The movie Batman vs. Superman and its relevance to Philippine politics

Batman vs. Superman

Batman vs. Superman (photo taken from the web)

On the eve of the one of the country’s longer holiday breaks with the Manila traffic already starting to resemble a Holy Week procession, the much-awaited DC Comics movie, where two of its benevolent superheroes collide, made its premiere night showing. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) is a sequel to the 2013 Superman movie Man of Steel and quite possibly a prequel to future Justice League franchises (watch out Avengers).

The cinema lobby

The cinema lobby

Was it worth the wait and braving the unforgiving EDSA traffic on rush hour just to watch it?

The film opens up with a number of flashbacks and dream sequences trying to set up the reasons behind the conflict between the two superpowers. Those scenes were a feast for the senses but a pain for the intellect. They seemed to induce more confusion than clarity to the plot.

Before the epic battle, the movie was agonizing in trying to put sense in Batman’s conclusion that Superman is a threat to humanity (sounds like Transformers movie?) while trying to show that Superman’s actions (and collateral damages) are just a consequence of his goodwill and love for Lois Lane.

For a movie that will serve as a platform for the Justice League franchise, its two main protagonists acted like privileged spoiled kids (especially the dark knight) rather than rational mature grown-ups. We see Clark Kent messing up his work at The Daily Planet thinking he has more important things to do while Bruce Wayne making rash judgment without investigating the true story.

But before I disobey BvS director Zack Snyder’s call for not spilling any more spoilers, here are some of the questions I had for the film:

  1. Batman vs. Superman. Why are two heroes fighting each other?

Is this just a case of writers running out of ideas/permutations of good guy vs. bad guy? Now they are trying to write about good guy vs. good guy (also Avengers: Civil War) and bad guy vs. bad guy (Suicide Squad?).

The main selling point of the movie is just, well, a selling point. Would the movie generate much hype and curiosity if it’s just Batman and Superman vs. Lex Luthor? I would not have probably went out of my way and wrestle with the Manila rush hour just to watch it. I would have just watched Kung Fu Panda 3 in a nearby cinema or run through again the scenes in That Thing Called Tadhana.

The movie fell horribly short in trying to establish a reasonable explanation on why Batman vs. Superman. Did Bruce Wayne realize that nullifying Superman would expose the planet to more threats than Superman himself? Why didn’t Bruce Wayne investigate more on the Africa incident before accusing Superman? Probably, his judgment was already clouded by his anger towards Superman. If so, he acted unbecoming of a hero fit to interpret the law and dispense justice. And what about putting Batman marks on criminals? Isn’t it too cruel to mark an individual as having no chance for reform and leaving that individual vulnerable to further attacks?

The much-awaited battle of epic proportion ended in an epic disappointment as the two gladiators suddenly became friends after realizing they have the same mother’s ****. It just shows how unfounded their reasons for fighting in the first place. A simple non-pretentious conversation between the two might have prevented the unnecessary collision.

Did Batman act like our world leaders?

“He has the power to wipe out the entire human race. If we believe that there’s even one percent chance that he is our enemy then we have to take it as an absolute certainty.” – Bruce Wayne

Among Batman’s reason for taking on Superman is his fear that Superman is a weapon of mass destruction. He thinks that a power so great cannot be entrusted in the hands (or on the whims) of an individual that answers to no one.

What is funny, though, that Batman is detesting someone who is very much like him. It’s the case of “I can do this, but you can’t because I don’t trust you”. Double standards. Well, our world is not bereft of similar situations.

  1. Dawn of Justice. Which justice is the movie referring to?

If the movie is referring to the group Justice League, then it’s understandable. But if it also claims to be referring to the start of serving justice, then the movie might have to do more in the sequels to prove that their heroes are fit enough to be entrusted with the power to interpret the law. The rage-filled and impulsive Batman in this movie does not inspire confidence nor exhibits mature leadership.

  1. Will it just be another version of Avengers?

Probably not. DC characters have been given a more serious tone than their Marvel counterparts. The Justice League members will probably act professionally towards each other compared to the Avengers who treat each other as friends with some occasional banters exchanging among them.

On a serious note, why does the (American) government wants to stop Superman (or Batman) in the DC universe?

It has got to do with control.

In the Avengers, the superheroes are authorized by the government (through SHIELD) and their missions are sanctioned. They are accountable to some superiors. In BvS, Superman (and Batman also) does not report to anyone. He can do anything he pleases (luckily, he is not YET corrupted by his power).


The relevance of BvS to the coming Philippine presidential election


The main talking point in BvS is the question on power and who can weild it. Does power corrupts? Can absolute power be entrusted to the whims of a few individuals?

In the next few weeks, the Philippines will elect its new president that will govern the country for six years. It is like giving one individual the supreme power over 100 million people. Can we trust that individual to use that power for the common good? Can he think rationally even in emotion-filled situations? Can he resist the temptation to acquire more wealth or to misuse public funds for personal gain?

But unlike BvS where Superman and Batman are the checks of each other, it is not the case for the Philippine president. We can’t expect the legislative and judiciary branches to provide the checks since they’ll probably be controlled by the president’s men. The media does not have the gut to expose anomalies involving the president nor the perseverance to pursue a long case until the end (except when the public demands for it). And you can’t expect the public to provide the checks due to fear of reprisal.

So the coming election is the occasion where we will choose the next Filipino superman. Let’s just hope the power given to him (or her) will not corrupt him (if he isn’t already).

Going back to the first question: was the movie worth the wait and braving the unforgiving EDSA traffic on rush hour just to watch it?

If you’re a big Superman/ Batman fan and have time to spare, yes go ahead and watch the movie. But if it not, better do the more important things. You will avoid the Manila traffic and further disappointment.

One excited moviegoer getting interviewed prior to the start of the movie

One excited moviegoer, Jehd Placente (2nd from right), getting interviewed prior to the start of the movie

Big thanks to the sponsors of the premier event, Cignal TV and Smart Telecommunications.

Big thanks to the sponsors of the premier event, Cignal TV and Smart Telecommunications.


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