***Beware, Mild Spoilers***
I realize that this blog post might be coming into the world a little late. While I try my hardest to make it to the theater to see the newest comic book movies, I am but a poor writer who can’t afford a $12 movie ticket to experience what Redbox is offering for $1.50. That being said, I’ve only just recently enjoyed the newest superhero films- Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. But after seeing both of them I feel like DC and Marvel are just peeking over each others’ shoulders to see who can deliver the same plot in the most expensive fashion. So let’s just get right into the similarities.
The Real Story: Citizens vs. Vigilantes
This is not an original storyline. This has been a pretty regular thing since superheroes were invented, but because Marvel has reigned in a new age of top-budget superhero films, this feels like a new plotline…and now it’s being used by everybody.
Dawn of Justice opens with the aftermath of a battle between Superman and a villain, where a building has collapsed and injured an employee of Bruce Wayne. Wayne essentially saves the man’s life, but nevertheless, a grudge is born that eventually leads to the main conflict between Batman and Superman. Civil War similarly opens with The Avengers wreaking havoc on the city. During a high-pressure moment, Scarlet Witch sends a bomb into a building, injuring many innocent bystanders, which leads to the Avengers being called into question.
Marvel has been building up this particular story arc since the first Avengers movie, maybe even since the very first Iron Man film, so it doesn’t feel quite so out of the blue. Now, if DC could stick with one Batman instead of rebooting every few years, the entire Dark Knight trilogy would feel more cohesive with Ben Affleck’s portrayal of our batty friend, and it wouldn’t feel like this plot just came out of nowhere. However, since it feels like we’re starting all over, there isn’t enough here to build an emotional response to the downfall of his character. Since we’ve seen Scarlet Witch evolve and the Avengers come together, the audience feels more sympathy to their plight and to Scarlet Witch’s guilt. Throw in a little Tony Stark guilt from an Age of Ultron victim, and my heart breaks for everyone.
Here’s why I’ll give it to Dawn of Justice though: it felt real. We see the bomb blow from afar in Civil War, and later we see another attack up close, but it just feels like another action sequence. Nothing particularly special. In Dawn of Justice, it felt real. I actually felt for the people running away from the buildings that were collapsing around them. It was effective if not uncomfortably realistic.
Who Wore It Best: Dawn of Justice
Building the Superhero Team
I’ve always been a Justice League girl myself, but over the past decade, I’ve come to love the Avengers like my very own sidekicks. Snarky Tony, Angelic Rogers, Fierce Natasha. But is the continuous building of the ultimate superhero team that will eventually culminate into the mega-hero blockbuster Infinity War getting a little old? Yeah, like five years ago. In this particular film, the fight scene that brings every Avenger together (with the exception of Hulk and Thor), fighting on opposing sides, gets a little confusing. How am I supposed to keep track when there are fifteen superheroes in similar costumes all fighting each other instead of some fugly monster?
But man, hats off to Marvel for bringing in a Spider-Man that doesn’t make me wants to stab my eardrums. He was pretty adorable.
Now, Dawn of Justice is just the beginning of the build up for the Justice League, and I’m significantly more interested in the Wonder Woman and Flash movies than I was in Dawn of Justice, but if anything could bring this movie home, it was the addition of Wonder Woman herself, using that whip like the Amazonian goddess that she is. While I don’t think Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill work together very well on the big screen, I’ll suck it up for a little more face time for Wonder Woman (and Ezra Miller, who is going to crush it as The Flash).
Who Wore It Best: It’s a tie
Pitting the Superheroes Against Each Other
It’s a pretty believable plotline. All that power and testosterone and adrenaline? With guys as thick-headed and egotistical as Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne getting the idea that they’re on the right side, it makes perfect sense that they would eventually snap at a fellow superhero that gets in their way.
But here’s why it worked in Civil War and fell apart in Dawn of Justice: communication. It’s 2016. The plotline of starting a war just because you didn’t communicate with someone enough to find out their true motives is dead and buried. DC should have known better. I’m expected to believe that Batman was just going to rip Superman’s heart out without asking him his intentions first? Nah. It’s not even remotely believable. And in the end, it’s their shared love of mommy that makes them a team? Nope.
Civil War has a real plot. I saw both sides. I rooted for both sides. I understood why Captain American didn’t want to sign over his rights to the government and why Iron Man did. Everything made sense for their characters. Nothing they did was impulsive (even Tony, who’s the king of impulsivity). This was about politics and about two very intelligent, good men disagreeing on something that made sense to disagree about. It wasn’t just a grudge match, so put down the stick of Kryptonite, Bruce, for crying out loud.
Who Wore It Best: Civil War
Past vs. Present (And a little future)
Again, I reiterate that DC needs to get their crap together, stick with a good cast, and pull an entire story arc home like Marvel has pretty successfully done. But there’s so much jumping around in Dawn of Justice that it’s hard for me to keep everything straight. DC is trying to catch up with Marvel, creating enough plot points in two films to try and match the plotlines of nine Avenger films (I had to count those on my fingers, but I think I got them all) and in doing so, confused me and downplayed the role of one serious villain- Lex Luthor- by giving him a supportive villain role against the battle between Batman and Superman. So here’s where our timeline gets foggy- DC is building in the wrong direction. They’re introducing plot points in this film that it seems we won’t get a taste of for a few more years: a Wonder Woman backstory, a pop-up of Barry Allen which makes no sense in the current context. Why wouldn’t they start with a Wonder Woman film before forcing a half-developed character into the drama of this movie? It just doesn’t add up, and it left a weird, twisty, convoluted plot that was just annoying.
But on the other hand, somehow, Marvel is still using previous films and flashbacks to build these movies and characters so far that you feel like you know them. I don’t feel cheated with any of these characters (although I wouldn’t die if they put in a little more Black Widow backstory, or actually, if we just got a Black Widow film). Each one is being built up so meticulously, even Black Panther, who pounced out of nowhere with a fiercely rich backstory that made me immediately want to take his side, even if he was clawing Iron Man’s facemask off. Marvel has built themselves an empire, and while I can say I’m sick of it all day long, I will still watch every single movie, and I’m marking my calendar for Infinity War.
Who Wore It Best: Civil War
Back to Basics
I’ll admit that I kind of created this category just for Dawn of Justice. Did you see Superman, guys? Did you see him? Did you see DC give us back lovable, protective, selfless Clark Kent after the trainwreck that was Man of Steel? I think people forget how much humor Superman has always had, and that was one of the things that made him so lovable. In Man of Steel, DC destroyed the classic Superman story in an attempt to be as action-packed and ferocious as the Marvel films, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. However, Dawn of Justice gives me back my nerdy Superman, the one that made me love superhero movies from the very start. Throw in the introduction of Lex Luthor and Doomsday, and this felt like a real Superman movie.
Who Wore It Best: Dawn of Justice
Polaris Rex welcomes your opinions about this and would love to chat with you in the comments section. Let us know what YOU think?
~ Polaris Rex ~