EDITORIAL: How BATMAN VS SUPERMAN Can Succeed On MOS's Strengths & Weaknesses

Last year's Man Of Steel had a very mixed reaction from fans, critics and general audiences alike. Many of you loved it, others loathed it. This editorial looks at how it's creative team can use some of the criticism they got from the first movie to create a great sequel for 2016...

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By Minty - 4/14/2014

Hey guys, I just want to start of by saying I thought Man Of Steel was a good film (3.5 Stars out of 5 for me) - not exceptional, but a decent movie that had a few brilliant individual moments. I am aware that perception of Man Of Steel on here is pretty split, with a lot of fans really enjoying the film, while others seemed to have hated it.
 
I hope that Snyder, Goyer and WB can take on board some of the common criticism there was for this film, and use it to create what could hopefully be a more universally liked movie in Batman Vs Superman…
 
Work With The Criticism
 
The main two factors people complain about the movie are: the destruction levels and Zod’s death. Snyder & co can use these to their advantage in the sequel
 
1) Let Lex Luthor channel the critics
 
-          Lex Luthor’s motivation for hating and mistrusting Superman can come from the way Metropolis was destroyed in the fight with Zod
 
-          Some of the best villains are ones that can win you over to their way of thinking (e.g. Ozymandias), and Lex’s complaints are the same as a lot of the critics



2) Use it as character development for Clark to become a true ‘Superman’
 
-          Clark ought to be haunted by memories of killing Zod (it would have been tough on him), while also feeling guilty about the way his own people killed so many…

-          It should be emphasised that this happened because Superman is a raw and untrained hero – at the beginning of his journey. Use Batman as an example of a more experienced hero – whom Clark can learn a few things from.
 
-          By the end of the film – we should be seeing a much more experienced Clark, who has learned from his mistakes in the first film – he has become more like the classic Superman, no longer feared, or hated, but loved.
 


Recognise The Real Faults
 
At the end of the day, Man Of Steel’s real problems were definitely not its destruction or Zod’s deaths. It was a weak screenplay with clunky dialogue that hampered the movie.
 
-          WB have clearly already started the process of improving the screenplay – by recently bringing in Oscar winning writer Chris Terrio to ‘help’ the misfiring Goyer out
 


-          The sequel should also improve on the chemistry between Clark and Lois which was clearly missing in the last movie – and develop a good romance-arc (which general audiences love)
 
-          Cut-down on Jor-El – he is a walking plot-hole at times. His work as a father figure is done. Instead use Affleck’s Batman to help provide the finishing touches towards a complete Superman as more of a ‘brother figure’ (Clark shouldn’t need a mentor anymore)
 
A minor complaint would be the lack of overall direction for the DCCU in Man Of Steel. This movie will fix that by bringing in Wonder Woman and Batman – finally launching the shared universe.
 
-          For this reason, Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey and Tao Okamoto really ought to be playing characters from the comics instead of characters just randomly ‘made-up’ by Goyer. It is a comic-book movie after all, and Superman & Batman have a wealth of great supporting characters from their histories.
 
Recognise The Real Successes
 
As I said at the beginning, the movie overall a good one, and had some truly great elements. BvS should build upon these too as well as the mixed and weak points…
 
-          90% of audiences will agree (love or hate the movie) that Henry Cavill was a good Superman. He should be given better material to show how what a good actor he can be. Likewise, Gal Gadot can hopefully emulate Cavill’s performance as a rising star to become a new household name as Wonder Woman.
 
-          The sequel should continue to benefit from the strength of it’s veteran supporting cast. Lane, Costner and Crowe were great in Man Of Steel. Hopefully the likes of Ben Affleck, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter can do the same here.
 
-          Creating an even better villain. Michael Shannon’s Zod was menacing, but perhaps lacked true greatness at times (due to sloppy writing). Snyder should embrace the series’ dark tone to produce a villain people will be talking about for years to come in Lex Luthor.
 
-          The film’s heart and emotion was my favourite thing about Man Of Steel, and set it apart from a lot of the other more flashy CBMs around nowadays. BvS probably shouldn’t repeat the flashback technique, but should still aim to emphasise Kal-El’s humanity above all else.
 

 
Conclusion
 
If Batman Vs Superman can fix some of the weaker points from Man Of Steel as well as build on its strengths, it will be a better movie for it, I felt the first movie suffered from having all the weight and expectation of The Dark Knight Trilogy on its shoulders, and therefore came across as a little disappointing more than ever.
 
Lowered expectations this time round should help the movie, while I feel the performances of the controversial castings (Eisenberg and Affleck) will stun the critics and bring a lot of the haters around – much like we saw Heath Ledger and Michael Keaton in The Dark Knight and Batman ’89.
 
All in all, I think that Batman Vs Superman has a great chance of becoming one of the best CBMs ever, and a lot of that potential has come from less-appreciated groundwork Man Of Steel has laid down – much like Batman Begins did with The Dark Knight.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the read. If you liked it, thumbs-up and comment. Agree? Disagree? How do you think BvS will turn out? Let me know down below!

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GliderMan - 4/14/2014, 4:14 PM
I agree, man, but MAN, I just can't see Wonder Woman working in this film. It just doesn't add up, especially if they're going to redefine WW/Diana into going undercover to get some old artifact.. Like really? I hope that ain't true, but if it isn't, how the hell else is she going to fit? Urgh, it just bothers me, man.

But I completely agree, especially with Luthor using Metropolis' destruction against Superman and Superman being haunted by having killed Zod. Maybe Luthor says something that hits a nerve with him being "haunted."

Bring on the Queen Consolidated Easter-eggs! Can I get a Ryan Reynolds cameo! *leaps for joy*
SauronsBANE - 4/14/2014, 4:22 PM
Great article as usual, Minty!

I especially like how you addressed the common fan complaints of MoS (and that Lex Luthor should basically use those exact same things as ammo against Kal-el)...and then you moved on to some of the REAL flaws of the movie.

To me, the real flaws were shoddy writing, lack of any type of character development for the main character, a terribly ill-conceived "romance" and unexplored themes. It had the makings of a fantastic CBM but so much of the movie comes across as being rushed and lazy.

I don't see MoS being like Batman Begins (although it certainly tried its best to try to emulate it) and Batman vs Superman being like The Dark Knight. I'd compare MoS to TASM. IMO, they're both extremely flawed origin stories that are trying to launch shared universes, both went for the cliche' dark tone, and neither one of them managed to get their main character right. We'll have to see if TASM 2 improves on its mistakes, and we'll just have to cross our fingers with Batman vs Superman.
Doopie - 4/14/2014, 4:28 PM
nice article. for me this film rests on it's portrayal of the 3 leads that it has in Supes, Bats and Lex. Superman needs to come off more classic as you say, Lex needs to be incredibly smart (the recovery of Metropolis being the cover for his real plan) and Bats needs to be the middle ground between the two.

if it can do that then the rest should fall in to place. fingers crossed.
DaVinci31 - 4/14/2014, 4:39 PM
Klone - 4/14/2014, 4:43 PM
Nice article.
soforizo - 4/14/2014, 4:53 PM
Good article.

I like some of your ideas, though I could do without Clark mopping about having killed Zod. Internally, Clark should be like: It's done, it was the right thing to do, move on.

Lex channeling the negative aspects has been mentioned before, and works with comic book lore. The Kryptonian invasion works really well to feed Lex's worst fears.
DrunkenNukem - 4/14/2014, 4:55 PM
Great edi

And 100% agreed with this



"It should be emphasised that this happened because Superman is a raw and untrained hero – at the beginning of his journey. "

"By the end of the film – we should be seeing a much more experienced Clark, who has learned from his mistakes in the first film – he has become more like the classic Superman, no longer feared, or hated, but loved."

This is what some people doesnt understand from MOS´s Superman, he doesnt have any experience, he is guy that feels he doesnt have a place to fit in the planet, that had to struggle with a lot of things since his childhood, and had to fight the biggest thready the world has ever seen
MrCameron - 4/14/2014, 5:17 PM
Good article. Agree on all points except for Batman being a mentor to Superman. They should be equals who start out on shaky ground but gain a mutual respect for each other.

To add to your first point, I would like Lex Luthor to be an actual credible threat this time. No more land grabbing plots, that's way too cliched by now. Make him the ultimate master manipulator who can give Batman a run for his money intelligence wise and has virtually infinite resources at his disposal.

Also, it would be nice if they didn't make everything so dark and gloomy. That's part of the reason why I'm so glad that they brought in Terrio, because Argo had the right tone IMO for this movie; it told a serious story but wasn't afraid to have some playful banter between characters and comedic relief in the form of Alan Arkin's character. So I think the movie is looking good from that perspective.

All in all, really looking forward to the movie.
MisterMoustache - 4/14/2014, 5:40 PM
I would like to go a little deeper in what you're saying and go more specific, thinking about how to work your suggestions in a level of theme and meaning, giving what I would see as substance to the characters and the story.

"- Lex Luthor’s motivation for hating and mistrusting Superman can come from the way Metropolis was destroyed in the fight with Zod"

Yes and no. Actually, I don't know exactly what you meant, so I'll just try to shape it the way I see it. Lex Luthor SHOUDLN'T use Metropolis as an example of how Superman is bad in the common sense of "look what he did to our town, he should've taken the fight away". That's what most fans wants to hear and that's... well, nonsense. From what the world knows, Zod was threatening Earth and Superman fought him and stopped him. Superman kills Zod, Earth is not destroyed, therefore Superman fought for Earth (and the military can confirm that), so using the destruction as a main argument in itself doesn't really make sense.

What would make more sense and be more meaningful is using the destruction as a premise for a more engaging argument: Lex should be trying to warn people about how Superman is a threat to democracy. After all, even though he fought by our side against Zod, who knows if tomorrow he won't be our enemy? More than that: he's fighting for "good", but who defines what's "good" or "bad"? Himself? So he's fighting for his own beliefs and his own morality. And what if somebody disagrees? Nobody has the power he has, so basically we're hostages of HIS set of values in our own world. Although we're not being affected yet, Superman is a potential dictator and we should find a way to control him, to impose actual limits. A power with absolute control and that answers only to itself is anti-democratic in a world as complex as ours.
And this themes should resonate with Clark too. Show him questioning his place in the world as a hero and struggling to become this symbol of hope he aims to be. At least I think that's a more compelling concept than to simply see Lex Luthor crying because a part of Metropolis was destroyed while Superman was avoiding Earth's destruction.

"Clark ought to be haunted by memories of killing Zod (it would have been tough on him), while also feeling guilty about the way his own people killed so many…"

I agree Clark should be haunted by memories of killing Zod. But again, let's go a little deeper. He shouldn't be sorry about what he did (God, I really hope Warner will show some artistic integrity and keep their approach instead of making Batman vs. Superman become a sort of "apology" for what some people disliked about Man of Steel), he did what he had to do. What should REALLY haunt him is the notion that he killed a man because he had no choice. He's really disturbed about how the world can be so cruel and ugly that not even himself could avoid a situation like that. And that's what makes him different and special: he's not corrupted by what he did. He isn't ok with killing Zod and he struggles to stay righteous even after facing such a horrible situation. This whole internal conflict about doing the right thing and keep being a good person is really what should come with Zod's death, not just the shallow "I broke my code" thing (also, he shouldn't have a non-killing code. Not killing is not a "code", is a moral compromise that, generally, a socially sane human has).
About him feeling "guilty"... meh, it's irrelevant. It's not like if he knew those kryptonians.

"- It should be emphasised that this happened because Superman is a raw and untrained hero – at the beginning of his journey. Use Batman as an example of a more experienced hero – whom Clark can learn a few things from."

Here I will completely disagree. Batman never fought someone with super-powers, Batman doesn't even have super-powers, therefore there's nothing Batman can teach to Superman. He never faced a situation like that, he never had to make a choice between a villain and the world, so, basically, no, there's nothing Bruce could teach Clark. There should be some natural changes that comes from the interection between characters, of course, but please, nothing about Batman actually "mentoring" Superman. Superman was raw, yes, and he should grow mostly by himself.

"- By the end of the film – we should be seeing a much more experienced Clark, who has learned from his mistakes in the first film – he has become more like the classic Superman, no longer feared, or hated, but loved."

Again, kinda. We should see a more mature character, of course. I wouldn't say necessarily loved and accepted, but more self-confident and, yes, a more inspiring figure - for some part of the population, at least. Now, learning from his mistakes? No, he should be learning from his experiences as a whole, not from his "mistakes". He should be more aware about his powers and the effects they cause, he should be more concerned about representing something good to humanity and making people trust him. If you're talking about "learning to take fights away from populated areas", then I just think that's a too silly concept to draw something interesting from. He takes fights away from populated areas if he can, if he's not fighting someone as powerful as Zod or Faora or whatever. It shouldn't even be an issue, so I hope they won't try to address it.

Anyway, those were just some personal notes I wanted to make, because my opinion goes somewhat against the grain. Nice editorial, though!
RedNTheHood - 4/14/2014, 6:07 PM
I agree. One thing I realized from when I first saw fan hate on the film was that MOS set itself up for a sequel. Whether it was planed withs Batman and Wonder Woman or not. The destruction was a way to introduce Lex Luthor and Batman. Killing Zod would add to the hate towards Superman from some people (giving a great redemption story), would make Lex look more like a hero to the people (giving us a villain that will be hard to take down), and gives Batman a reason to be more suspicious of Kal-El and come to Metropolis.
AlexanderLykins - 4/14/2014, 7:39 PM
Good article! I've watched Man of Steel on HBO like 6 times in the last 4 days. I just want to see more Superman!
AlexanderLykins - 4/14/2014, 7:42 PM
Clark learning the ropes from Bruce? That idea is pretty cool.
Wolf38 - 4/14/2014, 7:57 PM
Exceptionally good editorial. Props, and I pretty much totally agree. Especially how you noted that the real flaw was in the writing.

However, I just have to say that I think that the "destruction complaints" strike me as purely ludicrous. I cannot relate to people who feel as though Superman was responsible. The logic does not compute for me. *shakes head, calms down*

Now, Lex Luthor being distrustful, that I can believe. And Clark should be feeling haunted internally.
soforizo - 4/14/2014, 8:11 PM
@MisterMoustache

Great comments!
supermanlives - 4/14/2014, 8:58 PM
That was a really good read

I am excited to know that Chris Terrio is writing the script based on Goyer's screenplay, so we get all of the good dialogue from Terrio and Goyer's good storytelling. I'm really hoping Affleck gives Zack some directing tips, I know it's not a good thing to have too many cooks in the kitchen but Affleck is an extremely talented director.
feedonatreefrog - 4/14/2014, 9:06 PM
I want Superman's actions in Man of Steel to be questioned by crazy ol Batman, but supported by Wonder Woman.
Superhero96 - 4/14/2014, 9:09 PM
I agree if no one criticizes Superman's actions (specifically Luthor) and if Supes doesn't learn from his mistakes I will be pissed.
Superhero96 - 4/14/2014, 9:12 PM
Also I really hope Holly Hunter is playing Dr. Leslie Thompkins because I always loved the dynamic between her and Bruce.
MercwithMouth - 4/14/2014, 9:22 PM
Great write up. Not sure who's editorials I enjoy more, yours or sauronsBANE...

Meh, I'll just flip my lucky coin.
LeroyJenkins - 4/14/2014, 9:48 PM
i agree with everything except "lower expectations." i know thats your own opinion but ive never been so excited for a film haha
Prime - 4/14/2014, 9:55 PM
Cool points, but [frick] Batman. I hope Terrio can clean up Goyers mess.
Prime - 4/14/2014, 9:56 PM
Hypocrites will probably complain anyway. If you are going to use a version of Superman, just use Greg Pak's or Morrison's Superman.
Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 9:58 PM
One thing is for sure that the BvsS will be create a LOT of discussion on this site. The chat generated from MOS has been second to none. No flame war intended.
All in all I enjoyed MOS a lot but there were some glaring WTF moments. Hopefully this film can be consistent in it's execution and quality.

btw editorial was short and sweet
blkyank - 4/14/2014, 10:01 PM
When Superman becomes a figure that is loved not feared or hated,it should be because he has earned that right not that it should be taken for granted the world thinks Superman is a hero. Use Batman to help Superman become a better hero by upping his game while Superman can help Batman by restoring his willingness to fight the never ending battle.
Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 10:04 PM
@ MisterMoustache If Superman doesn't learn from Bats it really will be bad writing
Prime - 4/14/2014, 10:05 PM
Anyway, I gotta agree with Mister Moustache as well. I also like that you noted that the real flaws in the movie was the writing, not Zod's death or the destruction, that's just nitpicking.
McGee - 4/14/2014, 10:11 PM
I just hope Batman has them short ears.

TheBaroness89 - 4/14/2014, 10:13 PM
Great editorial. Mirrors my thoughts. My biggest worry though is possibly presenting Batman as a grizzled old veteran who comes out of retirement to address the Superman issue. At comic con they read a specific monologue which leans toward a fight and a version of Batman even farther along than Bales. I would love to see a Batman at the top of his game not past his prime.
Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 10:13 PM
It's imperative that Batz and Supes both learn from their conflict otherwise it'll just be dumb action. Supes may not learn about super powers but rather how that power is used or can be abused.

Of course they will be learning different things but probably above all learning that they are on the same side and eventually mutual trust.

Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 10:16 PM
@ thebaroness This one might be further along but I think he will have accomplished a lot more eg an Arkham full of rogues, the training and partnerships with at least one Robin etc.

I'm hoping for that anyway
TheDarkPassenger - 4/14/2014, 10:21 PM
Man of Steel has set up its self up for an interesting sequel, all they have to do is make it. They have a lot to build on, improve, and address. I hope they don't try to make this film just to try to satisfy some of the fans that weren't completely happy with MoS (ex. Supes killing Zod, the destruction). Honestly, that kept it interesting for me, and it gives Luthor a lot more to work with. I can't wait to see a smaller Luthor physically looking up to Superman, but actually talking down to him.

As for Bats teaching Supes, it should go both ways. Superman is going to have to get used to Batmans way of thinking and way of doing things, and Batman is going to have to adapt to someone like him out there now. I hope they push the paranoid aspect of Bats a little this time. He should be immediately looking for ways to bring this guy down.

The wildcard for me is Gadot. While I would've preferred having Wonder Woman sit this one out (or at least get a cameo), I guess I'll have to see what role she has. Gadot though has done really nothing to make me say "she's perfect". I wish her all the luck in the world, she's gonna need to prove a lot of people wrong.

Very nice article.
TheDarkPassenger - 4/14/2014, 10:23 PM
And I really hope they take nothing from The Dark Knight Returns. Ever since Henry Lennix read that quote, I've been worried that Bats is going to be throwing Superman around and talking down to him like he's a child. They should butt heads, not throw down.
Darthrageracerzero - 4/14/2014, 10:31 PM
Lolol two kryptonians fighting in a city ....omg too much destruction...that was the dumbest thing I ever heard ....
Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 10:32 PM
It will be a battle of dialogue just as much as it is a physical fight. I think we're all hoping the dialogue is handled really well during these shots
Darthrageracerzero - 4/14/2014, 10:33 PM
Hopefully none you guys advice matters lol and let the people who get paid make the movie
Mothchild - 4/14/2014, 10:39 PM
@ Darth not advice, just hopes and preferences

SauronsBANE - 4/14/2014, 10:55 PM
Hey, thanks for the shout-out MercwithMouth, much appreciated! Minty's articles are usually straight to the point, while mine take forever to write and to read, so I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy reading these editorials!

I've made known my thoughts on MoS, but I sincerely hope the sequel lives up to the hype. It simply has to prioritize the characters over the temptation of reverting to insane amounts of action. Build up the two main characters into 3-dimensional, fully-realized people that play off each other in interesting, creative ways, and this movie will make up for all of MoS's shortcomings and flaws.
staypuffed - 4/14/2014, 11:06 PM
I love this! Definitely agree with your points (although I though Man of Steel was [frick]ing amazing).
MisterMoustache - 4/14/2014, 11:06 PM
@Mothchild

As I said, of course they both should change with their relation, I'm just against this notion of Batman "teaching" Clark to be a super-hero or something. I think it could be more about Batman learning to trust Superman and Superman convincing Batman that he's not an enemy. Or not, they could go with a different approach and show Batman trying to team-up with Supes since the beginning. Anyway, the point is that I think it would be silly to see Batman actually "mentoring" Superman as if he was superior.
Jhuntdaprodigy - 4/14/2014, 11:29 PM
I just re-watched Man Of Steel yesterday and I have to say that I really do like the movie. The movie has it's flaws, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as some try to act. I'll admit I would've have liked to see more levity in the film, Goyer isn't the best at writing dialogue, there was little character development, and it was missing a lot of traditional Superman elements. The destruction Superman caused is realistically going to happen when 2 characters the power level of him and Zod fight. This isn't Batman fighting Bane or Spider-Man fighting Lizard. This is a way bigger fight between two way more powerful characters that can fly; collateral damage is unavoidable. You could say that Superman could have tried to lure Zod away from the people, but Zod was obviously smart enough in this film to exploit Superman's "weakness" of not wanting people to die, so I doubt he would have let Superman lure him away from Metropolis, his intention was to kill people. Superman is a brand new hero in this movie, not a seasoned veteran. Whose to say at the start of his career he already had his moral code and how to deal with villains figured out. It was all Superman could do to keep Zod at bay, Zod was going to kill people if Superman didn't put a stop to him, and as far as Supes knew, there was no human cell on earth that could hold Zod, the only answer in the heat of that moment was to kill him, that was the only way to save lives. Now as people above can said, this can be a learning experience for Superman. Superman's own guilt about Zod's death and the amount of people who died during that battle, combined with Luthor's public assault of his character, along with seasoned-hero-with-a-moral-code-of-not-killing Batman's (and maybe Alfred too) guidance, Supes can help be made a better hero than he was in the previous film. Supes is already established as being with Lois and working at the Daily Planet, so this right off the bat is going to feel more Superman-Like than MOS. Chris Terrio and Ben Afleck being involved with this film makes me feel a whole lot better as far as the writing goes. And one good thing I can say about Snyder is his love for violence. He's already sh*tted on Superman Returns and the Donnor films as far as action and fight scenes goes, and I think he can outdo Nolan as far as fight scenes for Batman goes. This movie really does have potential to be the greatest CBM of all time if done right, people should have a little faith.
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