I was nine years old when I first saw the Batman on the big screen. I didn’t understand all the adult innuendo but I had a pretty good idea what was going on. It was pure entertainment. I felt like I was in another world. That summer, my childhood obsession with the Incredible Hulk shifted into the dark, brooding Caped Crusader, an appropriate role model for the adolescent years to follow. I even went as far to transform my closet into the Bat Cave and force my younger brother to be Robin. I started to consume every book I could get my hands on. That Christmas, I asked Santa, who shortly would become another fictional character in my mind, for the GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD. It was a great way for me to catch up on his rich comic book mythology. I think I was around 11 years old, when I picked up THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller. This was that watershed moment where my whole world came into view, like when you used to focus your View-Master and the slide would transform your imagination. This was my Batman.
All this fictional discovery was against the backdrop of the 1990’s. Growing up listening to the Beatles, Doors and Sex Pistols. I always felt like I missed out on the truly great moments, like I was Billy Pilgrim from SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, a man unstuck in time. Then Nirvana exploded onto to the scene and everything changed. Today, I realize that these years were the best, the formative era of Bill Clinton jogging to a local McDonald's to consume a calorie-laden breakfast sandwich. Everything back then seemed to just flow. I watched Batman change allot during this time, from the Tim Burton sequel to the rave-esque Joel Schumacher installments. For the most part, I really enjoyed BATMAN FOREVER, especially the soundtrack, which was pitch perfect. Even though Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones were over the top, I found them to be interesting juxtaposed against Val Kilmer’s Batman. When George Clooney came on board, I remember that feeling in the theatre, the feeling of an end to an era.
After BATMAN & ROBIN destroyed the franchise, I graduated high school and entered college. For a bit, Batman disappeared from my life, I just buried him under my subconscious. Every now and then, I’d hear rumblings of a new film potentially being made but nothing ever came to fruition. When they announced that Christopher Nolan was going to direct the reboot, I was excited, after all MEMENTO was a masterpiece. When the film came out, I was there opening weekend and I have to tell you, I wasn’t blown away. I enjoyed Christian Bale but I felt like his Batman was explained too much, like a man couldn’t become a vigilante on his own, his training with the League of Shadows just didn’t appeal to me. I had come to believe in my mind that Bruce trained himself for countless hours in the Batcave, beating his mind and body into shape. None the less, I was mildly entertained. That all changed with THE DARK KNIGHT, mainly because of Heath Ledger’s performance but also because I felt the story was multi-layered and well executed. When Heath tragically passed away, so did my hope for another sequel but we still got one, just not the one we all wanted. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES just felt odd. Still to this day, I argue with people on Twitter, “how did the world’s most dangerous prison have cable access?”.
When the trilogy ended, I thought it would be at least another decade before Batman returned to multiplexes. I was shocked when Zack Snyder announced he was going to include Batman in the kinda sequel to MAN OF STEEL. I wasn’t thrilled with the casting choice but after that first photo surfaced, I was optimistic. Still, I kept pondering, how are they going to pull this off? Why would the World’s smartest detective battle Earth’s mightiest hero? What would the plot be? Why not just call it, WORLD’S FINEST and go in another direction? So, like everyone else, I sat and waited for three years, trolling every website that would mention the project. During this time, my wife got pregnant and suddenly I realized, wow, I’m going to be a BAT DAD and when the film finally comes out, my son will be 2 months old. Another monumental life changing event against the backdrop of the Caped Crusader.
So I just saw the film and I’m here to tell you, this is not a Batman or Superman film. This is something entirely else. I’ve been attacked on Twitter for justifying my reasons and protecting my precious Batman from this abysmal film. I’m not a hater. I’m a fan and if the previous paragraphs don’t justify that, well you should probably just delete me as your friend or follower. First off, the plot makes absolutely no sense. We’re led to believe that Lois Lane travels to North Africa and Superman is framed by Lex Luthor by some mysterious bullets? Since when has Superman ever used a gun? Hello, he’s Superman, bullets bounce off him. It’s been 18 months since he destroyed Metropolis but we still hate him? In this year and some change, Superman hasn’t done anything to redeem himself? As far as character motivation goes, why does Lex Luthor hate Superman so much? He spends too much time force feeding jolly ranchers down people’s throats and waxing poetic about gods and demons. Lex pissing in a jar too. I mean that was just the worst. Everything about Lex’s plan was just plain unintelligent. I just didn’t buy it. When we first meet Batman, we barely even see him. The first sequence in Gotham City seemed like it was heavily edited, straight out of a network tv show and Batman branding someone just seemed completely unnecessary. I cringe when I think some kid might ask their mom or dad for a Batman brand for Christmas. This scene doesn’t show us a full reveal of the Caped Crusader either. I mean after all, this is our introduction to the new Dark Knight, right? Instead, we get our first look of Ben Affleck as Batman during a dream sequence. This simply just doesn’t make any sense. Why choose to show him fully here? What does the dreams have to do with anything? How do you include time travel within a dream of a dream? I felt like there still might be hope but then we see Bruce Wayne collecting phone data from Lex’s muscle at a fight club. I almost fell out of my seat. The world’s most formidable, well-known billionaire playboy is at an underground fighting ring and no one seems to notice? Online people have criticized this statement, claiming he was there to do detective work. I get it, but I mean Bruce is a celebrity, it’s like Ryan Seacrest walking into a cock fight. It would never happen. Let’s talk about Ben Affleck. I didn’t mind him as Batman, the problem is, he never actually gets to be Batman. The movie doesn’t allow it. Sure, we see him sneaking around Lex Luthor’s party to gather some intel of kryptonite, but we never actually get to know him as Batman. At least not until the final act. Remember the trailer where Alfred is at the command of the Bat Wing and he drops Mister Wayne on the bottom floor? That would have been an excellent intro scene, showing Batman in the real world fighting real world criminals. I was shocked when I realized this sequence would take place during the finale. Bruce hates Superman. We get it. The attack on Metropolis killed thousands of people. However, I can’t be led to believe that world’s most brilliant detective wouldn’t investigate a little further into Superman’s true intentions. Example. The first time the two meet, they exchange a few lines of dialogue that sound completely out of character. “The Bat is dead”. Superman would never say anything like that. He’s from Smallville and deep down, he’s a nice guy. He would say something more like, “We should be working together”. But no, Superman is mad because Batman is branding people. I forgot. “Tell me? Do you bleed?” My god, I felt like I was watching a parody. In the end, yes they fight, but the motivations behind the actual brawl are brought on by mysterious plot holes that pop up like onion grass. How did Lex know who Superman is? Is he the only one that can tell the Man of Steel hides behind some hipster glasses? Also, when they finally do exchange blows, why doesn’t Superman just rip apart that armor before the kryptonite gas? It made no sense. And what does it take for these two to finally realize that they’re supposed to be super friends and not enemies? Their mothers both share the same name. Martha. Really? I couldn’t wait to the end. I didn’t even care that the Death of Superman storyline was attached, I just wanted to leave the theatre. When the film was over, some people clapped and some other people rolled their eyes. I couldn’t believe it. The critics were right. This was really bad.
My biggest gripe with Batman v Superman? It’s not for kids. Now, I know some trolls might say, well it’s a new spin on old material or it’s a Zack Snyder film, but let me prove my point. In 1989, I had no idea what Jack Nicholson meant by, “never rub another man’s rhubarb” or when he said, “I’m of a mind to make some mookie” but I knew I liked what I saw on screen. It made me feel good about myself and I wanted to be Batman. This film does the exact opposite. Granted, when Wonder Woman shows up, the film does have some appealing qualities but a nine year old has to wait almost an hour and a half before anything remotely fun happens. Some might say the same thing about Nolan’s films but at least they had style. So what does all this mean? Am I retiring as a crime fighter? Well, I’m happy to tell you that Batman v Superman has not changed my feelings about the Caped Crusader, I’ll still introduce my son to him in a few years, just not this version.