Dear Zack Snyder,
Look. Everyone already has an opinion on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Critics have called it everything from “the best superhero movie ever made” to “about as diverting as having a porcelain sink broken over your head.” But I’m sure you don’t care what the critics say; the movie has grossed over $862.9 million internationally, so as far as you’re concerned, life is good.
I’m not here to tell you whether your grim interpretation of the comics was right, although I have enough opinions to fill a blog or three. I understand what you’re trying to do; superhero movies and their epic fight scenes are the biggest thing in cinema, and superheroes fighting other heroes is the pinnacle of drama. Marvel is using the same setup in the new Captain America: Civil War, and we’re all flocking to the theaters to see that one too. Who could blame you for pitting the biggest of the big against each other?
No, that’s not my problem – at least, when I’m not getting in fights on Internet forums. I’m here to talk to you about storytelling. Specifically, that yours only makes sense if we already know that Superman and Batman have no choice but to fight.
Out of all the aliens, genetic experiments, time travel (oops, spoilers), and even the gosh darn Batplane, the kryptonite for my suspension of disbelief ended up being the characters’ boneheaded commitment to ignoring all obvious courses of action in favor of fisticuffs. Your entire movie only works by relying on the Cool Hand Luke conflict: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
Let’s be honest, there wouldn’t be a fun fight without a reason for two good guys to go at it. But in an entire movie revolving around Superman’s public image and his and Batman’s mutual suspicion of each other, no one ever thinks to have a freaking conversation!
Maybe it would make sense if Bats and Supes were just a couple of muscle-bound powerlifters. But you had the good sense to make them more than that. And I refuse to believe that neither the World’s Greatest Detective nor the investigative journalist thinks to get all the information.
Superman’s public image problem makes little sense. He’s a journalist! He proves throughout the movie that he cares deeply about truth and accountability and knowing superheroes’ motives. Yet he only thinks of speaking publicly when he’s summoned before Congress. Why not just hold a press conference? If everyone’s so fascinated by what the invincible man’s deal is, why not just…tell them? Maybe the Man of Steel should master the power of basic self-awareness.
I mean, not that your Superman has much character to begin with. It’s strange to see the friendly, personable hero of the comics hovering symbolically like a distant god, rather than actually helping or talking to anybody. It’s all nice and thematic, but it gives your headliner all the personality and character development of a flying brick.
Meanwhile, Batman is clearly able to get his hands on information. Heck, he spends a whole subplot hacking into Lex Luthor’s systems. Yet, despite having plenty of clues to help him figure out Superman’s secret ID, Batman’s uninterested enough in anything but stabbing him that he doesn’t even (spoilers!) know Superman’s mother’s name.
What silliness! It’s as if someone (cough, cough) informed the heroes they had to fight each other and they just agreed to comply. In fact, when Luthor kidnaps Clark’s mom to blackmail him into doing just that, Superman doesn’t even try to find a way around it. A guy who can locate his girlfriend from halfway around the world at super speed not even making the attempt to find one hostage in one city is plainly ridiculous. It’s like you realized how little time was left in your big, cluttered movie to make the title action happen, and just found the quickest excuse you could to get a beatdown started.
Give me a break, Mr. Snyder. If you want to make a movie all about public image and ideological conflict, don’t give me heroes who don’t even bother to engage in the discussion.