Tag: Comic Book Movies

What Critics Have Gotten Wrong About BvS

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Update September 2016

From now on, all of my superhero-related posts will be published at my A Clash of Heroes Blog.
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A lot of critical ink has been spilled about Zack Snyder’s newest film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Many people love it, but many others seem to hate it. I won’t rehash here what other critics have said. Instead of reviewing the film as a whole, I want to take a different approach. At the risk of sounding like a fan-boy or an apologist, I want to answer just one of the the most common objections that critics have had against BvS: its depiction of Superman.

Many people have criticized Snyder’s depiction of Superman as cold, unfeeling, or wooden. “That’s not my Superman,” a lot of people have said. While I sympathize with those who want an optimistic, idealistic Superman, I don’t think that this Superman is really very different from past versions; it’s the world that changed. Past Superman movies have, by and large, shown him in a world that loves and trusts him unquestioningly. But is that how the world would respond to someone with the power of Kal-El of Krypton? Like it or not, Snyder has asked, “How would people really react if Superman existed?”

After a prologue dealing with Bruce Wayne, the real action of the film begins with Superman saving Lois Lane from terrorists who have taken her hostage in an African village. When they realize that Superman is coming, the terrorists slaughter many of the villagers and flee, leaving only their leader with Lois held at gunpoint. Then the scene turns to a Senate committee hearing, where a surviving villager says that Superman answers to no one, “Even, I think, to God.” Even though he did not kill anyone, the committee holds Superman responsible for the deaths of the villagers because, they say, his presence there caused the violence. If that strikes you as ridiculous and unrealistic (as some critics have argued), then I suggest that you pay closer attention to real-world politicians (who aren’t exactly models of reason). (more…)

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Why We Need Superheroes

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Update September 2016

From now on, all of my superhero-related posts will be published at my A Clash of Heroes Blog.

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My students all know that I love superheroes, and I often find ways to use superheroes and their stories as analogues for issues that I discuss in class. But last week a student said to me that a movie like The Avengers “doesn’t have anything to do with the real world. It’s just dumb entertainment.” I had to forgive this student for such an egregious claim. She’s new to college, and I have no control over whatever subpar education that she received before now and would lead her to think that The Avengers is just “dumb entertainment.” But she made me realize that while it is certainly true that superhero movies are wildly popular right now, some people don’t realize just how important the mythology of comic book heroes can be if we’re willing to take them seriously.

(The Desire for) Power Corrupts

One of the reasons that I think superheroes are important at this particular moment is how good their stories are at helping us think about questions of power. And perhaps more now than in any other time, we need to think about what it means to seek and to wield power. (more…)