I should start off by saying that this post’s title has nothing to do with anyone not liking me personally. It is not going to be a massive Internet pity party. The “Me” in question isn’t me me at all.
I probably just overexplained that while also saying nothing at all. Let’s move on, shall we?
Last Friday (3/18/2016), Season Two of Daredevil premiered on Netflix. As of this writing (Friday 3/25/2016), I have watched 11 of the 13 episodes (“It’s been out an entire week, and you’re not done yet, Alan? What is wrong with you?!?”). Without going into spoilers, I will say that I have generally enjoyed this season. The first four episodes, which comprise a mini-arc of their own, were solid. Episodes five-seven were a bit slow for me, and then things picked back up nicely with the eighth episode.
But while I’m enjoying the show itself, I’m finding myself in the somewhat odd position of not liking the main character all that much. This season, Daredevil (aka Matt Murdock) seems to be doing everything he possibly can to be a jerk to those around him. Part of it is the old “I have to push the people I love away in order to protect them” trope that is fairly common to superhero stories (See Spider-Man, The Flash, etc.).
The real issue, though, is that this season Murdock is so much less interesting than the characters around him. A lot of the attention this season is on Frank Castle, otherwise known as The Punisher, and the writers do a good job of humanizing a character who could easily come across as an almost-cartoonish one-note killing machine. But beyond him, Murdock’s friends Foggy Nelson and Karen Page are given so much more to play. Granted, much of it is in relation to what Murdock is doing, but they also have their own scenes and storylines with no Daredevil in sight (Maybe that was the wrong choice of words.).
If Murdock is actually struggling with temptation to start doing things The Punisher’s way, it isn’t really shown or dramatized. The series tries to cover up his lack real character development this season (He’s pretty much just in righteous vigilante mode all season long) by constantly throwing new plots at him. We get his dealings with Punisher and flashbacks and Elektra and The Hand and…and…and… Every time he turns around, there’s something else to deal with. It almost feels like busywork.
Fortunately, he is surrounded by a wealth of engaging people because at the moment, he’s the least interesting character in his own show.
The other big event this week (and how could you possibly miss it) is the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Have I mentioned how much I hate that unwieldy title?). Since, as I said above, I’m writing this on Friday, I have no idea how well the film is doing so far. Critically, though, it’s getting its ass kicked. When I checked this morning, critical aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com had the film running at 30% Fresh with 205 reviews counted. To put that in some kind of perspective, the lowest scoring Marvel Studios film to date is 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which sits at 66% Fresh. Fortunately for Marvel, I am not counting films with Marvel characters produced by other studios because Batman v Superman can comfortably claim superiority over the 9% Fresh attained by last Summer’s Fantastic Four, made by 20th Century Fox.
Looking through the selection of reviews quoted on Rotten Tomatoes for Batman v Superman, even most of the “positive” ones were fairly middling on the whole thing. Others were outright brutal. I think one of my favorites had to be the quote from NPR reviewer Chris Klimek, who described the film as “…a ponderous, smothering, over-pixilated zeppelin crash of a movie scored by a choir that sounds like it’s being drowned in lava.” I’m guessing the music must not be great, since Chris Knight from National Post said that the movie has “…a score that would make Richard Wagner ask if they could please turn it down.”
But in the end will the critics’ opinions (or those of anyone at all) really matter? This movie is going to make a ton of money. The pre-release hype and the promise of seeing the DC characters on screen together is likely to lead to a huge opening weekend. For me it brings to mind the first Transformers film (and pretty much every one after that). It’s not a very good movie, but it brought in audiences and made enough money to launch a massive franchise. The most recent film in that series, 2004’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, has an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it pulled in over $1 billion worldwide.
Warner Brothers has to be hoping that the same will hold true for Batman v Superman. The movie is the launch point for their combined cinematic universe, and 10 more films are already in the pipeline, including Suicide Squad, which will be released later this year, and Wonder Woman, which is currently shooting. Their Justice League movie is due to start filming in April, which Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder again at the helm.
Batman v Superman is guaranteed a massive opening weekend. What will be interesting to see is what happens after that. Will there be repeat viewings? Or will the film experience a massive fall off in its second weekend? Warner has gone all-in on this. There’s no turning back, at least in the near term.
But I have to believe that there’s more than a little nervousness in the Warner executive suites in light of the critical savaging Batman v Superman is suffering. And how will they explain it to their stockholders if their massive film (The budget was around $250 million) ends up losing the year’s box office crown to Captain America: Civil War or, even worse, a little film called Deadpool?
As for me personally, I was a DC fan growing up. I read Batman and Superman comics, and I saw the first Michael Keaton Batman film 7 times in the theater in 1989. A Batman/Superman team-up film should have me skipping work and tossing aside any other obligations I might have to stand in line. I should have seen it twice by now! Instead, I feel…ehhhh. The trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (And I still HATE the title) haven’t done anything for me, and, after the critical drubbing, I just can’t drum up the enthusiasm to sit through 2.5 hours of grimdark. Fifteen-year-old me would not believe that I’m writing this, but I think I’m waiting for the DVD…
…if I bother seeing it at all.
- Alan Decker
@CmdrAJD on Twitter