Tonight's the night. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally out after almost three years of production, promotion, and a plethora of "Battfleck" think pieces.
Are you excited? Because truthfully, I'm not really that excited about it. Are you planning on going? I'd be fine without seeing it in theaters, but I'll probably end up buying a ticket. Why? At this point, it's all about transparency.
As a fan of both movies and comic books in general, it seems unfair to get hype about every Marvel movie that has and will be released to the masses, but to shrug off DC's obvious efforts to compete. That being said, I don't dislike DC comic books or any of the company's iconic characters that will inevitably get movies of their own. It's just that based on writing strength, cinematic quality and all-around replay value, Marvel movies are generally ... better.
Aside from The Dark Knight trilogy, recent movies based on DC comics aren't in the same ballpark as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not even same league, or the same sport, really. Green Lantern was like watching the T-800 lower himself into that vat of molten steel for almost two hours: A slow-burning, heartbreaking death of a beloved character that was more painful for us than it probably was for anyone involved in its production.
Same thing goes for Watchmen. The attention to detail was commendable, but really, three hours of slow motion fight scenes was not as entertaining as one would think. (Does anybody think that sounds entertaining? I'm genuinely curious.)
As for Superman, there hasn't been a good movie about him since Superman II – and I'm talking about the Richard Donner Cut. The theatrical version is pure comedy, and by comedy, I mean tragedy. This is a movie with a screenplay that featured some variation of the phrase "Superman tears the "S" logo off of his chest and throws it at a dude." That sounds hilarious, but watching it actually brings about more sadness and disdain if anything.
Superman Returns had a skilled director, great cast, and the the look and feel of what a Superman movie should be. It's Achilles heel (or Kryptonite, if you will) was that it was just boring. All the scenes with Clark, Lois, and James Marsden, who once again was cast as "the other guy" in a comic book love triangle, were not interesting in any way, shape, or form.
Even when they tried to remake the "Can You Read My Mind?" flying scene from the original, it felt like Lois and Clark were weighed down by cinder blocks as opposed to romantically soaring above Metropolis.
(Yes, I know that cinder blocks wouldn't really weigh Superman down, but let's not get technical with any of this.)
And then there was Man of Steel. My friend and I checked out MoS during it's opening week three years ago, and we both walked out of the theater shrouded in a cloud of confusion. He was mainly confused because he fell asleep around the middle of it – which I don't blame him for one bit – and woke up around the climax. I was confused because, well, the movie flat out stopped making sense after a while.
After Clark spends the first hour-and-a-half brooding about his existence and working as a Deadliest Catch extra, the tone and direction of the movie took a complete 180. It was like they ran out of ideas during filming and decided to use deleted footage from Battle: Los Angeles or Skyline, or some other crappy alien invasion movie to fill the void.
Seriously, if you haven't seen it, the remainder of the movie is a long, loud, and destructive fight sequence between Superman and General Zod. We could go into how causing massive amounts of collateral damage, as well as taking the life of another, is far outside of Superman's MO, but that's already been said about a thousand times. My main issue is with it is that Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Chris Nolan tried so hard to make a psuedo–Avengers-esque, billion dollar blockbuster, that they forgot their number one goal: to actually make a GOOD movie.
I could just be salty. I could be sippin' a lil' bit of that haterade. Both are entirely possible, but not the true catalysts. Ultimately, I just didn't buy into what DC was trying to sell me with MoS, which is "anything Marvel can do, we can do better." Obviously, that hasn't been the case so far, and their recent artistic shortcomings could be an unfortunate sign of what's to come.
Maybe Dawn of Justice will be different. (NOTE: I started writing this post at the beginning of the week, intending to have it done before reviews were released and the movie actually came out. That didn't happen, as I was sidelined with sickness. Currently, this movie sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's worse than Man of Steel. Dang it.)
I HOPE that it'll be different, if not better (NOTE: THIRTY PERCENT) but until tonight (or last night, for some of you eager fans), we won't know for sure. However, I do have a few predictions on what things might, and most likely will, happen throughout the movie's two hour and 33 minute run-time (Lord, give me strength). If I get all five correct, don't say I didn't try to warn you.
1. Batman and Superman will fight, but probably not for long: It's a given that they'll square up at some point, since it's in the title. (At the same time, Batman v Superman could be the name of a hotly contested legal battle that begins somewhere near the second act. Unlikely, but an interesting angle nonetheless.)
By the looks of it, Dawn of Justice is probably going to be hurt by the same thing that used to hamper Marvel movies before the Cinematic Universe was just beginning to be mapped out: A lot of buildup, but very little payoff in the end. Take the 2005 Fantastic Four movie as an example. You knew that fight between the Four and Doctor Doom was coming ever since Doom started spittin' some game Sue's way in front of Reed. Now, I know that's probably the least evil thing that he did all movie, but there's no doubt that was one of the many reasons Reed was ready to lay hands on him near the end.
When Doom and the Four finally threw down for the good of humanity (and Reed's love life), it only lasted about seven or so minutes. Not very epic or exciting for the audience, especially since we had to sit through over an hour of clunky exposition, non-existent romantic chemistry, and a cavalcade bad special effects. In the case of Batman and Superman, they'll probably beat each other up for at least a good ten minutes after scowling at each other since the beginning. Then, as spoiled by the second trailer, Doomsday will show up turn the "fight of the year" into a ham-fisted preview for the future Justice League movie. Speaking of which ...
2. The movie will go out of its way to promote the future Justice League movie: In order for DC to keep up with the non-stop Marvel hype train, it'll have to create a great amount of anticipation for later releases. Marvel did that by adding post-credit scenes, cameos, Easter Eggs, and other methods. DC will likely try to emulate. How will this be done? No idea, but let's all hope that no cues are taken from the Dark Knight Rises School of Subtlety.
3. Lois Lane and Wonder Woman will be grossly underused: Many early reviews have praised Gal Gadot's performance as the Amazonian Warrior Princess, which is fantastic for both fans of the character and the status of female superheroes on film in general. However, I've got a deep, gut feeling that she won't have a whole lot to do during either the Batman/Superman fight or the one with Doomsday.
As for Lois, one of the most headstrong, determined women in comics, let's just say that I have already forgotten that Amy Adams is even in this movie. Not because I don't like Amy Adams, but because she's barely visible in any of the trailers or movie stills.
Hopefully I'm wrong about both of those scenarios, but knowing that the screenplay was co-written by the aforementioned David Goyer – who once said that She-Hulk, a brilliant lawyer by day, is a "giant green porn star" who was solely created to be eye-candy for pre-pubescent boys – doesn't leave me with much faith.
But from the looks of it, Jeremy Irons' version might as well be on the cover of GQ Magazine or something. Seriously, the hair, the glasses, and that vest? I see you, Mr. Pennysworth. I. SEE. YOU.
5. Not a single ounce of fun will be had: Every scene takes place in either the dark, the rain, or in the midst of some sequence of mass destruction. The only character that I've actually seen smile in any of the promotional media is Lex Luthor, who is the villain, and he's not known for being a man who smiles very much at all.
From the looks of it, the movie's color palate ranges from muted gray, to sepia, to straight-up black. Superman's trademark blue-and-red suit even looks kind of gray because of all of the dim lighting and color correction.
Again, you won't know unless you see it, but it appears safe to say that Dawn of Justice will be intense and action-packed. But will it leave you in a good place when you leave the theater? I'm willing to make it a true Daily Double and say no, it won't.
JoWhenever I turn on March Madness coverage on TV and hear that beautiful music play over and over again, it's almost as if I died and arrived at the pearly gates of Heaven. Repeatedly.
I filled out my bracket in about 15 minutes before I wrote this post (9:46 or so on Monday, to be specific), and while doing so, quickly realized that I didn't watch as much college hoops as I normally do this year. In fact, the last game I watched was on Saturday before I went to work. It was Ben Simmons and LSU getting Globetrottered by Texas A&M. To be dramatic about it, the entire experience was about as fun as watching someone get a colonic.
Here's the thing about March Madness that's euphoric and vexing, depending on circumstance: the tournament is so unpredictable, that high college basketball acumen isn't necessary for filling out a bracket, or at least guessing on what teams will come out on top. For example: one year, a friend of mine made her picks based entirely on what mascots she liked more, or colors of the school.
"That's not a good strategy," I said, self-confidently and braggadociously. She went on to have the second best bracket in our pool. I finished fourth or so. So, it was a bad year for me.
This year, I kept the picking process simple. I know that the big ballers are going to ball, the shot-callers are gonna call ... shots, and that Duke will most likely get wiped out by a lesser team. Yes, I know that they won the title last year, but I always keep a slight sliver of hope that someone will do the Lord's work and put them out of their misery early. Or rather put me out of my misery of having to watch them play.
Seriously, remember when Lehigh beat Duke in '12? The best part of that year's One Shining Moment montage was hearing the announcers shout "LEHIGH BEATS DUKE." Watching the ending to that was like drinking a glass of the tears of Coach K, Christian Laettner, and Dick Vitale, and it was delicious, baby!
As a way to conceptualize my hatred of them, I like to think of Duke as the House Lannister of college basketball. Grayson Allen is like a dark-haired King Joffrey. I guess that would make Coach K Joffrey's dad Robert? Or maybe Tywin? I actually kind of liked Robert, so we'll say Tywin. They're both equally reprehensible. Marshall Plumlee can be Jaime, except not good-looking Jaime from the first season. He's crusty, one-handed Jaime from season three. I haven't really thought this all the way through, so just bear with it for now.
Either way, I've been rather nice to Duke this year, though. I could've been savage and had UNC-Wilmington take 'em to the cleaners but from what I've seen of Duke this year, they've got a relatively solid team. They'll find a way to advance at least to the second round, where they'll probably become the DiCaprios to Baylor's Bears. Only this time, they won't survive the mauling.
Another take: I can see Kansas making it to the championship game and dropping the ball. I've never been a big believer of Bill Self's Kansas teams. A lot of it has to do with the unrealized potential of some of their players, like Cliff Alexander last year. Dude would have definitely changed the game for them if he was eligible to play come March. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that I'm still reeling from Bill's whole "Taking my talents to Lawrence" moment when he and the greatest Illinois team ever assembled were poised to win it all.
(Note: I've come to realize that a lot of my bracket decisions are based on my salt against some other teams. It hasn't gotten me far in the past.)
Michigan State has a good chance to win it all this year, in my eyes. Denzel Valentine is a big reason, but we all know that Tom Izzo is a magician. He had the most forgettable team of all time last year, and they made it to the Final Four. For real, who was on the team last year besides Gary Harris?
I wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA gods activated the Chaos Emerald and flipped everything upside down as soon as the First Four gets underway. If this were a perfectly mad world, a Missouri Valley team would come out on top.
Even madder, Bradley University would snag a seed. Maybe someday.