Saturday, August 15, 2015

Batman versus Superman: This can only end well

My lovely wife is a talented wit, a natural weight-lifter and a superb cook. She's my reason for everything, and my sun rises and sets with her. She's also my barometer of dork.

She didn't grow up a geek - she was normal folk - but I've made some limited progress on that front over the 10 years we've been together. She has watched every episode of the new Doctor Who with me, but wouldn't be able to sit through a single episode of the classic era.  She adores the Venture Bros more than anybody else I know, but the only comics I could ever get her to read were the Alan Moore books they made into movies.

So she provides invaluable grounding on the nerdier side of life, giving me a good perspective I'd never see for myself. This can prove to be extraordinarily useful sometimes. Like when I have embarrassingly complex emotions about the new Superman versus Batman film.

I can't help having embarrassingly complex emotions about these things - they're deeply ingrained, a love etched into my heart. Ever since I saw the two greatest superheroes ever walking along Tawa St outside my house in 1979 (it totally wasn't a dream), I've loved Superman and Batman.

I have put a considerable amount of thought into the differences between the two superheroes. I firmly come down on the side that Batman will always win a fight between the two, because Batman always figures out a way to win. It's like the eternal Beatles/Stones debates - you can still love both of them, but if you had to pick one, you always know which one it'd be. I think Superman is the ultimate iconic hero, but Batman is just cooler. Because he is.

And now, after years and years of painful teasing about it, and decades and decades and decades after they first got together on the comic page, the two are going to star in a big feature film together, standing up on the big screen to beat the tar out of each other.

I know it's going to be bad for me, but I can't fucking wait.

Of course, that eagerness for another stupid superhero movie is tempered by some massive reservations - Zack Snyder is boiling down into a deeply predictable filmmaker and the odds of anything actually surprising in these films are low. He always has been that way, just look at the way the songs he chooses to soundtrack his films are always the most awfully obvious choices.

And with the publicity machine already roaring into life, eight months out, the filmmakers are already getting out there to talk it up, and they're displaying the unfortunate tendency to get stuck in the idea that dark equals realistic, even though there is more humanity in a few heartfelt jokes than there will ever be in pained glowering. Only 13-year-old boys and grown-up superhero fans think real life is all about pain and suffering, mainly because they need to get laid.

But oh boy, all those deep and thoughtful concerns just slide away when they show these two gigantic superheroes facing off, and I want to see the new film so fucking bad.

I just want to see them smash into each other. It's total action figure film making, but if you're going to do that with anybody, you might as well do it with these two.

I come into this thing with decades of goodwill towards the characters and concepts. I've enjoyed the greatest, mightiest and dumbest Superman/Batman adventures over the years, and there has always been a part of me that was desperate to see them go apeshit in a movie. There is no way I can look objectively at this. At all.

Which is where the lovely wife swoops in, to save the fucking day. She doesn't have that weird love for superheroes that goes on forever, but she's into the spectacle of it all, and watches all these silly films with me. I love talking to her about these movies, to see what she makes of them, because that's a whole new perspective.

And the thing that surprised me about her reaction was she was keen to see the movie, if only because Henry Cavill makes that suit look good, but that she was really wasn't down with the idea that the whole film was built on these two fighting each other.

I don't think she's read a single Superman comic in her life - a Batman one probably snuck in there somewhere - but even she knows they're the World's Finest team. She knows they're great chums and allies, and are the ultimate team - complementing each other's strengths, and offering a bit of contrast to the other's purity.

So while I'm just keen to see the two butt heads, she's already bored. What's the point of spending so long with the set-up for the fight, when you know they're going to team up in the end? They just look like angry idiots being manipulated by dudes with bad haircuts, taking too long to get to the point. Everything up to the moment when they inevitably shake hands is just prologue.

She has the same problem with the huge focus on origin stories, the idea of seeing Batman's parents gunned down again is pure tedium. It's already been seen over and over again, and if you haven't got the point by now, there's no hope for you. Seeing heroes forced to fight each other, instead of taking down the actual bad guys, is just as dull.

I don't really have the heart to tell her about the next few Marvel movies....

Even with all this moaning, we're still going to see it because we're total hypocrites who just go for the spectacle. We're happy with the razzle dazzle, and we're only too happy to let the awesome sights drown out our complaints about how problematic it all is.

Because it is just another dumb superhero film, and we can watch it together, and get completely different things out of it, and I always look forward to seeing what this wonderful woman thinks of the dopeiest shit in life.

No comments: