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"Why did I agree to do this horrible fucking movie?!"

“Why did I agree to do this horrible fucking movie?!”

Lots of people have said it much better than I ever could, and in many different ways, but Batman vs Superman was a really, really, epically horrible movie.

I could talk at length about why this is the case, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll just offer reason #3182:

You know what the most unbelievable thing about Batman vs Superman is?

It’s not that Superman’s bulletproof or can shoot laser beams out of his eyes.

It’s not the idea that Perry White is the editor-in-chief of a major newspaper but is sending Clark Kent to cover a local football team.

Those are nitpicky criticisms of poor writing or the absurdity of fantasy. I can suspend my disbelief about the laser beams.

It’s the notion that the United States would convene a Senate hearing on the deaths of innocent civilians in a third world country in order to bring Superman to justice. American soldiers kill civilians all over the world without a second thought from the vast majority of Americans. Zack Snyder presents a righteous vision of America that would only be familiar to the most blindly patriotic Republicans, and doesn’t exist in reality. It’s a vision of an America that puts itself out into the world in order to do the right thing every time, and is always looking out for the little guy. In reality the United States does exactly what Superman does: drops into volatile situations it doesn’t understand, throws its muscle around, protects a narrow version of American interests, and leaves without any concern for the chaos, destruction, and death it’s left behind.

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SupermanSuperman’s weakness is not so much Kryptonite as it is his moral code: he won’t kill or be otherwise immoral (although he has been known to be deceitful, especially when dealing with with foes such as Mr Mxyzptlk). He is the paragon of virtue, the defender and best example of The American Way. But his virtue can hold him back: he refuses to kill, but how often has this refusal led to greater suffering later on? How many times has one of his foes escaped, only to wreak further havoc, surely including death? Granted, death and pain are not so much a part of the Superman universe compared to Batman, but certainly amid the destruction wrought by battling titans in the middle of Metropolis, sometime somewhere someone has been killed. What responsibility does Superman feel? Not as much, it seems, as characters like Spider-Man or Batman, characters whose entire motivations for being superheroes are based on feelings of guilt over the loss of loved ones or the desire to avenge their deaths. Superman, however, despite the loss of both parents (biological and adoptive) is a pretty together guy. He represents the happy, well-adjusted face of American culture, with a never-say-die, can-do attitude. He is the principled volunteer who went to war to make the world safe for liberty, whereas Batman is the hardened veteran whose motivations are good but just might burn down your village to save it. Therefore, Batman is the stronger character, even though he has no super-powers, because he’s willing to do nearly anything to win the fight. Superman is held back by his morals, which are ultimately more important to him than winning, and because of that, Superman is much more likely to lose. (It needs to be said that in the comic books, Superman of course never loses–he’s too powerful. What we’re talking about here is the real world, if characters like Superman and Batman existed in it.)

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