Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Skipping Batman v Superman, Not Out of Laziness But Out of Principle

The New York Times review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Subtitle described it as “less a free-standing film than the opening argument in a very long trial.” This is far from the only damning review of the movie, which will probably prove be a blockbuster anyway. Like Superman himself standing sturdy through a hail of gunshots, this movie will repel criticisms about its length, logic and overall look as if they’re nothing. It has to make money, and so it probably will.

But it occurred to me today that even before the first eulogy of a review hit, I already had a great reason to skip this film: I walked out of Man of Steel.

Before you react to that statement, you should know that I’d never walked out of a film before. I saw Ghost Dad in theaters. I was Rock-a-Doodle. I even sat through a screening of Joe Dirt that was free, therefore meaning that I could have left at any time without incurring a financial loss. Also know that I love DC superheroes. I also like your Spider-Men and your X-People, but I’ve always cared more about Batman and Wonder Woman and (to a lesser extent) Superman.

I, however, did not enjoy Man of Steel, which was directed by Zack Snyder, who is also directing Batman v Superman. I didn’t hate it; no, that would be a strong reaction. I was simply bored by it. I saw it when I lived in Los Feliz, walking distance from the Vista Theater, and I’d gone because I’d gotten home late from work on this particular night but just in time to trot over and slip into a seat in the back row. “Surely this will be more fun than sitting in my apartment alone,” I could have said, but didn’t, and good because it would have been a lie.

It’s also important that you understand that I saw the vast majority of Man of Steel. I really tried. But near the end of the film — or, I suppose, what I’m imagining was near the end of the film — there was a scene that made me literally throw up my hands in exasperation.

It was the scene with Jenny. Fucking Jenny.

Jenny Jurwich (Rebecca Butler), in case you’ve forgotten, is the movie’s kinda-sorta Jimmy Olsen character — an intern at the Daily Planet about whom we know nothing and about which we’re given much reason to care. You could argue that the audience isn’t given reason to care for or about many of the film’s characters, but at the very least most of them are versions of familiar characters we’ve cared about in other forms. Amy Adams, for example, is playing this kinda-sorta version of Lois Lane that never feels quite right, but at the very least we know she’s Lois. Jenny, however, is no one. And during the film’s cusp-of-the-apocalypse scene, she somehow gets trapped beneath rubble.

I’m foggy about the circumstances of her extrication, but I think it played out something like this: Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) is all like “No! Jenny! My intern! I have always loved you!” And Jenny is all “[SCREAM]” and then the residents of Metropolis are all “No! We have to save Jenny! Free Jenny!” And they band together to pull her out and the city rejoices because they deeply love Jenny for some reason. I’m probably exaggerating, but I feel like the scene lasted about twenty minutes, at which point I asked myself, “Wait, who the fuck is this person we’re supposed to care about?” And then I realized I didn’t care if Jenny turns out to be Doomsday in disguise. I didn’t care what happened to her. She only existed to get trapped in rubble and briefly become the focus of a dramatic scene. I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, really.

I just wanted to leave, so I did. I got home and read the ending on Wikipedia, popped open a bottle of wine and watched Adventure Time, which is a great show that tells its stories in tidy, ten-minute chunks, but which Zack Snyder probably wouldn’t like because ten minutes is not longer than two hours and also it’s colorful and also Jenny the Fucking Intern isn’t a character.

According to IMDb, Rebecca Butler is reprising the role of Jenny in Batman v Superman. I’m honestly unsure if I will have the honor of seeing her revisit the role that made her famous. But yeah, I’m faced with the odd situation of there being a big-budget Batman movie about to hit theaters and I’m not the least bit interested in going to see it.

Maybe Suicide Squad will be good?


  1. You made the right call.

    I saw Man of Steel all the way through, but my opinion of it steadily diminished even as I was watching it. So I wasn't looking forward to Batman v Superman, and the more I heard about it, the less interested I was. I saw it last night, for 3 reasons:

    1. I was hoping, despite how the trailers made it seem, that they learned some lessons from Man of Steel.
    2. I wanted to see Wonder Woman in her first movie.
    3. I wanted to be able to back up my opinion of the movie with evidence when the time arose.

    It was a train wreck. Luckily, I didn't give my money to it. I bought a ticket to 10 Cloverfield Lane because that seemed like an actually good movie and I wanted to support their marketing plan (the movie wasn't announced until they dropped the trailer, only a month before the release date). But I still wasted three hours.

    Wonder Woman is by far the highlight of the movie, which is all the more sad because she doesn't do all that much. Everyone is well cast for their characters in theory, but the characters themselves are terrible. The movie's interpretation of Lex is baffling, the movie itself is aimless, jumping from scene to disjointed scene without even the slightest hint of connection (thematic or otherwise), and in the end the fight between the two "heroes" has less to do with ideology and more to do with the fact that these versions of Batman and Superman are incredibly easy to manipulate.

    They're also bad at their jobs. In one particular scene, Intrepid Reporter Clark Kent has to ask someone who Bruce Wayne is, while just a few minutes later, the World's Greatest Detective never realizes Clark is following him, even though he's only three or four steps behind.

    Overall, the movie is a jumble of several really great post-credit scene ideas welded together with all the standard parts of your typical below-average superhero movie.

  2. This is relevant to your interests:

  3. Followed the hyper-link here from your Tumblr. I wish I hadn't. This column broke my heart! I loved Man of Steel and BvS. "I'm feeling very threatened right now!..."