My excitement towards the film began three years ago after release of Man Of Steel (MOS) when to a very huge surprise for comics readers, it was announced in San Diego Comic Con 2013 that two of the most iconic superheroes, Batman and Superman, will feature in same frame for the first time in cinematic format. The hint and hope of bringing Batman in Superman’s world was humming when Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer forwarded the idea to the Warner Bros. (WB) studio to bring back a Superman film. Both gentlemen were involved in The Dark Knight Trilogy as franchise’s director and writer respectively.
I will turn my head towards the proposed and finalized slate for DC Universe later. First thing first. The film was easily one of the most awaiting films of this year. Keeping in mind the decades-long rivalry among comics readers of two of the most recognized publishing companies, DC comics and Marvel comics, it was a huge test for WB to surpass all the expectations and make the new fictional comics universe look promising. Sadly the film couldn’t live up to the expectations and after a record collection on box office worldwide in first week, it suffered more than 80% drop in 2nd week resulting into failing to reach the rank of distinguished films of the elite three commas club.
Luckily I planned not to watch until the high-definition quality show up. Before the release, most of the critics unexpectedly passed extremely negative reviews. Then viewers heavily criticized the film for being too dark, humorless, lengthy, boring and many more. My honest believe was either the trailers of BatSup I watched were the most beautiful deception or the film’s message didn’t convey properly. When the news break out that the director’s cut will be releasing soon with additional footage of half an hour, then I made my mind to watch the ultimate edition straightly instead of the released version.
After watching directly an ultimate edition which was a three-hour film, I was at ease to say that it was much a defined film with many loose plot holes cleared. BatSup was pretty a mature affair on a well established script connecting with future DC films. The viewers must understand that as per the future plans of DC films shared universe, three aspects were taken into consideration while the film was shot;
1) Continuity from events of MOS
2) Batman taking on Superman after Metropolis attack
3) Foundation of Justice League (JL) by connecting the story with future DC Films
In all three cases, the running time of film was supposed to stretch at length so that it may offer you insiders for the coming busy years of the shared universe. At the same time, I feel sorry for viewers that they had to watch a released version of what looked like an incomplete film. My brothers pointed me the scenes which were cut from the released version which made me realize what a terrible mistake the producers made.
WHAT WENT WRONG???
1) UNIMPRESSIVE START
The film began with quite a traditional curtain openers presenting the name of film with cast and the rest which now often do not happen in big films. Plus beginning the film with Bruce Wayne’s origins was a bogus idea. Director Zack Snyder should have saved this moment exactly after that gladiator match when Superman speaks the name “Martha”. The film should have begun as depicted in the second scene that Bruce arrives Metropolis and struggles to rescue.
Also I have sympathies for Bruce whose parents come to the screen to get killed whenever they show up. His parents have more than that to offer in few Batman story-lines in comic books. Any of his parents’ moments with Bruce can be utilized in film and replace the scene with their murders because it has been repeated so many times that viewers are bored now.
2) CASTING SHAH RUKH KHAN AS LEX LUTHOR
Among all the performances, the character which majorly disappointed me was Lex Luthor Jr., the role performed by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan. Could have been better if Jesse Eisenberg really have played the role as was planned. There was just too much overacting and Joker-esque phenomena which visually do not come up to villainthrophy. I tried my level best to take the character serious as his given dialogues were so powerful and because he IS the main villain and the creator of Doomsday. But I guess Zack misunderstood the character and made it look crazy and annoying.
3) BATMAN – THE PUNISHER
Ben Affleck’ version of Batman, the suit, the batmobile, the batplane, the weapons.. every single thing was very very well up to the mark besides one thing which I found not of his combating nature anymore, KILLING!!! That is some bitter truth that Batman used to kill his enemies in the earliest comics and you won’t believe but in brutal ways. I remember he once flew batplane with a monster whose neck was hanging by the rope and threw it in flight when it died. Well later on Batman decided to follow no-killing rule on which he is persistent for long long time. There have been moments in comics when Batman could have lost his patience and killed someone. In Batman: Under The Hood story arc, when Jason Todd demanded to Batman to kill the Joker after the tragic event in Batman: A Death in the Family, this was the most emotional moment he could have changed his mind but he chose not to kill the Joker.
If intensity has raised such a bar to test Batman’s patience and made him stick with no-killing rule, I see no reason of killing 32 bad people in the film whatever the situation is. Killing is simply not his cup of tea.
4) “MARTHA” & INSTANT BESTIES
I don’t have any idea whether Zack left the director’s chair and asked some amateur guy to conclude that epic fight or did he eeny meeny any of his alternative ideas of concluding the fight because this was the most ridiculous and embarrassing conclusion. This was not written on the clouds nor should Zack fool every viewer to make a fight turning into some B-grade parody.
Sup calling his adopted mother’s name to avoid killing from Bat Wayne was total nonsense. In few seconds, Bruce converted his enmity to friendship and even promised him that he won’t let his mother die, and later when Bat saved his mother, he gave a one-liner “I am a friend of your son’s” ffs!!!! This doesn’t make any logic!! This vacuous nonsense killed the viewer’s tempo and seriousness turned into laughing-stock. Director would have concluded this fight by more than hundred ways but not this.
5) UNNECESSARY EXPOSURE IN MARKETING
Reaching to the hype the producers created by the announcement of the film, many theories and rumors developed on the internet about the possible plotlines. Some theories later turned true as it happens with many films. But quite an excitement hit a low with over exposures. As Lex’s creation was much in discussions, they dropped the bomb in their second trailer by exposing the Doomsday as his very creation. I had no issue in his revelation but the trailer had exposed too much the origin of its character.
The second blow was in the beginning of this year when Empire Magazine gave a huge spoiler of Omega symbol. That opened further doors for completing the puzzle, with same picture introduced in final trailer. Showing Parademons in trailers was also very unnecessary. The plotline became too predictable after that.
6) KILLING JIMMY OLSEN
For God sake why? Why in the world did you kill such a prominent character who is Superman’s best friend in comics? Character of Jimmy Olsen should have been utilized for a lot of supporting role between Daily Planet and Superman. His portrayal of a CIA operative was taken from Mark Millar‘s Superman: Red Son, the other comic book story-line than The Dark Knight Returns the story of the film is inspired from. Killing of Olsen in this universe is a huge loss.
1) COMICS REFERENCES & IMPORTANT CLUES
The most impressive aspect of the film was its tribute to few comic books. Many of the scenes, many many scenes were referred from comic book issues and this is exactly what should be done in all comics-based films.
The Dark Knight Returns:
> Murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents was exact from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Even the killer’s gun caught under Martha’s string of pearls was accurate. Another peak of accuracy was the timeline of tragedy in the film set in 1981 which naturally made two important things look realistic. One was that Young Bruce in the flashback was seven (Alfred confirmed us at the White Portuguese ship scene) making him born between 1974-75 which makes him in forties today, exactly as Bruce Wayne is presented. Second is the marquee of Excalibur in the flashback, keeping in mind the famous British film with the same title was released in the same year. Well done Zack!
> Two cops checking some abandoned building near Gotham Seaport encountered the Caped Crusader and exchanged similar conversation as in the book.
> Superman affected by the nuclear blast and recharging was also taken from the same book.
> Batman bursting the wall to grab a bad guy and exchange of words were almost similar from the same book. The main difference was in comics he was saved a girl and in film, he saved hmm can I call her name Bruce?
> The scene with lightning in the background after Batman saves his ass from Doomsday was homage to one of the most important comic covers.
> In the last scene after Lois dropped handful of dirt on Superman’s coffin, it later floated or shall I say levitated will remind you the conclusion of the book with a different superhero.
> The Flash sending message and warning Batman in Bruce’s dream was homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths where The Flash visits to several superheroes and warm them.
> Don’t know if I am accurate here but I believe Lex’s insane repeat of “Ding, Ding, Ding” was the sound of Mother Box‘s “Ping, Ping, Ping” depicted in various comic issues.
> Ralph Lister played the role of Dr. Emmett Vale who brought the hunk of Kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean to the lab of LexCorp. Dr. Emmett Vale is the creator of Metallo, the Kryptonite-hearted cyborg and also one of Superman’s dangerous villains.
> Robin’s damaged suit in Batcave was a well-known tragic event of brutal killing of second Robin i.e., Jason Todd. Joker killed him in A Death In The Family.
> When Doomsday fell back to Metropolis after nuke, he was dropped to uninhabited site called Stryker’s Island. This is a prison in Metropolis holding Superman’s most dangerous foes in comics. This place holds same importance to MOS as Arkham Asylum to the Caped Crusader.
> Perry White spoke the line to Clark in Daily Planet office “It is not 1938”. 1938 was the birth-year in history of comics when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduced/launched Superman in first issue of Action Comics. This was a historic event which began the Golden Age of Comic Books.
> This film will be remembered for ages for two most important reasons. The biggest obvious reason was bringing two iconic heroes together for the first time in a cinematic venture. The second was offering us viewers a cinematic look at DC Comics’ most unthinkable and unforgettable comic-books event, Doomsday and Superman killing each other. The event took place in story-line The Death of Superman when both titans ultimately punched each other, collapsed and died. Almost similar event occurred in the film when both the titans killed each other and collapsed at the same moment.
> In Superman’s funeral, his coffin is black with silver ‘S’ reminding the return of Superman when he wore black suit with silver ‘S’ on it.
> Superb Easter egg or shall I say a very unexpected bombshell!!! While the funeral of Superman was carried out, 5 military planes flew in the air to honor the deceased God. But one of the planes after few seconds flew straight up. That may be Dan Amboyer who in IMDb is listed as uncredited ‘Drone Pilot’. This scene gave a major hint that it could be none other than Amboyer with the role of pilot i.e., Hal Jordan a.k.a. Green Lantern, who paid the tribute and left the site.
2) LOIS LANE’s CHARACTER PROMINENCE
That one supporting character which impressed me a lot was Amy Adam‘s Lois Lane. Zack gave her a shot more critical than her role in MOS. She was the one who washed the bad image or say ‘False God’ image of Superman, she was the one who found LexCorp corrupted. She got a lot of space to settle a case of corruption behind the curtains between Batman and Superman.
3) 9/11 AND US POLITICS
This was the original script presenting a plot somehow bringing the iconic heroes together but more than that there was a more human part involving politics and conspiracy theories. The collapse of Wayne Financial gave me a feeling of 9-11 event when twin towers collapsed. Theology and science compromised on Metropolis attack as the defense and security measures became a question mark.
Also when the film headed towards Africa where Lois Lane deal with the commander of Tuareg fighters, it offered to watch more involvement of US govt. African scenes brought a glimpse of insider of American invasion of Mali few years ago if I am not wrong!
The Godly figure i.e., Superman became a confused figure to whether classify him a good God or a bad God. Senate hearings and further attacks pushed towards more of viewers assumptions. I like the angle where the Metropolis attacks became a much concern of somehow bringing the saviors at one platform in future.
4) FUTURE DC FILMS’ CONNECTIONS
Keeping in mind the BatSup film is foundation for future DC films, I would like to appreciate the director in connecting the story somehow with interesting shots. Zack had confirmed before the release that future films on other superheroes won’t be origin films, so he presented some glimpse of interesting events happening in other parts of universe mostly from JL film.
Batman has dreamed bad in comics and he dreamed twice in film. In first dream, he visited graves of his parents and noticed blood seeping out from Martha’s. The grave broke and out came a colony of bats. Then appeared a human looking bat. That could possibly be Dr. Kirk Langstorm a.k.a. Man-Bat which gave us a hint that the villain may possibly feature in future (could be in Batman standalone film). Those who have played Arkham Knight would know the villain.
In another dream, Barry Allen appeared from a questionable timeline to warn Bruce about a possible threat from Superman and confirmed how correct he was. He specifically spoke about Lois and said “She is the key”. This scene is very possibly creating a bridge with the JL film to be released in Nov.2017.
Another important scene connecting JL film was Batman visiting post-apokoliptic world. Batman witnessed Omega symbol on the ground which confirmed the existence of Darkseid and obvious involvement in future DC films. The flying creatures in that action sequence were Parademons which in comics are troops of planet Apokolips ruled by Darkseid. So fingers crossed on the precise location of this scene. We will come to know about this location in future whether Batman stepped in Apokolips or some land occupied by Darkseid and his troops. Now that Steppenwolf is confirmed the main villain of JL film, so there is possibility to see Darkseid very soon because he is Darkseid’s uncle.
Stone father & son had an interesting cameo. Father Silas Stone used Mother Box to repair critical injuries and replaced lost body parts with mechanical limbs to his son Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg. Mother Box in comics is a portable supercomputer which posses powers and abilities. Now that the sources confirm that the major story dropping in JL film is Steppenwolf searching three Mother Boxes, which are located in Atlantis (Aquaman), Themyscira (Wonder Woman) and Earth. So the earth part is Cyborg’s for our understanding.
1) THE JOKER KILLING JASON TODD
Where ultimate edition cleared a lot of misunderstandings and plot holes from the released version, they missed a very important scene to add which was the fate of Batman’s counterpart Jason Todd a.k.a. Robin. In Batman: A Death In The Family, The Joker killed Jason Todd which is one of the DC Comics’ most important events. The Joker played by Jared Leto will feature in Suicide Squad but would have been more than a favor to add the tragic event exactly when Bruce looked at the damaged suit. A couple of minutes on the tragic flashback was easily replaceable to uninspired story-telling daddy Kent scene which was easily the most useless scene of the film. Now the tragic event is expected to hit the screen in Suicide Squad beginning a new cinematic phase of Batman-Joker historic rivalry.
2) GOTHAM CHARACTERS
As much as the viewers and journalists have called the film ‘overstuffed’ as well as the actor who played Alfred, Jeremy Irons, I would still pass a mark of appreciation towards the director in keeping some balance among the characters and story-lines connected with future DC films sharing the same universe.
In the meantime, I still believe that Gotham city didn’t get that exposure which was required in such a lengthy screen time. Alfred was the only recognized Gotham character supporting Bruce in the whole film as his parents were as usual killed again in couple of minutes. Lucius Fox is a potential character which the scriptwriters badly missed. With such remarkable work on Bat machines, Fox deserved to appear for couple of scenes. Also any member of the Gordon family should have been introduced.
(((Here I conclude the first part of my ultimate case towards the Dawn of Justice. The next and final part will be published very soon.)))
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