‘Dawn of Justice’ vs ‘Civil War’: The Battle of Hype
I expect to wake up only to find that what is happening is some kind of beautiful nerd dream. Not only are the two biggest heroes of the DC universe about to duke it out in a massive blockbuster movie, but the two biggest Marvel heroes are doing the same a month later! Batman vs Superman! Iron Man vs Captain America! It’s like every nerd in the world is being karmically rewarded for the years of bullying we endured for our collective dorky Wolverine tee and action figure collection.
But as these two massive films draw near and their marketing departments go into overdrive, we’re taking a step back to consider which one we’re more hyped for. Let’s start with the characters.
Putting Batman into a movie is one way to get us excited. Between Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale we’ve had some amazing versions of the character on our screens. He’s such a draw card for viewers that he’s as well known and loved by movie-goers as he his comic book readers. One could even say that out of the entire history of comic book superheroes, Batman is the one who has best transcended the medium and established himself as a pop-culture icon. You could easily find Batman fans who have never picked up a comic book, developing their love and knowledge of the character through cinema, television and video games. This is a new take on the role as far as movies are concerned. He’s an older, harder man with a reputation to match. Ben Affleck is a great casting choice, having enough gravitas and menace in his performances to make it work (and shut up already about Daredevil – he was the best part of a terrible movie and the director should be blamed).
The trailers for Dawn of Justice have not been working in the movie’s favour. They’re slow, poorly paced and showcase some pretty cringe worthy dialogue (is Lex seriously going to talk like that?). The final trailer did give us a taste of Batman in action, neatly destroying a room of thugs, both something about it looked familiar…
…as in it looks exactly like the massively popular Batman video game series that we’ve all been enjoying the past few years. Between that and the moments lifted from Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ we’re left wondering if we’re going to see anything original. Part of the joy in seeing a new Batman in the cinema is seeing the different approach they’re going to take, instead what we seem to have is a mish mash of already proven versions. This also includes the alternate universe Soviet version for some reason.
Then there’s Henry Cavill’s Superman. Man of Steel divided fans straight down the middle. I landed on the ‘meh’ camp, finding it needlessly gritty, inconsistent and pretentious. Cavill was a pretty solid Superman, being both powerful and humble. Happy to see him back.
Jumping over to the Marvel camp, our main players are Captain America, played by Chris Evans, and Iron Man, embodied by Robert Downey, Jr. And we don’t need to say anything about it because we’ve seen them in the roles in five and four movies respectively. We know that they’re great in the parts, and we know we want to keep watching them in the role. These two are going to fight each other? Hell yes.
Of course, there are a team of supporting characters to back them up. Dawn of Justice isn’t just bringing Batman into the franchise, but also Wonder Woman! And Lex Luthor! And Aquaman?AND The Flash? And Doomsday, Darkseid, Alfred…that’s a lot of new characters. We’ve already seen a number of super hero sequels fall flat because they’ve overloaded it with new characters. That approach has sunk two separate Spider-Man franchises. The marquee reads Batman vs Superman – we’ve got enough story right there. Chucking in Lex or Doomsday means that they’ve got someone to team up on at the end, but do we need both? Do we also need Darkseid? They’ve already entirely cut out Jena Malone’s role as Barbara Gordon, obviously the movie is over stuffed. Now that we’re taking a close look at the cast list we’ve seen a young Bruce Wayne, Thomas and Martha Wayne in the cast. We absolutely do not need a repeat of an origin story here.
It is good to finally see a modern film version of Wonder Woman though, we’re not complaining about that. Gal Gadot looks fantastic for the part. We’re also curious about Jason Mamoa as Aquaman but it doesn’t look as though he’s getting much of a role. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor…I don’t know what he’s going for with the character but I don’t like it. Lex should be dignified, powerful – a villain who could become the president. Plus there’s Ezra Miller as The Flash, which feels like a stupid idea because we have a Flash who we all love. He’s on TV. Use him.
Supporting cast in Civil War features a bunch of familiar characters from the previous Avengers movies such as Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Ant-Man, War Machine, The Winter Soldier and Vision. This is all good, we don’t need to waste time setting them up. Plus they’re bringing in Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther making his cinematic debut. I didn’t think we especially needed Spider-Man in this franchise, he’s had a couple of good films and with this cast he’s just one more familiar face. On the other hand, it was pretty thrilling to see him with the other Avengers in the trailer. Black Panther is a much cooler proposition, a Batman-esque character with a unique background could add something new to the mix.
Plus there’s that thing that was revealed in the new Lego sets:
This is an escalation of ideas and story threads that have been laid down in previous films. Cap feels responsible for what’s happened to Bucky and his loyalty to his friend will get in the way of his role as a hero. Iron Man has already put himself at odds with his team-mates after his actions in Age of Ultron and lines were already being drawn in the sand.
But what’s happened previously isn’t going to matter when the fists start flying and the laser eyes are heating up the screen – each film as to stand alone. Who knows what may happen?
Wait, that’s not true. We know exactly what will happen in Dawn of Justice because they’ve made it abundantly clear that this is the lead up to the Justice League films. Although the title says Batman vs Superman we know walking in that there isn’t any risk of one of them outright winning. They all have to survive to go to the next movie, and they have to become allies before then. So they’re going to meet, they’re going to fight and then it’ll all be a big misunderstanding and they’ll team up to fight Doomsday and learn that teamwork is the very best thing ever. Plus they can’t alienate any part of the audience that supports one hero or the other, so it’ll come out a draw.
Maybe they’ll come up with a good reason to have Batman and Superman fight, something that will put the fate of the world in balance. Some ideological viewpoint that pits them against each other. According to all sources thus far the conflict is prompted by Bruce Wayne having a dream that Superman will become a god-like figure on Earth, leading Batman to head out to stop him. Hang about…a guy gets into dangerous, destructive and unnecessary conflicts because he had a bad dream?
Civil War is a different matter. This time the stakes are high. We’ve got two characters who we have an attachment to, who we’ve seen fight side by side. We know that for something to bring them to this point it has to be serious. It has to be something that challenges the very essence of their character. We also don’t know who is going to be standing at the end of it. The end of Age of Ultron has implied the beginning of a new generation of the team, how far are they going to take this? The trailer has hinted that War Machine might not make it, as he seems to be taken out of the fight early on.
Then there’s Chris Evans. The actor has said in the past that he’s ready to step away from appearing in movies to focus on a career as a director. He has gone back on this statement a few times, saying that he’ll keep working under his Marvel contract through Infinity War, but that may be misinformation to keep the story a surprise. In the comics both Bucky Barnes and Sam ‘Falcon’ Wilson have taken up the mantle of Captain America so there is a possibility of Steve Rogers being a casualty in his fight.
Let’s look at where we stand. Dawn of Justice feels like an attempt to catch up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise before the superhero movie bubble bursts. The stakes are low and we’re going to see a huge number of characters fighting for screen time. Civil War in the culmination of a long running series built over more than half a dozen films. It features versions of characters we know and love facing a challenge with an unpredictable outcome. At the end of the day we’re absolutely more hyped for Captain America: Civil War.
But what we really hope is that both movies are amazing in their own special way. We’ll have review for Dawn of Justice up in five days…let’s see if I have to eat my own words then.