It seems only fitting that the article I write about the movie with the ridiculously long title should have an even longer title. In two days Warner Bros. releases Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice upon the world and they’ll try to get a bigger cut of that sweet, sweet Marvel money. The question is, will this thing be any good at all? Or should everybody stay home and watch season 2 of Daredevil again? My prediction, definitely the latter, but to break down why I’m going to need an imaginary person to interview me, someone who understands complex systems. Hanna may have a second personality floating around in her brain for this sort of thing but I don’t. I need someone who knows what it’s like to go off to have a nice weekend and fear that everything’s going to go wrong.
I’ll be right back.
[The next day in an office at the University of Texas at Austin I find myself sitting across from Ian Malcolm, mathematics professor and survivor of Jurassic Park. He has taken the only chair in the room and I find myself sitting on a stack of amazon boxes. Every other available surface is covered.]
Malcolm: If you ah, want I could… clear off some space.
Brad: No, no that’s okay, have to train up for the movie. I’m sure it’ll be more uncomfortable than this.
Malcolm: I see. Well, what I don’t see is why you wanted to talk to, uh, the world’s greatest Chaotician about a movie.
Brad: I’m pretty sure you made that term up. Also since you’re a figment of my imagination it’s convenient. But I guess the real reason is that speech you gave about Jurassic Park before you went on the ride. Would you mind reading it for me?
Malcolm: Sure um, ‘I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it.’
Brad: So, while you were using that to talk about genetics, do you see how that idea could apply to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?
Malcolm: I uh, suppose so. I mean Marvel spent 4 years slowly building to the first Avengers movie but it seems like DC/Warner Bros.wants to just jump ahead to Justice League even though they’ve in no way earned it.
Brad: Exactly! So instead of taking their time and making characters that everyone enjoys and wants to see on the screen, they’ve doubled down on mediocre performances and Man of Steel which most people did not enjoy.
Malcolm: Huh..it seems, uh like Man of Steel did make money though four hundred, um, million dollars worth.
Brad: Good point. Dr. Malcolm, what did you think of Amazing Spider-Man 2?
Malcolm: Um, that was the one with the mechanized rhino suit and blue Jamie Foxx, yes?
Brad: That’s the one.
Malcolm: I…that was one of the few times I wished the Dinosaurs had, um, eaten me.
Brad: I agree, would it surprise you to know that Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the same rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and made more money. Yet Sony deemed Amazing Spider-Man 2 a miserable failure, while Warner Bros. thinks Man of Steel was a fantastic success?
Malcolm: Worthy of making a… sequel. This, uh, might be worth investigating. It’ll be the first time I’ve done actual, um, Chaos Theory work in…10 years?
Brad: That does not surprise me at all. Let’s see what kind of predictions we can make.
[He pulls out a battered laptop running Windows 98 and we set to work. We watch the trailers, plug them into Malcolm’s personal Chaos Theory models which is to say I have no idea how accurate these will be. I may as well just have guessed.]
Prediction 1: The movie will be way too long, and make no sense.
Malcolm: Given the uh, number of characters and plot points shown in trailers or alluded to by cast and crew it is highly unlikely that any given plot point can be given a significant amount of time, even in 151 minutes, the current projected running time.
Brad: They’ve already shown not only Batman and Superman, but they have to introduce Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, a new version of Alfred and Doomsday. They have to spend time at the Daily Planet, The Kent family farm, Bruce Wayne’s bachelor pad in Metropolis, have a flashback sequence to Bruce’s parents getting shot, not to mention the freaky dream sequence that looks like Mad Max. And that’s not even including introducing Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. Dividing time equally between all of these things would give you 13 minutes per thing total screen time. And you know all of that time will get eaten by action scenes and people staring at Superman with their hands out, which could take about 45 minutes worth of the film. That leaves each plot element only 8 minutes. Therefore, and this is rather consistent with Snyder’s recent track record, the plot will be incoherent.
Prediction 2: The action scenes will be long and tedious.
Malcolm: I can only assume if you uh liked the action scenes in Man of Steel you’ll probably like these too.
Brad: If however Man of Steel made you wonder how so many action scenes could seem like watching paint dry, this will be more of the same. Zach Snyder can’t help but throw CGI at everything possible. Look for so much stuff to be flying around you can’t tell who’s fighting who.
Prediction 3: Batman will be wrong, Superman, wronger.
Malcolm: So it appears that part of the essential nature of, uh Superman is that he doesn’t kill people, And in the last movie they had him kill the villain. Also uh, they seemed to have Pa Kent saying that Superman should look out for himself instead of saving people.
Brad: So it seems that this same problem might extend to Batman. David S. Goyer did write The Dark Knight, but he also wrote The Dark Knight Rises so who knows which one might show up? The main problem seems to be that they want to take gritty, bitter, broken Frank Miller Batman and have him decide to join the Justice League at the end of this. How is that going to work? And considering that few people have successfully written Superman, and Goyer is not one of them, Superman will undoubtedly be off.
Prediction 4: Lex Luthor will go bald and it will be Superman’s fault.
Malcolm: It appears that they’ve given Jesse Eisenberg a uh, ridiculous hairpiece. If they weren’t going to make him bald in the film, they would not have done so.
Brad: Right. Luthor is definitely going to lose his hair in the film1, and because apparently bald people don’t just exist in the DC Universe it will happen in some kind of event that Luthor can blame on Superman. Because that’s the reason Luthor hates Superman. Think I’m crazy? It’s in the comic.
Not to mention that both Lois & Clark and Smallville used this ridiculous freakin’ trope. Gene Hackman just flat out refused to be bald in the first Superman movie. Maybe next time they remake Superman we can finally get around this stupid thing.
Prediction 5: If the movie fails, Warner Bros. will learn nothing.
Malcolm: The uh people at Warner Bros. still think Man of Steel is an unqualified success. They’ve come out to say that anything less than a billion dollars will be considered a failure. So if it doesn’t meet their standards, they will fail to realize it’s because they kept the same team of filmmakers and added a whole lot of Studio mandated problems.
Brad: If this fails it’s most likely going to be because suddenly the Batman vs. Superman movie had to have Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, as well as Doomsday, Lex Luthor and (apparently) a preview of Darkseid. If this goes south, and it’s likely to, Warner Bros. will most likely blame Zach Snyder, who didn’t really get to make the movie he’d originally intended. They pumped so much extra into the title they had to ditch the ‘S’ in vs.
Malcolm: So, was this um, helpful at all? I don’t really know a whole lot about movies.
Brad: It’s fine it’s the internet, most people don’t even bother to ask a fictional scientist. Plus we went to as much effort as they did making the movie. So good luck everyone, enjoy Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and remember, once you get home Daredevil is back on Netflix, and it’s only a little over a month til CIvil War.