Oops, I liked Batman Vs Superman
The following contains spoilers (and positivity) for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I’m not going to pretend this is a well-crafted movie. It’s a convoluted mess, just like its title. There are many valid criticisms to be made. But I like messes — as long as there’s also substance, and there’s just so much packed into this film. Too much, that’s one of the valid criticisms, but so much! And I want to talk about that.
Specifically, I want to talk about psychology.
I want to talk about Bruce Wayne’s PTSD. It started when he was a child and witnessed the murder of his parents. It continued through his years as Batman, however many they were, and whatever they contained. And it culminated in his experience during the destruction of Metropolis. I want to talk about Bruce Wayne’s nightmares. About his monuments to destruction. About his inability to connect to people as anything other than a hero or a monster.
I want to talk about the Marthas. About Martha Wayne’s mausoleum and Martha Kent’s waitressing. I want to talk about the Martha sized hole in Bruce Wayne’s life and why that’s all it takes to drag him back to sanity. I want to talk about Martha Kent’s resilience and how she passed it on to her son. I want to talk about Clark’s ability to connect to people as people despite being a hero and a monster.
I want to talk about Lex Luthor speaking in analogies and references and direct quotes. I want to talk about his choices. I want to talk about young Lex reading Dante and Shelley and Nabokov and Carroll to escape from his cruel and lonely reality. I want to talk about his obsession with gods and monsters living among us and his determination to be the most powerful one.
I want to talk about Lois Lane. She’s the key! Lois never asks Clark to be anything other than himself. Not a god, not a monster, he’s her hero but she doesn’t keep him on a pedestal. He doesn’t have to pretend to be any of it, he just gives and takes and makes mistakes, but also love. I want to talk about how active and proactive Lois is throughout this movie despite Luthor’s plots to use her as bait.
Mostly I want to talk about the dawn of justice. My first reaction to Man of Steel was exhaustion. I saw it at a Saturday morning matinee and afterwards I went home and took a four hour nap. I haven’t watched it again because every time I consider it, I immediately start to feel tired. I didn’t dislike the film, but it made me tired.
Just like Bruce. Just like Diana. I think not having seen Man of Steel recently helped me enjoy Dawn of Justice because I was following along Bruce’s, and to a lesser extent Diana’s, perspective. Batman, the world, the film, are dark so Superman, the light, the dawn mean that much more. Dawn of Justice ends with a death, with two funerals for both the hero and the man, but I walked home smiling. I didn’t need a nap, I needed to talk about psychology! And hope. Because at the end of the film, Bruce and Diana realize they don’t have to do it alone anymore.
Throughout this film, and the previous one, Kal-El is told he is alone in the universe. Krypton is gone. His family is gone. Humanity will never understand him. They see him as a god or a monster, an other. Even as Clark, Perry tells him his morals set him apart from ‘the way the world is now’. But Clark doesn’t accept it. He chooses to prioritize Martha and Lois. He chooses to fall in love. He chooses to call this world his world. He chooses to not be alone.
And Bruce and Diana choose to build on it. To crawl back toward the light.
Structurally Dawn of Justice is overwrought and more like a collection of scenes than a coherent film. But thematically it has . . . heart? I think heart. And I want to talk about that.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing.