“Batman v. Superman” Shows (and Tells) Too Much

Super Stink Face

Super Stink Face

The new and (hopefully last!) trailer for  Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has dropped and it indicate the first sign of the glaring absence of executive producer Christopher Nolan to tell writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder, “I wouldn’t do that if I were for you”.  In Man of Steel, Nolan resisted their idea for Superman to kill Zod and the Dynamic Duo him it would be cool (it wasn’t).

Now with the adult out of the room, who’s gonna tell the kids they can’t eat pizza for breakfast and to flush after using the john?

Let’s sum up the trailer:

Batman is mad at Superman. Superman doesn’t give a shit about Batman being mad. Bruce and Clark have a snark fest. Lex Zuckerberg does a bad Joker riff. Previous scenes from earlier trailers. Bats and Supes duke it out. IT’S A BRO FIGHT! Mark Luthor unleashes his eeeeeeeevil scheme with Zod’s cold dead body. Doomsday is here looking like a moving pile of puke and poop. Bats and Supes team up to fight the greater menace. Mass destruction and big explosions. Suddenly, Whatta Woman appears! Bats and Supes exchange puzzled looks. “Is she with you, dude?” We Stand As One to Kick Doomsday’s nasty ass!

The trailer GIVES AWAY THE WHOLE FUCKING PLOT OF THE MOVIE FOR CHRISSAKES!

I save $10 bucks! This might be the worst trailer since Castaway in giving away all its big moments way too soon.  I’m certain there are more than a few secrets left to reveal in Batman v. Superman, but Great Scott that trailer was spoileriffic.

And it still looks to me like passing over Bryan Cranston in favor of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was a turrrible idea as Charles Barkley might say.   It’s completely out of place and character for a DC flick since they disdain being “jokey” like Marvel movies. I didn’t mind the exchange as much as I agree it’s a little tone-deaf after the laugh riots of Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Man of Steel.
The thing which bugs me most about this trailer isn’t Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman or even Doomsday.  Okay, I’m lying a bit  because  Doomsday looks like shit and he’s never been anything but DC’s knockoff version of Hulk Lite so Superman has someone he can hit that won’t splatter from the punch.

It’s Jesse Eisenberg’s goofy Lex Luthor because nothing screams “BEWARE, MY WRATH!” like an angry Jesse Eisenberg!

Look, no knock on Eisenberg as an actor. Loved him as anti-social, unlikable The Social Network, but his Luther looks like the same smart-ass motormouth he played in Now You See Me. In fact, I’ll go further. Between Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey and now Eisenberg, the best actor to play Lex Luthor was…Clancy Brown.

My brother tells me I’m being a buzzkill and the trailer doesn’t spoil everything about Batman v. Superman.  We still haven’t seen Aquaman, but that’s a pretty thin branch to perch on.  If you’re depending on Aquaman to save your movie, it’s a lost cause already.

jesse-eisenberg-lex-luthor-not-bryan-cranston-meme2016 is going to be a huge year in super hero films with Batman v. Superman,  Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad,  and maybe one film where superheroes aren’t beating up each other, Deadpool.

Every genre reaches a point of saturation and if super hero movies aren’t there yet, they are getting close.   When the heroes are beating up each other it’s a sign they are running out of villains to beat up instead.

It’s going to be a big year, but to make it a good year, something is going to have to grab my interest in a way Avengers: Age of Ultron (saw it once and promptly forgot all about it) and Ant-Man (didn’t bother to see it) did not.   Maybe I’ve aged out of getting excited about seeing comic book characters on the big screen or maybe I’m just waiting for one that actually gives me a reason to get excited.

The End of “Breaking Bad” Is Where I Begin.

“What do you mean you haven’t been watching the show, Jeff?”

Five years ago, The Shield, perhaps my all-time favorite television show, turned in its badge with a conclusion that was both satisfying and among the definitive ends of any TV show.   When the end came for The Shield, there was literally nowhere else for it to go.   There are only so many narrow escapes even a character as cunning as Vic Mackey can plausibly pull off before what was once quality gradually descends into self-parody.

It’s been a merry search for another show to follow I could get into the way I got into The Shield.  Though I’ve tried to fill the void with Justified, Spartacus, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story as well as a few episodes of Boardwalk Empire and even a box set of The Wire box, but try as I might to get that old feeling again, nothing has stepped up in the place of The Shield.   Everything came up a bit short.

Nothing about Breaking Bad comes up short.    It is one of those rare shows you can’t call people when its’ on.  “I’m watching Breaking Bad,” they’ll snap and you know the conversation is over right there.

I can’t imagine what took me so long to start watching Breaking Bad.  It might have been the teaser where Walter White is tooling around in a RV and stumbling around in his tighty whiteys.  “The dad from ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ as a cancer-ridden chemistry teacher who cooks meth?  Meh.  I’ll pass!”

When teachers finally get paid.

Totally my bad..  There’s nothing about Walter White to remind me of the doofus dad of a bad sitcom.  Walter White would murder that guy and sleep well after doing it.   The transformation of Bryan Cranston from comedy nebbish to award-winning serious actor (who is about to get seriously paid as the new Lex Luthor in the next Superman/Batman flick) is one of the most radical make overs since….well, since Michael Chiklis shaved his head and went to the gym to emerge as a bald, buff bad-ass.

I have one problem with Breaking Bad and its a big one.   The show is in its fifth and final season, but it’s the first season I’ve watched, which is like walking in on the last 30 minutes of The Godfather and trying to figure out what the hell is happening.

In the first episode of the last season, Walt, with a mop of unkempt hair and trunkful of weapons, drives up to his now-shuttered home and finds the name “Heisenberg” spray-painted on the wall.   Who’s Heisenberg?  I didn’t know Walt was Heisenberg, the master meth cooker his DEA brother-in-law has tried to nail (and just found out not long before I did).

I didn’t know why Jesse was nearly catatonic and trying to literally throw away his millions.  I didn’t know who characters were, why they were doing and saying what they were doing and saying.  To say I am late to the party puts it mildly.  The party’s almost over and here I finally show up.   Thank goodness there are no shortage of Breaking Bad primers for hapless newbies.   Smart writing, complex characterizations, and damn good acting are universally recognized and you know it when you see it.  No history lesson necessary.

breaking-bad-shirt

What will probably happen is I will either go find the first four seasons of Breaking Bad on DVD or wait for Christmas and hope there is a boxed set  available with all of them.   Admittedly, this is the ass-backwards way of getting into the show.

Three episodes in out of the last eight and the action has been a little light with even the big shoot-out of the second episode being heard and not seen, but top-notch acting and writing has made up for the slow burn of the endgame.  Walt’s “confession” last week was as funny as it was a brilliant turning of the tables on     As Jesse learns just how deceptive Walter is, shit is about to get real.

If Walter White, the corrupt teacher, were to meet Vic Mackey, the corrupt cop, in a restaurant, they would probably chat amiably over how good men go bad recognizing in each other kindred spirits.   Then recognizing they are also like two scorpions in a jar, they would pull out their guns and try to put a bullet right between the eyes of the other guy’s bald head.

Superman Had To Destroy Metropolis To Save It

“You talkin’ to me?”

As far as summer blockbusters go, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the relaunching of the Superman movie franchise by the Zack Snyder directed and Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel.   Among the movies of the summer it falls only slightly behind Iron Man 3, but leaps with a single bound over the bloated and soulless Star Trek: Enter Darkness.

For a 75-year old hero, Henry Cavill’s Superman doesn’t quite charm the way Christopher Reeve did when he slipped on the red-and-blue uniform, but Cavill will definitely get a second and probably more chances to slip on the suit (sans the red undies) in future sequels.   Warner Brothers and DC Comics desperately needed a big hit to get them back in the game against the multitude of Marvel movies and with Nolan done with his Batman trilogy,  Man of Steel gets them back in the game.    The trick will be to have as much luck in getting other DC comic book heroes onto the screen, but with the big box office grosses of Man of Steel it should be up, up and away for future franchises.

Between the men of steel and iron, once again comic book movies dominate at the box office.   There are a lot of things I love about Man of Steel,  but boy does it take itself seriously.  That’s the Nolan touch at work because the Dark Knight flicks didn’t have much of a sense of humor either.   If Superman Returns was ripped for being boring as hell, Man of Steel goes for jaw-dropping spectacle and an extended showdown between Superman and his nemesis, General Zod (a glowering Michael Shannon)  that ups the ante for sheer devastation that The Avengers‘ trashing of New York City can’t begin to touch.   That’s where my big problem with Man of Steel begins and be warned that there are major SPOILERS from this point on, so if you haven’t seen the movie, bail out here.

Even fantasy flicks have to follow logic, if not necessarily realism and logic says if two superhumans go to war in the heart of a city and wreak massive devastation and destruction in the process, there will be a body count and you would run out of toe tags and body bags once  you pulling them out of the ruins of Metropolis.

“You like prison movies, Zod?” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO….”

Merely because we are discussing/debating a fantasy character in a summer popcorn flick, it doesn’t mean we can totally suspend disbelief.  Tom Clancy said it true when he observed, “The difference between truth and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.”  The bloodless catastrophe that befalls Metropolis in Man of Steel makes no damn sense.

Rather than referencing Man of Steel a much more relevant comparison would be Superman II when Zod gets ready to throw down in the middle of Metropolis, Superman retreats rather than tear up the city.

That’s Superman making the smart move instead of being a dickhead with blood in his eyes and dead bodies everywhere.   I am not the target demographic for this film.  It was made for teenage boys who either do not know of Superman’s moral code against killing or could care less about it.  Youth must be served and because technology has come so far in 33 years when the tagline for Superman was “you will believe a man can fly.”  There are all new ways to make shit blow up real good and maybe that’s good enough for those with no sense of history.  Yet even these movies are designed not only to attract kids, but the parents of the kids as well and they are the ones most likely to be familiar with the original source material and still respect it.

Stuff blowing up real good is not enough for me. Superman not only does not kill, he does not willingly permit innocents to die, but this one does both.  Zod is the one who considers massive expenditures of human life to be “collateral damage,” not Kal-El. If neither of them care then there are no good guys and bad guys here. It’s just bad guy and worse guy.

This is supposed to be a more “realistic” Superman who has no choice but to kill in the absence of any better option, but that’s because Snyder and David Goyer’s screenplay didn’t give him any.

After he snaps Zod’s neck, Supes lets out a “NOOOOOO!!!” but he gets over it real quick.    There’s no consequences to trashing a major city and no remorse for killing his enemy.   Batman tells Ra’s Al Ghul, “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you” in Batman Begins.    Superman says,  “Guess I have to kill you since I can’t figure out any way to stop you.”

Superman’s philosophy used to be “truth, justice and the American way” when it was Christopher Reeve with the “S” on his chest. When did it become “I had to destroy Metropolis to save it?”

Superman is a super hero and super heroes find another way. He can do what takes some imagination or say “ain’t nobody got time for that” and just snap the bastard’s neck. Problem solved, right?

Except I don’t want Superman killing Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Bizarro, Brainiac or anybody else that decides to mess with the “S” because it’s the quick and easy fix and Superman just really digs snapping necks.  Wolverine and The Punisher already exist to put bad guys to sleep permanently, but neither are “heroes” in the classic sense.  Superman is and he is a hero who does what others can not do or will not do, not just what is expedient.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child and I read comic books that appealed to me as a child. When I became a young man I put away childish things including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and superheroes like that because it stopped making sense to me why someone like Batman would do this endless, repetitive dance with The Joker where the guy escapes from Arkham Asylum (again), kills a ton of innocent people (again), Batman beats him up and throws his ass back into Arkham (again) and six months later we start the whole damn thing all over again.

It was an endless cycle of stupid that made no sense. Garth Ennis’ character of Tommy Monaghan, the Hitman took on a contract to kill the Joker and blamed Batman for enabling the Joker’s murderous sprees because he wouldn’t kill the Clown Prince of Crime saying, “A sensible man would have done it years ago.”.

Superman is blessed with enough powers and abilities that he doesn’t have to kill his enemies. He finds another way because that’s what he does.

That has worked for 75 years. One movie with a revisionist streak doesn’t mean what always worked before doesn’t work anymore.

“Bring me The Avengers and I’ll kick all their asses!”