It's been 481 days since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in theaters. That's one year, three months and 24 days since arguably the most polarizing comic book movie in history was displayed to the public......and people cannot, or rather will not stop complaining about it.
It's still the hottest topic to get clicks from sites like Screen Rant, Heroic Hollywood, Movie Pilot and the rather infamous Comicbook.com just to name a few. The very mention of it, positive or negative can cause film critics to lose their minds on Twitter and go on a publicly immature blocking spree, all the while claiming to be a victim of "mob spamming and harassment." Fights have been started, friendships have been destroyed and there are people that are willing to go to the grave believing that the movie is objectively the worst movie ever made, while others are willing to die metaphorically or otherwise to defend its brilliance. It's a level of pure insanity over a movie that quite frankly, I don't know we have ever seen before or will ever see again.
There is no sitting in the middle with this movie, it seems. Everyone either has a strong opinion for or against it. I've made it clear from the beginning that I still consider it to be the best movie in the DC Extended Universe, one of the best comic book movies of all-time and for the life of me I cannot understand why so much hatred exists for it. Random hatred too, like from people at work that usually don't hate comic book movies. What's worse is that I don't do well with that hatred. I respect the right of others to have an opinion on these things, but when I'm listening to a podcast about Star Trek, another passion I have had since I was eight years old, and one small metaphorical crack about BvS in an episode of that podcast causes me to seriously consider dropping the entire show after gleefully listening to the first 136 episodes without a hitch, I know this isn't a simple issue whatsoever for most of us.
Why the hell is BvS such a hot button issue STILL after more than a year of it being released to the public? Why can't the haters let it go and move on to other issues? Why can't WE let it go and stop being so defensive over it? What is it about this movie that triggers so many of us so quickly, whether we hate it or love it? Well, let's take a look at it.
For starters, it was a movie that had the monumental hype of being the first time we would ever see Batman and Superman on the big screen together. That can't be understated. While those two characters spent more than 30 years dominating the comic book movie landscape for DC long before any shared cinematic universe was even thought of by anyone, they never shared the same movie and never interacted with each other's world. We never saw Christopher Reeve meet up with Michael Keaton, or Brandon Routh meet up with Christian Bale. The closest I can remember of any hint that Batman and Superman lived in the same universe in the movies was a brief throwaway mention of Gotham in a montage scene during Superman Returns.
So BvS was already sitting on monumental expectations for that reason, and then that activated everyone's personal expectations for it, which were very different from what the movie actually was. Despite how much it made sense for the movie itself and in connection to the events of Man of Steel before it, a lot of people didn't want to see Batman at odds with Superman in an adversarial sense. No, what they wanted was something more like "World's Finest," be it the comics or the Superman animated series three-parter that featured Batman teaming up with Superman despite differences of opinion or philosophy on how to do their jobs as superheroes. When that didn't happen the way they wanted it to, and they instead got a movie that dug into the fundamental aspects of both characters and put them in situations that we had never seen them in before, there was resistance to it. EXTREME resistance to it, in the form of scathing reviews, bone-chillingly vile blogs and disgustingly personal social media attacks. Way too many people lost their damn minds over the movie's mere existence.
Was it really just their built-up expectations that were the cause of that resistance? Maybe not entirely, but that has a LOT to do with it. From the beginning, everyone has their own idea and interpretation of what Batman and Superman should be as characters and it's directly tied to how they grew up with the characters. Whatever comic run you started with, whatever movie you saw first or whatever cartoon or TV show you saw first probably helped shape your very idea of what Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne were always supposed to be in your world, and no matter how many different writers and artists re-imagined it over several mediums, you were never going to let go of YOUR idea for how these heroes were supposed to be represented.
So if you hated BvS, you were angry for more than just the movie itself. You were angry because your own expectations weren't met, no matter how unrealistic they may have been. After all, filmmakers are anything but mind readers and they are making movies for an audience that is much larger than just you, so the odds that they would make something that you would perfectly enjoy were just as great as the odds that they would make something that someone else utterly hated, and we know that is true because I and many others perfectly enjoy BvS while so many others hate it, and contrary to popular belief and social media slant, the gap between those two groups of people is not that large at all. If it were, BvS wouldn't have made $873.3 million. That's not a measure of quality because quality is subjective and based on your own opinion, which box office has no way of measuring whatsoever because it's not an objective measure. What box office IS a measure of is how popular a movie is and how many people wanted to see it, which at the end of the day is all any movie studio including WB cares about.
So to say that "nobody" liked BvS is completely false. A LOT of people liked it and still do, but part of the reason that the haters won't stop complaining about it is because starting with their personal expectations of the movie, they are convinced that the movie is actually "wrong" with what it does and how it portrays Batman and Superman. Let's also be very clear here: This is only happening because it is Batman and Superman. If this were any other two comic book characters in existence, we would not see this level of vitriol against it. Batman and Superman are the top two when it comes to expectations. If you don't believe that, then look no further than Spider-Man: Homecoming for evidence. That's arguably Marvel's most popular superhero of all-time, on the same level with Batman and Superman and not only does he now have three different big screen iterations just as the others have at minimum, but the most recent one which takes a very sizable departure from the classic interpretation of the character STILL garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews and is not even close to as polarizing among the fan base. Even Spider-Man is allowed to be changed in a way that Batman and Superman simply aren't in the eyes of the fans.
So what is the rest of the reason for the continued BvS criticism? Well, the existence and structure of the competing Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't help. For many people, that franchise is now seen as the prototype for comic book movie franchises and team-ups, meaning that for those people, any deviation from that franchise is simply "incorrect" and should be corrected if possible. That's why there have been so many calls to reboot the DCEU, because compounding the belief that BvS represented Batman and Superman incorrectly is the notion that the franchise itself is representing everything in it incorrectly since "they couldn't even get their two greatest heroes right." This of course, completely ignores the countless liberties taken with ALL of the characters and heroes in the MCU, because no one cares enough about them to be concerned about any changes made to them. In fact for many fans of the MCU, the movies were their first exposure to Iron Man, Thor and most of the Avengers outside of MAYBE Captain America and The Hulk. So you have one franchise with a ton of characters that don't have a huge amount of pre-conceived personal expectations behind them and can really tell any story they want to tell on screen, and have done so for eight years in a row without any major competition from another shared universe, allowing them to set a tone for what audiences might expect from one. Then you have another franchise with two characters that have a myriad of pre-conceived personal expectations behind them, not to mention several prior movies apiece with different actors, and so many people care about almost ANY change made to either one of them than anything deemed out of place is cause for a call to scrap the project and start completely over because "they have to get it right." Rather insane, wouldn't you say?
At the end of this lies a "hidden" reason for continued BvS criticism that maybe a lot of people don't realize, but it is just as related to personal expectations as anything. That reason is the fact that since BvS, we haven't had another movie in the DCEU that features Batman and Superman together to start judging and being critical of. Justice League, which is still months away is that next opportunity and for many, that is the chance for attention to be fully diverted from BvS for the first time......eventually, that is. I say that only because it's clear that at least initially, Justice League will be invariably compared to BvS in terms of Batman and Superman portrayal, plot structure, how the films connect with each other and what they do at the box office. At some point though, whether Justice League is ultimately considered better or worse than BvS by many fans, that's the nearest opportunity for BvS criticism to finally die down only because Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman didn't heavily feature either character if even mentioning them at all.
At the end of the day, the major reason behind why people won't let BvS go is the level of personal expectation for Batman and Superman that wasn't met for them with the movie, whether that expectation was realistic or not. It is clear that for many fans, no creative license or input is even remotely acceptable for either Batman or Superman's character, especially if it involves anything "dark," introspective or deconstructionist in nature, like actually making Batman a villain for a time or treating Superman like a relatable human being with emotional struggles. It's sad that people think and feel that those ideas are completely wrong, but that is the world that we clearly live in based on the reaction we have seen consistently now since March of 2016.
So the next time you see an article or social media post written about how BvS doesn't make sense, or how Zack Snyder got the characters wrong or any other highly opinionated hyperbole that paints a negative picture of the movie, just remember that deep down in the hearts of those people the criticism comes from a place of actual love and respect for Batman and Superman, even if they claim not to care at all about them and make their arguments out to be completely objective and factual, which they aren't by any stretch. These people would not care to comment on the movie 481 days after its release if they didn't have some feelings about it, and it is clear that those feelings they have are at the center of why they just won't let it go.