“You’re probably thinking ‘This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab.’ Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story.” –Deadpool
Alright, we’re going to indulge me as I splurge about superheroes briefly. This year appears to be the year the world end, at least for the comic film industry. Look at how many studios are cashing in! Ever since Iron Man released back in 2008 (wow, was it really 8 years ago?), and swiftly followed by The Dark Knight super hero movies have been the blockbuster films of our time. Ok, sure, Batman Begins may have been the real turning point, but it wasn’t really a hallmark movie. Recently, with the release of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice we were reminded of how far we have come in this movie industry—because of how bad the movie was. Seriously. It felt like the old Daredevil movie. Which was…a really bad movie. Sure, not all the acting was the worst, but it had writing and plot coherence that felt 10 years dated.
All my comic geek friends are just happy that they finally got a Batman vs Superman movie, except the ones who actually watch films outside the comic book ones. A good movie is more than just a fight scene (though a good fight scene can make a movie worth watching). Batman vs Superman had neither. The namesake battle of the film lasted maybe 10 minutes if we’re being generous. But aside from that, it was corny. Superman gets hit by Kryptonite, then he gets the shit beaten out of him, then he recovers, starts winning again, until he gets hit by more Kryptonite. Really? How unoriginal. No laser vision? No grappling between buildings? No super cool tech, just the classic metal suit? Sure, its based on a comic book battle, but this is a guy that could lift something infinitely heavy versus a regular guy armed with advanced science and extreme planning…
Anyways, movie hatred aside, superheroes are today’s topic of writing. Throughout history we have love the idea of heroes. In the present, they are a somewhat geeky thing to be into, but in reality they have been around in some way or another. Seriously, The Hero with 1000 Faces exemplifies this idea. It connects all the similarities in heroes throughout time. But human love heroes. Why? Well, I’m sure there is a lot of reason for it, but I am most interested in the empathetic aspects of heroes. We empathize with heroes—which is why so many people root for Batman over Superman. It isn’t because he is a hero, or even the logical victor in an all out fight (seriously, no measurable power can match up to immeasurable, infinite power, lets just be honest here). We root for Batman because he’s someone we can relate to. He has real world problems. Sure, he’s a billionaire, but that’s more a trope for the comic industry to allow him free time as well as access to all this technology. Seriously, have you seen Daredevil? Look how rag tag his heroic costume and weaponry look, even after season two. There’s no way we would consider him in league with Superman. He struggles to keep up with a few trained martial artists!
Anyways, we love superheroes because they make us feel like superheroes. We look at them with awe, but we also identify with them as being good beings. Sure, they may struggle with right and wrong, and have a variation of moral codes that often times are unacceptable to modern society. But everyone has those issues. Some people don’t think gay people should be able to get married. Some people think that they are entitled to land over foreigners because they were born on it, in spite of the fact that their ancestors stole that land from people who were born on it. Some people are pacifists. We as adults are objective enough to realize this (hence why children often dress up as superheroes and pretend to play as them, yet so many adults do not), but we still enjoy their characters because we relate to them and can apply them to our lives. Hence why Iron Man and The Dark Knight were such definitive turning points for the movie industry. Think about it. If you saw these movies, and then saw Batman vs Superman, which characters did you identify with more? Christian Bale or Ben Affleck? The movies took a direct approach to connecting ordinary people to the main protagonist, whether it was because they had charming personalities that we were envious of, or because they had obsessive behaviors over losing loved ones. Sure, they were badasses doing completely unrealistic things, but that exaggeration of the real is grounded in a person that feels real—which makes the average person feel like they can achieve that same greatness. Even Deadpool had to deal with cancer and what not, and his character is even less believable than Superman in some ways. There was none of that in this most recent comic film, at least not in an effective, believable manner (seriously, they had more definitive exposition of Lex Luthor’s human struggles than either of the main characters). And it undermined the entire operation. Which sucked.