Monday, June 12, 2017

Superhero Movie Weekend

I actually took a weekend and didn’t do any real work during it. It turned out to be a big movie weekend. Saturday, I went with friends to see Wonder Woman. I’m not the biggest fan of superhero movies. In fact, I’m totally burned out on the genre, but I really liked this one (maybe because it was as much a WWI costume drama as it was a superhero movie). A lot has been written about its feminist themes, and all that, and I did appreciate the way Wonder Woman was treated here — her costume is functional ancient Greek-style armor rather than a satin swimsuit with a brass bra, and all the “look how beautiful she is” camera shots were focused on her face, not her body — but I think the main thing I liked was the total lack of cynicism. Diana was 100 percent pure, good, and sincere, and that was treated as the right way to be. Everything she did, she did out of love, wanting to bring peace to the world and help the people who needed help. No excuses about it being hard or impossible or you can’t help everyone. Maybe it was a bit naive, but she wasn’t wrong about it being important to just try. She was a strong female character not just because she was a good fighter, but because she had that strong moral core.

The other thing I liked was the relationship. They didn’t have to weaken Steve to make Diana more powerful. He was strong, brave, and capable enough that he could easily have been the hero of his own movie, and he was strong, brave, and capable enough to recognize Diana’s abilities and not see them as any kind of threat, instead recognizing what an asset she was. Yeah, he had his “damsel in distress” moments in which she had to rescue him, but that wasn’t because he was weak. It was because she had superpowers and could stop bullets. He was able to recognize her strengths and incorporate them into his plan, so they made a great team. That’s the kind of thing I’d like to see more often in movies. Neither member of the couple has to be relegated to sidekick or love interest. Both of them can be strong, and they can mesh their individual abilities to be stronger together.

But it turns out I was missing the context for the framing story, so I found that the Batman vs. Superman movie that sets it up was available on HBO on demand, and the Man of Steel movie that set that one up was on TNT on demand, so I watched those on Sunday, and wow, what a hot mess. I’m amazed that they managed to make Superman dark and depressing. I guess my instincts were right to avoid those, in spite of my fondness for Amy Adams and Henry Cavill. They did a good job with what they were given, but Man of Steel was more like Independence Day than like a Superman movie, and Batman vs. Superman was clearly written by and for those Internet nerds who get into epic debates over which superhero could beat up which superhero, and never mind that they wouldn’t be fighting because they’re on the same side. Wonder Woman totally stole the show in that movie, and the only really interesting parts were the bits setting up the Wonder Woman movie.

Is it too much to ask to get at least one scene of Lois Lane and Diana together in the Justice League movie? I like Amy Adams’ take on Lois Lane, even if she’s been criminally underused so far, and Diana is so wonderful (I just hope they don’t pile on a bunch of modern-day cynicism now that she’s a century older).

And now I think I’m burned out on superheroes once more. I need to find myself a good costume drama. A good romantic comedy would be nice, but they don’t make those anymore.

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