Well, it’s safe to say that this is the first Batman movie I’ve looked forward to seeing in years.
Occasionally in the 90s we’d get a cartoon that would dedicate at least one episode to feminism or at least some vague notion of female empowerment. Batman: The Animated Series is no exception, and the episode “Harley and Ivy” is definitely one of my all-time favorites—after all, it introduced me to my absolute favorite femslash pairing. The episode in general does some great things, but it’s also still pretty problematic. At the heart of these problems is how we get feminism promoted to us through two female villains, causing it to look more like straw feminism than actual feminism. Despite that, though, this episode addresses everything from sexism to abusive relationships, street harassment, and female friendships.
A couple weeks ago, when I found myself in another Batman craze, I decided, what the hell? Let’s give Gotham’s second season a watch. I had heard from other people that Season 2 was better than Season 1, but to be honest, I had no expectations going into it. After all, literally anything could be better than Season 1. Gotham’s first season felt long, drawn out, and boring—it didn’t help that it had no direction whatsoever and relied on offensive tropes with its characterizations. I am thankful to say, though, that Season 2 was much better, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I actually binge-watched the whole thing in two days and now find myself somewhat excited for a third season. That said, being enjoyable is far from being good, and Gotham still has a ways to go.
The 1997 movie Batman & Robin is quite possibly one of the strangest movies I have ever watched. The last time I watched it, I noticed that the story liked to switch back and forth between two different things—being completely awful and being completely awful. It does literally nothing else. At any given time Batman & Robin is so awful it’s boring, and during all the other times, it’s so awful it’s baffling. Nevertheless, it’s a movie that has stuck with me over time—not because I particularly want to remember it, but because my traitorous mind won’t let me forget it in the slightest.
Recently, for whatever reason, I decided to go ahead and give Gotham Season 2 a watch. Regardless of my feelings on the show as a whole, the experience nevertheless left me in yet another mood to seek out more Riddler. As such, I set out to revisit some of my favorite fanfics, and so I bring to you Human Decency by crowsnest.
As we gird ourselves for the return of Game of Thrones, recover from the joyless collisions of Batman and Superman, and persevere through the deaths of pretty much every lesbian on television, it’s time to pause and ask ourselves—why is pop culture so dark right now? And more importantly, is there any value in this unending dash toward being the Darkest and the Edgiest of all?
The easy answer is, of course, to lay the blame at George R. R. Martin and the copious bloodletting which reverberates throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. HBO generated a hit with his story when they put it on TV, and everyone else is trying to imitate him. If they got ratings with Ned Stark’s head on a pike, then goddamn it, the rest of us are going to keep putting heads on pikes until we get an Entertainment Weekly cover of our own.
Violence, death, and despair add a level of gravitas, which is clearly being craved in the newly-prestigious realms of television and superhero movies. But it’s increasingly little more than meaningless trend-following, with story and character sacrificed to appeal to some marketing executive’s belief of what audiences want. It’s destructive and it needs to end.
I finally saw the Batman v Superman movie yesterday, and well… I’ve seen better. A lot better. I honestly had no idea what to expect going in, because not only did I adamantly avoid spoilers, reviews online have been mixed. The movie has received both scathing reviews from critics as well as unending praise. As such, I tried to keep an open mind. I didn’t like Man of Steel all that much and have consistently hated just about every DC live-action movie in the past five years. I thought Man of Steel was too dark and muted, and it lost itself in the storytelling process. It had little to no characterization to speak of, and the climax ended up being an hour-long fistfight of two assholes punching each other through buildings while thousands of innocent bystanders died.
Even then, I wanted to like Batman v Superman as the next big superhero movie, because it’s paving the way for the Justice League’s entrance to the big screen. I didn’t. Almost none of the problems from Man of Steel were fixed, the characters are all still unlikable and unrelatable, the plot made no damn sense, the message was still over the top, and I came out of that theater feeling as though I had just wasted five dollars and a good fifteen hours of my life. Thankfully, I only wasted five dollars and two and a half hours of my life. But even that was still too much.