With the most iconic comic book characters in their stable and a near stranglehold on pop culture heroes for decades, I’d expect DC comics to have a better success record with film. How hard can it be to take characters everyone loves, and wants to love, and bring them to life on the big screen? Apparently very hard.
DC has had some winners. The modern Superhero film is due to them. They did it right, and it changed film history. But then they did it wrong. And did it wrong again and again and again. For every Superman, there’s a pair of Schumacher Batman films and a Catwoman. When I ranked the X-Men films, I could say that a majority were good. When I ranked the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I could say that all of the films were worth your time and money. With DC…
If the best I can say about a film is that you shouldn’t put in an effort to avoid it, then things are looking pretty dark, and that’s as good a recommendation as I can give to two-thirds of these films. When I put Suicide Squad in the top third, this is not me singing the praises of Deadshot and his crew. It is a condemnation of Superman III and Batman Forever and Jonah Hex and Steel.
But it isn’t all bad, and sometimes you can have some fun with the failures. Come on, with the right crowd and a good deal of alcohol, Catwoman is a hoot.
This is a ranking of Superhero movies, so it doesn’t include other comic book properties like The Losers (which would not rank well) or RED (which would be up near the top). It also doesn’t include the DC Animated films–where DC does much better. I’ve already ranked those here. It does include 35 films, with two of them ranked twice due to different cuts. (Many of the others, including Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Watchmen, have different versions, but while the changes were, in some cases, substantial, they didn’t alter the overall quality enough to warrant separate placement). This ranking has been updated several times.
#37: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Some movies deserve a calm, reasoned examination. This isn’t one of those. This isn’t a movie. This is cultural desecration. If you love Superman, you’ll hate it. If you love hope, fun, joy, life, you’ll hate it. If you love old comics, new comics, superheroes, plots, sense, your brain, you’ll hate it. If, however, you are deep into emo-whining, then maybe this film is for you. It shouldn’t be, but maybe.
If you are hoping for anything from this bleak midwinter agony, it is that the dreariness, dullness, poor characterizations, and gaping plot holes are worth suffering through because BvS offers a true vision of life. Keep hoping. There is nothing realistic here. People do not act this way. They do not speak this way. They do not respond this way. Nothing human is on the screen.
Do I hate this film? No. As a film, it isn’t worth hating. As a piece of pop culture, yes, I hate it.