The film polarized not only the public but also the industry, provoking extreme reactions of love and hate.
Between 1941 and 1986, DC Comics published a magazine called World’s Finest Comics, which initially proposed to bring back isolated adventures of Superman and Batman chose, from the 1950s for reasons of expenditure control, to join the two characters in stories unique; thus resulting in today’s famous crosses.
In general, these adventures have always brought enjoyable content for all ages and especially for its target audience, children, where the goodness and friendship have always prevailed over the wickedness of enemies like Lex Luthor and Joker. They were also important in solidifying the friendship between the Guardian of the Metropolis and Gotham’s Bat as the most famous bromance in comics.
Decades later, starting in 2013, Warner Bros. (the DC properties adaptation rights holder) was in a billiard pool. Its biggest competitor in the film market, Disney, saw Marvel Studios’ economic and cultural relevance take off every day at the same speed its films expanded its newly established shared universe in theaters.
The year before, they had released the first Avengers movie, reaching the billion mark and featuring the first major comic book movie to bring together as many known heroes as possible in a cohesive plot (in 1997, CBS released a Justice League adaptation of America which was and is extremely rejected by everyone). So, for the leaders of Warner, it was imperative to start their own shared universe as quickly as possible.
To that end, director Zack Snyder, until then hired exclusively by the studio, was chosen to plan a similar project for DC Comics characters. Assisted by Christopher Nolan and the screenplay by David S. Goyer (both responsible for the Dark Knight trilogy), Snyder launches Man of Steel; Superman’s solo movie that would tell about a new origin of the alien, now with references to a much larger universe.
The film had notable success, both financially (in managing to pay the production costs) and in gaining wide acceptance for Henry Cavill’s performance as Clark Kent Superman. However, the first cracks and signs of what was to come were already displayed by the end of the screening. In the plot, after an extremely destructive fight with General Zod, Superman finds himself in a complicated position; there is no way to imprison him in the ghost zone, there is no way to convince him to give up, there is no way to fight him forever and most importantly, Zod himself said he would never stop until he took the lives of all humans.
In this way, Superman breaks the villain’s neck and part of the audience goes mad in virtual revolts. With that environment divided, Warner once again gave Snyder the task of producing a sequel, but this time he should have the role of setting the stage and then coming up with a Justice League adaptation. Without previous solo projects of the heroes involved, without patience, without planning. The confirmation as well as the logo of the film came to Comic Con 2013.
Shortly after the sequel’s production was announced, it was confirmed that Batman would make his first appearance since the end of the Christian Bale phase. It was immediately assumed that Warner had tried emphatically to rely on the actor to reprise the role, but, with a final refusal on his part, speculation began as to who the new actor would be.
As soon as the uncertainty began, Ben Affleck’s name started to be constantly rolled out as a strong candidate and whenever that happened it was followed by criticism and provocation. However, the actor was eventually confirmed in the role thought to just bring an older and more experienced Bruce Wayne than Superman, confirming that the film would have a big influence on the classic Return of the Dark Knight.
The idea that the graphic novel would have its fair share of importance came from Comic Con 2013 when the reveal of the film’s official logo came after a monologue by actor Harry Lennix reciting a famous piece from the work. Snyder had already confirmed that the film would not be a literal and faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s work, but that it would borrow certain concepts presented in it; more specifically that of a Batman returning from retirement and ultimately involved in a clash with Superman.
A new escalating controversy also came with the confirmation that Jesse Eisenberg would be responsible for giving Lex Luthor a new take, moving away from the comedic version of Gene Hackman and moving closer to the business approach of the character that has become the standard since 1986 with John Byrne. Steel man. When the actor’s first photos came out, however, they did not follow fans’ expectations of a Luthor as close as possible to the animations and were fairly compared to Mark Zuckerberg in the movie The Social Network, also played by Eisenberg.
And then came the first and with it a never-before-seen division in the comic book genre. On the one hand, there was the audience who were truly delighted with what was being shown, claiming that the film brought a different dynamism to the market with more compelling dramas and discussions about the role these super beings would play in society. if they existed.
The soundtrack composed once again by Hans Zimmer and the short, however, the striking participation of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman’s first appearance in long-running action) were some of the few consensus factors for the quality presented. .
On the other side, there was the disapproval and these can be broken down into two subcategories: problematic structure of the film and breaking expectations about the characters. There’s a very valid point about the first one, which is the complicated post-production that Batman vs Superman went through. The version released for theaters had visible issues with setting the scenes, with event sequences appearing to be interrupted and the development of subplots that either resolved unexpectedly or were dropped, as happened with the shot. Luthor’s problematic.
As it turned out, the studio actively interfered in post-production by removing some sections and rearranging others. This resulted in a version which clearly had continuity issues and which greatly influenced some of the reviews. The other, on the other hand, had an obvious dissatisfaction with the portrayal of heroes.
It was only with Batman and Superman that there are over a hundred years of development, breakdown and new development; in the meantime, it is inevitable that some concepts will remain benchmarks for readers and authors over the decades. “Batman doesn’t kill”, “Superman is a totally optimistic force”, “Lex Luthor is cold and calculating” (with joke forgiveness). Then BvS comes in and presents to the public essentially the opposite of those ideas. Batman kills, Superman is anything but optimistic about humanity, and Lex Luthor embraces theatrics once and for all.
The first meeting of DC Comics’ two biggest icons in theaters isn’t a World’s Finest mentioned at the start of the article, not a celebration of the friendship immortalized in that title. It is the frictions, the fights, the different visions of the world that will inevitably have a violent shock. This is everything a traditional comic / animation viewer or casual audience didn’t expect to receive.
In a period where it became common to discuss and even expect a breakdown in expectations thanks to films such as The Last Jedi, Between Knives and Secrets and Infinite War when it returned in 2016, there was still little talk of the concept. in mainstream cinema and whose reactions have generated quite unpredictable. However, if there is anything more chameleon than David Bowie, it’s certainly comic book characters, who keep reinventing, updating, and changing themselves; therefore, the inconstancy of these fictional beings is something to be expected.
Ultimately, the feeling generated ended up being one of deep popular division and fear on the part of the studio, which inevitably led to the events of the Justice League and essentially the untimely end of the DCEU (DC’s Expanded Universe). Zack Snyder became an outcast in the halls of Warner and basically the council didn’t know what to do with him. Still, five years have passed and Batman vs Superman remains a topic of social media talk and conversations about comic book adaptations. It is, after all, an important chapter in the highest-grossing pop phenomenon in decades.
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