So Why are Batman and Superman Fighting?

I’ve already been asked the above question at least 10 times by family members and a couple of friends and I expect I’ll be asked it many more times before Batman v Superman: Dawn of the R-rated DVD Cut gets released on March 25. For the sake of preemptively answering any lingering queries you may have about the oncoming slug fest, I will spend the entirety of this article telling you everything I know about the most popular superhero-on-superhero battle in all of comicdom.

Within the context of the film itself, why Batman and Superman are fighting is pretty easy to answer. The trailers and the marketing materials have made it pretty clear that the world and Batfleck in particular feel threatened by Superman after that his fight with Zod reduced Metropolis to ruins at the end of Man of Steel. Honestly, I can’t really blame them for feeling that way; Superman was punching Zod into skyscrapers that were presumably full of people. For his part, Clark Kent/Superman doesn’t approve of Batman’s vigilante tactics and I also can’t quite fault him for feeling that way, since Batfleck is in full-on psycho-thug Batman mode and is straight up breaking bones and branding badguys with the bat symbol.

So, yeah…we’re kind of at an impasse.

Lex Luthor will be stirring up the pot to try and get them to destroy each other, because that’s what super villains do. I suspect that Wonder Woman’s role will be to try to get them to drop the macho bullshit and make friends with each other. Doomsday will be a last ditch gamble on Luthor’s part to destroy all three heroes once he realizes his initial scheme has fallen through. Doomsday will most certainly be made from Zod’s DNA. Then, once the dust has settled, the trio will recruit more super friends to make a team in case stuff like that happens again and that’s how we will end up with the Justice League.

That’s my big, not-risky-at-all BvS prediction, because having superheroes stepping on each others toes before uniting against a common enemy is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Hell, we already saw versions of that scenario in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point, I’m in awe that movie goers aren’t as sick of this cliché as comics readers.

For those who don’t know, BvS did not invent the great Batman/Superman fight. These two have tussled more times than I can count in the comics and the occasional cartoon for decades. It has been the center of many spirited debates in the geek community for a long ass time and it has been fought over so much that pretty much all of the fun has been thoroughly drained from it. I think I got sick of the debate before I was legally old enough to drink. Speaking of drinking, I’m legitimately terrified that BvS will blow so much that it will turn me into an alcoholic. The stakes are high on this one.

I’m not particularly well-versed in old comics, but one of the earliest Batman/Superman fights I could find is from 1966, within the the pages of World’s Finest Comics #163, in which an evil alien forces the two heroes into gladiatorial combat against each other via hypnotic suggestion. That issue sadly isn’t available on Comixology, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Batman and Superman threw off the hypnosis and took down the villain at the end.

It wasn’t until the 1980s, the beginning of comics’ dark modern age, that the rivalry between DC’s two biggest heroes became deadly serious business. Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns ends with Superman (now working for the US government in DKR’s dystopian future setting) brawling with an elderly, armored-up Batman (a vigilante fugitive) in Crime Alley. Batman wins the fight in the most ridiculous and appropriately Batman-esque manner possible: by plugging his suit into Gotham’s power generator and using the power of the entire city to deliver a knockout blow followed by the most brutal head stomp in all of comics. Superman survives, and Batman fakes his death so he can train a new generation of Batmen to take his place. I first read DKR when I was 17 (for an English class, of all things) and I thought that fight was pretty badass. Looking back now, I begrudgingly acknowledge that it’s still awesome, though it’s far from my favorite comics moment for either character.

Granted, DKR was made by an all-time great writer/artist who was at the top of his game; of course it’s awesome. And like pretty much all awesome works of art, it inspired a legion of inferior imitators. Aside from the grim dark aesthetic, the Batman/Superman fight – or rather, the notion that they don’t get along and are often at odds with each other – is one of the biggest impacts DKR had on DC as a whole. It completely restructured the relationship of these two characters in a way that persists so strongly today that we’re now getting a very expensive movie about it.

There have been a bunch more Batman/Superman fights since DKR, notably in Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Batman: Hush storyline (Superman was under the influence of Poison Ivy’s mind control pheromones for that one) and also in the “Origin” arc of Justice League when DC relaunched everything with the New 52 initiative in 2011. That particular fight also involved the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern, just in case it wasn’t boring enough. I can’t remember for the life of me how it started, though I do recall it was another one of those “let’s make the heroes fight and then kiss and make up in time to face the real villain” affairs. Miller himself even revisited the famous battle in his twice as ridiculous and half as good follow-up to DKR, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, published from 2001 to 2002. In the rematch, Batman beats the crap out of Superman using a pair of Kryptonite boxing gloves, and frankly, it wasn’t even the most bizarre scene in DKSA.

Lest I give the impression that I’m completely against any sort of Batman/Superman conflict, there is one instance where it was executed so well that I pretty much consider it the gold standard of that worn out storyline. Curiously, it didn’t happen in any comics; it was in the two part “World’s Finest” episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. Save for Batman somehow throwing Superman across the room in the video I embedded at the top of this article, the two don’t actually fight at all, but they start off not liking each other. They are forced to team-up when Lex Luthor hires the Joker to kill Superman and over the course of 42 glorious minutes, Batman and Superman are forced to put aside their differences and find out that, hey, they actually have a lot in common. Their relationship continued to develop over the course of a couple more crossovers and well into the Justice League cartoon, which functioned as a successor to their respective animated series.

To be uncharacteristically optimistic, maybe Snyder is shooting for something similar to “World’s Finest,” but just blown up to the bombastic proportions suitable for the guy who directed 300. After all, BvS, is supposed to lead into a proper Justice League film, which Snyder is also directing. But from what I’ve seen, it all just looks like a bazillion dollar version of those last few pages of DKR, to the point where Batfleck is basically Miller Batman (Brick shithouse proportions, graying hair, dark colors, short bat ears, oversized logo, the power armor, etc) come to life. It looks great and all, but I really don’t need a live action DKR. Part of what made the fight in that story so memorable was that it felt like the culmination of the relationship between those two heroes, spiraling downward into a violent end decades in the making.

By contrast, Batfleck takes it upon himself to take out Superman because he torn up a city, broke a dude’s neck and then cried about it. And while those are valid concerns, there’s no prior relationship between them; these aren’t former friends or allies turned against one another by circumstance. Pretty much the only reason for Batfleck being in this movie looking the way he does is to conjure up memories of Batman and Superman’s most well-known brawl and to bring it to life, probably in 3D. But no amount of CGI wizardry can make up for the context that made the DKR fight so great; it’s just going to be two dudes who feel threatened by each other getting into brawl, except one can break a city. I already feel bored.

And again this is just idle speculation on my part. Maybe Snyder has more than a superficial recreation of the DKR version of the Batman/Superman fight in mind. Maybe the finished product will blow my mind and be incredible and maybe I’ll like it so much that I’ll check out the R-rated DVD release; or maybe not and we’ll end up with another out of touch, alienating, too dark for its own good fiasco like Man of Steel.

Anyhow, I hope this column was helpful to the “Why are these guys fighting?!” crowd. I have a feeling that I’ll be writing a spiritual sequel of sorts when Captain America: Civil War comes around on May 6.

New Batman v Superman Trailer is Basically the Entire Movie

Alright then. I guess there is now absolutely no need to go see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I mean, why the hell would you? WB pretty much gave us the gist of the whole movie within a span of three minutes. That and we already got this other movie about superheroes duking it out so I might as well save some wallet space and settle for one serving.


Guys, I’m kidding. It’s freaking Batman and freaking Superman in the same movie as freaking Wonder Woman. Of course I’m going to see this.


I know I shouldn’t say this before I watch the movie, but I despise Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. In fact, I hope Superman breaks his neck too and then throws 10 buildings on top of him just to make sure the job is finished. A franchise without this version of Luthor will totally be worth the legion of fanboys moaning about Superman killing a guy (again) and breaking a city (again).*


Ben Affleck is the highlight here. From the glimpses we get of him as Bruce Wayne, he walks the walk and talks the talk pretty damn well. He fills out the Batsuit comfortably and I like the Bat-voice so far. I’m pretty sure Affleck is the last thing we should worry about. Other positives: flying monster thingies that are probably Parademons (please yes because that means this guy), the Wonder Woman costume looks great and Henry Cavill might get to do something other than pout now that he’s in mild-mannered reporter mode.


As for Doomsday showing up, I could honestly take or leave the guy; I have no strong opinions regarding the rock monster that killed Superman. That reveal of Zod’s corpse (which pre-dates this trailer) meant some sort of mad science-birthed super monster was in the cards, because the trio is going to need a heavy to punch around for the finale once everyone inevitably becomes friends.


I’m still iffy as hell on this and this extended and pretty damn revealing trailer is yet another mixed bag of stuff I like and don’t like. We shall see on March 25.



*Kidding again. Superman should not do either of those things and I’m all for not repeating the mistakes of Man of Steel.

My 2015 San Diego Comic-Con Top 5

As just about all of you already know, last week was San Diego Comic-Con. While SDCC has strayed pretty far from its roots over the years (and for the record, that hasn’t always been a bad thing), there’s always been at least a handful of stuff to get really excited about. This time around, though, there were five big effing deals that have captured my attention. Without further ado, here’s the SDCC announcements that I was most excited for.

  1. The newest “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” trailer:
    Putting aside all of my concerns about this movie, it’s pretty damn hard not to be excited about it. Zack Snyder is a goddamned genius when it comes to spectacle and visceral thrills, and in many ways his inner eight-year-old is perfect for Batman and Superman’s first live-action onscreen pairing. Until the movie itself rolls around, I’ll save the judgment and just take in this breathtaking three and half minute trailer. We see our first glimpse of Wonder Woman in action (fleeting, but there nonetheless), Jesse Eisenberg’s “Silicon Valley” version of Lex Luthor (I’m thinking of trademarking that description), and that money shot at the end…damn.
  2. The Darth Vader crossover: Trade waiting all of the ongoing “Star Wars” comics Marvel is currently publishing is so far my biggest regret of 2015. It seems that Marvel is hell bent on punishing me for that disastrous decision even further. In addition to that new Chewbacca miniseries we’re getting, Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada announced that the “Star Wars” and “Darth Vader” ongoing series will crossover in an event known as “Vader Down.” Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen will be handling the writing duties and Salvadore Larroca will be illustrating. I’m about to lose so much money this fall…
  3. Grant Morrison’s new DC projects: Weirdly enough, there were quite a few really cool SDCC announcements that actually had something to do with comics. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the great Grant Morrison is doing a followup to his “Multiversity” miniseries, called (I kid not) “Multiversity Too.” Considering how awesome “Multiversity” was – the whole series is this jubilantly insane celebration of every bizarre nook and cranny of the DC Multiverse – I’m definitely hungry for more. In addition to more of that stuff, Morrison will also be doing a series of “Batman: Black and White” graphic novels.
  4. The “Star Wars” behind the scenes video:
    This video was shown to fans at “Star Wars’” Hall H presentation. Watching it, it’s hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm shared by JJ Abrams, the cast and crew. Look at those real sets! Those on location shoots! Was that an actual explosion?! Holy crap, that bucking bronco Millennium Falcon cockpit looks like a blast! So far Operation: Make This as Different as Humanly Possible from the Prequels seems to be working out for Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and co.
  5. This: If you don’t like this, we can’t be friends.

Deciphering all of that Trailer Madness

Last weekend ended up being pretty busy on the movie trailer front, with at least two of them generating enough buzz and angst to keep us sufficiently distracted until “Avengers: Age of Ultron” kicks down our doors. Seeing as these sorts of movies are kinda my thing, let’s take a closer look.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Seeing as Celebration was going on, it’s no surprise we ended up seeing this trailer earlier than expected (it was, and probably still is, slated to appear before “AoU” when that hits theaters on May 1). Here are my takeaways:

  • Luke’s voiceover (a reiteration of his “the force runs strong in my family” speech to Leia in “Jedi”) certainly implies that at least some of these new characters will be the children of the Trio. The smart money is on Han and Leia.
  • That melted Vader mask; chilling in all the right ways.
  • The hooded figure with the robot hand giving Artoo the functional equivalent of a scalp massage is our only shot of Luke. Because let’s face it: that can’t be anyone but Luke.
  • The lightsaber exchange solidifies my thoughts on the first point.
  • I absolutely love that shot of Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot (Poe Dameron), if only because he perfectly channels the emotions of just about everyone watching this thing.
  • Our first good look at our new antagonist, Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver of HBO’s “Girls.” I know basically nothing of Driver, but he’s 6-foot-3 and clad in mask and armor, so he’ll at least be physically imposing.
  • More of the new Nike-ized Stromtroopers, new TIE Fighters and a new Empire logo. So far, so good.
  • There’s a bit of our new heroes in this. Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) do a whole lot of running and panting and we once again see Finn in Stormtrooper armor. Whether he’s a spy, a defector or a sympathetic Imperial remains to be seen, but the first two scenarios are more likely than the third.
  • “Chewey, we’re home.” There cannot have been a better way to end this. I’ve got nothing, other than that the jacket Harrison Ford is wearing seems more Indy than Han. Interesting.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

After the initial excitement died down, it took me quite awhile to realize “Man of Steel” was not good. With that in mind, I can’t help but to look at all of WB’s upcoming DC films through a lens of apprehension. And since you can’t get bigger than the first ever live action teamup of the two greatest superheroes ever (at least until “Justice League” comes along), my scrutiny is magnified a hundredfold. So here’s what caught my eye:

  • Things are already off to a gloomy start with that opening barrage of extremely worried sounding voices, at least one of which belongs to Holly Hunter, whose roll in this is yet to be disclosed.
  • We get a shot of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) unreasonably handsome face. Supes is surrounded by people, some of whom are reaching out to him. Some in the crowd are wearing grisly skull-like facepaint. I’m assuming that they are supposed to be protestors of some sort. Keep in mind, Superman is at least partially responsible for turning Metropolis into a crater in “Man of Steel.”
  • There’s a Superman statue in a park with a presumably rebuilt Metropolis behind it. Behind the statue are marble slabs inscribed with the names of the deceased from all that collateral damage in the last movie. The statue has been defaced with graffiti stating “False God.” Okay, I can see where this is going.
  • Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is seen but not heard and we get our first close-up of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, looking sufficiently brooding. Note the gray in his hair and stubble.
  • It’s far from my favorite Batsuit, but damn, it’s a hellava lot better than the black rubber suits of the previous movies. Also, what the hell is Batman holding at 1:22?
  • If that’s the Batplane and the Batmobile, then I like it. And holy crap, Affleck fills out that suit pretty damn well. Consider me on board Team Batfleck.
  • Bats and Supes, at night, in the rain, in a forsaken alleyway. Batman is wearing some crazy armor and is looking to throw down. All of this should be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever read this bestselling trade.
  • “Tell me: do you bleed? You will.” Well, this looks like a barrel of laughs…

Fantastic Four

It appears someone at 20th Century Fox once again realized that they also have a summer tent-pole blockbuster on the horizon, because nothing else can explain this thing (pun intended) popping up at the close of the weekend to compete for our attention. Pretty much everything I’ve seen and heard of the new “FF” paints the portrait of an unmitigated disaster, so it is out of dutiful obligation that I analyze this to find something – anything – substantial to say. Here it goes:

  • Reg E. Cathey’s very serious sounding Dr. Franklin Storm introduces us to Reed Richards, played by the baby-faced Miles teller. No surprise there, since this film will pull from the Ultimate Universe version of the FF, who are teenage science prodigies.
  • There’s the Baxter Building, which is very helpfully labeled “Baxter.”
  • We see the rest of the gang: Kate Mara’s snarky Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Michael B. Jordan’s cocky Johnny Storm (Human Torch) and Jaime Bell’s jockish Ben Grimm (The Thing). I’m already bored to tears by all of them.
  • In a different movie, that machine, those suits and all of this talk of interdimensional travel might interest me.
  • So they went to Mordor…
  • The machine blows up and we see the four in medical care, starting to exhibit their powers. Bell’s Thing looks positively Hulkish, and spends the whole trailer sans trunks.
  • There’s our first look at that dreadful looking Dr. Doom.
  • Good God, watching this again was a chore…