Critical Firestorm: Batman v. Superman Controversy

There is no question that one of the most anticipated films of the year premiered this past weekend. As with most things these days, any hint of disappointment can catch ablaze and spread like wildfire. We’ve seen this before. Remember the circus that was Fantastic Four. I’m taking about the social media buzz not the actual film. Blame was cast, fingers were pointed and bodies were thrown under buses. That wildfire destroyed the prospect of an entire movie franchise and arguably a director’s career went up in smoke.

batman-v-superman-header-2Fantastic Four showcased the power of a negative fan reaction. The cloud of smoke generated by Batman v. Superman seems similar yet with a key difference. This arson seems to be mostly the handiwork of critics. The average movie-goer seems to be split. There are those who found the lack of focus of the film distasteful, leaving a sour taste in their mouth. They hated the absence of levity in a film that fails to capitalize off of its overly dark seriousness.

Yet there are those who found the film exciting, even refreshing in a genre of movies that sometimes isn’t dark and introspective enough.  Some enjoyed the attempt, even if the execution was less than perfect. But what is kindling such separate reactions. As of today, the critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is a 29% yet the audience score is a 72%. This must be encouraging for the executives at Warner Bros. Even with the bad critic reviews, the audience’s response has been encouraging.

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Of course movies are subjective. They are like paintings in a museum. Everyone can look at the same piece and see something different. The average movie-goer is definitely seeing different things than critics when it comes to the DC cinematic universe. For example, Man of Steel also received a rather lackluster Rotten Tomatoes while the audience mostly enjoyed it. What could cause this discrepancy in opinion?

The DC films are darker in tone and more serious than the Marvel way. Marvel’s films are fun, entertaining and lighthearted. Marvel has produced so many successful films in the genre that they have become the standard bearer of what a superhero movie is. Gone are the days were the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy ruled the scene. DC has modeled its new universe to a similar tone as those films. Ironically, as popular as those films were, critics just don’t seem to be receiving movies with Superman in them the same way.

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Thus this blaze of controversy was sparked by the critics’ inability to adjust to the tone of this universe. Granted, Batman v. Superman wasn’t a great masterpiece either. But does it deserve a score lower than Chappie and in the same ballpark as Fifty Shades of Grey? Really? Yes Batman v. Superman feels like the plot of two films smashed together. Sure, the film takes itself just a little too seriously at times. Sure, there are elements of the plot that feel rushed or not well developed and the theme shifts between several incomplete ideas. But to rate this movie this low simply because it lacks levity and has an unfocused plot at points, does not warrant the need to put it in the same league as Fifty Shades of Grey. I just refuse to believe Batman v. Superman is that bad a film. This firestorm is similar to the heat around Fantastic Four. Normally where there is smoke there’s fire, but in this case, it feels more like a lot of hot air.

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