Next time they shine your light in the sky, don't go to it.

Next time they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it.

 

So many of us come wired with a very stubborn character stripe that believes we know what’s right. It comes with a demand that questions be answered, and people get held accountable. Often though, such positions are based on far more than the matter at-hand. Instead, what happens is past experiences become hard to let go of, and unrest becomes animosity. In short, what we end up acting on is less about what’s right, and more about what we want.

No person is immune. No superhero either.

DAWN OF JUSTICE begins with a different perspective of the final moments from MAN OF STEEL. This time we are on the ground, following Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he suppresses shock and awe while watching a city fall around him, and people he cares about die. It’s clear this battle in the skies between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) will not stand in the eyes of the man who is secretly The Dark Knight of Gotham.

We then fast-forward 18 months. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is chasing a story of African warlords when a firefight breaks out. Superman’s intervention once again appears to cost lives. Back in Metropolis, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is pressing a US Senator (Holly Hunter) to make The Last Son of Krypton answer for his sins, and stand to be judged. Oh, and while she’s at it, she should allow Lex unprecedented access to Kryptonian artifacts recovered from Zod and Superman’s showdown.

Meanwhile, Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent is interested in news of the uptick in vigilante activity  across the bay in Gotham City. He wonders why it is The Batman is allowed to dish out violent justice unchecked, and even confronts billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne about the incidents. Wayne, unsurprisingly, shrugs him off.

On the sidelines through all of this, a woman named Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is watching them all…trying to get valuable information back from Lex, trying to learn more about other people with powers around the world, and try to keep these silly boys from destroying the whole damned world with their teeny brains and big…egos.

 

Wonder Woman in DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

It’s no co-incidence that this film begins with a shift in perspective. Time and again in a film of this ilk, the point-of-view sticks with the combatants. Over the last few years, though, we have found ourselves more and more obsessed with the effect on the lives of the people around them. We are less concerned with the millions saved, and increasingly consumed with the hundreds lost. We have become a twisted version of our parents looking at the 96% grade at the top of our math test and asking “What happened to the other four percent?”

What happened – as DAWN OF JUSTICE takes great pains to point out – is that extra 4% got angry…got greedy…got arrogant. This “4%” – the ones feeling like the world (or their movies) owed them something – they took it upon themselves to settle accounts. Like so many of us, people like Bruce, Lex, the government, and one particular victim from Metropolis took a bad situation and made it worse. They took the lead without regard for any perspective other than their own. They thought they knew what was best for the world, what would “fix it”, what “it needed”.

In short, they didn’t stop to think. They acted incredibly impulsive, and in the end only added to the chaos.

This line of thinking supposes that every singular movement must be all things to all people. When we look at the core dichotomy that has brought this film upon us, we see two men who are both looked upon as saviours of their cities. One descends from the sun; one rises from the shadows. They save countless lives and yet their approach to the problem at-hand couldn’t be more different (not even getting into the fact that they are about to bring several others into the fray, with several other methods). Is it even remotely possible that they were ever going to see eye-to-eye?

Here’s a better question: does it even matter? I don’t ask that to suggest that this film comes without need or meaning, more to ask if it is necessary that we all agree on one way to solve a problem…or approach a blockbuster?

The funny thing about comic books is the way they have often reflected society in North America at the time they were brought to life. So during times of great unrest – like the Civil Rights era, or Post-9/11 America – our heroes and villains were drawn into stories and scenes that reflected the lives of the audience they were speaking to. Is it possible then, that comic book movies likewise reflect what is going on in moviegoers minds? Is it possible that a film that seems schizophrenic, grumpy, self-righteous, and cacophonous is in-fact a comment on the people who go and the people who discuss them?

 

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