Justice League And The Agony Of A True Batman Fan

My first introduction to superheroes was not to the Batman or Superman’s of the world. It was actually Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv and Doga brought to us by Raj Comics that I got acquainted with the idea of how a superhero looks like. They have superpowers, of course, and they occasionally team up with each other to save the world from bad guys. Whenever I used to travel with my parents on a train, I would pursue them to buy me one of those comics. And mind you, they might not be as popular now, but in the late 80’s and 90’s, they used to rule the mind of Indian kids. Then in the late 90’s came Shaktimaan. A modified version of Superman who used to fight Tamraaj Kilvish. It was more on the campy side but we loved it.
I was familiar with the American comic book superheroes because of pathetic Batman Forever movies of late 90’s and Spiderman animated series but didn’t actually cared about them much. It was primarily due to the reason that I couldn’t understand what was going on. I wasn’t even aware that X-Men were superheroes because I found them pretty weird.
Then in 2004, I saw Spiderman in a movie theater and at the age of 15 suddenly Spiderman became my favorite superhero. It was everything a superhero movie should and could be. Tobey Mcguire was lovable as shy Peter Parker and it had a great villain in Willem Dafoe. Also, Spiderman was one of those characters whom you can utilize fully on a big screen. And Sam Raimi did utilize the character fully. By that time I wasn’t even aware that there are two rival factions i.e DC & Marvel. I just knew that Batman, Superman & Spiderman are superheroes and they basically have superpowers. Meanwhile, Bollywood was making local superheroes such as Krrish or Drona(Fuck that shit). Spiderman movies were clearly my favorite and Spiderman was clearly my favorite superhero. The movies were fun and Tobey Mcguire nailed the character. Then in 2007, came Spiderman 3, which had no idea what it really wanted to be. It was boring and the villains never piqued my interest. But still, Spidey was my favorite superhero. And honestly, I had no idea that there are other superheroes too such as Iron Man, Flash, Wonder Woman or Captain America. Maybe I was living in a bunker or something, I don’t know. Maybe it was because, At that time, the Internet was not all that powerful as it is now. And being from a small town, I didn’t really have an access to American superheroes as today’s kid has got.
Then everything for me changed in 2008. A very little known movie “The Dark Knight” arrived in theaters directed by then little-known director Christopher Nolan. When I watched it for the first time, I didn’t really understand a lot of things. It was too complicated for me. So I watched it a second time, and a third time, and a fourth time and on and on and on. Since then I have watched it thousands of times and I never got bored. Batman suddenly became my favorite superhero, Joker my favorite villain and Christopher Nolan my favorite director.

The Dark Knight
© 2008 DC Comics − All right reserved.

At that time, I wasn’t even aware that TDK was a sequel to Batman Begins. So I watched Batman Begins and I was floored. It was so good and I couldn’t believe that I had no idea it existed. Those two movies were so grounded and have so much going on, coupled with Nolan’s masterful direction and crisp editing was everything a movie should be and I started watching all of the movies made my Nolan and everything which had Batman in it. At the same time, I came to know about IMDB and it had a crazy Discussion Board for TDK. I started going through all the discussions it had for any updates on the next movie and every article I found on “Why The Dark Knight” is the greatest movie ever. Right after the success of Inception, Warner Bros. and Nolan announced that the next movie in the TDK trilogy will be coming in 2012.
From the moment it was announced, till the movie came out, I followed each and every news every single day, in the hope of new scoop, new trailer or a set photo. Meanwhile, I was downloading Batman wallpapers, buying Batman Tshirts, Posters, reading articles analyzing why Batman is the greatest superhero. I was donating a lot of time to my favorite superhero. Meanwhile, I came to know that Marvel is building their own superhero universe whose superheroes I had no idea about. I couldn’t care less about them and honestly, I wanted them to fail. How in the hell they can even compare Batman to these nobodies.
The Dark Knight Rises came after 2 months of Avengers, which I honestly enjoyed, but it was nowhere close to the greatness of TDKR. Many reviewers were underwhelmed and were pointing out the loopholes in TDKR and how it is inferior to The Avengers, so became skeptical.
Could it be possible that Nolan can go wrong with the franchise who basically launched him to the mainstream and international audience?
I watched it 4 times in the theater and countless times afterward, just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. I enjoyed it more each time I watched it and honestly it is a much better movie than Avengers.
© 2008 DC Comics − All right reserved.

I jumped at the screen, when Batman suddenly appears in the bank robbery scene or when he says “you have my permission to die”. I almost cried when I thought that he dies in the end. It’s not a perfect movie but it still is a great movie and above all it has Batman.
Cut to 2013, I was excited about Men of Steel since it did had the involvement of Nolan as a producer and he helped conceive the idea of Superman in today’s world. I saw it, and it wasn’t great but wasn’t that bad either. A few months later, Warner Bros. announced Batman vs Superman at Comic-Con and everyone went nuts. I was jumping up and down with the idea of Batman and Superman in the single frame fighting each other. It had a great trailer, Ben Affleck looked good as Batman, Henry Cavill was always great Superman, it had a great cast and seasoned actors such as Diane Lane, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne were taking character roles which is always a good thing.
Then BVS came and it crashed tremendously. Reviews were not just bad, they were excruciatingly bad. I watched it and felt that it was kind of boring. And Zack Snyder made so many changes to the characters that I don’t know where to start. Batman was killing people, Lex Luthor was young and kind of like Mark Zuckerberg, Superman was a crybaby, Holly Hunter was there for merely 2-3 scenes and Doomsday was kind one of the worst comic book villains. Only saving grace was Wonder Woman and Alfred. I have no idea why Snyder made so many changes to the characters and how on earth they got sanctioned by DC. The best part was Batman’s fighting scenes which were kind of only weak part of Nolan’s movies.
But above all, I was disappointed how Batman turned out to be a sad entry in the DCEU, and not the most intelligent guy of the group. To be frank, Batman and Superman are one of those few characters which can do wonders at the box-office, if handled with care, which is what Nolan did. BVS took a tremendous opening of $166 Million, but could only muster $330 Million by the end of its run. Given its opening weekend collection, the movie could’ve easily finished with $400-450 Million.
With BVS, my hopes for another great Batman movie were shattered and when Suicide Squad bombed, it became pretty clear that Warner Bros. had no idea what they are doing.
Then came Wonder Woman, which became a leggy hit and went on to impress critics and audiences alike. I kind of started hoping that maybe they will be able to reverse the damage with Justice League. After all, it had all the iconic comic book heroes and it was coming right after DCEU’s biggest hit. I wasn’t totally sure because again, it had Zack Snyder at the helm and the trailers kind of put me off. Then the news of Snyder stepping away from the project and Joss Whedon helping with the reshoots started popping up. During the whole production and post-production, there were rumors how the budget has ballooned and how Ben Affleck wants out of the DCEU (Frankly, if you wanted out, why did you choose to be in it in the first place and then mess up the whole thing by giving interviews, you fucking asshole).
Well cut to November 2017, the movie which was supposed to be DCEU’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers, released amid muted response. It opened to highly underwhelming $93 Million in its opening weekend and could only muster $227 Million during its entire run. For comparison’s sake, Avengers made $207 Million in its opening weekend. The critical response wasn’t great either as reviewers called it “Better then BVS but inferior to Wonder Women”.
I went to the movie anyway’s as I had to see it to make up my own mind about the movie. As I sat there with almost no hopes, the very first scene opened with Batman taking down a criminal, before he runs into a Parademon. Its kind of an odd scene and was just there to make sure that we understand that Parademons are on earth and they want something.
Image from the movie "Justice League"
© 2017 Kennedy Miller Productions − All right reserved.

But as it played out, I realized something. I wasn’t really excited to see my superhero in his costume. The whole scene with Batman played out in front of me and wasn’t really jumping on my seat. In fact, I wanted the scene to end to find out what happens next. This never happened with Nolan’s movies, because everytime Christian Bale came on the scene dressed as Batman, be the scene where he saves Harvey Dent being killed by Joker in TDK or when he pursues the robbers in Batmobile in TDKR or when he is chased by police in Batman Begins, I used to get excited so much, that little pee came out of myself. Batman evokes that much excitement in me and I’m pretty sure it happens with every single fan around the world. Throughout the whole movie, it never seemed like Batman is the leader of the group who is constantly downplayed in favor of other characters and by Ben Affleck himself who wasn’t even fit for the role of someone like Batman either. To be honest, in a movie with Batman in it, for me the highlights were Superman (for the first time), Flash and Wonder Woman. Batman was not even close to being the worlds greatest detective.
To be frank, the whole thing was doomed from the start. Justice League was doomed from the moment they announced BVS at 2013’s Comic-Con as a response to Avengers. While Marvel was planning their whole universe since 2005 and released their first movie in 2008 and their team up in 2012 taking 7 years, DCEU was planned on the run. Man Of Steel was already out which was facing backlash for its depiction of Superman and the whole destruction of Metropolis thing, so they have to first correct mistakes of that film. Then in next 4 years, they had to come up with the team up event film. So there was never really time to develop the story for these characters. Then Snyders constant man-handling of these characters. Then they messed up the most iconic villain of all time in the form of Jared Leto’s Joker. Thank you so much, Jared Leto, for messing up the memories of Heath Ledger.
And now I don’t know if I can be excited about superhero movies. I know Marvel is doing great with their movie but I never really got excited about them that much. The only silver lining is DC has tapped Matt Reeves to direct the next Batman movie, who seems to be a good choice for Batman after what he has done with the Planet of The Apes series. Also, Ben Affleck is moving out of DCEU and they are courting Jake Gyllenhaal for the role of Batman but I would’ve preferred Armie Hammer for the role as he has good height, he can be a perfect Bruce Wayne and he has proven himself to be a good actor with this years Call Me By Your Name. But these are all hopes and from now on I will only get excited about a movie featuring Batman if it has great reviews and if it can even achieve 25% of what Nolan achieved with The Dark Knight Trilogy. Till then, I believe in Batman.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Heath Ledger, who breathed his last 10 years ago on January 22nd, 2008

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