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DC’s Kryptonite is Superman

I went to see Justice League yesterday and, while it was better than most of the DC movies— admittedly not a high bar, it still fell flat in comparison to what Marvel has been producing.

I’ve been considering the whys and wherefores of DC’s continued failings on the cinematic front and have come to the conclusion that the root of the problem goes much deeper than the people involved in producing the movies. The crux lies at the heart of the DC universe itself:

Superman.

He is the gold standard for heroes. He can literally do almost anything— depending on which series of the comics you follow— and has an unshakable morality. In short, he is a god.

Now, when trying to create other heroes to exist in a universe with Superman, those heroes have to exhibit abilities which at least rival the Man of Steel, or they become laughably insignificant in comparison. Wonder Woman is almost as strong as he is, as well as having weapons of incredible power themselves; Flash is as fast— or slightly faster, again depending on which series you follow— so fast he can manipulate time; Aquaman is also incredibly strong and nigh invulnerable, especially in the water, and the list goes on.

It even seems like DC understands their problem, to a degree, when young Barry Allen asks Bruce Wayne what his super power is in the movie.

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***SPOILERS AHEAD***

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You have been warned. 🙂

So, the movie begins in the aftermath of Batman vs. Superman: a world that is now bereft of the man of steel and new threats are looming. Batman works on putting the band together and the big bad, Steppenwolf, (DC has always had a terrible time with names, in addition to their Superman problem) is doing his bit to bring an apocalyptic end to Earth. He does an impressive job in the beginning, wading through the Amazonians and Atlanteans to gain two of the pieces to his Unity puzzle box, and mostly puts the smack-down on Batman’s newly-formed team while trying to find the third and final piece.

To this point, the movie is pretty good for the most part and I was enjoying it. The characters were flat, but there’s only so much time for development in a team-up story such as this, so I was willing to forgive a few stereotypes and obvious gags. Because of the defeat, however, Batman decides the only way they can win is to try to raise Superman from the dead.

And it went downhill from there.

The fight scenes were amazing and comic book-esque, but all of the tension the story had built to that point evaporated once Superman returned and regained his senses upon seeing Lois Lane after the obligatory hero vs hero battle.

The big bad and all he had wrought suddenly became no more than a comic foil for the heroes and the concluding battle was just an excuse to smash stuff. Steppenwolf was barely an annoyance for Superman and only delayed his defeat because Superman had to go save a building full of innocent bystanders while Flash rescued one family in a pickup truck.

The apocalypse ended with a whimper and a laugh.

Hero stories are about someone overcoming incredible odds to eventually triumph against an implacable foe. The presence of Superman turns that on its head and suddenly the bad guys become insignificant and the other heroes merely sidekicks.

Pulling back and looking at the bigger picture, humans themselves become completely irrelevant in a world with Superman. The only ones who can carry water for him are like gods themselves: Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg. Commissioner Gordon exemplifies this when he calls for Batman to ask about a series of abductions in the film, claiming the police force could find no pattern to them. Half a second later, the heroes spout off a complete analysis of what they’re shown and disappear to act on the information. The message there is clear:

Regular people have nothing to contribute.

Who wants to live in a world like that?

Marvel’s universe has some incredibly powerful beings too, but they are also flawed in many ways, which makes them more relatable as characters. Normal people can still have an impact in that world, which, for me, makes for a much more interesting and enjoyable fantasy.

Please, tell me what you think! Did you enjoy the movie? Disagree with my assessment? I’d love to hear your opinions.

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100 For Knot in Time

KnotinTime_ToU1In celebration of Knot in Time hitting the century mark for reviews — absolutely blown away by this! — I’m having a sale next week. Beginning on May 28, you can pick up the Kindle version for 99 cents, but only for a few days.

Right now, however, Amazon is having a sale on the paperback at over 50% off! I’m sure this deal won’t last long so, if you prefer the dead tree format for your books, there’s never been a better time to pick this one up. (I can’t hardly buy them from the printing house at this price — it’s a great deal.)

Thanks to the amazing Michelle Eisenhoff for being the 100th reviewer! Here’s her thoughts:

Darius isn’t going anywhere with his dead end life. So what does it matter if he takes the recruiter up on his offer to become a Keeper? Everyone has given up on him anyway. He might as well get the heck out of Dodge…or out of 2012, at least.

Keepers are the custodians of time. If a thread gets messed up, well, you know. There could be all sorts of problems. But sometimes time dilemmas can get sticky in a hurry. Can Darius (Dare for short) murder someone to keep the thread intact? Can he wipe out thousands because it was supposed to have happened in the past?

This was a super snarled-up kind of story that makes you really think through the plot. All the many strands tie up nicely, to the author’s credit. I enjoyed it immensely. It does have some mild language and themes that put the age limit up into the teens. But for those older readers who like sci-fi, this is a great pick.

Thanks, Michelle! And thanks to all the reviewers for taking the time to not only read the story, but post your thoughts on the book. They mean a great deal to me.