Batman v Superman Backlash, Fan Edition

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has come out, and to no one’s real surprise, a lot of people dislike it.

Some would say they hate it.

Others would even say they are boycotting it.

But what is behind Batman v Superman backlash? Is it the reaction of fans who got another lazy blockbuster when they would rather have had a film with some feeling and character continuity? Is there more to it for these fans, myself included, who respect comic book history? Who do we ask? Where do we begin?

We can begin with a story. Once upon a time, my friend Dan and I went to see a movie.

(Well, I saw the movie. Dan is another matter.)

My own issues with this film are not unique, but I think I can sum them up in a blurb: plot all over the place, awkward dream sequences, why is Doomsday in this movie?

However, to get a better sense of a purist’s distaste for Batman v Superman, I had a conversation with a longtime reader of Superman and Batman comics. I talked to Dan. I told him that I was seeing the movie, to which he replied, On Easter Sunday, dude?!

Well, we kept talking, and he even said I could blog about it. So, read on. You may find his opinions illuminating.

Dan, the obvious question. Do you plan to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Maybe at some point. Certainly not in the theater.

Sounds like a full-on boycott.

Well, that’s my intention. It won’t mean much to the overall success of the movie, but I’ll be happy knowing it won’t be making any money off of me.

I know I’ve felt the same way about movies, so I can understand. And I know you’re fond of both characters, but out of curiosity, would you say you’re a bigger fan of Superman, or of Batman? Does it even matter?

Probably more of a Superman fan these days. As a kid, Batman was one of my favorites. I didn’t compare him to Superman, but I loved Batman. It wasn’t because he’s human, but because he has these crazy cool villains. And he had a sidekick which I identified with as a younger brother to a kid who loved Batman, too. In my mind, I could be the Robin to my brother’s Batman.

But somewhere along the way, I started investing more time into Superman. I loved reading about this guy who came to this planet as an orphan. He was raised to put others before himself, can fight the most powerful creatures on the planet, but still takes the time to help a little girl find her mom when she’s lost in the mall. He tells a girl who’s contemplating suicide, ‘Hey, you’re stronger than you know. It’s not as bad as it seems, and I’m here for you.’ Both these types of things happen in the comics, which makes me love him more.

To me, Batman is the hero who shows kids that he’s stronger than the growing pains, and whatever life throws at us. Superman is the guy I look to when I want to find hope in myself, or in others, or when someone I don’t know well asks for a favor.

Do you think the producers of this movie understand the Superman you’ve just described? We have, by all accounts, been seeing a dark Superman.

They don’t understand Superman, that much is true. They barely seem to understand Batman as I know him. They’ve just turned him into an asshole who is no longer worried about killing because ‘if it happened in other movies—why not ours?’


Dan with Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman

People wanted to see Superman hit things, not necessarily a dark and whiny character. But Snyder and Goyer don’t see a difference with that.

You may not have seen the film, but you have been told about it by a number of people, and I’ve seen you share nearly every review or article about Batman v Superman. So, what’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with it? Besides the fundamental misunderstanding of the characters whose names are in the title, there are problems with plot, not being able to control or maintain enough storylines for the movie to work, and everything seems to suffer because of it.

They didn’t just fly too close to the sun. They flew into it. What’s left is the ash of a movie that could have been good if they decided to focus on what matters.

Let’s pretend for a minute that DC and Warner Bros. care what you and I think. As a comic book fan who wants to see a good comic book movie, what could have made this film better?

I mean, any number of things. Editing, character development, a sensible plot, a taste of things to come, and maybe a lesson to be learned by the characters in it? But that’s not what we got. Yet, people will go anyway because it’s the first time the trinity of DC is in a movie. Or, because it’s got Batman fighting Superman, like casual fans have been wanting since the comic Dark Knight Returns came out in the 80s.

Maybe give Superman and Batman a real resolution to their fight, not ‘Hey, both our mom’s names are Martha. Let’s forget the fact that I think you’re an overpowered God who should be killed, or that you think I’m a deranged vigilante whose brutal methods make me just as bad as the people I’ve sworn to fight.’ Maybe make Lois less of a damsel in distress. Maybe give Lex a decent motive for why he’s pissed at Superman.

But Zack Snyder can’t tell a story to save his life. He can make things look beautiful and spectacular, but that’s not enough to make a story good. It’s enough to get someone interested, but not enough to enjoy the movie. And I know because I’ve seen Sucker Punch. The movie looked great, but made no sense at all.

Do you agree with sites, such as The Comics Beat, which have said that Batman V. Superman sacrificed storytelling just to set up a Justice League franchise? iO9 has also detailed how much of the movie was set-up.

I think it did take time away from plot and character development to introduce characters, and set up the League. The problem with that was it came off as forced, and seemed more like a pathetic attempt than an organic sequence in the movie.

You said that they barely understood Batman earlier. Can I ask, did Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan understand him?

Hollywood seems to lose more and more of its understanding of who Batman is, and how he does things. Nolan and Burton made fine Batman films, but there were flaws to the character. Burton’s Batman saw him attaching dynamite to a thug, and tossing him into the sewer to kill him, where Nolan’s Batman took eight years off after the death of Rachel. These things would never happen, and I say this as a fan of both the Burton and Nolan films.

Will we–can we–ever see an ideal movie for either Batman or Superman? Have we seen one already?

You can take liberties with these characters. Lord knows you can’t make them 100% like the comics they come from, but even then there are some things that are vital to what makes these characters who they are.

Richard Donner Superman movies were my ideal Superman movies. They made the character believable. He didn’t live in our world, but we wanted to live in his. Superman hadn’t been brought down to our level as humans like Zack Snyder has done, but he had helped elevate us to his level like he’s supposed to.

As for Batman, the Adam West movie was an ideal version of him in that time period, although I’ve never seen a perfect live action version of the character. The closest we’ve been is probably The Dark Knight.

But there are several animated movies that have shown the Superman I know and love, and the same goes for Batman. Superman vs the Elite, and All Star Superman. Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman Year One. I hold out hope that we’ll get another chance to see a live action movie where the caped crusader meets the blue boy scout, and become the best of friends they’re known to be in the comics. Yeah, they can fight, but let it be more believable as to why and how it ends. Let the movie have no clear winner.

Scott Snyder wrote in a more recent issue of his acclaimed Batman run, ‘Who wins in a fight between Batman and Superman? The answer? No one does.’


Dan with Batman writer Scott Snyder and brother Jim

Dan would like to thank his brothers Jim and Stephen, and his friend Ryu, for giving him detailed descriptions of the film. Ink’s My Thing would like to thank Dan for his time. We know readers who will appreciate his honesty.

If you’re a reader dropping by with an opinion, we hope you won’t keep it to yourself.

Not Much but an #amreading Update

For this edition of #amreading I delve into the imaginings of one of the finest living fantasy authors. I just finished up a short story (writing one) yesterday, so I’m cracking this bad boy open…

Peter S. Beagle

I’ve read and loved The Last Unicorn already, so I’m definitely looking forward to more Beagle. Now wish me luck. I may not wish to come back.




All my love,

The Guy Who Writes in this Blog

The Texas Floods, Friends, My Selfish Plea

The Texas floods, and flooding in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, have been covered by USA Today, Click2Houston,, and other news organizations, and as I may have mentioned, my friends are out there.

Writing is a lonely occupation, they say, filled with shameless self-promoters bent on the get-rich-quick scheme. Oftentimes that’s true. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you meet people along for the same ride as you.

The day I decided to write seriously, it seemed like a lot of other people made that same decision. Some had been lifelong writers seeking to take their hobby to the next level, others were new at it, with a lot to learn like me. I don’t see or hear from many of these peers anymore. They have gone into different careers, got busy in their personal lives, got tired of the dream, or just disappeared without a word.

I want to tell you about two women, from the vicinity of Southeast Texas, who welcomed me into this realm of writing and criticism. To this day, I know what they are up to, and they still know about me.

Nobody puts more effort into character development than Chy Burch, whose neighborhood resembles a lake at the moment. She has also judged and helped organize WYRM’s Gauntlet nearly every year since its inception, and anyone who knows her knows there is a popular fantasy series waiting to burst forth from her pen and into the mainstream. Some of us have been lucky enough to glimpse already.

Stephanie Cassey, who began the GoFundMe page “Deweyville Flood Victims” a few days ago, is also affected. When she and I began exchanging reviews, she made me consider vampire fiction in a whole new way, and I came to admire her use of bare bones dialogue, among other things.

Both helped me nail down the fundamentals, and urged me to tell the difficult stories, ones I was not always comfortable telling.

To anybody who can relate–fellow writers, readers, those who have lived through a natural disaster–if you are able to, please give. For my part, it is the least I can do. When I think of my friendships (my lasting friendships, of which there are too few) and my own development as a writer, there are no two people who’ve mattered more.

Book Review: Encounter at Farpoint by David Gerrold

The most dangerous ‘same old story’ is the one in front of me right now. Self-righteous life forms who are eager not to learn, but to prosecute, to judge anything they don’t understand or can’t tolerate.

I love Star-Trek: the Next Generation. When I meet someone who loves Star-Trek: the Original Series better, I don’t understand or tolerate them. They may be family or friends, but still I stand dumbfounded, as they tear down Picard and Data, and sing the praises of Kirk. Who are these people? Where do they come from? Will they admit—at the very least—that Q is the greatest villain we have ever seen?

I love the show, so it follows that I would love the TNG novels. Well, I don’t love them all, but I intend to review a bunch. Reading the novels in the voices of one’s favorite characters brings one great joy.

I come at this one from a different place since I’ve been made aware of the new Star Trek TV series that may be on our horizon in the not-too-distant future.

Though I am told I saw Star-Trek: The Voyage Home at the movies when I was a baby, my beginnings as a fan is tied to TNG. The forthcoming series may make a lot of new fans, and it may turn out to be a fine starting point for them. Who’s really to say? But, why not delve a little bit into Star Trek’s past to learn what the future could hold.

I invite you to read this novel by David Gerrold, based on TNG’s pilot episode, because Farpoint is the ideal station to visit for any new Starfleet hopeful.

Here’s what happened when I went there.

What fans don’t always talk about is that this entire show was about the human race getting put on trial by a superbeing. It had a fearful symmetry that way. The first episode/book (Encounter at Farpoint) began with Q charging us all with being a savage, war like, un-evolved race which was not fit to venture outside our own solar system. Of course, it is put on Picard to answer for all of our crimes, real or imagined, and setting out to do so was the basis for a series, right up to the finale.

Reading this book, I remembered the little things. They are not all good things, so to speak. I roll my eyes with the best of them when Riker (ship’s new first officer) and Troi (ship’s counselor) trip over their feelings for each other in the midst of adventure. I’m human. I get annoyed, or start to laugh out of turn, when Troi winces painfully as she detects an unpleasant emotion.

Still, the author did these characters justice. My impression of Gerrold is that he knew who these characters had the potential to be. It helps to remember that Captain Picard is meeting most everyone for the first time, and most of the crew only have vague ideas about him. Unlike TV, prose has the capacity for internal dialogue.

Since I’m a grammatical case study, trained to root out this sort of thing, I stumbled over some of the editing flaws in my copy of the book. One occurs on the back cover, where they insist Farpoint Station lies in orbit of the planet Cygnus IV. Anyone who flips through a couple chapters can see that it’s actually hanging out at Deneb IV. (Did it just get nerdy in here? Good.)

But it’s the philosophy of TNG that sets it apart from other shows, even in the Star Trek franchise. Kirk has been accused of being a space cowboy or cop, and DS9, which I love, has been categorized as military science fiction. TNG really was about explorers learning about new species, and why the prime directive of not interfering with these species, is actually kind of a good thing. It was also about understanding strange creatures for the first time.

At Deneb IV, the strange creature was the size of a space station, not what it appeared to be, trading its life force for cheap energy, and it didn’t know any better. With Q watching, Picard and his crew must sort out a moral dilemma. It would be their first of many.

I thought the book succeeded, but as it turns out, nobody knew if the show would succeed. It was sluggish for a time, but overcame this uncertainty, and eventually became something special. I’m glad that it did. When people ask me who the best captain is, I’m comfortable answering like this. “Picard is the best captain. He was smart enough to stand aside and let Data figure things out.”

Life as it is lived isn’t necessarily the way life has to be lived. We can do better.

Star Wars Rebels: The Rant

I didn’t want to come here. You made me come here.

I speak of the YouTube comments that ruined my day, and have forced me to put all else aside.

Do you watch Star Wars Rebels? You know, that Disney project they probably churned out as an afterthought on coffee breaks during the editing of Inside Out. That show with the kind-of-weird animation, and too few flips during the lightsaber duels. The show that foolishly places storytelling and character development before fight scene choreography. How dare they anyway? How dare they spit on the memory of Clone Wars, or screw up dueling forms from 1 through 5, and how dare their lightsabers be so skinny?

Well, haters, we all can’t have a huge lightsaber.

I grant the following.

• The animation found in Star Wars Rebels would seem rougher than what Clone Wars had to offer.
• The fight scenes in the present cartoon are not mind-blowing in terms of their scale or fire power.
• I’m a Clone Wars fan. Although, I find myself watching it more now than I did when it was on the air. Mostly, I’ve done this because it has been held up as the example new Star Wars creators must live up to.

Yet, less is more.

Not everything we see can—or should—be epic. Not every battle must contain ten combatants wielding double-bladed lightsabers, performing the moves of a figure skater. Every episode need not be a Kung-Fu movie. Not every character you run across should be overpowered, or have an arsenal of force abilities, befitting only a boss from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

In fact, the very reason Kanan of the rebels is a good character is because he is an average Jedi, even below average. A person can relate to him, which is kind of important as far as telling a story goes.

There is a reason that, while Clone Wars has been called a very good cartoon, Rebels has been called the spiritual successor to the original Star Wars trilogy. It was The Force Awakens before The Force Awakens hit the box office, and it is a shame that it is not often recognized for this achievement. Does everything come down to action sequences, or visual perfection?

• To those who attack the use of Ahsoka, Anakin’s apprentice on Clone Wars, merely because she is not a Disney creation—would you rather Disney pretend she never existed?
• Ask yourself if Luke Skywalker really cared what form of lightsaber combat he was using as he dared to fight Vader for the first time. Do you think he paused on his way to Bespin to count his midi-chlorians first—you know, to make sure they were all there? Ask yourself if any of this was going through the heads of original fans.
• Have you ever felt the way you felt when Kanan first drew his lightsaber in the premier, though all Jedi were presumed dead? Do you ever recall a scene, even from Clone Wars, that was anything like it? Because these are the things that matter.

If you disparage Rebels because you dislike Disney, or feel gross because an ‘evil empire’ has taken control of your beloved saga, I hear you. What you feel toward Disney now is the way many other fans felt during the releases of episodes I-III, that something near and dear to you has been corrupted.

You may be proven right one day, and Star Wars may be stripped of its soul, downgraded to a cute theme park ride or something. But that day is not today. Hate to break it to anyone out there, but storytelling must be judged on its merits, not on what is attached to the project. And in case you’ve missed it, at this moment, Star Wars stories are thriving.