THERE ARE SPOILERS…BIG SPOILERS
I am reading some really discouraging things about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. So much so that I believe a discussion about morality and mythology is required. Superheroes are not just a big budget movie and comic book industry. They are our mythology. They speak to us in a language we all can understand but rarely comprehend. Our superhero mythology tells stories about human behavior and morality and personal ethics. In our postmodern world, we thumb our noses at morality plays. They used to be what connected people together across lots of time and space. They still can, if we let them. Marvel seems to have recognized that you can’t make a lot of money with morality plays, so it has let its originality fall by the wayside. Hopefully, the market won’t give DC the same idea. Within these morality plays lies the key to understanding how to move beyond the racism, sexism, and just plain old hate this world is experiencing. We’re well beyond needing to be told it is so; no one has really been talking about how to make it stop. That’s where our mythology comes in with the potential to save us, if we listen.
This new Batman is middle-aged! Holy gray hair, Batman! We open with the same old tired story of how Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered in front of him. We are reminded that, if you pay attention, Wayne’s mother’s name is Martha. (Insert first element of feminist subtext right here.) Then we are reminded how little regard Superman in Man of Steel actually had for human beings in Metropolis while General Zod was in his radar. Superman is faster than a speeding train and is as one-track as a speeding train ought to be as well because no one and nothing is getting in his way. Not even Wally or little girls. He certainly does not give two shits about Wayne Enterprises’ satellite location in downtown Metropolis. Which really pisses Bruce off. Atypical of every Batman movie ever made, we don’t get a half hour or forty-five minutes about how fucking amazing it is to be rich and have kickass toys. We get the Bat in a hellish scene that almost made me pee in my pants like The Exorcist did. It was completely frightening in a way that Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale could never have been. No amount of acting school can create the kind of terror that one dimly lit scene of the Batman in the ceiling corner does. So, way to fucking go Ben Affleck! In something like nine seconds you managed to do with the Batman what no one else has ever been able to do off the page.
Batman is not a good guy. He is a fucking vigilante with an endless supply of his own cash, which means he doesn’t answer to anyone, and a bottomless pit for a heart. He is never morally twisted, sarcastic, or flippant. He is never garish. (I’m looking at you, George Clooney.) Batman is a man without women in his life. His mother was murdered in front of him. When it comes to femininity, there is no room at Batman’s inn. Batman don’t have time for that shit. That he allegedly won’t kill villains is not about compassion. He has a moral code that he wrote for himself and he sticks to for himself. He is the male ego run riot. Textually -regardless of medium – the wealth, the playboy status, the gadgets and gizmos are all extensions of the unchecked male ego (that means penis; they are extensions of the penis). And DC fans fucking love that shit! Ask as many people as you want, and more than half of them will say Batman is their favorite or at least their guilty pleasure. Ask me, Catwoman, and a thousand other women, and if we’re being honest with you and ourselves, we’ll say we all want to bed the Batman because his ego is so larger than life, and in spite of ourselves, we dig the hell out of that. He’s certainly not relationship material. But you’ll notice that I’ve mentioned some things about being honest with ourselves, and that is precisely what DC does and Marvel does not. Pushes you to be honest with yourself. Bruce Wayne is. It doesn’t matter if what you find inside is black and crusted over or pink and warm and gooey. It’s you. It’s there. Know it. Love it. That’s what the Batman wants you to do.
So in comes Gal Gadot in her golden discs of wondermousness at Lex Luthor’s party. She’s low-key, unofficial, sexy, and unavailable. She does not want what’s in your wallet or your pants. She wants your tech. Thank you very much, Mr. Wayne. She doesn’t have to even speak to you to outsmart you. And you, the audience, you’re still sitting there wondering “Is that the French chic playing Wonder Woman?” and Bruce Wayne is still wondering “Where does she put her tits in that dress?” And she’s already had the valet drive her car around front, and is readeh … ta…go! That’s how feminist she is! She doesn’t care about your penis competition with Superman or Lex Luthor. She’s protecting Numero Uno. Her wardrobe is no different. My thoughts about her “uniform” have to do with practicality, and the fickle as fuck nature of how we as a species respond to women and their clothing choices. It wouldn’t matter what she was wearing; some fool is going to have a problem with it. So, she goes for utilitarian. Kate Beckinsale’s character Selene from the Underworld franchise gets a utilitarian pass on her wardrobe too – she’s a fucking vampire. She needs a full body rubber suit to allow her the same freedom to kick ass while also protecting herself from those harmful UV rays! So we’re not talking anymore about WW’s skin or her clothing choices. They’re utilitarian. Get over it.
And candy-assed Superman … This movie should be called Batman v. Superman and How Lois Lane and Wonder Woman Taught Batman and Superman How to Be Real Men, but I can live with Dawn of Justice because it’s essentially the same thing. Lois Lane sits in the bathtub thinking about how she’s just been in the middle of a shit storm, and Superman has come all this way to save her, wreaking havoc all along the way. She says something like “you can’t love me and be who you are.” Superman responds in a very Hollywood/Marvel/Disney kind of way – “hey baby, I love you so much I’m going to get my LL Beans soaking wet for you, with my Clark Kent glasses on an ev-er-ee-thang.” (Insert more feminist subtext here.) Hint: Only women in Hollywood movies like that shit. The rest of us are thinking about the hit our combined income will take because you’ve ruined your LL Beans trying to act like Superman, which you’re not, and even if you were, you couldn’t get through a battle without us nearly drowning doing the lion’s share of the work anyway because Kryptonite! The Marvelites should be thrilled by this point in the film because TRADITIONAL. The rest of us are like “Oh man, Superman is going down haaaarrrd after that shit in the bathtub!”
The stage is set for epic battledom with a morally diverse set of characters, yet people are still complaining because someone was too tall or not tall enough. Please. Batman is a middle-aged psychopath who loves his mother very very much. She was his world. Wonder Woman don’t have time for your wardrobe nitpicking bullshit because she has a lasso. She strong, she’s tough, she’s hot, she’s French, and she is so tired of your shit she’s been in hiding for 100 years. Superman is a lovesick idiot with oatmeal for brains and he really loves his girlfriend and his mother. (Think about that for a minute. He. Is. Super. Man.) Lois Lane is a loudmouthed chic who never asked for “SuperBoyfriend” and who knows when she’s doing more harm than good, AYAND is willing to walk away from said super buffed out Henry Cavill. Talk about balls! It also has Cherry Valance, who paid attention to Ralph Macchio and most definitely is still golden, super golden, at age fifty-one.
As for the “surprise ending” which I’ve read a lot of whiney ass stuff about today: In 1992, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway killed the fuck out of Superman. It launched DC into the wildest ride of its life. Internationally, superhero nerds lost their collective minds over it. It drove comic book sales for “The Death of Superman” through the roof. Don’t believe me? http://comicsalliance.com/tags/death-of-superman/ Go check it for yourself. It’s not a surprise ending if you read comic books, pay attention to character development, plot structure, and karma perhaps. But that is precisely why you don’t like the DC Universe. Thinking is hard. Marvel and Disney will keep spoon-feeding you, and you’ll keep paying them to spoon feed you. DC will make you think about what is right and what is wrong, and what makes it okay to break the rules. Tony Stark makes his living breaking rules. Is it okay to break the rules because your girlfriend is doing her job and finds herself with a gun to her chin? Probably not. Probably not especially if you’re Superman. Is it okay to go all Conservative whack job just because someone else did it to you first? Probably not. Probably not especially if you’re Bruce Wayne, of the “let them eat cake beat.”
The question is always just this: Just because you can do it, is there ever a reason you should?” Our American and most of Western culture is facing that question pretty much on a daily basis with the terrorist attacks in Belgium and Pakistan in the last few days in particular. Just because we can blow the Islamic State/Al Quada/Saddam Hussein/Osama bin laden/fill in the blank to smithereens, with or without boots on the ground, does not necessarily mean we should. Not because terrorists aren’t bad enough to warrant a strike, but because delivering a strike would take us over that line that Bruce Wayne crosses all the time, take us to the point of no return inside ourselves. That’s what the invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq War have done to the United States. Those two strikes are the primary cause for no one having any manners on social media, why Trump supporting bullies are petitioning to open carry at the RNC. W, Dick Cheney, Carl Rove, and Donald Rumsfield pushed us into crossing a line within ourselves that we were never meant to cross just like Lex Luthor and The Joker want us to. My God! Do you people even pay attention?! Batman knows it. Superman ought to know it, but he’s lovestruck, and just like being lovestruck, being greedy for wealth makes you blind to the bomb less than ten feet away from you even when you have X-ray vision. I wish I could have made this short and sweet, but it’s too precious and too important. Paying attention the way the DC Universe wants you to pay attention – with your neurons and not your hard-ons – will make you think about what is so wrong with that Conservative Libertarian monologue Batman gives Alfred about stealing the thing from LexCorp, and it will make you realize what that weird-ass dream sequence Batman had was really all about (But that desert Bat was bad ass looking!). It will make you deeply appreciate all the times YOU have been Superman standing in the middle of a blown out Congressional building with an “Aw fuck” look on your face. It’s supposed to make you appreciate the sacrifices your mother made to bring you into this world, and how your wife/girlfriend/significant other works just as hard as you do to succeed in this world, sometimes harder because no one made a fucking Lois Lane statue. It’s supposed to make you question whether or not you could do any better at discerning right from wrong in this horrible wretched world we live in. We’ve lived in Gotham, and we think we’ve seen it all, but we ain’t seen nothing yet. Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding. Batman and Superman might be god versus alien BUT THEY BOTH HAD A MOM whose names happened to both be Martha. That commonplace piece of commonality shut the Batman down immediately. If finding some little thing in common can shut down the Batman, the epitome of unchecked rampant masculine ego, then it can shut you down too. You just have to stop punching the world in the face long enough to listen (and have a woman come translate what you’re hearing!” 🙂