Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill.

March 27, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a joyless, grimdark spectacle in the worst sense. There’s the nugget of a good idea (the god/mortal/devil theme, as embodied by Superman, Batman, and Doomsday) being suffocated by CGI explosions, overdone fight scenes, and rubble piled on blood smothered in gray. It tries to combine the creation of the Justice League with the Death of Superman and Dark Knight Returns, all without earning the team-up since there has only been one movie in this thematic universe, and Man of Steel was shite. The action was mind-numbing, the characters were uneven—especially Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, who I enjoyed until he basically morphed into like The Joker by the end—and I think there was maybe one joke in the entire thing.

Fortunately, the two chumps wearing capes weren’t Superman and Batman. I don’t know who they’re supposed to be, but they’re definitely not Supes and Bats, that’s for sure.

I don’t say that lightly. It’s valid to reinterpret a character. Take Lex Luthor: over his history, he’s gone from being a mad scientist to an industrialist, so making him a new-age tech billionaire is fine. But the reason these characters can be so radically different and yet still be themselves is that they’re buoyed by certain central, unshakable pillars that distinguish them from everyone else.

For Lex Luthor, those pillars are “smartest man in the room” and “hates Superman.” And whatever flaws Eisenberg’s Lex has, he hits those two central points, almost. He does hate Superman, and he does have everyone dancing to his tune for most of the movie. It’s only when he stop acting intelligently and starts raving like a lunatic that he no longer feels like Lex.

Take another example: the Joker. The Joker is defined by “incalculable insanity” and “chaos.” That’s why you can go from Caesar Romero to Jack Nicholson to Mark Hamill to Heath Ledger, and though they’re all radically different, they’re all still the Joker—and it’s not the purple suit (though that doesn’t hurt). Those central pillars remain.

For Batman, those pillars are:

  1. Dead parents.
  2. Does not kill.
  3. Does not use guns.

Oooo, sorry Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You got one of three. How about Superman?

  1. Near-infinite god-like powers.
  2. Does not kill.
  3. Always tries to save everyone.

Once again, I’ll give them one of three, though Superman gets doused with kryptonite so often even #1 is debatable.

I’m sorry if you enjoyed the movie and my point annoys you, but when Batman is shooting people and Superman kills, they aren’t Batman and Superman. That’s not an issue of reinterpreting the characters. Those are not the characters.

Maybe it’s silly that Batman doesn’t kill; it kind of is, given his profession. Maybe it’s unrealistic that Supman doesn’t kill; it’s not, given his powers, and why are we worried about that kind of realism with a neigh-invincible alien superhero? But none of that matters.

If you want to use these characters, those are the rules. You have to get those things right. If you don’t, you’re not writing Superman and Batman. You’re writing someone else. That’s fine, if that’s what you want to write. Just have the decency to make up your own characters, rather than screwing with Supes and Bats. They have enough people out for their blood as is.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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