Next week, summer blockbuster season begins (in March) with the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I'll freely admit that the movie could be an absolute dumpster fire, but, as someone who has read Superman comics since he was a kid, I'm incredibly excited to see the world's greatest superheroes up on the silver screen. So I figured that I would take some time to answer all of your burning questions about the movie and the Man of Steel.
Q: Why are you writing this post this week when the movie comes out next week?
A: Next week is Holy Week. I like Superman but it seems all kinds of wrong to write a post geeking out about a superhero melee on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday.
Q: Why is the movie subtitled Dawn of Justice ?
A: Because this sets the stage for a two-part Justice League movie as well as films for Wonder Woman (whom plays a fairly important role in BvS), Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (all of whom are rumored to have cameos in this movie). You know the Marvel Cinematic Univese with Iron Man, Captain America, and all the Avengers? Well this movie is kicking the DC Cinematic Universe into high gear.
Q: Why is it Batman v. Superman and not Batman vs. Superman?
A: I don't know. Frankly, it looks dumb. Unless we have been misled this whole time and the movie is actually about a Supreme Court case between the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel; sort of an Inherit the Wind with superpowers. In which case, sign me up!
Q: Aren't Batman and Superman supposed to be friends? Why are they fighting?
A: There is precedent for the two getting into an all-out brawl (thanks a lot, Frank Miller), but the modern take typically is that they trust and respect one another. In this particular movie, they haven't met and Batman is (rightly) suspicious of Superman because of the massive loss of life and collateral damage that occurred between Supes and Zod at the end of Man of Steel.
Q: So this is a sequel to Man of Steel? Was that movie any good?
A: Opinions about Man of Steel vary greatly. Personally I thought it was a good though flawed movie. It was a great take on the origin story, but roughly 20 minutes of fight scenes could have been edited out. And the disasters that occurred in that fight with Zod were disconcerting. Superman is fair more concerned with protecting innocents caught in the crossfire than body slamming a supervillain into buildings. I do appreciate the fact that BvS is leaning into that criticism and showing the fallout from that Zod-tastrophe. I won't get into the other big sticking point because that's a spoiler, but I can understand that decision (even if I don't like it) in the name of character development. Codes don't come out of nowhere.
Q: Are you worried about whether Batman v. Superman will be any good?
A: Not really. I appreciate that they are trying to tell a story in which consequences carry over from one film to another. The dark and gritty aesthetic is not my thing, but it's not like this will be the last story told with these characters. There have been hundreds of writers who have tackled Superman and Batman over the years; some have been great, some horrible, and many mediocre. This film could be awesome and that'd be great. If it's not, it's okay. They're stories. Someone new will come along at some point and tell them better. Regardless, this is the first time that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will be on screen together and that's pretty awesome.
Q: Who would actually win in a fight between Superman and Batman?
A: In the comics? One on one? Superman. All day, every day. It's not that Batman isn't awesome. He is incredibly awesome. But the Man of Steel's power set just so far outstrips all the gadgets and tech that Batman wields. Superman wouldn't even need to be near Batman. He could just zap the Caped Crusader with heat vision or freeze him with his super breath. He could zoom past at superspeed and knock Batman out cold. Superman could and likely would incapacitate Batman without even hurting the Dark Knight.
And don't give me, "Well, Batman would have kryptonite." Yes, he often does and he probably will in the movie. But you don't say, "Who would win in a 1-on-1 game between LeBron James and Steph Curry? Oh, and both of Curry's legs are broken." In these hypotheticals, each opponent comes in at their peak and Batman just does not stand a chance against Superman at his peak. Not even Batman's intelligence can compensate for the differential because it's not like Superman is an idiot. He's an award-winning investigative journalist in his day job. Clark Kent doesn't do too shabby in the intelligence department. What I'm saying is that the playing field has to be tilted a fair amount for the Dark Knight to have a chance against the Man of Steel.
Q: Okay, okay, we get it. You feel strongly about this.
A: That wasn't exactly a question, but yes. Yes I do.
Q: Alright, Superman fanboy...
A: Not necessary, but guilty as charged.
Q: What are some Superman stories that you would recommend?
A: Glad you asked! Here are a few of my favorites:
1. All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely - The best Superman story of the 21st Century and arguably one of the best of all time, this out of continuity tale is set into motion when Superman discovers he only has a year to live.
2. Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen - On an earth just like ours where Superman is a comic book character, a young man named Clark Kent has to endure teasing throughout his life. Then one day he discovers he actually has Superman's powers.
3. Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Lenil Yu - Clark Kent works as a journalist in Africa before ultimately taking on his costumed identity. This origin story was one of the inspirations for Man of Steel and, frankly, does a much better job handling the climactic alien invasion.
4. The Return of Superman by a whole bunch of writers and artists - The Death of Superman, in which (spoiler alert) Superman dies, is one of the best selling graphic novels of all time. The better story though is its sequel Return (originally published as The Reign of the Supermen) in which four super-powered beings arrive in Metropolis wearing the famous S-shield. Is one of them the resurrected Man of Steel?
5. The Man of Steel by John Byrne - The Superman origin story with which I grew up. Byrne was tasked with updating Superman for the modern era (circa the mid 80s), but proved how much he got the essence of the character.
For more recent stuff be sure to check out the "Truth" storyline in Action Comics by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, Grant Morrison's earlier, trippy run on the same book about a young, champion of the oppressed Superman (about which I blogged a lot a few years ago), and Superman Unchained by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.
Q: What about stories featuring Batman and Superman?
A: Here's three really quick across different platforms:
1. The first volume of the Superman/Batman series entitled "Public Enemies" in which President Lex Luthor frames our heroes in an attempt to turn the country against them.
2. The episode "Battle of the Superheroes" from the criminally underrated animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which was a love letter to Silver Age Superman stories. I'm still holding out hope that BvS is actually an adaptation of this episode.
3. Every online episode of How It Should Have Ended featuring the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel. I would totally watch a TV series in which HISHE's Batman and Superman just sit in a diner and chat.
Q: Do you think that Superman makes a good Christ figure?
A: No. He's definitely more of a Moses figure.
Q: You mentioned Aquaman might show up in this movie. What's his deal?
A: We don't have the time...actually, we do. He talks to fish and has a trident. Anything else?
Q: I think we're good. You?
A: I'm good. If you have any more questions, let me know in the comments.