Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice was released earlier this week and the critical backlash will forever be held in infamy. The constant posting of images of its Rotten Tomatoes score has invaded my timeline and twitter feed. I cannot remember such a film have such a negative tirade against it. Also the audience scores seem to be polarised, but if you look at the context behind the film, it wasn’t that much of a surprise.
Marvel Comparison – 8 years ago with the release of Iron Man, Marvel had started the Marvel Cinematic Universe, interconnected films that led to big, explosive, blockbuster ensemble films. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, warranting their own solo films. Whether you like it or not, you cannot disagree that this model has been very successful economically. 2008 was also around the same time Nolan’s Dark Knight was released. However DC’s attempt at replicating this model seems to be a little overdue. This film, subtitled, Dawn of Justice, is looking to kick off the DC Cinematic Universe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe took meticulous and careful planning, numerous attempts and failures which created a diamond in the rough, whereas this attempt seems rushed. Another reboot of Batman and the introduction to 5 other superheroes and a Justice League film planned next year. Batman vs Superman has always looked like a knee jerk reaction to the MCU, but for DC, it is 6 or 7 years too late.
Superheroes, Too Much, Too Fast. – Superheroes are everywhere, we have the MCU with about 6-7 separate film franchises, numerous TV shows on Netflix, terrestrial television and franchises such as Deadpool, X-Men and Fantastic Four. DC have also Gotham, Superman, Flash and Arrow. This doesn’t take into account the thousands of planned films about superheroes in the future, the general viewer has taken in an influx of superhero media. One has to look at how tiring it can be to be fed the same drivel for so long. Batman vs Superman doesn’t help the situation, it only promises a multiplication of the problem. For people looking for something different, Batman vs Superman is not it. The superhero genre has to evolve to survive, that’s why Captain America: The Winter Soldier was so successful, critics called it more of a spy thriller then a superhero film. Deadpool was successful because of the R-Rated violence. Batman vs Superman is another PG-13/12A Superhero romp. The Superhero genre could be argued to be tiring and Batman vs Superman seems to be the warm milk that puts you asleep.
We Love Anti-Heroes – Again, look at the superheroes characters that are most popular, Wolverine, Batman, Deadpool, even Iron Man. These are not the clean cut heroes of the 50’s/60’s. Superman and Captain America are the hardest superheroes to market. Audience find it hard to identify with the all American, ‘do the right thing’, aspect of heroes. Wolverine, Batman, Deadpool and Iron Man are not the typical hero. They lie, cheat and do whatever they want to get the job done. You can see this in the first Captain America film, it was not well received as the Captain America character was too boring and one dimensional. It was only the sequel which gave the character, pain and a rebellious attitude that was more exciting for audiences. Superman is the personification of the Superhero. The metaphorical Jesus come to save us is not an easy hero to market post 9/11. Audiences desire a more human and damaged hero and Superman is not that hero.
Hard to Market or Poor Marketing – The previous factors are generally not the filmmakers fault, their hands were tied. However the marketing for the film was a disaster in itself. When I mean marketing, I actually mean the awful trailer they released in the middle of the marketing machine. I think everyone knows which one. It must of been about December because it was played before Star Wars and it was bad. The problem with it was that it showed too much. It showed the reveal of Wonder Woman, Doomsday, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne first meet up and Superman and Batman first meet up. These are moments you want to first experience when watching the film for the first time. All these moments were ruined and left the film with no surprises. Watching that trailer was like watching a Batman vs Superman short. If the audience is not surprised or blown away then the film has failed and the trailer they released, which I shall repeat was played before Star Wars, showed us all; everything.
Hype, Hype, Hype – In the internet age of fan forums, countless YouTube videos and film sites. Hype is flung around like a 2 dollar turkey. Every big film/game/album’s hype is built up to unobtainable levels. If you think of all the films out recently, is there many films that lived up to the hype? (Star Wars is an exception, even some argue it didn’t) This film had unimaginable hype and anticipation. Two of the biggest and popular superheroes finally fight. Lex Luthor says it himself in the film, the biggest match up in all of mankind, God vs Man. Comic fans create hype like no other fan base. Avengers 2 was never going to match the hype, Batman vs Superman won’t and I am going to speculate Civil War will not either. These big match ups have to produce a film that is not possible, this film needed to be better than perfect to please fans and naysayers.
Is it bad? – After writing up about why it was doomed, is it really that bad? Now having seen it, it probably doesn’t deserve the hatred from the the anti-DC army, but it isn’t great. From the preceding factors of this film, probably meant that if that film wasn’t magnificent then it would be put underneath a magnifying glass and torn apart. It has and will continue to be. The box office numbers will still be impressive and still get the go ahead to create the Justice League film but critically, will be difficult to appease. There is promise in the franchise for DC but it is whether audiences can stomach another influx of superheroes. This film has had an uphill struggle from the start and the hill looks to get steeper. If it wants to be successful, it needs to not be a superhero film that has superheroes in it. Now this article is not how to fix the Justice League so I won’t go too far into the solution but it can be successful critical just not in the direction they are going sadly. Batman vs Superman was an enjoyable experience, but that’s all. For Batman vs Superman was always doomed to fail but the actual film did not help the situation.