“SUPERMAN RETURNS” VS “MAN OF STEEL” – VERDICT

Greetings all!!!

So, for a while, I’ve had this debate going on in my head and with my friends. The topic? Which was the better Superman movie? Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel? Or Bryan Singer’s 2006 film Superman Returns?

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The majority of people I know and the majority of film audiences preferred Man Of Steel, which is understandable, but I feel that Superman Returns is completely shat on for no absolute reason.

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If anything, I personally preferred Superman Returns. Especially after watching it again a few days ago.

And yes, while I preferred Singer’s film, I’m not gonna absolutely shit on Snyder’s picture based on bias or some sort of loyalty. As I said in my review, I did like Man Of Steel but I had some problems with it.

Also, I’m not going to be inhumanly supportive of Superman Returns and be worryingly blind to it’s faults.

One of the big areas that always comes up in this debate is who made the better Superman. Now, I am a big fan of both these portrayals.

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Brandon Routh played the dual roles of both Clark and Superman really well. Along with Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman, Routh’s incarnation is without a doubt the most under appreciated superhero portrayal. He portrayed the character with the grace and respect that is deserving of a character of such magnitude.

The way he delivered his lines as Clark and Superman had you believe that they really were two very different people being portrayed by two different actors.

As Clark he bumbled and spoke very softly, but as Superman he spoke with great confidence and authority. And I always love that scene when he speaks to Lois on the roof of the Daily Planet as Superman. This is where Routh really shines as Superman.

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Henry Cavill was also great. I was first skeptical when he was chosen for the role, but when you see Cavill out of the context of the film, when he is going about his everyday, you can’t help but only see him as Superman because he seems to have a lot in common with the character in terms of personality.

From what I’ve read, Cavill is a very nice and approachable and generous guy when it comes to the fans, so it does seem like there is a lot of that character in him. The scene I loved from Cavill was a very small and quick scene, but spoke so man volumes.

It’s when he tries to hitchhike a ride from a passing van after the confrontation in the bar he worked in. You could see the pain and internal anger felt by Clark, almost as if Cavill has, at some point in his life, been through that sort of angst. You believe that scene at the bar affected the actor more than the character.

But an interesting point I will make, whereas I can see Brandon Routh portraying both Singer’s and Snyder’s incarnation, I don’t think I could picture Cavill as Singer’s Superman. Does that mean Routh was better? You decide…

In terms of the films themselves, I can admit Singer’s film had it’s faults. Superman Returns wasn’t perfect, but it was the film that made me fall in love with the character of Superman, because Returns was the first Superman film I ever saw. I was 14 when it came out.

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Returns blew me away because all the cool things about Superman I ever wanted to see in a Superman movie was shown in the movie. Like the scene where he’s been shot at by a machine gun and the bullets are bouncing off his chest, or the scene where he caught the falling globe on top of the Daily Planet building, or especially the scene where he is saving the falling jumbo jet.

The scene where Superman is saving the damaged plane is by far, for me, the coolest scene I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. And that’s saying something. It was such a well filmed, breath taking, edge of your seat scene. And the special effects were superb.

I’d happily take that jumbo jet scene over Superman vs Zod any day.

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I’m not claiming to be the number one Superman fan ever. I haven’t read every single issue that ever existed in the characters history. Hell, I’ve never even read the iconic Death and Return of Superman storyline.

But from the stuff I’ve learned about the character over the years, Superman Returns keeps more to the character than Man Of Steel does, especially in the action scenes.

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Think about it. In Man Of Steel, how many people did Superman try to save or even saved? Just a couple of soldiers…and Lois Lane…on several occassions. Most of the time, Superman was defending himself from taking a beating from nearly everyone who wanted to kick his ass.

But in Superman Returns, you can see Superman is trying to save everyone as much as he possibly can. Even putting personal issues to one side, particularly in the scene where he is heading away from Metropolis to save Lois.

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He has to make the choice as to whether he had to save the people of the city or save Lois. And in the end, in his true fashion, he goes to save the people, the innocent bystanders of Lex’s ever existing plan.

And it’s also the themes that both the films present to the table. Whilst Man Of Steel is a refreshing take on Kal-El’s origins, it tries too hard quite a lot of the time. It asks the questions: “Can you imagine how the world would react if they found out that someone like this was living among us?” 

It is trying to tackle a very realistic approach to Superman. How would the world react to an alien that has been living amongst us? But you never get the answer to that in the film. You don’t get that sense of awe and wonder. That theme is dismissed quite early.

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Man Of Steel also tries too hard to be iconic, to mean something. It asks so many other questions, like: “What if a child aspired to be something more than society intended?”

That is all well and good but it made no difference to the plot. And you can see the imagery used is deliberately set up to make Superman seem Christ like, but it seems at times more of a hindrance, as if you’re thinking, “Okay, we get it. Superman is symbolic. But can we just get on with the story?”

There is also such a huge emphasis on everything that is said and everything that happens regarding Clark’s parents. The film takes itself far too seriously that the thing that makes Superman such a lovable character seems missing.

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On the other hand Superman Returns tackles more mature themes regarding the character, moreover, it poses an interesting question. “What would happen if Superman came back to a world that no longer needed him? A world that moved on from him?” It’s a film that deals with loss, with moving on and with change.

It deals with Superman getting used to the change happening around him. That in a world in which he was once it’s beloved saviour, that world now needs him no more. What’s even more heart breaking is that the whole “the world doesn’t need Superman campaign” is being spear headed by the woman he loves most. His anchor to the Earth, Lois Lane.

Throughout the movie, Superman has to acclimatise to the world that is changing around him. Even though eventually the world does see that it still needs him, it’s a world that is so different to the one he left behind.

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And the scene where Superman goes to see Lois on top of the Daily Planet, is an emotionally moving scene. Why? Because Superman and Lois want to rekindle what has been lost.

Lois has been hurt by Superman, because she still loves him, and it is out of that love that she feel so much pain and hurt and anger that makes her decide to write the article Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman.

Superman is hurt that she wrote the article. That Lois has settled down and moved on. That she doesn’t depend on him like she used to. And for a fleeting moment, when they come back from their flight, they are about to kiss, and we get a glimpse of what was, and what could have been.

But Lois can’t forgive Superman, and she’ll never forgive herself for betraying Richard, her fiancé like that. Because in the end, Lois has truly moved on. She loves Richard, probably more than she realises. And that’s why she stops herself.

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Imagine it like this, we all have our exes. But there’s always that one that has such a huge impact on your life, that even seeing them has a profound effect on you. That when they enter and leave your life it’s like a tidal wave or a car crash of emotion.

The one the might have been. The one you still care a great deal about. But that person is the one that can still hurt you without being in a romantic relationship with you. The person who will always somehow find a way to let you down.

But the two of you have moved on and have to move on, because it’s for the better and you have someone else in your life who has a better hold on your life and is a better pillar of support in your life than your what-could-have-been.

And that’s what we have with the Superman, Lois and Richard triangle. Superman is Lois’ what could have been. But when Superman left for five years, he let Lois down. She felt like he had abandoned her.

And that’s where Richard comes in. He is always there for Lois. He is her constant and is with her even through the raising of her child. What’s more, Richard’s love for Lois is strongly demonstrated throughout the film. When Superman is in hospital she lets her go see him, even though he fears that there is a lot of history between Lois and Superman. But that demonstrates that he trusts her.

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But the scene that stands out with Richard is when he finds Lois and Jason on the plane. It’s basically telling us that Richard loves Lois so much he is willing to move heaven and Earth to save her, that he flies through hell on Earth to find her.

It’s themes like that, that made Superman Returns brilliant. Even Lex Luthor can’t seem to move on and get accustomed to change. Even he is angered by Superman’s departure. So when he stabs Superman, you can see that there is still some resentment towards Superman, but it’s resentment that transcends more than an age old rivalry.

But like I said earlier, Superman Returns did have it’s many flaws. And those flaws in my opinion, was about two characters. Lex Luthor and Jason White.

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Luthor’s master plan, while inventive, wasn’t the character I’ve come to know in the comics. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Spacey is, without a doubt a great Lex Luthor, but what stops his incarnation being the greatest were his motives.

The Lex Luthor I know from the comics and come to understand is that it seems that all the actions he takes are done in order to preserve human progression. And he sees Superman as someone who gets in the way of that. He sees Superman as a threat. It’s the world’s most powerful man against one of the universe’s most powerful beings.

He wants to be the one who leads mankind to greatness. He doesn’t want that job taken from him by an outsider. An alien. And if people think I’m wrong, think again. If Luthor really wanted to bring mankind to it’s knees, he wouldn’t on several occasions, suit up to work alongside the Justice League to save the world.

But in Returns, Lex Luthor wants to commit mass genocide in order to turn a profit. That’s not Lex Luthor.

Jason White was another minor flaw but could be seen in both a positive or negative way. I don’t mind that he’s Lois’ kid, I just don’t like that Superman is the father. I feel that in order to have Lois completely absolved of Superman, she needs everything about him completely deleted from her life. Having Jason as Superman’s son changes all that.

But then, like I said, people might see that as a positivity, that Jason is the reason for Superman to always be around in Lois’ life.

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A lot of people tend to complain that Superman Returns “sucked” because it lacked action. That they wanted to see Superman punch something. So in that sense Man Of Steel succeeded where Returns failed. But then people complained that they wanted to see more of the heart in Man Of Steel and that there was too much action.

Which I guess brings me to the point that I guess it seems that it’s never going to be easy making a Superman movie, because which ever approach you take to the character, not everyone is going to be happy. But I’ll say this:

For those who mindlessly shit on Returns, watch it again and get back to me. I think the problem was Returns seemed more of a romance. I guess that’s how you should look at it.

But I think if Returns wasn’t a Superman movie. If it was about a completely different, made up character, and it was marketed as a romantic film with touches of the superhero element, it might have been better received.

But the fact that it’s got that big S attached to it, puts it under pressure and high levels of expectation, so maybe SInger’s approach may have been wrong. I can’t believe I’ve said that about Bryan Singer of all people.

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I also think that people are saying Returns is terrible because it seems like the right thing to say now. Hell, I read Empire magazine’s 5 star review of Returns but as the years went by they slowly tore that film a new one.

Man Of Steel I think was the Superman film people wanted to see, but it lacked the depth and heart that would put it in the same category as The Dark Knight and make it a masterpiece.

But to it’s credit, what made Snyder’s film great was, like I said in my review, that it brought forward themes about Superman no one considered before. That, like most of us, we are still looking for our place in the world, for a sense of purpose and belonging. And that like Clark in Man Of Steel, we all, at some point in our lives, know what it’s like to be an outsider.

At the end of the day, what I’m really saying is Man Of Steel is a likable movie. And it had so much potential. But right now it seems unpolished to me. Still rough around the edges. I feel it needed something more to give it more punch, or something taken away.

Whereas Singer’s Returns was much more tidy, much more polished, much more of a complete picture. It was an elegant picture that hit at the core of the character and hit at the hearts of audiences. How can you not cheer along with the crowd after Superman saves the plane from crashing into the baseball stadium?

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Or do you think this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever posted? And who do you think made the better Superman? In fact, list your top five Superman portrayals if you please. For me, based on the incarnations I’ve seen, from 1 to 5: Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, Tom Welling then Dean Cain.

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*Sighs* What could have been…

Comment below and I’ll see you on the next post!!!

THOUGHTS ON…SAN DIEGO COMIC CON 2014 REVEALS

Greetings all!!

Sooooo…another year brings with it another comic con. And boy wasn’t there some stuff to talk about.

Unfortunately I wasn’t one of those lucky few who got to go to Comic-Con but from what got revealed to those who didn’t go there was quite a lot to talk about.

Now where do I start?

Let’s start with the big one and get it out the way. I am of course talking Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

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While I have on countless ocassions voiced my concerns about the film and constantly mentioned that I am a massive Superman fan, I feel that this film, of all the films including Avengers 2, was the film most people wanted some sort of insight into just to get us excited just a wee bit.

This was arguably the biggest talking point and my pick for comic-con 2014. Everyone wants to know what’s happening with this film and what it’s going to look like.

And so this happened:

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Seeing these guys next to each other finally made it sink in. This is actually happening. Arguably two of the biggest characters in comic book history were coming together for the first time on the big screen.

I’m not dissing Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron panel. I’m not one of those fans that is so blinded by my love for one company that I see it as infinitely better than the other company. That’s not the case. But with Age of Ultron, Marvel has proven itself time and time again that they can and have been able to handle the big comic book movies so there was no need for concern.

With Dawn of Justice there are so many concerns, so I probably bet that it was the film on most people’s minds and we all wanted to know what was happening. Something to let us know that things will be okay at least.

And that’s what the fans got.

FB_20140724_22_15_39_Saved_PictureIt happened.

Like a nuclear bomb, Zack Snyder dropped some footage for those lucky bastards at San Diego to see.

To be fair I wasn’t expecting any footage. So when I heard that Snyder had unleashed that footage on Hall H I immediately checked for reactions online. And eventually, some kind, but incredibly sneaky person posted the teaser online, and yes I watched it.

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All I can say is this…

Say what you will about Zack Snyder, the man knows how to make a trailer. The man knows how to attract fan attention.

We see Batman in full Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns armour. That’s right armour. Glowing white eyes and all, lighting the Bat-signal to a stormy Gotham skyline, only to find Superman floating threateningly above him, eyes glowing red. As one website aptly described it, it was the stare downs of all stare downs.

Even though the leak wasn’t at a great resolution, you saw enough of it to get seriously pumped for the movie. I still have my doubts, and still wondering with worried angst as to why Batman is dressed to kicked Superman’s ass but I am nonetheless excited.

Be it a cautious anticipation, Zack Snyder you have my interest…

What’s more, like a hidden bonus that you unlock in a lengthy game, Snyder revealed our first look at Wonder Woman. I’m not going to be one of those people who will bitch about how Gal Gadot looks too skinny or why the costume is dark or looks like Xena because as I said before, Gal Gadot is a smart and refreshing choice. All my concern is why she’s even in the movie in the first place.

FB_20140726_19_09_59_Saved_PictureOnly time will tell…

I also get the feeling that when Snyder is ready to let that Comic-Con teaser be released on the internet, we might get a synopsis with it.

So here’s to hoping…

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Like I said about Age of Ultron, in terms of everything regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m not that worried.They have consistently proved themselves in the past, time and time again that they know how to bring their creations to the big screen.

Seriously, everytime I doubted Marvel I was proven wrong.

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When Avengers was on the horizon, I was worried. I was concerned. Did they prove me wrong? Well…we wouldn’t be here now would we? The same goes for Thor 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

All I can say in regards to Marvel is I want the trailers now. Considering Age of Ultron (especially) is out next year, I would like to see something about it. The same goes for Ant-Man.

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Speaking of seeing something…

I was disappointed that we didn’t get any updates or footage for the Fantastic Four reboot. I love the Fantastic Four as much as the X-Men and more than the Avengers, so I was really keen to see something about it. But again, time will tell…

Other big news that caught my eye was without a doubt The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies.

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I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m not the biggest LOTR fan. I’m not gonna shit on them, but I prefer the Harry Potter series to LOTR. But saying that I loved The Hobbit series, especially The Desolation of Smaug. So any news about TBOTFA will definitely catch my interest.

As far as I’m concerned, of all the things that broke out at San Diego Comic-Con this year, the news I was most concerned with was Dawn Of Justice. And though I still have my doubts, the footage has definitely refocused my interest.

However, I won’t put my faith 100% in it. I did that with Man Of Steel and that didn’t entirely turn out to be the Superman movie I wanted…

So, Comic-Con 2014, what did you make of anything that came out of it? Was there any other projects you were interested or worried about? Did you go? Were you there? What was it like?

Comment below and I’ll see you on the next post!!!

THOUGHTS ON…SUPERMAN VS BATMAN. OR BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. OR MAN OF STEEL 2 (Whatever is your preference)

Greetings all!

This is my first blog post and what a topic to start on!

So, we all know what has happened in the last few months.

Man of Steel got a sequel. The sequel would have Batman. Ben Affleck will play Batman. Gal Gadot got cast as Wonder Woman. Jeremy Irons will play Alfred Pennyworth. Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor.

And, just yesterday, director Zack Snyder shared a small first glimpse of what the project would look like by revealing the new Batsuit on Twitter, demonstrated below.

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Now, a lot of the reception towards this upcoming project has been negative, to say the least. And it is understandable.

Being a comic book fan, hell, being a Superman fan, I have quite a lot to get off my chest about the project and I decided that now, I just might do that.

Anyone expecting a full on nerdy rant, you have been forewarned. Yes. It will be nerdy. But no. This is not a rant. This instead, is a much more impartial view on the project. So here goes…

In terms of casting, I understand some of the preconceived fears, but, with the possible exception of the Eisenberg/Lex Luthor casting, it isn’t all that disastrous. I personally think that Ben Affleck was a smart, nay, very safe choice.

Considering who else was in the running for the role, this wasn’t by any means a bad choice. No disrespect to the following actors, but would you rather have had Orlando Bloom or Armie Hammer play Batman? I get that a lot of fans wanted Josh Brolin, and sure he looks the part, but I wouldn’t have been entirely confident if he was chosen. And I know Affleck has it within him to pull off the billionaire playboy side to Batman. Plus, from yesterday’s picture, he sure looks the part as Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.

The other casting for me is this: Gal Gadot was another sensible choice. I personally would have picked Gemma Arterton for Wonder Woman but Gadot remains a good choice. My only gripe is that Wonder Woman is even in the movie.

I’m on the fence with Jeremy Irons, but like Affleck, I think in time we’ll see him show us what he’s made of.

Of course, the casting of Lex Luthor is the one that throws me off slightly.

I’m not saying Jesse Eisenberg is a bad actor. On the contrary, he’s one of the best young actors out there. In every film I’ve seen him in, I’ve found him to be highly like-able and he always delivers a terrific performance, especially in The Social Network. Also, he, alongside Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson made Now You See Me, slightly more watchable.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see him as one of the greatest and most fearsome super-villain in comic book history.

Casting aside, my gripes with this film are not necessarily with the casting and characters, but with what they plan to do with the movie. From seeing yesterday’s picture of Affleck in the Batsuit it is evidently clear how much Snyder wants to subtly bring Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns to life. And we all know what happens in that comic:

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And that’s where I have a problem…

Yes, I did say earlier that I am a Superman fan. He is my favourite of all the comic book characters. And, not to be biased here, but if, (for the sake of this post) in Man of Steel 2, Batman, having just met Superman, defeats him in the manner he does in Miller’s book, or in any other manner whatsoever, I will walk the hell out of that movie.

Why?

When someone asks me; “Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman?”. I always think of one of my favourite scenes in another Snyder associated project, Watchmen. During the climactic confrontation between Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias, Manhattan says to Ozymandias:

“The world’s smartest man poses no more threat to me, than does it’s smartest termite”.

And I feel that quote applies to a confrontation between Batman and Superman. Especially as Snyder intends to have the two characters face off against each other at some point in the movie.

There is no way Batman stands a chance against a man who is bulletproof. Against a man who can move quicker than Batman can blink.   Against a man who could punch him into orbit. You thought Bane’s breaking of the Bat was brutal? When Batman’s going up against Superman not only could it end up being brutal, but the fight would reach an abrupt resolution.

And believe me.

It will be quick.

If Batman manages to beat Superman in their first ever on-screen bout, it’ll be like saying Michael Cera will win in a straight up fist fight against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (once again, I mean no disrespect).

To reiterate, Superman can’t be taken down by ordinary weapons, so how in the hell will Batman beat Superman? Especially as Snyder has yet to introduce Kryptonite to his cinematic universe. In fact, in the Snyderverse, even Superman himself doesn’t yet know that he is vulnerable to krptonite. So how is Batman going to find that one out?

It’s not just the fact that a Batman victory would make no logical sense, but I feel a Batman victory is ultimately playing up to the mass crowd of worlwide Batman fanboys, which, today, seems to be every single person you and I know.

Post Batman & Robin (yes, you know the film I speak of), no one would proudly admit to being a Batman fan. Since Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight trilogy, everyone and their 86 year old Grandma now claims that they have been a Batman fan for all of their existence.

Unless he’s been living under a rock, Snyder probably knows that Batman has a bigger appeal and fan base than Superman has at this current moment of time, and what will Batman fans love most? To see broody Bruce Wayne knock the stuffing out of goody two shoes super-alien Clark Kent.

In the context of The Dark Knight Returns, I can grudgingly admit that Batman’s victory was well deserved for a few reasons.

Frank Miller was smart in making both Bruce and Clark older men. What this did was that with age Batman had become wiser, not to mention, due to the fact that he knows Superman on a personal level, he knows how Clark would think in combat. He knows Clark’s vulnerabilities. Bruce, with age, has become more experienced in confrontations against everyone’s favourite Kryptonian.

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Therefore, with all that, Bruce would know exactly what he needs to do to take Clark down.

The Dark Knight Returns was not just a brilliant study of Batman, but what made it a great graphic novel was that it also understood Superman as a character. And I’m not just talking his monologue within the tale.

Miller knows Superman still sees Batman as an ally, not an enemy. Miller knew that if it came to it, Clark Kent would still hold back in a duel against his friend; Bruce Wayne. Before the showdown ever took place, Miller had Clark, in typical heroic manner, warn Bruce that:

“It’s like this Bruce — sooner or later, somebody’s going to order me to bring you in. Somebody with authority. When that happens…”

And that’s why I’m not totally angry with Batman’s TDKR victory. Because, at the root of all the tension there was a just reason for why they had to throw down. And I don’t see why they would have to face off when they just met each other on-screen.

Like I said earlier, if the scuffle goes down, and Batman wins, I’m done, because the film becomes an ultimate pledge to the Batboys everywhere when it really is supposed to be a Superman sequel.

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However, I will say this to anyone who has their doubts:

Wait to see more production news and or photos. More costume unveilings and eventually a trailer. And still, I would implore that if you truly love comics, you should at least go and see this film when it is eventually released.

We have finally been given the opportunity to see two of the most iconic and important comic book characters of all time share the screen together for the first time, and I think it’ll be a shame to pass it up.

This has been my first post. I hope I didn’t bore you to death with my fanboyism. There’s a lot more I want to say but I think this is a fair amount. Hope you become interested in what I write and read my next posts…