David Goyer has a decent resume as far as comic book movie writers go, starting with Blade (which was awesome), arguably peaking with The Dark Knight, but ending with Man of Steel (which was less awesome). I would like to think that his being involved with the bizarrely named Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice would be a good thing, but the Scriptnotes Summer Superhero Spectacular podcast that hit the webs yesterday seems to indicate otherwise. Let’s examine why:
1. He Doesn’t Get Martian Manhunter
Martian Manhunter doesn’t even take crap from the POTUS.
Now, call me a fanboy if you like, but I believe that Martian Manhunter is a key component to any Justice League movie. There have been many Leagues over time, and Martian Manhunter has always been a mainstay, particularly in Grant Morrison’s version, which happens to be the best. In that version, Manhunter was the only 24/7 Leaguer, who kept an eye on things all the time while Luthor was trapping Superman in a taco truck full of nacho-covered kryptonite and Batman was busy beating up the Joker and then saving him from falling off of things. What does Goyer say should be done with Martian Manhunter? Why, he should be a DNA clone of a mysterious alien dropped in Area 51 until he finally breaks out; green and angry. For some reason he seems to have him confused with the Hulk. Also, he is apparently way too fond of that one part in Independence Day where Data is an evil scientist that an alien makes into a Muppet so he can talk to Bill Pullman.
Besides being terribly cliche, these things are also totally off-topic. Not to mention that they are exactly the sort of horrible thing you expect Hollywood writers to come up with.
2. He Doesn’t Get Secret Identities
“Dare to dream!” mocks the man responsible for Superman: The Deadliest Catch years
He mocked Martian Manhunter for being “just.. a human homicide detective”, thinking it was somehow boring or beneath him. Now for a guy who just did a Superman movie, it seems a bit weird. Clark Kent’s whole deal is being a reporter. Is a reporter somehow more awesome and glamorous than being a cop? I would say no. Homicide detectives stay close to crime and help bring justice to things so it’s on-topic. Martian Manhunter was also, well, a manhunter: this refers to a type of police caste on Mars. Thus the crossover with homicide detective back on Earth. He decided to take a job on Earth that was the most like a job on his own planet.
This both makes sense and is an important part of the character. Making him into a roided-out test subject would totally eliminate the “Manhunter” part of his name, which is half of his superhero title. Reboots are like gastric bypasses. You see them a lot in the news, with people who are always getting them. But you should really only do them when they’re medically necessary and they really shouldn’t result in you suddenly deleting your last name.
3. Martian Manhunter Wouldn’t Even Be a Martian!
An alien who is stuck at Area 51 until he busts out and is angry with his captors you say? So original.
We’ve already discussed the mysterious elimination of the Manhunter part of the Martian Manhunter. But it doesn’t stop there! No, the next step is to not make him Martian at all.
Per Goyer, “We grow him in a petri dish…He’s like in Area 51 or something…and we’re doing biopsies on him and he gets out and he’s really angry.” Now, we all know that there probably isn’t life on Mars, but it’s something people have believed in a long time. It has a lot of mythical and cultural power. H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis, and Edgar Rice Burroughs all come to mind as people who have added to the stories and mythology of Mars. Sure, it’s a dead planet now, but the thought that we once had neighbors is a great one.
Also, you know, MARTIAN. It’s in his NAME. The proposed Martian Manhunter would not be Martian, nor a Manhunter. So maybe his name should just be Bob. Bob the Angry Green Guy with Superpowers. Basically the Hulk, who we’ll be getting back to but who is not a team player or the senior member of a league of super-heroes. This idea sucks worse than wearing earbuds while fighting vampires to get endorsement money. Yeah, I’ve seen Blade: Trinity. Twice!
4. He Wrote Man of Steel
To be honest, I have generally defended Man of Steel. Why? Well, first I think its bad reputation is a little exaggerated. The fact is that none of us are as innocent and wide-eyed as we were when we first saw Christopher Reeve save Lois from a burning helicopter while telling her that air travel is safer than driving. You’re not getting that feeling back, people. It won’t happen. It died along with all of the other things that made life worth living such as hope, a sense of wonder, and being able to eat all the candy you wanted without getting sick. So, most geeks are unreasonably emotionally over-invested and that makes me feel defensive. Also, I just don’t care how many buildings Superman punches Zod through and I can’t worry about how many CGI people were maimed in the process. Did Superman come out all bloody and covered in kidneys on the other side? No? That’s probably a sign that things are fine. Thus none of that bothers me.
What does bother me, though, is the fact that Pa Kent tells Clark to let a bus full of people die so his secret identity can be preserved. What? Also Superman watching his dad die to save a dog for the sake of his secret. What? What is that supposed to mean? Why is that in the movie? Why do we see Clark saving an oil rig but never talking to the Daily Planet staff? Am I being punked?
5. He Thinks People Who Like Comic Books Never Have Sex
Goyer apparently thinks this is a realistic portrayal of comic book nerds everywhere.
According to David Goyer, there is a strong correlation or causation between applauding the Martian Manhunter and being a virgin. Goyer said “How many people in the audience have heard of Martian Manhunter?” Applause noises on the podcast. “How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?” Even in Goyer’s world without female comic book readers, Martian Manhunter has been in multiple DC video games and at least three of the DC animated series, so is he really so obscure that no one has heard of him? I don’t agree with this assessment.
This is also just a nasty cultural meme. Ironically, Goyer decries early comics as being male power fantasies during the podcast but this is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy if comics can only be read by grouchy male virgins. I think in the age where comics are read mostly by thirty to forty year olds (hey, like me!) we probably need to put this myth to rest as I assure you most of us old people are shacked up these days. Also this sort of thinking leads to some of the nastier misogynistic outbursts you see here and there in the geek world as women are seen as fake nerds and invaders of a male stronghold. This is bad and should be killed with fire.
6. He Wants To “Fuck” His Cousin
Does that sound over the top? Goyer believes “She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy” and “She-Hulk is the chick that you could fuck if you were Hulk, you know what I’m saying?” Basically that she is some sort of perfect match for him and thus lonely male comic book fans imagine themselves being the Hulk, the only man who can satisfy the She-Hulk. Well, I bet a lot of lonely comic fans (yourself included) have had some improper thoughts about the She-Hulk, as many of us were reading comics during a very confusing time as far as hormones go. However, to imagine being Hulk being with She-Hulk has its own issues, namely that they are cousins.
Yes, to Goyer the ultimate fantasy woman is a tall and more muscular version of your cousin. I don’t know Goyer’s cousins, but this seems a little odd. My only conclusion is that either Goyer doesn’t know that or he just doesn’t care, apparently due to fear that knowing about comic book characters makes you a virgin. You decide: a mess of psycho-sexual issues or proud ignorance? Neither one is all that great, though if you and your cousin really have a thing going you can get married in the UK. I don’t judge.
7. He Thinks She-Hulk Is a Porn Star
I disagree greatly with this assessment. She-Hulk is an attorney and absolutely a bad-ass in her own right. She has escaped the origin of “girl sidekick” much better than Supergirl has and manages to strike approximately 90% less sexy poses than the women of the X-Men do in any given issue. I think it’s really lousy to call the character out like that because she actually is quite smart and has been a strong solo character with a lack of cameos from her male counterpart.
She-Hulk has many cool aspects to her character. She gets stronger as her human version gets stronger, so she can work out for a summer and then be twice as strong. She also has been known for breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader, though Deadpool has largely stolen this particular shtick. Reducing her to an accessory for the Hulk just because they have similar powers and skin color is not right, especially since the shared power is the power that 85% of all super heroes have, e.g. being strong and tough. This is not enough correlation to completely write off the character!
8. He’s Teaming up With Zack Snyder
Anyone who’s seen Sucker Punch knows that the true secret to geeky feminism is making fun of male geeks for looking at attractive women in short skirts while sucker punching them with a movie where the women are all imprisoned and can only mentally escape life in an asylum by pretending to be sex slaves instead because that’s a great idea, I guess. Feminism!
Also the only escape is to die saving another person, except it turns out they were really the protagonist the whole time. It was really their story. But then the new protagonist will at least escape, to be picked up by a magic bus. In the end she will only thank herself because our own minds are the sources of angels and demons, even though the first protagonist gave up her life to save the new one. Also the movie said she had checked into the asylum voluntarily but by now even the movie has forgotten they’re at an asylum now and not a brothel. Feminism!
What’s that, you say? This article isn’t about Zack Snyder? Well, fair enough, but they’re collaborating. I was counting on David Goyer to be the sane one of the two. So much for that.
9. This Is Wonder Woman’s First Movie
As we all know, Wonder Woman was created by a sexual fetishist/inventor and used to spent a lot of the golden age in bondage (this is not a joke). Over the years, she’s gotten away from that almost entirely. She’s become a powerful and engaging character in her own right, much like She-Hulk. Still the connection is there, and it’s a lot stronger than Hulk’s alleged sexual longing for his cousin. She’s also been known to run around in a bathing suit, basically 24/7. It’s just a lot of fuel for weirdness on the writing side.
Maybe worse, you have all of Wonder Woman’s weird background stuff: Nazi fighter, Amazon, invisible plane, magic bracelets and lasso. The best versions of Wonder Woman try to incorporate all of this into an interesting whole. I am now a little worried that these parts will instead be excised to make room for a hashed-over clone story, a la Martian Manhunter. After all, if being a Martian sounds “goofy” and it’s enough to delete the character’s origin, what will remain of Diana Prince, post-remake? If she’s related to Superman or a clone of any kind, I want a refund.
10. Bonus Complaint!
That title, though. Who names a movie Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? It sounds like the fifth volume in a Time Life Books Series. Do they still make those? Why can’t they just call it Dawn of Justice? That would still be a little groan-worthy but passable; do they really need to name the protagonists? I seem to recall us all puzzling through The Dark Knight just fine without it being Batman: The Dark Knight. I also haven’t seen many James Bond movies called things like James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me. That series can call a movie Quantum of Solace and people still know what it is.
Can we just call this a Justice League prequel? Then we could at least pretend we would get to see a Superman movie about him and Lois and the Daily Planet and Lex Luthor. I know Luthor and Lois are signed up for the new movie, but with so many cast members it seems like they will get lost in the shuffle. We don’t know anything at all about the new Batman, but we’re jumping to him already being old and a veteran superhero the first time we ever see him, which means we have to watch Daredevil again and pretend like his costume is black. It’s a little jarring, plus the parts about Batman being old before a magic leg brace cured him and made him able to beat up muggers again were already boring and out of place in The Dark Knight Rises. This sounds like more of the same.
Then again, maybe Daredevil got old and got a magic leg brace and now he’s old (but in no way impaired by it) Batman. I can dream, right?
Previously by David N. Scott