokes allowed, it’s SERIOUS
The disparity between reality and WB’s view of reality highlights just how superficially the WB suits view movies. They can see what The Dark Knight literally looks like, shadowy, often shot at night. But they can’t identify what makes it work emotionally and empathetically with the worldwide audience.
Batman and Robin: The Legacy
OK, so it turns out The Dark Knight is only half the story. I call it Yin.
The Yang is Batman and Robin.
Batman and Robin is the turd with a machine gun that WB have been running away from for twenty years. It’s the punchline of their nightmares. It’s a garish, hallucinatory gay orgy without the boning and with more cheese than a place that sells cheese. A cheese shop.
It also tanked spectacularly at the box office and killed the Batman franchise for a decade.
So, given all that, and with the billion dollars of the “dark” The Dark Knight lining their pockets you can almost – almost – excuse these boneheads for hiring Zack Snyder and creating the anti-Batman and Robin: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
After all, could anything be more different than Batman and Robin than Batman V Superman?
But in much the same way that communism and fascism might at first glance seem like opposite philosophies, in day-to-day reality they’re basically the same thing. And they’re both really shit.
So what next for DC Movies?
This is so obvious, but here I go writing it anyway…
1) Create a DC Studios, a la Marvel Studios
2) Find a DC Movie overseer, a la Kevin Feige
3) Let DC Studios make the movies while the WB suits do what they do best: count the beans
But will they do this?
Yeah. In time they will. Whether it’s after the debacle of Batman V Superman or after Snyder’s Justice League, it’s definitely happening. It’s inevitable. Feige and Marvel have done too well for it not to happen.
And what about Zack Snyder?
As of today, he’s still pencilled in to direct Justice League, which should start filming in a couple of weeks.
But I don’t think he’ll direct it. Not because of the reviews of Batman V Superman (hilariously awful though they were) but because of the second weekend’s box office. The movie fell 70% at the North American box office – which is awful. It fell 80% in China – which is almost impossible.
$1bn worldwide was considered the mark of success for this movie. After a strong opening weekend it looked likely, but thanks to a catastrophic second weekend $1bn is now not happening. 900m worldwide might not even happen.
And that will be the final nail in the Snyderverse:
Thank you, people of the world.