Today Warner Bros. announced the sequel to Man of Steel would be called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the Internet immediately lost its mind and pounced on the title like a bunch of ghouls feasting on a newborn. And as I watched the vitriol flow across social media, all I could do is sit back and wonder why everyone is so angry all of the time these days.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a comics guy. I didn’t grow up reading them, and as an adult I’ve only read a few of the more acclaimed comic runs. But can someone please explain to me what is so deeply offensive and non-comic booky about the subtitle Dawn of Justice? How is it a betrayal of characters that have had celebrated comic subtitles like Superman: Peace On Earth, Batman: Blind Justice, or Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth?
I don’t understand what separates Dawn of Justice from those. You tell me Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are coming together and I can easily picture a comic book cover with Superman’s massive chest pushed outward, Batman crouched closer to the shadows, both their capes billowing in the wind, with Wonder Woman standing between them with her lasso glinting in the perfect sunrise at their backs; the words Dawn of Justice in big, blocky letters over their heads. The title effortlessly evokes stereotypical comic imagery, so what’s so awful about it?
But I come here not to defend Batman v Superman’s title (I have no grand reaction one way or the other to it), but to wonder when movie fandom became just so damned cynical. It seems like every new announcement related to a major Hollywood movie these days is met by fans throwing acid in the faces of their favorite franchises. No one waits for context any more, they just light their pitchforks and go ape s**t on social media for a few hours, only to change their tune when actual context is provided.
Legions of fans scoffed at the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman, spawning countless jokes about Batfleck and Matt Damon as Aquaman, but as soon as Zack Snyder released an actual image of Affleck as Batman, it was met with universal acclaim. And not two weeks go by before everyone is once again spewing snark at the same creative forces that had just pleased them the week before. People tore into the first looks at Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past and used his goofy image as immutable proof that the whole movie was doomed, and now the critics who have actually seen the movie (myself included) think his big scene is actually one of the best in the entire movie. Context, how does it work?
And it’s not just comic book movies, either. People have been ragging on Star Wars Episode VII since the second J.J. Abrams was announced and yet today, Abrams releases the very first image of something from the actual set and all those angry fans quite down for a second and go, “Oh, there are actual, practical aliens in this? I like those!” And once again context calms everyone…until the next press release riles them up, at least.
It’s just getting so tiring that fandom’s default position these days is utter disdain for the people who are making the movies they can’t stop talking about for months, even years, at a time. What happened to being optimistic about going to the movies? I thought the whole reason we all cared about this trivial stuff in the first place is because it made us happy. If all it does is make you angry and snarky and jaded, over and over and over, why not go find a new hobby? I just wish that the next time a piece of news hits that has no context to it whatsoever, please wait a minute or two to collect your thoughts before taking to your keyboard to dish out an instant reaction.
I’m not saying you have to blindly love everything that comes out of a Hollywood movie. I certainly don’t. But do give things a moment’s consideration before going nuclear with the sarcasm and the shaming. At the very least, wait for a trailer or picture, or anything that may hint how one puzzle piece fits into the grand picture before going crazy.
I’m not sure how or why fandom got so perverted that the nerds are now the ones doing the bullying, but it’s a real bummer.
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