Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman v. Superman: Zack Snyder's Misogyny Continues (Spoilers Inside)

As I sat in the theatre watching Zack Snyder's latest "interpretation" of the DC Universe there were numerous aspects of the film I disliked. I am not a fan of the slow motion tactics, the intense green screen, which makes things look fake, or the way he says he is taking these characters to the next level or helping them evolve.  I am open to the last piece, but it should hold true to the character.

I am an avid reader of every comic book publisher from DC to IDW.  I have read different writer/artists interpretations of characters.  One of the most recent changes came when Gail Simone left Batgirl, the story took a tonal different and artistic difference when Brendan Fletcher (writer) Cameron Stewart (write, layout), Babs Tarr (artist) and Maris Wicks (colors) took over.  The first time I read the issues from this new team, I had a hard time getting into the new style for Barbara Gordon and her alter ego.  After I let some time pass, I bought both trades, and breezed through Volume 1 and 2 of their work.  I am going off on this tangent because I understand that it can take time to appreciate an artists work and changing interpretation of character.  The truth in the matter is that Fletcher, Stewart, Tarr, and Wicks get Batgirl, they are exploring on a fantastic new level.

Zack Snyder has done the exact opposite with the DC characters, and created a whole new problem for the DC film universe, loads of misogyny in his films.  Let's move past the clear fact that Snyder has no love for Superman, Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice are examples that he has no idea how to craft this character.  When folks say Snyder does a good job with Batman, what they are saying is that Snyder is embracing the dark tone of a character who already lives in this world, and these depths have explored much better by Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton.  One of the biggest problems in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is the way in which the women are represented.

The first woman on screen is Amy Adams who has played Lois Lane in both Man of Steel and now Dawn of Justice.  Adams is embarking on an intense journey, into what appears to be a terrorist cell where she eventually becomes the damsel in distress because the situation goes bad. Superman swoops in, and save the day.  This is one maybe four or five times Lois needs to be saved. My interpretation of this scene is that her boyfriend Clark/Superman is following her, and keeping an eye on her to make sure that she stays safe in this situation.  The film makes you believe that Superman has a sixth sense when Lois is going to be in danger.

What is missing from this Lois Lane is the fire and passion to get the scoop, the fearless journalist, who is just as tough as Superman, but in a different way. BvS has disdain for reporters/journalism.  Perry White talks only in headlines, and seems like a dud, but whip smart Lois is even more problematic.  Snyder does not seem to know how to make her into a quality journalist.  You can argue well she takes she goes deep into the trenches with terrorists and with high level military officials in DC, but Lane is merely poorly placed plot device in the script.  If Snyder is willing to change the tone or motives for Batman and Superman, why not Lois?  Why not make her more than the falling/almost drowning victim.  At one point at the end Lois attempts to grab a spear with Kryptonite to help kill/stop Doomsday, but then ends up trapped under water, and Superman must try to save, once again she is the victim, rather than allowing the character to be something different than the film has put together.

Holly Hunter plays Democratic Senator Finch from Kentucky, and is the most complex woman represented in the film, although that is not saying much.  This character had potential; she represents a powerful woman who is not defined by any of the men present; she also uses logic to rationalize to the role Superman plays in the world.  A logical woman?  Let's make her a means to an end, and blow her up, sounds great.  I wonder if these were to the words bandied around while Chris Terrio and David Goyer were writing this script.  I can't lay all the blame on Snyder, but he is the connecting factor within this DC world.

Gal Gadot enters the film with a silent look, and a brief comment to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne. Gadot is portraying Wonder Woman, and I am not sure if you hear her real name more than once, you do not hear Wonder Woman uttered at all.  Gadot is on screen for probably fifteen minutes and speaks about five lines of dialogue.  Anderson Cooper may have more dialogue than Gadot. Do not get me wrong Gadot is bad ass in this role, and the way they handle the fight sequences with this character are a thing from many comic book fans dreams, but this is the way you introduce this seminal character, with almost silence?

Gadot has a strong presence on screen, but in this over crowded film, they avoided giving her a back story outside of a picture, and I know she is getting her own film, but this felt wasteful. Once again like in all of his other films, Snyder portrays Wonder Woman as one dimensional, namely because she barely speaks.  You get to see Wonder Woman as the bad ass Amazon, and I am all for that, but if you are going to make her integral role to the film, give her more to do (outside of the fighting) than scrolling through previews of future Justice League members on a computer.   Yes this film made me want more of this character, but that's because there is more to Wonder Woman; she is a doctor, and a scientist, and this film turns into something merely visual.

Let's sandwich the victimization of women with Diane Lane's Martha Kent, who like Lois is also used as a plot device, another woman captured.  I get the trope, the hero has to push ahead to save the people he loves most, but this film goes to absurd lengths, especially with Martha and her capture.  I had numerous visceral reactions, which is what Snyder appeared to be going for; he wanted to build up the intensity of the situation, and make you squirm, but this kidnapping went too far.  Snyder apologists will argue realism, but this was unnecessary.

Some will argue, well the film is called Batman v. Superman, and they are correct.  I understand, not every character will be defined, especially in a film this crowded.  The problem is Snyder does not do enough do define the title characters either. His interpretation of Superman is filled with questionable choices, and what appears to be malice toward the character, maybe he agrees with Lex Luthor too much.

Zack Snyder said “Tone, to me, is the number one aspect of a film that I really interested in, We take it heart-attack serious, but at the same time there’s a self awareness to the movie that I think you have to have, in order for the movie to resonate on any kind of second level beyond just ‘Oh look, these two superheroes are fighting and that’s cool."  Well the tone he set is that women are either victims, or do not speak. Bravo Mr. Snyder, I read your message loud and clear.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Spot on. Not only was the movie tone deaf to the influence the women had in the film, giving them no credit for being the only rational characters, but it was as far away from self-aware on the issue as it gets. "I thought she was with you." Not even Wonder Woman can show up to the party without an escort. The women are the moral compass, the problem-solvers, and the most in control of their powers (except Lois who can't stay on safe terrain for twelve minutes) but without getting any credit for it because these two dudes are making a mess of everything and still end up taking all the glory.

If these women weren't in the film, the world would have been destroyed--if the men weren't in the film, the world would not have needed saving. Batman v. Superman, what was the contest? Which has the bigger ego? Which plays the biggest pawn?

A perfect representation of how misogynistic the world really is... without any consciousness or intention. And outside the sexism, the movie was convoluted, confusing, over-reaching, and Lex Luthor's motivation in relation to his character development was the only one that made sense in the whole movie!