Last week, I went to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is not a good movie. The first two hours and fifteen minutes are a series of disjointed scenes, at least four or five dream sequences, total non-sequiturs, and forced conflicts. The movie is called Batman v Superman, but there’s really no good reason for either Batman or Superman to be pissed at each other. Then there’s a final fight scene, then a few minutes of setting up for the upcoming Justice League set of movies that DC hope will help them climb out of the shadow of Marvel.
Because in the last ten years or so, Marvel has put out Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, the new X-Men movies, a few Spider-Man movies, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil, as well as probably some more I forgot about. DC has the Nolan Batman trilogy, plus The Flash and Arrow are doing ok.
Anyway, this post is not about how the movie sucked. This post is about how the analysis of Tamara White, a writer at xoJane, sucks. Spoilers ahead.
That’s the headline that Tamara wrote, which I read about three hours before I saw the movie. I didn’t want to spoil the plot, so I waited to read the article until just after I got out. My point is that the movie was as fresh in my mind as possible when I read Tamara’s article, and I therefore feel confident in saying that every single complaint in this article is military-grade bullshit.
I’m honestly not even convinced she saw the same movie as me. I can tell you with certainty, however, that Tamara knows less about DC Comics, the characters, or the movie in general than does the chair she watched it from. Let’s take a journey, shall we?
This weekend I begrudgingly accompanied my fiancé to see Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The previews have been running for months, but I just wasn’t excited about this film outside of catching a glimpse of Wonder Woman’s latest iteration.
Be sure to note how not excited you were to see the movie, so your audience can tell that all this STUPID BOY STUFF is beneath you.
This is mostly, because Hollywood movies based on comics tend to be created for a male audience with little to no interesting female characters.
However, it’s been years in the making to get a female superhero on the big screen and I was excited about the possibility of what this new millennium’s Wonder Woman could be.
YEARS in the making, you guys. Years. If you ignore the five movies that Scarlett Johansson has been in as Black Widow, and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2, and Jaimie Alexander as Sif in two Thor movies, and the two female superheroes in Deadpool, and the twenty-three female superheroes in the X-Men movies, and Jessica Jones (who got a whole TV show), and the Black Canary and Speedy on Arrow, oh and Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises, and probably a few more, there have been basically NO female superheroes. Just like thirty of them, in like a dozen movies, BUT THAT’S IT.
We’re first introduced to Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) at a swanky, party thrown by Lex Luther. She’s wearing a stunning dress and Batman eyestalks her from the moment he walks into the soiree. Wonder Woman is flawless in a Victoria Secret model type of way. Leave it to Hollywood to give us a female superhero, thirteen years younger than her romantic interest, who looks better equipped to walk during Paris Fashion Week than to wrestle monsters.
Ok first of all, you goddamn idiot, she’s immortal. She’s not actually even human. She was formed out of clay by her mother, Hippolyta, and granted her beauty from Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, herself. And according to the New 52, the re-vamped line of origin stories that DC came out with in 2011, she’s a literal demigoddess, the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. Of course she’s fucking beautiful. Comic book fans will know that she got her strength from Demeter, wisdom from Athena, speed and flight from Hermes, Eyes of the Hunter and unity with beasts from Artemis and sisterhood with fire and the ability to discern the truth from Hestia, and is in fact one of the most powerful and well-rounded heroes in the entire DC Universe, but no, you’re just upset that she’s hot.
And obviously she’s younger-looking than Bruce Wayne. I assume the “thirteen years” figure comes from the ages of the actors, because the character of Wonder Woman is at least a few hundred years old, but again: DIANA PRINCE IS NOT A HUMAN BEING. Bruce Wayne is a human being, and an aging one, and the fact that he’s past his prime and having trouble keeping up is a major plot point in this movie.
And thirdly, you insufferably useless human being, Batman is not Wonder Woman’s romantic interest. She flirts with him to get her way. Wonder Woman’s power over men is well-documented, as is her independence from them. In fact, the Lasso of Truth is an intentional metaphor for the power that women have over men, as people trapped in it can’t lie. And Diana loses her superpower if she allows a man to take her bracelets—believe me, she’s not looking for a husband or a savior. She dates Bruce very briefly in the Justice League series, but then breaks up with him amicably and they go back to being friends and Justice League co-workers. That’s it.
I was particularly disappointed that over the years, while male superheroes have grown to be more muscular, technological and even middle-aged — Wonder Woman has stayed much the same.
Wrong on a shocking number of levels. First of all, Wonder Woman hasn’t aged because she has magic powers. Superman also has not aged, because he (SURPRISE) has magic powers. And if you’re referring to the actors, you’re still wrong. Ben Affleck is 43. Christian Bale was 38 in his latest Batman movie. Michael Keaton was 41. Adam West was 38 when he started playing Batman and 40 when he finished. Affleck might be the oldest, but by a negligible margin.
As for powers and technology, Superman’s powers change every time someone at DC fucking sneezes. When he was created, he couldn’t even fucking fly. Batman used to have a helicopter. And Wonder Woman used to look like this:
She’s gone from “cast of Grease” to “warrior princess.” And here’s a list of powers that have been added to Wonder Woman since she was created:
- more strength (could previously lift 15,000 pounds, now she rivals Superman)
- more intelligence
- advanced healing powers
- telescopic vision
- super hearing
- resistance to fire
- ability to fly
- ability to project herself to other places, both physical and mythical
So I don’t want to hear this bullshit that the female superheroes are neglected while Batman gets shiny toys. Moving on.
To her credit, in the film’s final fight scene, Wonder Woman joins Batman and Superman in taking down a near invincible monster created by Lex Luther (played by Jesse Eisenberg). This was a cameo appearance for Wonder Woman to promote her own film so that’s the extent of the role she plays in Dawn of Justice.
This flippant little throwaway paragraph, alluding to her “cameo” appearance, is just further evidence that Tamara WASN’T WATCHING THE FUCKING MOVIE. Let me break this down: Stan Lee, accidentally drinking a soda poisoned with Bruce Banner’s radioactive blood and then dying one second later, is a cameo. It’s not important to the movie, he’s not a recurring character, he doesn’t even have a name. Literally anyone could have played that role. The only purpose of that scene, or of any other Stan Lee appearance in a Marvel film, is so Stan Lee can have a fun afternoon on set and so Marvel nerds can say “hey look, it’s Stan Lee!” That is what a cameo is.
A main character who appears throughout the movie, plays an integral role in what little plot there is, and ALMOST SINGLEHANDEDLY DEFEATS THE NEARLY-IMMORTAL MONSTER IN THE FINAL BATTLE is not a goddamn cameo. Seriously, I can’t stress enough how important Wonder Woman is in this movie. If you could buy a ticket for the final ten minutes, just to watch her kick ass while Superman has a superfluous emotional moment with Lois and Batman stands in the distance being useless, I’d recommend it. When the movie comes out on DVD, fast-forward and just watch that part. She is killing it. She’s the only person of the three of them landing any serious hits on the monster, brushing off everything it throws at her, carving it up with her sword, holding it down with her lasso, rescuing Batman when his Batplane fails and he’s about to be pulverized by the creature. She is far more useful in the final fight than Batman, and should have been more useful than Superman if he’d just given her the damn spear rather than trying to use it himself. If she’d had the spear, she could have won the fight all by herself, hands down. Wouldn’t have even been that hard. And it’s not even her movie.
Let’s move on to the other female characters, whom Tamara describes as “weak and helpless women struggling to survive in a man’s world.”
Martha Wayne, played by Laura Cohen, is violently killed in the opening scene. Martha Kent is kidnapped, tortured and almost burned alive for being a witch – the word scrawled across her forehead by her captors. Senator Finch, played by Holly Hunter, stands up to Lex Luther and then is brutally murdered along with Mercy Graves his supermodel assistant.
Yeah, Martha Wayne is violently killed in the opening scene. So is her husband, under identical circumstances, but I guess we’re glossing over that. That’s sort of the reason Batman is Batman. The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents (BOTH of them, you insensitive clod) is the single largest driving force in the origin of the character.
And yes, Martha Kent is kidnapped, tortured (if being tied to a chair counts as torture), and almost burned alive before Batman saves her. That’s because she’s a normal person and Lex Luthor is an unhinged psychopath trying to get Superman to kill Batman by using his mother as leverage. The fact that she was a victim in this movie doesn’t make her a weak character. Let’s remember that she raised a goddamn alien baby, helped him learn to control his powers, and constantly reminds him that he doesn’t owe the world his unlimited powers just because they keep clamoring for his help. Let’s also remember that Superman’s dad (both of them) died in Man of Steel, so it’s not like they could have swapped her out with a male character from his past.
And apparently Tamara forgot, in bemoaning the death of Senator Finch (the only character in the movie not to give Lex Luthor what he wants), that she dies in a massive bomb explosion that killed upwards of 150 people, including a bunch of other politicians, members of the press, civilians, etc. Apparently being the victim of a terrorist attack executed by a maniac makes you “weak and helpless.”
Finally, let’s address Mercy Graves. Mercy Graves, says Tamara, “is a particular let down since she is such a fierce protector of Luther in the comic books.” Does she have a good role in the movie? No, despite having a pretty major role in the comics. Does she die an unceremonious death? Yes, because this movie is bad. Is that sexist or misogynistic or patriarchal? Absolutely not, and here’s why.
In the very beginning of the movie, Lois Lane is in the desert, trying to interview some African warlord because she’s a reporter and that’s what she does. Her photographer is with her. Suddenly, the warlord says something about how they’ve detected that the CIA is trying to infiltrate his group. Guns are drawn. Her photographer, as it turns out, is CIA, and has a tracker in his camera. He insists (correctly) that Lois had no idea, and the warlord shoots him in the face. He never even gets a name. Know who that was? JIMMY FUCKING OLSEN. Jimmy Olsen has been an integral part of the Superman story since the 1950s, even going so far as to star in his own comic series, and he dies after thirty seconds of screen time without even getting his name mentioned. If we’re talking about comic book characters who got shafted by this movie, Mercy Graves is not at the top of the list.
And one final thing before I move on. Tamara refers to Tao Okamoto, the woman who plays Mercy Graves, as “the film’s only character of color that has an actual name.” I would love to hear how Okamoto, born and raised in Japan, is more “of color” than Gal Gadot, born and raised in Israel. Are we lumping Middle Eastern Jews in with white people now? I missed the memo.
Last but not least, Louis Lane is a helpless damsel in distress, who is rescued by Superman four separate times — and in the process she causes a public relations disaster that turns the world against him.
In an earlier interview, Amy Adams who plays Lois says of the character, “What I love about Lois Lane is that she’s been very consistently strong, successful, independent.”
Unfortunately, I don’t agree. Sure, Lois is an accomplished journalist who we see pursuing hard news stories about terrorism and government corruption, but she’s still a woman who can’t navigate her life without Superman. She’s such a liability to the superhero, that during the intimate bathtub scene she questions whether he can love her and be himself at the same time.
Lois is a journalist. I don’t know what you want her to do—report Lex Luthor to death? And she doesn’t cause the PR disaster.
The scene Tamara is referring to is the one where Jimmy dies, and then a bunch of private security guys who were supposed to be working for the warlord turn on him, kill half a dozen other African guys, and leave on dirt bikes. Then Superman shows up, suplexes the warlord through a building, and saves Lois. Then the whole world blames Superman because nothing in this movie makes any fucking sense. Why would they blame Superman? He doesn’t use bullets, and these guys were obviously shot. How does the world even know he was there? Lois was the only survivor, and she’s obviously going to tell everyone that he didn’t kill anyone. And how the fuck could you, Tamara, blame Lois? She’s a reporter, and she was reporting. Are you upset that she didn’t know Jimmy Olsen was a CIA plant, or that the warlord’s security were secretly from LexCorp? This is a preposterous point to make.
And of course she questions whether he can love her and be himself. He’s the effectively-indestructable Man of Steel. She’s a normal woman. The reason he keeps having to rescue her is because she’s trying to help, but is not in fact more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound like he is. And she knows that if he has feelings for her, she might interfere with him doing his job to the best of his abilities. Which ACTUALLY HAPPENS in the movie, because he has to rescue her in the middle of the final fight when she almost drowns for reasons that are almost entirely Batman’s fault.
After seeing Dawn of Justice, I can’t say that I am ultra-excited to see Wonder Woman next year.
Even though you thought Wonder Woman was the only good character in the movie? Got it.
However, what I really want to see in this franchises next films are more complex, female characters (and maybe even some ethnic Amazonians, pretty please?).
This is the single stupidest thing Tamara says in the entire article. I’m not sure what she thinks “ethnic Amazonians” are, but I can assure you they’re not a thing. The Amazons are characters from Greek mythology, and were not based on a real race of women anywhere in the world. The Amazon River and surrounding area were named after them because a Spanish explorer fought with the locals and was surprised to find women fighting alongside men. The women who currently live in South America have less to do with Wonder Woman than I do. There is no such thing as an “ethnic Amazonian.”
I suppose it’s possible that she wants ethnic actors to play the Amazons, for no reason other than to fulfill some imagined racial quota (and apparently Gal Gadot doesn’t count.) Well, she’s going to be disappointed. The other four Amazons are from England, Norway, Denmark, and Texas. But if you want diversity, DC’s got you covered! Remember the Flash? Here’s a picture of him from the comics.
Pretty darn Aryan, right? Well now he’s a Jewish dude with long hair!
What about Aquaman? What’s he look like?
Also Aryan. White guy, blond hair, clean shaven. Fast forward to now…
Why, it’s Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones! Polynesian AND Native American! Tattoos! Dreadlocks! A beard! He’s racial as fuck!
Why? No reason. Do I give a shit? No. Is there any reason they’re less qualified to play these roles because they’re not white? Obviously not. Will it be important to their respective stories that they’re not white? I doubt it. But you know damn well that if they’d cast white guys to play them, there would have been a thousand thinkpieces flooding the internet the next day complaining that superhero movies don’t shoehorn enough non-white people into their casts.
Tamara closes with this:
In 2016, regular women are taking a stand and conquering in business, entertainment, politics and love – I don’t go to the movies to see woman regress back to 1950s caricatures. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I got from Dawn of Justice.
I’m not sure how you want Wonder Woman to portray the expanded capabilities of women, other than maybe KICKING ALL THE ASS WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM MEN, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE DID, but the rest of these? Mercy Graves is the second in command at one of the biggest companies in the world. Lois Lane is a world-famous reporter. Senator Finch is a strong-willed, successful, national politician who does her job well and with integrity in the face of corporate bullying. And “taking a stand and conquering in love” is a string of nonsense words.
What you asked for in this movie is exactly what you got. Business, entertainment, and politics. You just weren’t paying attention, because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
To clarify, I’m not defending the movie. This movie is not good. It’s boring, overwrought, and incoherent. Everything cool that happens is in the last ten minutes and done by Wonder Woman, because Batman and Superman are incorrigible fuckups the rest of the time. It has a lot of problems.
Misogyny is not one of them.
Guys! I seriously don’t understand the bashing taking place here! As an avid superhero comic book reader, this movie was solid. Winter soldier level or better!!! I mean this! Luthor was maniacal and Wonder Woman was as impressive as doomsday! Cinematography on point and special effects and cgi better than I expected! Don’t believe the reviews you have seen floating around. Also, this movie is not for kids, so, stop whining and accept Ben Affleck as the new cape crusader!!! He already either topped or leveled himself with Bale and is going to be around for a while…
I hate every word in that comment. Batman V Superman is a good movie visually and in no other respect.
“Lois is a journalist. I don’t know what you want her to do—report Lex Luthor to death?”
Just taking this as a representative example, there are similar things throughout this review of a review.
I think the problem partly is a clash of expectations. You think that if the source material requires something, like Lois being a journalist, then that justifies instances where certain tropes come into play as a logical consequence of that requirement. But the people writing criticisms don’t care about fidelity to the source material, at least not primarily. If the source material sets up the stage in such a way that Lois Lane needing to be rescued is an inevitable consequence of Superman movies, that’s not a defense of the movie, it’s an indictment of the source material. In their view. Nothing insists that we must inevitably make superhero movies or that we can’t tear up the canon.
I would have liked to see you tackle this clash of civilizations directly in this review. Instead it reads like you are assuming shared assumptions that aren’t present. To be clear, I’m not saying your position is wrong.