Batman Vs. Superman.

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batman vs supermanAre you ready for it? I’ve sort of warmed up to the idea.

The previous film, The Man of Steel, left a lot of people shaking their heads. It had many great moments. Lois figuring out who Superman was before he ever joined the Daily Planet was a fantastic change from the comics, and was a huge step forward for the character of Lois Lane. I really liked a lot of the flashback scenes. But then there was the sheer level of devastation in the movie. It didn’t line up with over seven decades of Superman comics, and who we knew Superman to be as a person. Sure superheroes knock things over in movies, but the entire city of Metropolis had to have been destroyed in this film. What is left to protect when your city is a smoldering hole in the ground?

And why did he wait until after it was a hole in the ground to stop General Zod by killing him? An entire city and countless lives being destroyed difficult to swallow. Superman not stopping Zod by any means necessary until he’s about to kill a single innocent family? That may be even more difficult. Though, Superman does kill Zod in the comics to stop him from continuing his death and destruction, there’s something about this presentation that doesn’t ring true.

Superman has always been the light to Batman’s dark and gritty nature. All of DC Comics’ other characters fell in between. Hal Jordan the Green Lantern is an intergalactic policeman, the Flash fights a bunch of guys with gimmicks who, deep down, aren’t bad at heart.

Superman sees the best in others. He doesn’t do for people what they can do for themselves, or make decisions for them. He believes in their human dignity, and the sanctity of life. While he has the powers of a god, and we are lucky that he is a god  on our side (unlike Zod, or Marvel’s Loki), he doesn’t flaunt it. He tries to do the right thing. He isn’t enured or corrupted by the ugliness he has faced, and he shows people a better way, just by being himself and doing good in the world. That’s the Superman I grew up with. A guy from Kansas, just trying to do the right thing. And he can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the shameless promotion of library materials. Among all the other graphic novels you can check out featuring Superman, give the Superman Archive Editions a shot, and see Superman’s grand history at work. Or take a look at Superman For All Seasons, both a classic, and a modern retelling of Superman’s coming of age and decision to become the person comic readers know him as. Type “Superman” into the search block on our catalog page. Dozens of stories will pop up.

So in this new movie, long-retired Bruce Wayne sees the destruction done by two alien gods fighting it out over a city. In fact, he appears to be in the midst of the destruction. What is a guy to do?

Batman is the dark to Superman’s light. He was hardened early in life. He is suspicious, cautious and prepared for anything, no matter how bad or dire the situation. In my understanding of the new movie, it’s entirely reasonable that Batman has decided that these gods are a threat, and that he’s going to solve the Superman problem once and for all.

In every retelling of the Superman and Batman meeting, they see the goodness in each other fairly quickly. Check out our Batman Archive Editions, or the Superman/Batman graphic novels (and animated films).  In the Superman/Batman stories, we see the obvious dichotomy between the two characters, represented by their inner monologues on each challenge they face. Clark, as always, has the more positive outlook. Bruce, as always, is waiting for the turn. For the part where Supergirl is not who she says she is (Superman’s cousin) and tries to destroy all of mankind.

It’s hard to not be suspicious when you’re usually right. I think, deep down, Batman is always hoping he’ll be wrong. But just as Superman has a deep sense for humanity’s goodness, Batman always sees their capacity for harm.

Which would be fine, if Batman were only suspicious and always looking for the worst. But Batman always has a plan. He has a plan should his batcave be invaded by his enemies. He has a plan to deal with all the bad guys in Gotham at once (see Batman: War Games). He even has plans to take out the entire Justice League, his allies and friends, should any or all of them go rogue (JLA: Tower of Babel) which can put a bit of a strain on friendships.

That is who Batman is. He isn’t afraid to be the ‘bad guy’ in a sea of good guys. And he is not afraid to come out of retirement to deal with this unknown threat to humanity. Heck, I even accept Ben Affleck as old, fat Batman. I’m ready to see Batman deal with an alien he thinks is going to destroy not just his city, but his world (it’s time for Batman to branch out, anyway).

I’m not fond of the level of destruction in The Man of Steel, but I understand why it was there. And it’s not without precedent. Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern’s home, Coast City was leveled in a hotly debated comic event (Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight). Even Batman had to deal with the destruction of his city in Batman: No Man’s Land. Long dramatic arcs ensued. Can we get the same level of pathos from Superman, when Metropolis really wasn’t ‘his’ city yet? I don’t know. Batman was born for pathos, so I think he’s good to go.

And as for Wonder Woman? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime we have plenty of Wonder Woman graphic novels to tide you over. Batman has two full shelves of graphic novels, Superman does too. Check them out, or Green Lantern, the Justice League, novels, including Kevin J. Anderson’s Batman/Superman-oriented Enemies and Allies, or any of our DC live-action or animated movies to get you ready for March 25th, 2016 when Superman Vs. Batman premiers.

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