June 28, 2016

Superheroes and the Dumb Down Concept

It was just one more weekend; but more importantly one more maddeningly frustrating date with a Superhero movie. Batman vs. Superman promised so much and yet it failed so miserably. And today as I was reading about heroes, I realized the importance they have in our lives.

One of the basic tenets of any story ever told in the world starts with a hero. And as the world around us become complex, we realize that heroes are rarely without flaws. Yet we struggle to find one who is incorruptible; who is steadfast and the one who will ultimately do the right thing. The question always remains what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ mean to people who face off each other.

Superman is perhaps the best example of a superhero who can do no wrong and Batman is one who like us is full of self doubts, limitations and is above all, very very human. Superman therefore has always been a superhero who follows a straight path to glory and often martyrdom. Batman is a vigilante. Superman follows the law as only he can agree to follow laws set by others; Batman rarely has few such moral qualms. His is a more dangerous territory; that of an outcast whose sense of justice might not be something you can agree with.

When these two superheroes face off, you expect a moral dilemma; a cinematic masterpiece which shows how the world and its twisted truths pull apart both men who claim to be on the side of right. And what you are left behind with is a lot of CG and mind numbing action sequences.

It could have been a great treatise on the internal conflict of ones blessed (or cursed) with abilities to impact the lives of those around and yet that never forms the centre point of the narrative. Even movies like Eye in the Sky with a predictable end could showcase the conflicts that pull morals apart.

I think I feel more betrayed by the fact that this came after the outstanding Batman franchise reboot by Nolan. There was always a concern about Synder helming this but then Man of Steel again had to make do with the strait-laced characterization of Superman. And there was little that Marvel’s Civil War could do to fare any better. They typically have the most straight forward storyline you can ever imagine. But then, hope remained, solely because of Captain America. But then you make superhero movies to dumb down your audiences, rather than to question and to debate. And the final dumbing down happened with X Men Apocalypse.

Comic Book lovers know about the concept of alternate universes. I wished after the 3 movies that these universes had not collided. But more importantly I feel we need to demand for better cinema, if for nothing else but for the love of cinema.

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