mmcc’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Circles. Round and round and round they go to find Superman.
Wrong category, boy. No, no, triangles." – Lex Luthor
------- Superman ------
Batman -- △ -- Luthor
------ Goodness ------------
Force --- △ --- Knowledge
-------- Interventionist -----------
Criminal --- △ --- Entrepreneur (+ State)
Each and all triangluated by the other in knowing and unknowing plays of power, all defined by and undermining the ontology of the state in which they move. Superman is accused of unilateral action in his use of his innate power-as-goodness that cannot be reciprocated. His character cannot be allowed to speak, to be understood as it will forever redress, in its goodness, the balance of the lower bipolarity of force and knowledge.
Each of these dance and relate to the other, yet along with Superman the lower poles have their specific form, too: Batman's force assuming a shape as "power is knowledge" ("the world only makes sense if you force it to"), compared to Luthor's "knowledge is power" (which he of course takes as axiomatic, and so taking Batman's form as paradoxical). Each is defined in its unilaterality, situated as to wholly threaten the other-as-absolute.
Yet, the insidious characteristic, particularly of Luthor's creeping "knowledge" is how it obfuscates understanding. Force and knowledge become fascistic insofar as they refuse to align in with and hear in empathy goodness that loves the world as such. Everything becomes "puppet theater", a show trial to remove the potential of living unenamoured with one's power.
The diabolical game, the sick dance ends, of course, when Batman-as-force understands Superman's goodness as human. When he sees and hears the utterance of a name, the obfuscation ends with awareness of the obfuscation brought by Luthor's false knowledge. He encounters the contingent, finite, yet potentially boundless capacity of goodness and capitulates to its healing of a bastardised form of the same in himself: Martha, Batman will finally save Martha.
However, even in this healing, in this coming-to-understand one cannot underestimate what was wrought by dissension and knowledge-producing-ignorance.
The great trope of liberal, blockbuster cinema is the place of the outlaw: the realisation that the law and order of liberal society is grossly insufficient and cannot provide for its subjects, so it needs an additional element, a criminal element, an element beyond, an undefinable x to do what the state can't.
Each chief character—Superman, Batman, Luthor—takes up an additional role that proceeds from but yet exceeds the state, even as the state insists on mediated legitimisation, conversation, and consent. The excess is, of course, justice as it relates to people: Superman is the only person who helps or saves anyone in this film; while Batman genuinely wants to, in his way. The state desires and attempts to direct, formally and informally, the role of the excess each provide. Indeed, this is true of the most seemingly socially acceptable part of the triangle, Luthor, who too speaks of fashioning "deterrents" and silver bullets for the provision of this role; yet it inevitably takes on an attenuation we all are aware of: as entrepreneur and the most formally wedded to the state-as-capitalistic, Luthor as a capitalist breeds contradictions apropos of private interests to deepen exploitation and production.
Each exist outside of the state, for-and-not-for the state. Each challenge, and even explode, the state, which in the specifics of the film cannot be allowed to be aligned with an indiscriminate form of intervening goodness. Indeed, this is both properly positive and negative. Negatively it underlines what the state cannot provide: justice, with even the possibility that it might being counteracted by liberal-capitalism itself. The state is a pretender, and as such, positively, the film takes us to the immediacy of emphatic goodness-with-force working unrestrained, in combat against the capitalist-state created expropriative, fascistic, monstrosity—as Luthor says, "Blood of my blood."
It is in the wake of the failed state, with Superman dying for the world—not any state—and with the state "circuses back east burying an empty box", that we see the image of the crowds assembled as the immanent consequence of the excess of Superman's goodness given for free: it represents a democratisation of this excess role, the bypassing and redundancy of the liberal state, instilling an awareness that it is the people as actants that are the force of justice. Indeed, as excess, it has a life of its own, it lives as the moment in all moments, and so cannot die.
Surely, yes, the emergency is not over, the fascistic life of capitalism, in desiring knowledge of and for exploitation, reaches for the infinity of space-as-resource and brings back bigger demons in its effort to seize productive means. It's war next, and the war Justice League seemingly knows is by the people for the people, against the crises of capitalism writ large.