Renegade Rant: Batman vs. Superman: Staff Roundtable

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Arguably, the biggest announcement from Comic-Con 2013 was the Batman vs. Superman movie in 2015. This is the first time the two biggest superheroes in the world will appear in the same movie, which is something that should have all comic book geeks excited. However, not everyone is happy about it. I called together a Renegade Cinema Batman vs. Superman roundtable, and it ended up getting pretty heated in the end.

Check it out:

Derek Ciapala: It’s one of those movies where you think, “It’s about freaking time.” However, it’ll be a hard sell if Christian Bale isn’t playing Bruce Wayne. If they can get him in the batsuit, then I’m sold.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableBrandon Groppi: I am so incredibly pumped for the film. I loved Zach Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL. I have faith in this project. Sure, I also have my hesitation since Bale will not be reprising his role as The Batman. But its just a small amount of hesitation since that was Nolan’s Batman and it’s centered in reality. What I want to see is the mixture of The Dark Knight Returns and the World’s Finest storylines. Zach Snyder has to be the luckiest/unluckiest director today. Lucky because he has the honor of bringing these two icons together, and unlucky. . . because he has the responsibility of bringing these two icons together and making it work for everyone. Which won’t happen. Because we all know that if you change anything at all in a character (quoting Joker) EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS!

Caliber Winfield: How funny you asked this, because I came here to specifically rant and rave about it. 

First off, no. No. No. No. There’s so many variables here that need to be hit just right, and they’ll blow it. They’ll blow it big time. 

If they do the story from The Dark Knight Rises, just as it is, then yeah, that’ll be great. But they’re not. They’re going to go with an organic story, and we saw what they did with the POS known as MOS. Honestly, this whole film is why I have a problem with a Justice League film. If Batman & Superman team-up, what the hell good is Batman gonna be? Imagine him in Man of Steel. What good would he have been? He would have been killed in a nano-second. Anything that Batman finds manageable to fight, Superman wouldn’t even need to get out of bed to defeat. 

It needs to be Superman vs Batman. That’s the only way this film is going to work. Like I said earlier, it needs to be The Dark Knight Returns story-line, because that’s the classic one. That was the best use of Superman & Batman together. Also, you gotta get Bale. He’s etched in the minds of everyone as Batman, and when this film comes out, TDKR will only be 2 years old. Plus, the big money audience for this film is kids, and the kids only know Bale as the Bat. That’s what they want. It was just like when Kilmer replaced Keaton. I hated it. 

I hate to be like Grandpa Simpson, but, they’re gonna blow it.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableRick Tym: Of course, like almost everyone else around the internet, I was stoked upon reading this news. I enjoyed Man of Steel and while it could have used a bit more refinement, it was a fine reintroduction to Superman. So I have no real apprehensions about Zack Snyder taking on the next evolutionary DC phase, which is putting Bats and Supes together onscreen. I don’t really think they’ll be following The Dark Knight Returns (best comic book storyline ever, for me at least) beat for beat or anything. Having Harry Lennix read lines from TDKR was a way to tease what we should expect from the first pairing of the two on the big screen. I expect that Superman will explore Batman’s vigilante ways, come to Gotham and investigate, and piss off Batman/Bruce Wayne by doing so. They’ll then have some epic confrontations (dramatic as well as physical) before earning each others begrudging trust. Sounds like a plan to me! 

I do share other’s reservations about Christian Bale not returning to the role, though. In my eyes he will always be a great Batman and a perfect Wayne, and it’s a shame that it seems he won’t be involved. I do understand the desire to separate the ‘new’ Batman from Nolan’s trilogy, but you can still do so in terms of storylines and peripheral characters and villains while retaining the same actor to don the cowl.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableJesse Blume: My opinion is probably going to be very different than what you might think it would be.

Like I said in the story that broke the news of the Superman/Batman movie, I thought that “Man of Steel” was the end of an era for me. It was the only movie that I was extremely excited to see this year. It was the only film that filled me with a sense of childlike energized anticipation. I didn’t even have that same level of anticipation for last year’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” But that’s another story. The point is, I thought that I was finally sort of growing out of the more youthful excitement about these kinds of movies, and looking at them in a more adult way. When the news hit yesterday about Superman/Batman, I felt the bug bite me again, and it bit very very hard.

As excited as I immediately was for the movie, I got very nervous when I saw that they would be drawing inspiration from “The Dark Knight Returns,” because I can’t stand Frank Miller. (Disclaimer: TDKR is still a good story that holds up after all this time). One of the things I dislike most about his writing is how he’s convinced that the two of them would not be friends. In the hands of a really good writer, I could buy that, but he doesn’t really explain the how and the why of they don’t like each other; and his writing has always shown how much of a fetish he has for Batman, and what little regard he has for the Superman character. But I digress.

Not trying to spoil anyone here, but in TDKR, Superman is little more than the government’s superpowered lapdog, where Batman is the outlawed heroic vigilante. When I saw that they were going to draw inspiration from TDKR, I thought they would bring that same dynamic to this new movie, and I REALLY don’t want that. Both characters deserve a hell of a lot better than that.

As far as them using a new Batman, I’m completely fine with it. I did enjoy Christian Bale’s turn in the role for the most part (aside from his stupid god-awful voice), but now that the story is complete for that version of the character, he doesn’t need to come back. Nolan and Bale gave that Batman the best ending he could possibly have. I’d prefer to see that go unspoiled. In my opinion, bringing Bale back outside of the Christopher Nolan universe would not be a good idea.

Besides, I think it’s just time for some new blood in the role. It’s just like James Bond. You always think you’ll hate the new guy until you actually see him in action.

I’ll be talking more about what I want to see specifically from the Superman/Batman movie in this weeks Most Heroic. For now, I’ll say that I’m very very excited to see the new movie. I just hope that they get all the elements right, and I hope that Snyder and Goyer up their game, because Man of Steel wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, and with this new movie, the stakes are a hell of a lot higher than they were before.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableCaliber: Miller explains it clear as day. Superman has become this machine. This guy who listens to the man in charge, and doesn’t think for himself. He’ll do whatever they say, in the name of America. Because of Superman, all the other heroes were forced into retirement, with Green Arrow having his freaking arm ripped off. Miller’s Superman is a bit of an ass, and Batman needs to take him down a peg or two.

Aidan Green: ^^ this, Jesse

And Caliber, I’m one negative comment about MAN OF STEEL away from setting a fucking building on fire. With laser vision. Or snapping a neck. The film was terrific and by far the most compelling rendition of Superman ever to be out on screen (don’t give me any crap about how Reeve’s take was better, it was one-dimensional and campy and is only enjoyed for nostalgia). THIS IS THE REASON WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS because us fanboys are supposed to be enthusiastic about quality comic book films yet we tend to be ironically the most cynical about them. I dunno, I could tell a lot of work went into MAN OF STEEL and it really gelled for me. I loved it.

That aside, if Batman was continued at all from the Nolanverse, it’d be JGL as the Caped Crusader, not Bale.

Rick: Well that escalated quickly…

Batman vs. Superman roundtableCaliber: What?! Quality?! Yes, quality where the main bad-guy is a GENETICALLY created soldier who gets his ass kicked by a GENETICALLY created scientist. This guy who’s suppose to be the bad guy is forced to think the way he does. He doesn’t have a choice. So he’s a tragic character. Then we get Superman, the guy who would rather jump over a gas truck as opposed to simply stopping it and having it explode into a building, killing Lord knows how many others. Superman learns all of what he is from his parents. What do his parents teach him? Oh, let people die. Hide yourself. Being special is terrible! Let the other kids die! Who cares. Booooo to this. 

Reeves portrayal is one of the greatest on screen ever. The contrast between his Superman & Clark Kent is Oscar worthy my friend. Oscar worthy. 

MOS is a POS, my friend.

Nolan just sucked all the joy out of Superman.

Aidan: There goes the cliché “Reeve’s portrayal was the second coming of Christ” hyperbole.

You say Zod’s a tragic character like it’s a bad thing. Would an army of mindless video game Chitauri make you feel better?

If joy = red underwear and Otis, then I’m all for it

Maybe it was just disguised more easily with Batman since he’s an inherently joyless character. But I loved MoS. haha I’ll see it for a third time today and think of you

Okay I’m done

Caliber: We’ll agree to disagree. Then, at the Renegade Cinema Christmas Party we’ll both get really drunk and have a Bloodsport style match in order to determine if MOS is a POS or not.

Aidan: Hahahaha. Deal.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableTony Beaulieu: The thing is, superman is not an inherently cynical character. Some ass in a suit saw the nolanverse and said, “Oh shit, cynical is working for batman. Lets do it with supes!” Except batman watched his parents die. So they try to do the equivalent by making Pa Kent a complete ass. It doesn’t work. It’s clumsy, sloppy in execution and in establishing even a coherent theme — aside from just being poor, structurally. Superman is the most comicbooky of all comic book heroes, shit he was the first! He established the original, childishly naive and optimistic superhero aesthetic. Making him cynical is square peg-round hole plain and simple. I had high hopes for MOS. I love Superman more than Batman, he’s my favorite character by far. I wanted SO BAD to love MOS. To finally get an honest and earnest interpretation of the character I’ve related to so much in the comics since I was a kid. In trying to make him like Nolan Batman, Goyer took away everything that makes Superman Superman. No, I don’t think I’m being a nitpicky fanboy (and I resent the labeling) because these same complaints can be found in the reviews of the many legitimate film critics who panned the film.

Derek: I did think they redeemed Pa Kent a bit by having him sacrifice himself.

Aidan: Tony what makes Superman “Superman” is what he represents, the ideal of the ultimate being, morally and physically. Mythic. Earnest and optimistic does NOT have to equal cheesy shtick as it did in the Donner films. Just like how “dark” for Batman doesn’t have to be Tim Burton gothic castles and spires, it can be real-world mob money laundering as seen in THE DARK KNIGHT.

MAN OF STEEL was true to the essence of Superman. If you want to see how a modem-day naive Donner Superman works, watch SUPERMAN RETURNS. The short answer is that it DOESN’T work….

But again, agree to disagree, that’s what art is for

Tony: In regards to Batman/Superman film: I’m entirely underwhelmed. Cool, so now we get yet another “grim ‘n gritty” Batman regurgitation, but this time it’s from the people who fucked up Man of Steel. Oh and it’s “inspired by” TDKR — uh, like every Batman movie for almost the last decade? When will people get tired of the constant reinvention of the same character? Seriously, is anyone else Batmanned out? Its like zombie movies, how long are people going to keep caring? What about wonder woman? Or even Aquaman? Both of whom have fanbases and potential, and might even make half way decent movies. But no, Warner Bros. won’t do that because it’s not guaranteed money like Batman. They’d rather do the 869th Batman than take a chance and do the first Wonder Woman movie because it’s like printing your own money. And they will continue to do so as long as fanboys lap up anything labeled Batman (oh and did we mention its inspired by a TDKR? you guys still like than comic right?) DC has a huge stable of great characters to choose from. Look at what Marvel’s done with it’s b and c tier characters. But DC is still milking the Batman cow. Yeah, I like Batman, but honestly I’d rather see something NEW. Fuck, I enjoy nofx but if they released a new album every week I would eventually get tired of it. Yeah it’s cool that DC’s big two are sharing a movie, but in a world were marvel’s already completed interconnected superhero movies that converge into a team up Avengers film, is anyone really impressed? Plus I’m already so jaded by cynical superheroes, I could honestly care less.

Batman vs. Superman roundtableI’m not arguing for a return to Donner Superman. I’ve never seen the Donner films, I’m guessing they’re campy? This isn’t a choice between cynical and campy. Just because a movie isn’t cynical doesn’t automatically make it corny. One could even argue that the overly pessimistic approach is no less realistic than something that’s “corny.” There are more than two way to do Superman. And if you think that the essence of Superman is that he’s really powerful, well I’m sorry, but you’re completely missing the point. Might I suggest Morrison’s All-Star Superman, anything by James Robinson, or even the current Superman book being put out by DC?

Shawn: The first two (the only one’s Donner did) are not corny at all. They are straight Superman films. The third and fourth are crap and hated by everyone except Caliber.

Aidan: I don’t think it’s for any of us to claim we know the true essence of Superman or that someone “completely misses the point”

Frank Miller gave me a bias against Supes and MAN OF STEEL is the first film that has ever made him compelling to me, but I totally get what you’re saying about overt pessimism being just as unrealistic as camp. That I agree with.

Well, as Rick said, that Batman vs. Superman roundtable escalated quickly. Basically the consensus is that people who loved Man of Steel and the Nolan Batman movies seem really excited while the people who don’t like the style that Nolan and Zack Snyder utilized are un-enthused about the entire thing.

You heard what the Renegade Cinema writers all had to say – and to add my two cents, I am really jacked for the new movie as a HUGE fan of the Dark Knight movies as well as someone who did like Man of Steel. Now that you have heard from us, let us know what you think about Batman vs. Superman, and realize that no matter what side you choose, someone here agrees with you.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
  • Sarah McBride

    I personally loved MOS. Superman might have been a little too serious and gritty but overall I felt the feel of Superman was achieved. I will say I’m not all that excited for the Superman/Batman film in 2015. I am batmanned out thank you very much. He’s had his time, lets give some for just Superman, or any other superhero. Like Tony said, give it a rest. Just because they know the name “Batman” will bring in the green, they’re willing to screw up this next round of superhero movies. I seriously doubt they can pull off these two in the same movie anyway. There are too many variables for them to realistically get it right. I hope they prove me wrong.

  • ddyrr

    Haha, great round table! I’m not sure how I feel about it. I hope it’s good, but it’s hard to say.

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