Up to Part 3 now and boy is this one a doozy. If Part 2 had me at my most calm and analytic, this part has me at my most raging and infuriated. Because this part covers what, for me, is probably the worst moment in the movie. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be what you’re expecting.
Now let’s get right back in.
Spoiler Warning (Obviously)
Now, before I really start going with this part, I should catch up on a plot thread I’ve somewhat neglected in these last few scenes. (Because, quite frankly, I’ve had enough trouble keeping up with the ‘main’ plots as it is). Remember that legless employee I mentioned back in Part 1, who vandalised the Superman Statue with a crappy religious metaphor? Well, he’s had his bail posted by Lex Luthor who offers him a new electronic wheelchair for totally not suspicious purposes. He also recommends he goes to Senator Finch and ask to attend the hearing against Superman. Finch agrees to let him in because the plot says so. I really don’t think there was any serious reasoning behind that guy being there. He wasn’t acting as a witness or anything and is technically still under criminal charges. He’s only there because the plot needs everyone to act like idiots and let him in without bothering to check his wheelchair.
But anyway, this leads us to the Courtroom scene and the point, for me, where this movie finally fully tipped into the abyss of terrible (albeit not for the reasons you might expect.) But I’ll get to that. First, let’s cover what actually happens. Superman turns up for the hearing about his role in the world and for a moment it looks like we may have an interesting scene going. Perhaps we could finally actually delve into some of the philosophical issues around Superman for once rather than just paying lip service to them. Maybe we could have a bit reasoned debate and back and forth where both sides make good points. Maybe Superman could give one of his classic hope-filled speeches about his role in the world and expectations for humanity. It’s a little odd that Lex isn’t here, but no matter, we can still- Wait a minute… What’s that on Finch’s desk…?
“Hello darkness, my old friend.”
Yes. The jar of piss was a plot point. A hilarious, ridiculous plot point that made me cackle like a maniac for a solid minute. Admittedly, it’s also a largely unnecessary plot point since the only reason Eisenberg put it there was to troll Senator Finch, but it’s so hilarious for entirely the wrong reasons. Because we’re laughing at Luthor here, not laughing with him. We’re laughing at the fact that he’s so fucked up he thought this would be a sinister move. When the judge in the Dark Knight found a joker card among her files, that was sinister. This was comical. But the most amazing thing about it? Holly Hunter actually manages to sell the scene as tense. I’ll admit, I have no idea how the character’s brain went from jar-of-piss to bomb/serious threat, but Hunter manages to create a genuine sense of being thrown off balance and helps give the impending feeling that something is about to go wrong. Which is incredible since it’s, again, revolving around a jar of piss. Seriously, give that woman an Oscar. She deserved it.
“Or give it to the jar of piss. Both are worthy.”
Anyway, the bomb in Legless Employee’s wheelchair goes off and blows up the entire courthouse. Now, if you were Superman and a bomb had suddenly gone off and killed everyone in the room with you, what sort of expression do you think you’d wear? Surprised? Horrified? Devastated that you couldn’t save anyone? Well, this movie went with ‘bored and/or mildly inconvenienced’. Seriously, I am blown away with how expressionless Cavill is in this scene. It’s not like the guy can’t act, I’ve seen him do great in Man from UNCLE, but who thought that face was a good fit? He reacts to the sudden and violent deaths of everyone around him like someone did a fart and he’d just smelt it.
Now, when this plot twist first happened, I genuinely thought it was a fantastic move by Lex and the writers. A brilliant scheme to turn the world against Superman and drive him into a corner. Unfortunately, that reaction was based on one critically false assumption. I assumed Superman would be blamed for the explosion. I mean, there”s no reason to assume he wouldn’t be. It happened shortly after he arrived, in the middle of a hearing about whether he’s out of control. Obviously he got a result he didn’t like and destroyed the hearing in revenge. That’s what I assumed people would think happened. But no. Practically next scene it is announced on the news that Legless Employee is the prime suspect and Superman is considered mostly innocent (at least until he fails to turn up because he’s busy wangsting). In the theatre, I genuinely had to wonder for a moment as to whether I’d misheard that because it seemed so wrong. But I hadn’t. And this leads me to my next question which I’m going to ask in the calmest, politest, most relaxed way possible.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF ANY OF THAT?
I’m serious. This grand masterstroke of Lex’s plan amounts to fucking nothing. The only effect is has on Superman is to make him mopey. Which he was already and quickly gets over. The only effect it has on Batman is to make him hate Superman. Which he did already and would’ve probably fought him regardless. It has zero effect on any other characters or plotlines. (And the logic behind it ‘pushing Batman over the edge’ is really stupid as well. Is he really going to be mad at Superman for the jerkass ex-employee who apparently sent him threatening messages (despite having no reason to hate Bruce) seemingly suicide bombing a building full of innocent people? How is that Supes’s fault?) Even from Lex’s point of view, this plan achieves nothing. The only reason it in any way turned people against Superman is because of Superman’s own actions and decision to stay away from people. A decision which made so little sense, character-wise, I can’t seriously believe for a moment that Lex foresaw it. Step Two of Lex Luthor’s grand master plan, everyone! It achieved absolutely nothing! And, even if Lex had somehow forseen Supes choosing to be emo, it’s still entirely pointless to the whole movie since Supes staying away and the world kinda-sorta turning against him has no absolutely impact on the final conflict. It’s the most infuriatingly pointless thing in the movie.
But Malcolm, I hear you cry, you’ve covered a lot of pointless plotlines in this movie before. What makes this one so rage-inducing? The answer is that, more than any other plotline, this Courtroom scene had a lot building up to it. And I mean a lot. Remember that list of plot threads I posted back in Part 1? Let’s bring that back for a second.
- Senator Finch holding a hearing on Superman’s actions
- Luthor framing Clark for the collateral in the Africa incident
- Luthor’s attempting to ship Kryptonite into the country
- Luthor’s plot to create Doomsday from Zod’s body
- Clark investigating the Batman
- Lois investigating the bullet from the fallout in Africa
- Batman investigating Lex
- Legless Employee vandalising shit
See those that I’ve bolded? Those were the plotlines whose existence was solely there to lead into that Courtroom scene (or in the Lois/bullet case, was an already pointless plotline that sprang from a scene whose only point was to lead to the Courthouse). Those plotlines have no other purpose in the movie. None. They change nothing else in the movie. They add nothing else to the movie. They were only there to bring us to this Courtroom scene, which as I’ve already established, ultimately had no point. So effectively, almost half the movie up until to now had no point. Let me re-emphasis. ALMOST. HALF. THE. FUCKING. MOVIE. HAD. NO. POINT!
Pointless Scene Counter: ERROR
No wonder I feel myself become so utterly flabbergasted when people claim the 3-hour Directors Cut will fix the problems with this film. Expanding slightly on a handful scenes isn’t going to save anything when nearly half of the entire first act (and significant portions of the second) build up to absolutely nothing. And it’s not like they were short on content or anything. This movie is over 2h30m. You could shave a whole hour off that and still have a feature length movie. And there was other shit you should’ve been exploring instead! I’ve brought it up a number of times now that this movie seemed dedicated to setting up everything except Batman v Superman. Well, one of the biggest things they were setting up, in place of that, was this completely pointless Courtroom plot thread. And since I’ve apparently broken the Pointless Scene Counter, let’s play a game instead and count all the more interesting things this movie could’ve been setting up in that screentime.
- Superman and Batman interaction and development
- Clark and Lex interaction and development
- Clark and Lois interaction and development
- Lex’s motive for hating Superman
- Clark and Lois investigating Lexcorp
- The Fallout of MoS’s climax
- Superman’s current place in the world
- Superman’s character
- Batman’s character
- Wonder Woman, period
- Any of the hundreds of philosophical ideas about Superman that this movie or MoS only gave lip service to
- Batman v Superman
- Lex Luthor pissing in a jar
But no. Snyder just haaaaad to go for this plot thread. This useless plot thread that added nothing, did nothing and achieved nothing except to make my brain melt out of my ears. Plus it killed off Mercy Graves, who was like the hottest thing in this movie.
“Oh Mercy, I don’t care that you barely got any lines. That still made you a better character than most in this movie.”
Now do you understand why I hated this moment so much? People may complain about Batman murdering people or Superman being killed or Eisenberg’s Luthor or a billion other criticisms that could validly be considered the worst part of the movie. But for me, it’s this. The moment where almost half of what we’ve sat through so far has become completely irrelevant and pointless. Even Man of Steel, for all its many many faults, was not this bad. At least it actually told a coherent, albeit terrible, origin story. At least I could recognise the plot progression and at least most of the scenes had a point. I can not begin to say the same about this. Even movies like Fan4stic had more focused storytelling and that movie was missing its entire second act! But apparently, that wasn’t good enough for this movie. This movie was determined to waste as much of our time as possible. So Grand fucking job, Zack Snyder. Thou truly art a king among storytellers.
*deep sigh* Alright, that took a lot out of me. I need something now to take the edge off my anger and calm me down. What’s up next?
“…Can we go back to the jar of piss, please?”
So yeah. Pa Kent returns as a spirit vision thingy that may or may not be just a figment of Clark’s imagination. And who knows, maybe this is their grand attempt to redeem Pa Kent from his controversial and strongly disliked portrayal in MoS? This is the perfect chance to do it. Clark is at his lowest, most doubt-filled point. All Pa Kent needs to do is give him a good pep talk and confirm to him that being a hero is the right thing to do. And bingo, he’s straight back to being the beloved father figure of one of the most moral Superheroes out there. Simple, right? So very, utterly simple. So simple that I might as well take it for completely for granted that even Snyder would get this right and-
Pa Kent: “Hey Clark, one time I tried to be a hero by diverting a river away from my farm, but instead I caused my neighbour’s horses to drown. Could’ve just diverted the river away from my neighbour’s farm as well, but I wanted you to know that saving other people just makes things worse and is bad. Peace out.” *disappears into a tornado*
…..Huh. Well, at least Pa Kent’s dickishness is consistent across both movies.
“YOU HAD ONE JOB! ONE FUCKING JOB!”
Alright, I’ve heard some interpretation around the internet that what Pa Kent was trying to teach Clark with that story was that actions, even heroic ones, have consequences. Which is a perfectly reasonable and interesting message to teach to Superman. Unfortunately, they forgot to add the bit on at the end where Pa Kent tells Clark he should be a hero anyway! As it is, Pa Kent is only telling Clark a story about how being a hero is a horrible idea and makes things worse. As such, especially when you consider his ‘maybe let schoolchildren drown’ persona from the last movie, it largely just comes off as him indirectly telling Clark to stop being a hero. And, let’s also point out, this scene does absolutely nothing to help to Clark snap out of his emo funk. Certainly, the next time we see him, he’s being Superman again, but it really doesn’t seem like it’s because of this scene. There’s no big revelation Pa Kent helps Clark though. It seems like he’s just there to be a dick. In fact, one could almost say this entire scene was completely pointle-ARGDSADFN!
Pointless Scene Counter: *silently sobs*
Anyway, back with Batman and he’s decided that it’s finally time to take down Superman. Not because of Metropolis’s destruction, Supes threatening him or the Knightmare or anything relatively sensible. But because Legless Employee suicide-bombed a bunch of innocent people and that somehow makes him worth avenging. Sigh. Anyway, he steals Lex’s Kryptonite offscreen, (making sure to be polite enough to leave an obvious batarang calling card so everyone knows it’s him) and goes on his big, pre-fight training montage. Which largely consists of him beating up a tire like it murdered his fucking parents.
Now, I’ll be honest, I kind of assumed a training montage of Batman preparing to fight Superman would be focused on the mental rather than the physical. You know, creating gadgets and shit, exploring that intellect and tactical knowledge that makes Batman such a tough foe. I don’t think Bruce being a little bit more in-shape than usual is going to help him against a guy who can punch him into fucking orbit. Sure, he does do a bit of a gadgeteering with creating some Kryptonite weapons, but I would’ve liked to see him work on stuff like those sonic devices as well. Or maybe some more unique plots or back-up plans that’ll get a satisfying payoff during the fight. But then again, apparently this movie really doesn’t want to spend any more time than it has to setting up its own titular fight.
That said, it’s good to see we’re finally starting to get a bit of solid momentum going as we head towards the titular fight. Now that the audience is really starting to feel pumped from Batman’s training montage, it’s only natural that Zack Snyder would take advantage of that enthusiasm and build it up even more by moving to a scene that builds up the fight even closer, right? Right? Ri- Why do I even pretend anymore?
“Did someone say ‘pointless tangent’?
Yes, this was the point where Snyder thought it would be good to put another Wonder Woman tease. This. Directly after Bats goes on his big training montage, pumping himself up to fight Superman, he thought now would be a good time to cut to a completely unrelated plot thread. Did… Did you not want to direct Batman v Superman, Snyder? Did you genuinely only want to make MoS 2 or something but the studio forced you into it? Because it’s just getting ridiculous how much you’re sabotaging the fight that’s supposed to be the entire point of this movie! And it’s not even the Justice League cameo scene that’s interrupting here. It’s just a picture of Wonder Woman. A picture that could easily have slotted into said cameo scene. You broke the narrative momentum you had going for this?
Okay, I’m really done for now. I need a break. But before I go, I want to talk about something I heard someone say about this film which just blew my mind. And it’s this.
Batman could’ve easily been written out of this movie.
Seriously, if you think about it, it’s true. Effectively, the main plot thread in this movie is Lex attempting to kill Superman, right? First by kidnapping Martha, then by creating Doomsday, etc etc. That’s the main climax, that’s what kills Superman and the plot threads related to it are the only ones that really push the story forward. But think about it. Before the climax, what does Batman have to do with that plot? Nothing. He doesn’t investigate Lex’s attempts to kidnap Martha/create Doomsday. He doesn’t interfere with them. He’s investigating Lex but only for the purpose of obtaining the Kryptonite (which ultimately doesn’t actually feature into Lex’s plans to kill Supes). Every one of his subplots are largely rendered pointless by the climax. And even in the climax, his only major achievements are creating the Kryptonite spear and rescuing Martha. Both of which could’ve probably been done by other characters. Effectively, despite all the screentime dedicated to him, it really wouldn’t have taken all that much to write the Dark Knight out completely.
Let that sink in for a moment. In Batman v Superman, Batman could’ve been easily written out without much problem.
Food for thought.
Anyway, join me next time as we finally get to the titular fight, go on even more misplaced Justice League tangents and we get to learn the full extent of one of the worst supervillain plans in history.