As you’ve probably heard by now: at San Diego Comic Con last week it was announced that Zack Snyder’s follow up to Man of Steel is going to be Superman vs. Batman. They got Harry Lennix out on stage to read the last few lines from the Superman vs. Batman fight in The Dark Knight Returns and the crowd went crazy and the internet followed suit.
But you know what? I think this is a dumb idea and here are some reasons why.
First and foremost let’s just get one thing out of the way: The idea that Batman could possibly beat Superman is fucking ludicrous. I don’t care what anyone says (and spare the me “because Batman” argument, it doesn’t work): Superman is effectively a living god among men and Batman is just a man.
Even if you factor in Kryptonite –which you can’t, but more on that in a moment– all Superman would need would be one decent punch and Batman would be toast. Yeah, I know that the strength of kryptonite varies depending on how weak the story needs Superman to be, however Superman always overcomes either through sheer force of will or his friends.
That doesn’t matter though as Man of Steel, to which this will be sequel, establishes that it is everything about Earth that gives Superman his strength. The young sun, the thicker atmosphere, the heavier gravity, everything, so just having Kryptonite won’t do any good.
Not to mention that in The Dark Knight Returns it took Batman wearing powered armour, green arrow shooting Superman with a kryptonite Arrow, and Superman having just survived a nuclear blast in order to be defeated.
So what I am trying to say here is that Batman beating Superman? Doesn’t really make sense. Don’t get me wrong, I like Batman. I like Batman a lot. He doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the A-List DC Superheroes though. Superman is invincible. Wonder Woman is everything but. Aquaman has complete command of the sea. The Flash can run so fast that he’s traveled in time. Batman is a guy in a suit with an impressive bank account.
But all that aside there’s something more important going on here. You see, we live in the age of the reboot, the remake and the sequel. The vast majority of our tentpole films –this year especially– are now based on existing properties. Studios seem completely afraid to take any real risks or to make a movie that tells a complete story without doing a bunch of expository world building or leaving a bunch of loose ends in the name of generating a sequel. All of this, I feel, is holding Hollywood back from making good movies.
Man of Steel isn’t really a good movie. When I reviewed it I felt that it was pretty good but the more I think about it it really just isn’t. Oh, it’s gorgeous looking to be sure and some of the action is pretty thrilling and I really like the explanations of Superman’s powers and a few other things, but there’s a lot to dislike there too including but not limited to most of the story. It really did feel like they had a checklist of things that a Superman movie “needs to have” and wouldn’t rest until they were all shoehorned in (Daily Planet, I’m looking at you).
What’s my point with all this? Well, Man of Steel has only made $600 Million so far. ONLY $600 MILLION and that’s a massive disappointment to a studio trying to chase The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and The Dark Knight’s billion dollar plus totals.
What’s the response to this? It should be “ok, let’s look at the problems in Man of Steel and focus on making a better sequel” but instead it’s “well, I bet it will sell if we put Batman in it“. You see Superman has struggled to generate big box office returns despite being the most iconic character in comic book history. Batman, however, is a license for DC to print money.
I can see why Batman and Superman might be at odds in this new continuity. I can see why batman might even consider Superman a threat. Hell, Superman let most of Metropolis get destroyed in Man of Steel, why wouldn’t Batman at least try to figure out a way to stop him if he comes to Gotham? But I simply don’t believe anymore that this decision was made for “we want to make a good movie” reasons, rather the only conclusion I can come to is that it is for “we want to make a lot of money and Batman is the only proven property we have” reasons.
Cynical? Maybe, but tell me I’m wrong.