Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★★

A study of permanence and impermanence and the ways we internalize our emotions until they explode into a physically affecting form, an abstraction of narrative that Snyder pushes so hard it loops into and under itself, there are snapshots of other films - images people have labelled unnecessary - but this is not so much misplaced exposition as it is a myriad of secondary narratives superseding our core one - that's why the titular fight takes over an hour to get going. We know these stories - by now the death of the Wayne family's parents is a household story, a cozy narrative with a moral to tuck your kids into bed with at night. Snyder tears these morals apart, he rebuilds a mythology from the ground up and Cavill is the face he puts to this.

The most ridiculous thing about any superhero mythology is that Clark Kent expects not to be recognized as the Superman solely because he takes off his glasses; Snyder messes with this: Affleck's (incredible) Batman has a constantly hidden face; a sociopath rejected by society to counterbalance Cavill's open, freely-displayed God amongst men.

But, holy shit, people are getting so caught up in the religious context of it all and that's not what Snyder is going for at all. This is a post-modern reflexive view of an entire genre, a scathing satire that doesn't provide any laughs. Eisenberg destroys any constructed idea of the 'supervillain' as he performs as somebody entirely displaced from social construct.

Nobody wants to speak out, nobody wants to share their thoughts but everyone knows what's going on: this is the way the world ends, God vs. Mortal - indeed the media (and the frequent newscast-based narrative interruptions) acts as a literal narrative obstruction... there's no way to understand those around us if our own voice is in the way, if we can't hear what they're trying to say. Too many people trying to communicate all at once, until all of a sudden there's a total blackout with cosmic consequence.

Most interesting is the idea of family - brother/sister, parent/child... somewhere in here, Martha Kent brings up a point about 'coming of age' - this is the comment which hit me hardest. Superhero movies have traditionally been mythological retellings of pathways to adulthood, coming of age films - Man Of Steel skipped the growing up part, instead tracking Kent from his adulthood, on his pathway to fame as a God, which is why it is so miraculously important that we are introduced to Wayne as a PTSD-riddled older man without a past: these people never had the chance to grow up, because they never had the chance to be young.

But none of this is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the fact that the DC Cinematic Universe may very well be the one time, now - or ever - that an auteur is given a massive budget and free reign to do as he pleases. This is Snyder messing with form and genre on a fundamental scale, a film about the cycle of destruction breeding destruction, hate breeding hate, fire is only ever fought with fire and nothing gets in the way of human intimacy. Because ultimately, it's our connections - those we love, and those we hate - that forge the paths of our lives.

Let's not begin loving this in fifty years when the criticism no longer matters. Let's start appreciating this now, while it still means something.

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