Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★½

just some brief & jumbled thoughts...

kinda NUTS how some of the most revered comic books/comic book-adjacent media is centered around a real hatred of comic books? and I mean, fair enough I guess, but most of that stuff kinda sucks! I think what’s central in this failure is that the antagonism these works have for their source material leaves them feeling a bit hollow. like, stripped of its novelty, the book of watchmen is an anti-establishment piece that doesn’t elaborate on it’s ideology, instead opting to juxtapose it with the iconography of superheroes. while, again, this makes for a novel and rad experience (for me in middle school), it’s absolutely a failure for moore the anarchist, as nothing is torn down in watchmen and social problems are merely pointed to. batman v superman, HOWEVER, puts the “rad” in “politically radical text,” and for as much as snyder humbles himself as a mere acolyte of moore, I think he pretty effortlessly surpasses him here. I mean, it’s pretty unbelievable that watchmen as an original text is so flaccid that it’s central massacre never leaves the realm of something strictly theoretical, but what’s even more unbelievable is snyder & co.’s ability here to create something that is just as intellectually compelling yet also, and perhaps above all, steeped in emotional impact. this is a movie where all of its smartest ideas are also it’s most affective.

-zuckerberg’s lex luthor takes the ozymandias-style endgame and allows the drama to unfold not from the plan itself, but from the damning realization of its artificiality (straining not to bring up southland tales).

-every scene of lois and clark’s horny romance is tied to politics or danger because it has to be, and it’s fitting that superman doesn’t get to give quiet goodbye, but a sudden choice that rips lois’ (and my) heart in two (amy adams’ final scream before his sacrifice will probs haunt me forever?). most heartbreaking of all, as lois weeps for clark she also beams, as he died performing an act of uncomplicated heroism that secures his legacy.

-this batman is an expansion and FRANKly an improvement on Frank Miller’s approach (the amount of comic books I’m outing myself for reading is embarrassing ...), another instance of taking a jaded source material and jumpstarting it’s heart, resulting in the “Martha” moment which might go down as THE most emotionally audacious beat in all modern blockbuster cinema.

-even in all of this very focused story, there is room for a flash cameo that is both sequel hype and bizarre abstraction, or dream sequences that are a #religiousexperience, or wonder woman, who is there and it’s great?!!! why didn’t they make a movie about this lady...

-everyone ends up squaring off with the physical manifestation of the apocalypse and I’m just supposed to think that’s normal??!!!!! zack!!!!

and yes, blah blah blah style is substance, but more than that: here, style is love, style is holy, style is tragic, and most of all, style is translation. snyder’s usage of cinematic language and technology is not simply another chapter in his auteur catalog, but an act of direct homage, translating not the exact visual style but the feeling and tone of the comic book experience. the fireworks of this film aren’t it’s cutting politics and hopeless tone, nor is it the breathtaking action and visual flair, rather it’s this combination of two worlds, the tradition of superheroes coupled with it’s subversion. this merging of the old and the new allows this material to breath and affect more than it ever has in a contemporary context, culminating in a revelation: the only masterpiece of superhero cinema that loves superheroes (I would say the only masterpiece period, but I haven’t seen Justice League yet 😳)

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