Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Few Thoughts on an Untitled Batman/Superman Film

DC has put out 22 films released in the theaters since the 60s. Of those 22, 14 of them were either Batman or Superman films. Only two featured female protagonists (unless you count the one woman in Watchmen against the three [or was it four?] main men) and both of those were terrible (Supergirl and Catwoman if you were curious). The vast majority of the others were pretty terrible too. Watchmen is always up for debate on whether that's a good film or not, but pretty much everything else is throwaway or not throwaway purely for the camp and nostalgia.

My point to all this, I'm bored.

I love Batman. He was my first introduction into the superhero world and I will always love him for it. But I'm bored with him. There are 8 live action Batman films. I'd say half of them are very good movies, but that in and of itself doesn't warrant more Batman. Then there's Superman. We have... six(?) Superman movies, fewer of those are good, but that's in part because I never was a fan of Superman. Meaning I was already bored with him. 

Because I'm bored, I just don't care very much. When Ben Afleck was announced as playing Batman, my response was, "meh. Call me when they make a Wonder Woman movie."

Enter the convoluted mess that I'm 80% sure the Batman/Superman film will be.

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all confirmed to appear. Rumors are floating around that The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Doomsday, Nightwing, Lex Luthor, and Metallo will appear. Even if only half of those characters turn out for the movie, that's still a lot of unknown characters. And even if the Justice League members are only showing up briefly to introduce them and a Justice League movie, that's still a lot of people/aliens/gods to introduce in one movie. I am both interested and worried to see how, or rather if, they pull this off. Given a good script, I'm sure it could be done with the right director. But I don't have much confidence in either Goyer or Snyder. Especially Snyder.

And that is why I'm concerned for Wonder Woman.

That's right, gentle readers. Wonder Woman has been cast.

Say hello to our own beloved Amazon: Gal Gadot.

I don't have major problems with Gadot because I've learned not to judge an actor in a specific role until I've seen them play that role. Granted, my first instinct when I heard the news was to groan, but taking a step back, I remember what I thought when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker or with the entire cast of The Last Airbender. Okay, so I was right on that last one, but it still boggles my mind that I thought Crispin Glover would be a better Joker than Heath Ledger. Anyway, with Gadot, I'm holding back judgement of her performance until I see it. I don't think it was the best pick (any of the actors I previously mentioned, specifically Jaimie Alexander, duh!), but she could surprise me. 

That being said, I do want to cover the big controversy because I'm still a geek and I still feel very strongly about these things and I'm a feminist geek, which mean I automatically feel extra strong about Wonder Woman. Yes, I do think she's too skinny to play Wonder Woman. 

I know people have said that it doesn't matter because Diana's powers are mystical so her physical build doesn't matter, but no one says that about Superman. How would you feel, fanboys, if they cast a Topher Grace or Matt Smith for Superman? Actually, fanboys I'm sure are by and large on my side, but still. You get what I mean. And granted, people can bulk up for a role, but given the time frame and the fact that Gadot is almost painfully skinny (she was a model, after all), I don't know how feasible that is for her. And I know as a feminist I shouldn't be body shaming her, but as a feminist I would also love to see different shapes other than skinny on the big screen. Especially Wonder Woman.

Now back to the big reason I'm concerned for Wonder Woman: the writing.

For a moment, let's forget about both Goyer's and Snyder's past writing. Pretend Sucker Punch didn't happen and that The Dark Knight Rises had a plot that made sense. Let's just look at this Batman/Superman film. 

I already talked about the ridiculous number of really big characters, many of whom have unfamiliar and crazy backgrounds, so I'll just say that the only reason Avengers worked is because we had been introduced to every single character with a speaking role in another movie. That is, besides the alien that was played by Alexis Denisof, Maria Hill, and the shadowy council that decides to drop a nuclear bomb on New York. Now, I'd say by and large that people are more familiar with the Justice League characters than Avengers characters, but you still need to introduce them. Not just to audience members who are unfamiliar with them, but for the sake of a cohesive story. There's just so many people to do that with in this movie! 

My other big concern is how they're going to use Wonder Woman in this or any other movie that is not her own. Hollywood has gotten into a bad habit of making their Strong Female Characters solely for the male gaze. If you don't know what the male gaze is but think it sounds a bit creepy, you're on the right track. It's basically the idea that the men are the watchers (objectifiers) and the women are the watched (objectified).

The (tired) shot above gives us a great look at her butt and her boobs!

A perfect example of this is Gadot's character in the Fast and Furious movies. I don't dislike her character, but she isn't presented as a character on her own, she's presented as a character men want to boff. She's sexy, she likes sex, she likes cars, and she knows her way around a gun. None of these things is a bad trait, but that's all she is. She is a less developed version of the men in the movie, there for the sole purpose of getting men all hot and bothered (I'm not saying it works, I'm saying that's what the filmmakers/studio think makes them money). 

I have enough faith in most filmmakers (anyone besides Michael Bay, really) to not go this far with Wonder Woman. As terrible as his prior female characters have been, I don't see Snyder having Diana walk away from the camera for that great ass shot and briefly look back with a knowing smile as Batman and Superman ogle her. But she could very easily become a side kick simply because she is a woman. Now, I don't think this always happens intentionally, but sexism and gender roles are so ingrained in our society that it's really difficult to shake that off without consciously trying to do so. Even when you try to it's hard. Sucker Punch was apparently Snyder's attempt at making an entire movie with a feminist subtext and look how that turned out. 

So please, Zack and all of you suits down at Warner Bros. that wanted Sandra Bullock's character to be a man because you didn't think Gravity would make money. Make sure your Diana is more along the lines of this:

not this:

Or maybe this:

as opposed to this:

You could even do this:

instead of this: 

And please, for the love of all that is holy, make her this: 

not this:

Got it?