Many of you may not know this, but I consider myself a DC guy. You may not know it because of how much coverage I have given the MCU as of late. The truth is, there is just a lot more going on there right now than in the DC Universe, and I still enjoy what Marvel is doing, and I am hoping that somehow DC will pull it off just as well. Not only am I a DC guy, but my favorite is Superman. He has been my favorite for pretty much all of my life. I went through a phase in High school where I wore nothing but Superman shirts. I was, and, to a lesser degree, still am, obsessed with Superman. I also like some of the more human DC characters, my second favorite being a tie really between Green Arrow and Nightwing. Superman has always been my go to though. For the most part, I enjoyed Man of Steel, and I am hoping that Dawn of Justice will be a great launching vehicle for Justice League. That being said, there was just something off in the Man of Steel film that just didn’t feel absolutely right. It wasn’t that he broke Zod’s neck (Superman also kills Zod in Superman II, so it’s not like there isn’t a precedent set here), or that he just stood by and did nothing while a tornado killed his adoptive father (I do still claim that Superman would have saved him, no way would he just sit there and watch him die). There has always just been something off with the film, and I feel the same way when I watch the trailer for Dawn of Justice. I couldn’t explain until I saw this video on YouTube, released on 4/21, and it put into words what I think my real issue is with the latest version of Superman. Check out the video:
I watched that, and it was like something clicked. That is what felt off. The film looked and felt like one of the Dark Knight films. I know that other people have talked about that before, but I guess it never really resonated for me until I watched this video. Superman shouldn’t feel dark and gritty. I get that they wanted to give the character an edge, but this just doesn’t work with Superman. Watching the Man of Steel has always felt really heavy and laborious for me, and I think the darkness of the film may be why.
I get that part of the plan was to create a continuous look and feel for the DC movies, but there are other ways to do it. I have read a great number of comics in my life, not as many as some, and probably too many if you ask my wife. I have always thought that Batman sounds like an intriguing character, and he is, of course, just massively popular. That being said, I have never been able to get into his books. Why? They are so dark. I just don’t like it. Some people go for that thing, and that’s fine. I realize I am being purely subjective here. This was my big complaint with the new Daredevil series. It was good, well written, for the most part, well acted. It was just too dark for me. That is what it feels like for me when I read a Batman title. It is really dark.
And it’s not just that the character himself is dark. The whole Batman world is dark. I am still unclear on whether the sun ever shines in Gotham City. I don’t think I have ever seen it be daylight in any of the comics or movies. It is night-time all the time. Not just night-time, but middle of the night, pitch black, night-time (this is an exaggeration to make a point. Please do not respond with instances from the films or comics of daylight in Gotham). The villains are darker. In the way the look, and in the fact that hey are all psychopathic, homicidal, maniacs. The whole Batman world is littered with these folks, and they are all dark, bad news. That is the world that Batman exists in, a world that Tim Burton successfully brought to the big screen, and Christopher Nolan perfected it.
By contrast, there is nothing dark about Superman, or the world he lives in. I have always felt that Superman and Batman have been opposites in some ways. One big way is that Batman has worked hard to become darker and scarier than his opponents, dropping down to their level in some ways, and sometimes even lower. Superman has always worked hard to be that beacon of hope. I know that makes him cheesier than Batman, but when you are more powerful than everyone on Earth combined, then you can afford a little cheese. Besides, how scary would it be for the world if Superman had gone the Batman route? That would be terrifying.
Here’s the crazy thing, though: Both of these characters have been like this for a long time, and they have both successfully lived in the same universe for a long time. There is no reason it can’t work like that in the movies. In fact it would be a nice contrast, a good juxtaposition. It would demonstrate how different the two of them are, even though they are on the same side. That contrast works really well, Superman in his bold primary colors flying across a blue sky, sun behind him, and Batman in his dark grey and blacks, hidden in the shadows. It is a contrast that has worked for years in the comics and could work on film too, if they went for it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. Looking at the new trailer for Dawn of Justice, it looks like we are getting more of the same. It just feels so dark and heavy and depressing, compared to what we are getting from Marvel. I saw someone post that this is because DC has always been a lot darker than Marvel generally speaking. I don’t think this is true. There are plenty of dark and light comics on either side. Just like both exist in the real world. Right now, though, one might think that’s the case because that is what we are getting in the theaters. Here’s hoping that what we have seen so far from Dawn of Justice is not a good indicator of everything we will see in the film. Here’s hoping they choose to work that contrast between Batman and Superman instead of forcing Superman into a dark, gritty role. One can always hope, right?