I am always trying to find way to describe why I love Superman and Batman and Marvel and everything in between. So many comic fans have turned on Superman. He remains my favorite. This is not to say content based on the character is the best. But at the end of the day, and the end of most movies, I prefer a Superman type ending.
It just hit me as to why this might be. I love Shakespeare. I love Broadway. I love silly Operetta. I like broad comedy and melodrama. In small does these are great ways to remove oneself from reality for a couple hours. I don’t turn to these forms for deep insights on humanity, or to be moved by amazing performance. However at times I love the simplistic two dimensional emotional range, that is akin to Superman.
In general I find Superman stories easier to swallow. A lot of the other, more intricate characters are tough to do live action. Superman requires an actor with inner strength that allows you to believe the basic emotional life of the stories. Bruce Timm set a perfect tone for the character in the 1990s animated series. Broad strokes, bright colors, simple good/bad heroes and villains. Superman is one of the few characters that too often suffers as a result of the modern comic book world.
In contrast I love Batman and the gritty, sadistic, revealing the worst in humanity stories from Gotham. Those stories offer a writer, director and writer for more challenges. The complexity of that world requires craft and skill.
I also love every thing MARVEL and most of the modern trends in Comic Book Characters. They bring realism to the surreal. The offer juicy roles for great actors.
Superman is surrounded by chaos, but he is steadfast. To many this is boring. For me Kal-El is anchoring and hopeful. At my core I will always be that 6yo in 1978 watching Christopher Reeves bringing Superman to life, and giving me hope that I may one day soar above the clouds.
If you don’t like characters that fly, produce another movie, read another book, cosplay another character. You know who I am talking about. You know who YOU are. You can have all the other 1000s of characters but leave my Superman alone.
I recently read a book about Elia Kazan (and other acting teachers). There was an interesting passage where Kazan, one of the champions of the modern/method acting technique, failed directing Shakespeare at first. He tried to make the stylized poetic language TOO real. He later realized that Shakespeare requires a certain nuance that modern acting alone does not address. Often times we try to reinvent the wheel with Shakespeare and other classics. Sometimes it works. Most often it is disastrous, no matter how fun for the artists to play and experiment.
Similarly Broadway Directors, mostly known for new and exciting project, fail miserably resurrecting older shows. The old broader style, when performed properly, is bigger than life. Realism – acting and directing – fails this style. TV/Film actors often looks small on a big stage. They can be heard, thanks to microphones and blasting surround sound, but we do not feel the might of their acting, the way a great live performer moves us. The world’s best Willie Loman would most likely make the world’s worst Curly in Oklahoma, unless the actor knows how to adjust the acting style.
This is one of the reasons I feared the ill fated Nick Cage Superman of the late 1990s.
So for me, Batman v Superman – and to a lesser extent MAN OF STEEL – was a Batman/Marvel fan trying to do a Superman film. It was a gritty realistic writer/director failing at broad. Superman lost what makes Superman great. Snyder directing Superman is akin to Brando playing Superman. It just is not Superman.
2017 Justice League returns us to a more familiar Superman driven Justice League Universe. The tone is lighter, the colors are a bit brighter. Everything is more vibrant.
Unfortunately I think Ben Affleck’s Batman suffers a bit. The trick that I think the animated universe has achieved, is bringing a darker Batman, forged by Gotham, into Superman’s Metropolis. Bruce Wayne proclaims that Clark is more human, we recognizes that Wonder Woman show be more of the symbol Superman is for the world, but he does not remain the darker soul, himself.
The villain in 2017 is a bit to Melodramatic, for all my love of the genre/style. Too CGI Steppenwolf appears to be in an animated film. I hope they fix this before Dark Seid hits the big screen.
Gal Gadot continues to dominate this universe. This character seems perfectly made for the big screen. From casting to Design to Writing, I am all in on Gal’s performance.
Henry Cavill’s Superman is perhaps better than ever. Even thought he is given a more 2-D story line, the character seems more like MY Superman than ever.
Ezra Miller works for me as Barry Allen. Although the only thing they seem to change from the comics is that now he is a loner Jewish kid that is afraid of EVERYTHING. Basically the Flash is a modern young Woody Allen.
Jason Momoa rocks as Aquaman. He was my least fave based on past teases.in BvS and trailers. But I am looking forward to his solo project based on the fight scene in Atlantis.
My favorite newcomer is Cyborg. Unlike a lot of modern movie making, Ray Fisher’s acting and CGI perfectly align to bring this character to life. Above all this is my newest favorite thing, next to Gal’s Wonder Woman of course.
All in all I would put Justice League on level with the first THOR film, maybe. I like it. I am not overly impressed by it, but it serves to kill 2 hours and forward the story, setting up some possible very cool things to come. It is like another Bruce Time DCUA animated film. Justice League won’t win any awards but it keeps old school DC fans happy for now.
WORD OF WARNING to DCCU team. Remember what happened to Wonder Woman after William Moulton Marston passed away. Don’t rest on your laurels. While I still enjoyed the character, and while she is still the star character/talent of this Franchise, there was a bit of a slip.