If you read our review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you know I didn’t like the movie. There were many problems with structure and pacing, and while the performances were generally good for what they were, I didn’t like most of the choices that Zack Snyder and his screenwriters made when it came to way the characters were portrayed (e.g., Batman the homicidal maniac). On top of introducing many new characters, the film tried to set up an entire cinematic universe in just 2.5 hours. It’s a very difficult and unenviable task, and I just don’t think it works. (Regardless of the critical response, the movie made $424 million over the weekend.)
Still, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was a standout even if she is sort of a cipher in the film. By contrast, her male counterparts are a smug sociopath with a messiah complex (Superman) and a murderous psychopath with PTSD (Batman). Now you know why a relative blank slate with stilted line delivery is better by default than our title heroes.
The thing is, Wonder Woman could have changed the entire ending of this movie if she wasn’t fighitng alongside a bunch of dumb meatheads. It underscores a major problem with this sausagefest movie’s views on women.
***MAJOR SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT***
In the climactic final battle of Batman v Superman, the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight set aside their differences because their mothers have the same first name. (Yes, it’s silly, I know.) These BFFs now have to do battle with Doomsday, who was created by Lex Luthor because of some flimsy third-act motivation. Wonder Woman shows up to help out, having spent most of the movie as a side character who appears at high society gatherings. Why does she do this? The screenwriters really don’t care and instead distract you with wanton violence and revealing evening wear.
Wonder Woman is a highly capable warrior. She dukes it out with Doomsday like a Greek hero of old. All grace and aplomb, she barely breaks a sweat. When Doomsday hits her halfway across an uninhabited island, Wonder Woman gets up, grins, and then goes back to fighting. She’s unfazed, and she even relishes the challenge before her. Finally, after two hours of watching brooding dudes brood, we see a superhero who likes being heroic and acts like a superhero.
Doomsday is only weak against kryptonite, and Batman has used most of his kryptonite gas bombs in his fight with Superman. The last bit of kryptonite is a kryptonite spear that Batman made. Lois Lane nearly drowns trying to retrieve the spear from the bottom of a pool, though how she knows Doomsday is weak against kryptonite is anyone’s guess since she’s not in the thick of battle. (She also threw the spear in the pool earlier. Whoops. Yeah, it’s silly.) Superman saves Lois Lane and gets the spear. While Wonder Woman has Doomsday restrained with her lasso, Superman charges at Doomsday, stabs him with the spear, but gets stabbed back in the process.
If you’re like me, your’re probably asking this: Why didn’t Superman ask Wonder Woman to use the kryptonite spear? (You’re also probably asking why they’d kill off Superman in just his second movie. Yeah, it’s silly.)
Given, Superman in these Snyder DC movies is a big, dumb meathead, but surely he saw how Wonder Woman was able to go toe-to-toe with Doomsday and not get hurt much. Surely he noticed she has melee weapon training using a sword and a shield; she even chopped off one of Doomsday’s arms. Most importantly, she looks like she’s not weak against kryptonite. Superman, by contrast, holds that kryptonite spear with a look on his face that says, “I think I have food poisoning.”
It just makes sense for Superman to take 10 seconds and say, “Hey, this spear tip is that monster’s only weakness. I’ll hold this lasso while you go kill him. Thanks. I’m Clark, by the way.” But no, instead he decides to sacrifice his life for the planet because Jesus complex. What a perfect movie for Easter weekend.
Or, alternatively, Superman could have also thrown the spear.
But again, Superman is a dummy in these movies, which makes sense since it seems like Snyder and his screenwriters kind of hate Superman. They love Batman the homicidal maniac, though.
The way Wonder Woman is semi-sidelined in this fight seems totally shortsighted on the part of her brothers in arms (and the screenwriters), but it’s par for the course if you’re a female character in Batman v Superman. For the most part they’re props that help move the plot along. Lois Lane is a constant damsel in distress. She’s pretty much helpless any time she gets into trouble, and always relies on Superman for help rather than being able to do anything herself.
Part of the reason that Batman and Superman fight each other is because Lex Luthor has kidnapped Clark’s mom. Superman saves Lois Lane every time he hears her in trouble, but for some reason he doesn’t hear his own mom getting kidnapped by goons in SUVs. Keep in mind that this is the same Superman who went into a murderous rage in Man of Steel when Zod threatened his mom and he heard her scream from halfway across the country. (Yeah, it’s silly.) Here’s another damsel in distress. In Batman v Superman, women typically have to be saved rather than do any saving themselves.
So Wonder Woman shows up and her first act in full costume is to save Batman from being burnt to a crisp. She then proceeds to outclass the boys in the combat department. She’s so good at what she does that Max Landis will probably put out a video calling her a Mary Sue this week. If Superman gave Wonder Woman that spear, it seems like she would deal the deathblow to Doomsday in 15 seconds and do it like she’s Legolas in Lord of the Rings.
But no. She’s maybe the most heroic person in the movie, but she can’t be the person who saves the day. To be fair, Wonder Woman doesn’t have her name in the title, but still, you know what I’m getting at. Batman v Superman is a movie about men so obsessed with the glory of their blunt violence that they can’t even think straight for a second. Superman wants to hold his spear until the bitter end rather than let a girl hold it. Come to think of it, a man dumbly holding his spear is probably the best image I can think of to represent this movie.