Rewriting Suicide Squad


So there’s going to be a Harley Quinn Movie (Gotham Sirens or Birds of Prey), another Suicide Squad movie, and likely a Deadshot spinoff.

SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) topped most people’s Worst of the Year movie lists, while I thought it was just mediocre. Maybe offensively mediocre, given the racial stereotyping of Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). It had a protracted, repetitious first act; the villain was worthless; it was riddled with plotholes; and the Joker was the worst ever put to film, but hey, I still thought BATMAN V SUPERMAN and X-MEN APOCALYPSE were worse.

The point is, SUICIDE SQUAD didn’t live up to the hype. It wasn’t as good as the animated movie in which they starred (BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM). It wasn’t as good as any of the comics. And frankly, it oversimplified characters in a big way.

So in my usual way, I’d like to prove that I could’ve at least written a better version of the movie.

Now let’s be fair: SUICIDE SQUAD was reshot to high heaven, went through a gamut of 7-9 competing edits before being outsourced to a trailer company, and many of David Ayer’s ideas didn’t make it to the screen. That’ll make any movie suck. Who knows, maybe there was a fantastic version of the movie we never saw.

I don’t have those constraints, so maybe the unadulterated awesomeness I’m about to pull isn’t all that fair. ::shrugs:: Too bad.

  1. Understanding the Suicide Squad

Taskforce X –jokingly named “Suicide Squad” for its high mortality rate and deadly missions– was always designed as a way to play with the minutia of DC comics. It explored the smaller, more clandestine events that normal heroes were too busy to notice. It dealt with current social politics (Terror abroad, White Supremacy at home, etc.); government interagency skull and dagger tactics; and harrowing events too morally gray for most heroes. As an 80s comic, it was EXTREMELY anti-Reagan.

More, the team wasn’t a list of everybody’s favorite villains, but  dopey villains nobody would care to see killed. EVERYBODY was on the chopping block. Here’s the rub: the writer was FANTASTIC, and he brought an X-Men-level of characterization to everybody. You CARED about the people who died, and suddenly, it wasn’t as fun to kill characters off anymore.

Here’s the point: Suicide Squad doesn’t fight the same glowy hole-in-the-sky thing that other movie superheroes fight. Instead, its job is to explore the depths of the DC universe. It also does a GREAT job at raising the stakes with death.

It’s kind of hilarious that SUICIDE SQUAD failed in all of those regards. Our version won’t.

  1. Who’s on our team?

The movie had…

Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Boomerang, El Diablo, Slipknot, Katana, Rick Flag, Killer Croc,

We’ll have…

Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Boomerang, El Diablo, Slipknot, Katana, Rick Flag, King Shark, and Enchantress


-King Shark is a Hammerhead shark monster. That’s fucking awesome.

-Enchantress is a key member of the comic team and is a mystical version of the Hulk. Seriously, she’s June Moon, a pacifist normally, and a magical live grenade as Enchantress. She deserves better than she got in the movie.

  1. But How Is Our Story Better?

We open on the fight between Superman and Doomsday from BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. It’s destructive as fuck, just like you’ve seen, but this time, we see the fight from the perspective of the military, who’s trying to intervene. Found footage style. Helicopters get lanced out of the sky by eye-lasers, others by falling debris, it’s hell.

We pull back to a secret government meeting reviewing the footage. The gist: “Superman died fighting Doomsday. How the hell can we prepare for the next metahuman attack?” In addition to the usual spooks, there’s a new intelligence agency:  ARGUS, a firm designed to monitor metahuman actions. Its head, AMANDA WALLER, pledges to get right on it.

One Month Later

RICK FLAG JR., a soldier with an insecurity complex, leads a strike team -who might as well be his family- to a secret paramilitary lab. There, they’re surprised by overwhelming technological resistance, and Flag loses his whole team, barely escaping with his life. His C.O., Waller, preps a retrieval chopper and sends an order to “assemble Taskforce X.”

Quick cuts of the team being violent:
DEADSHOT shoots people.
KATANA stabs people.
KING SHARK eats people.
HARLEY joyrides with the Joker.
BOOMERANG robs a bank.
His partner, SLIPKNOT, robs the same bank.
EL DIABLO turns himself in.
ENCHANTRESS atomizes exorcists.

Now, all the team is behind bars in Belle Reve prison, which Waller has specially designed to hold them.

Short story, Rick Flag has to lead them and he doesn’t want to. He’s mourning his team, and he doesn’t think criminals have the honor or dedication of marines, and he thinks they’ll go rogue at the first sign of trouble. He’s probably right. Waller twists his insecurity into making him accept the mission.

Anyway, mission is simple: Taskforce X is to investigate this secret lab, Cadmus, and retrieve the package therein. Expect heavy resistance. The team makes light of it, and Waller punishes them to demonstrate that they’re on a collar. They misbehave, they get an electroshock. They go rogue, bombs implanted in their necks detonate.

Meanwhile, Joker’s in Gotham City, torturing and/or murdering people to find out what happened to Harley. She’s his. She has to come back to him.

Taskforce X (eventually to be called “The Suicide Squad”) makes it to the secret lab. Before the action, Boomerang talks his partner, Slipknot, into believing the neck-bombs are bogus. Slipknot tests this and dies.

RIP, Slipknot.

Meanwhile, Joker’s getting closer, discovering that Harley’s been conscripted into Taskforce X. He tortures/kills his way to finding out why. She’s HIS to play with, not anybody else’s.

Taskforce X makes headway into the base, their personalities rubbing each other the wrong way, each getting a shot of demonstrating their personalities. Flag and Deadshot rub each other the wrong way, a thin philosophical difference being all that separates them. Anyway, the team finds the package, a huge metal cylinder that only King Shark can carry.

Meanwhile, Joker makes it to Belle Reve Prison and opens all the cells. With Waller hiding herself in a panic room, Joker discovers a little green trinket of hers…

On the helicopter ride back to Belle Reve, Taskforce X accidentally opens the metal cylinder. What’s inside?


That’s right. SUPERMAN.

The crazy bastards at Cadmus cloned Superman from blood lost during the fight with Doomsday. Flag explains that Cadmus figured the best way to contain Superman was to have one of their own, and to use it to hold the world ransom.

“But now it’s yours,” Harley says.

“That’s right,” Flag says. “Now it’s ours.”

Taskforce X returns to Belle Reve and find it’s a madhouse. Metahuman prisoners are rioting, guards are laughing to death on Joker’s Laughing Gas. Waller’s in a panic room, and orders the team to contain the riot and stop the Joker. They try –fighting dudes like Captain Cold, Clayface, and Parasite– but they’re overwhelmed. Flag makes a split decision and activates the Superman Clone, who saves them all, imprisoning most of the supervillains without a casualty (LOL MAN OF STEEL). Y’see, Cadmus programmed the Superman Clone to be a boy scout… but their boy scout.

That’s when the Joker walks in with Harley around his arm. He gives a Jokery speech and mocks the Superman Clone. When the Clone grabs him, Joker sprays him with Laughing Gas.

Damn, does that ever have a bad effect on Superman Clone chemistry.

Joker, wielding Kryptonite from Waller’s office, commands “Jokerized Superman” -who he christens “Bizarro” to start killing. Flag tries to stop him– Bizarro decapitates him in a blink of an eye.

RIP, Rick Flag.

Joker escapes with Harley and Bizarro.

Waller tries to detonate Harley’s neck bomb…

But Joker has Bizarro use his heat breath to deactivate it during the flight.

Taskforce X is done. No fucking way can they handle Superman, let alone a homicidal clone of him. Waller threatens to detonate their bombs, but they don’t care. Better a fast death than whatever the Joker has planned. It’s clear that none of Belle Reve’s other inmates are going to volunteer. Still, seeing tapes of the Superman/Doomsday destruction, Deadshot steps forward. He’s got a little girl that he doesn’t want to see hurt. He’s not the best guy in the world, but he’s got to be the daddy she’d want him to be. But Amanda Waller is personally going to pay for his daughter’s schooling. The other teammates come around, each with their own demands. The straggler, Boomerang, says that the mission is suicide. Deadshot grins. “Then we’re the Suicide Squad.”

Waller flies the team for where the Joker went: Gotham City.

Damn, it’s bad. Gotham’s wrecked to shit, Arkham Asylum is split open, and the crazies are pouring out. Joker laughs his ass off as Batman, hopelessly outmatched, fights Bizarro. The clone’s just letting Batman wail on him with everything he’s got… and he’s not taking a scratch. Bizarro casually backhands Batman, sending him flying into a parked car, breaking several of his ribs and knocking him unconscious.

For a moment, Bizarro’s stares at what he’s done. His eyes change from madness… to shock. Just as he starts to question his actions, Joker gives him another snort of Laughing Gas, reigniting the carnage. Joker laughs over his new kingdom, but when Harley tries to join in, he yells her into place. This is for HIM to enjoy. She’s just lucky to belong to him.

With his telescopic eyepiece, Deadshot sees it all from the helicopter. As the Suicide Squad parachutes in, he calls the shots: Get the Kryptonite from Joker and stop Bizarro, or die trying.

They land in a war zone. They try to ignore screaming people, but El Diablo just can’t do it. He puts out flames by absorbing them, saving people. King Shark saves drowning people, despite them looking tasty. Deadshot & Boomerang save people too. By slaughtering the Arkham inmates chasing them. ::shrugs:: It’s what they do.

Meanwhile, Enchantress takes on Bizarro, her magic the first thing that’s managed to slow him down. He wades through it as she lays on the power. He weakens, falling to his knees. Katana leaps from behind, preparing to decapitate him– his eyes shoot a freeze ray, encasing her in ice in mid-air. She hits the ground, shattering.

RIP, Katana.

Enchantress  is so shocked that she reverts to June Moon, and sobs. Bizarro just laughs and flies away.

The others are fighting through Joker’s booby traps. Boomerang uses a boomerang to snag the Kryptonite from Joker’s hands… but as Boomerang cheers, Bizarro shatters the Kryptonite with a heat breath burst.

Without Kryptonite, the team is well and truly fucked. But Joker does them one better: He’s sitting on a nuclear bomb fitted with Laughing Gas. Gotham will be wiped off the face of the earth and the fallout’s going to give Metropolis a permanent case of the giggles. So, naturally, Joker laughs and orders Bizarro to kill the Suicide Squad.

Enchantress flares back out of June Moon, using her magic to try to contain Bizarro, but it ONLY slows him down. It’s just enough for the team to take turns distracting him.

Harley, meanwhile, is shocked that Joker could blow up Gotham. All her friends are there. Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Scarecrow, their hyena pets (yes, I am indeed stealing this moment from the classic BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES episode “Harlequinade.” That episode RULES SO HARD). Joker slaps her aside, telling her that he never needed any of them or her. She was just there for laughs. Harley, enraged enough to find her self respect, punches him back. Joker grimaces, liking where this is going. He draws a knife.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Suicide Squad is just BARELY keeping out of Bizarro’s grasp. El Diablo distracts him with fire. When he gets to close, Deadshot distracts him with a bullet. When he gets to close, King Shark punches him and runs, etc. It’s a losing war of attrition, and they all know it.

But Bizarro’s laughs seem to be quieting. He’s less manic by the second as the Laughing Gas wears off.

Boomerang, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. He’s running along the outskirts, collecting fragments of Kryptonite in one hand, clutching a blowtorch in the other. He’s an idiot, but an idiot with a plan.

Harley fights the Joker: her gymnastics vs. his lethal gag gifts. Harley’s barely holding on, and he mocks her spinelessness every step of the way–

Bizarro finally catches King Shark by the throat. None of El Diablo’s flames, Deadshot’s bullets, or Enchantress’ magic can stop what comes next. Bizarro strangles King Shark to death.

RIP King Shark.

It hits the team hard. Sure he was a big shark-man, but he was THEIR big shark-man. And not that bad of a guy, once you got past the cannibalism.

Boomerang, meanwhile, finishes welding a KRYPTONITE BOOMERANG. It all comes down to the character from down under. *Sponsored by Fosters.

Joker’s got the upper hand on Harley, but just as he’s about to kill her, she grabs her mallet and swings it into his gut, knocking him down a hill of rubble and probably breaking a few ribs too. Harley stands tall over him, gripping her hammer. “I’m breaking up with you. Puddin’.” Then it hits her: “OMIGAWD, TH’ BOMB!” She runs off to diffuse it.

Joker just lays there, bleeding. His eyes roll to the side and he spots… an ice cream truck.

Meanwhile, Bizarro’s figuring out that he can ignore people’s attacks. He chuckles, tears streaming from his eyes. The Laughing Gas is wearing off, but it’s still affecting him. He wades through El Diablo’s waning flames.

Harley, meanwhile, struggles to diffuse the nuclear bomb’s countdown, Boomerang yelling unhelpful advice. “I’m a therapist, not a nuclear physicist!” Harley screams.

Just as El Diablo braces for Bizarro to grab him, someone calls out: “Hey, moron!”

Bizarro turns.

It’s Deadshot, standing in front of the people of Gotham, their terrified, bleeding faces covered in dust. Deadshot asks if this is something Superman would let happen. If Superman would ever knowingly let people suffer.

Boomerang’s poised with the Kryptonite boomerang, just in case.

Yeah, Harley adds, standing sincerely. People make mistakes all the time, but it’s how they recover from them that counts.

“THE BOMB, YOU BLOOMIN’ IDIOT!” Boomerang screams at her. “THE BOMB!”

“Oh yeah!” she says, and dives back into the wires, the countdown timer entering the single digits–

Bizarro steps past her, grabbing the bomb. “You know,” he says to them. “You’re not all that bad.”

Deadshot, El Diablo, Enchantress, Boomerang, and Harley exchange glances. They’re all pretty bad. Hell, they look it.

A tear slips from Bizarro’s eye as he hefts the bomb. “Up, up, and away,” he says.

He’s off like a shot. The Suicide Squad watches as he flies into space and explodes.

RIP, Bizarro.

A reverent moment of silence. Boomerang chuckles: “Chump.”

Harley laughs nervously, “So, umm… all’s forgiven right?”

Enchantress reverts to June Moon and punches Harley in the face. “Yep. All’s forgiven.”

Waller tells the group that the mission isn’t over. They still haven’t dealt with the Joker.

Deadshot notices the ice cream truck driving away. He casually aims and shoots at it. After a second, the truck crashes.

Waller tells him that’s not good enough.

El Diablo nods to where Batman had been laid out. Batman’s gone. “Somebody’s already on it.”

On the helicopter flight back, the team muses that now they’ve saved the city, they must get benefits. A parade, women, booze, whatever superheroes get. Waller agrees to make their cells more comfortable. But she does leave a case of beer in the helicopter for them.

“You guys,” Harley laughs. “We took out Superman!” They drink to that.

Meanwhile, Joker, battered and bloody, struggles to get himself out of the overturned ice cream truck. He mutters under his breath, swearing revenge. He’s got another nuke he’s been just itching to use. “Tell me where it is.” Joker looks up. Batman’s standing on top of the truck. He reaches for Joker–

Cut to black.

Mid-credits (fuck it, Marvel doesn’t own fanservice): Waller meets with Bruce Wayne, both threatening each other. Wayne threatens to expose the Suicide Squad -half of Gotham is conspiracy-theorizing anyway. Waller threatens to expose Wayne for being Batman and for setting up his childishly named “Justice League.”

Post-credits: Waller watches a press conference as Lex Luthor is released for prison and announces his bid for the U.S. presidency. Waller. “Looks like the Suicide Squad has a new mission.”

5. Fun, huh?

The idea here is that we make the most of the DC universe, establish lots of villains for future movies, do more with the current DCEU narrative: figuring out what to do in a post-Superman world.

It plays against tropes, the Suicide Squad lives up to its name, it makes better use of the cameos, it’s a little more streamlined, and it hypothetically better earns its emotional beats.

The post-credits also hint that Suicide Squad will be involved in political skullduggery, as they were in the classic comics. Again, this was an anti-Reagan comic, so wouldn’t it make sense for the movie franchise to be anti-Trump?

6. Lasting issues

All that said, there are a few lingering issues:

-Two prison breaks, although they’d have different feels, it may feel slightly repetitive

-ALL of the Nolan Batman movies had prison breaks, as this does.

-some will be bothered by Harley being chained to Joker for the latter half, but that’s kind of character: the abused girlfriend slowly breaking out from the abuser’s shackles.

-Waller’s sidelined at the end, but hey, she could be their eye in the sky or something.

6. David Ayer

David Ayer’s a solid director with an incredibly specific style -a style that might not be suited for broad appeal (RE: Ayer’s sexist and racist undertones). It also didn’t help that he only had 6 weeks to write a script that would be retroactively wedged into the DCEU.

That larger problem, though, is that Ayer is new to mega-budget superhero movies, and he flat didn’t have a language for it. As such, he reverted to trope. He made a movie almost wholly reliant on flashbacks and exposition when its predecessor, BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM (a superlative Suicide Squad movie), demonstrated all that was necessary was to demonstrate character through action.

More, because these are supervillains, their adventures would probably be better-tailored to heists, assassinations, and sabotage over generic stop-villainous-plot stories. Their adventures can be small and they can get big, as I demonstrated. This could’ve been the size of a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie, or even a FAST AND FURIOUS movie.

Despite Ayer being a fan of Suicide Squad comics, it just seems like he didn’t have the correct imagination for the job.

Sure, I may be talking out my ass, as I don’t have 6 weeks, to write a script out of this, but by the same token, had I pitched a script to Warner Bros., I would’ve read the tea leaves for what WB would probably want long term. I would’ve known that creating a “different” comic book movie had to extend beyond visuals. I would’ve known that audiences are clamoring for an honest-to-God great villain. I would’ve pitched this to follow BvS or, failing that, MAN OF STEEL, because audiences are all about continuity these days. I would’ve pitched with a sequel in mind, because studios like relative financial certainty. I would’ve pitched this exact plot, because it’s the best way to utilize the characters on screen and on the page.

But then, I just read a ton of comics and watch a ton of blockbusters.

I’m just talking out my ass.

RIP, Sadcyborg.




Even if you loved BATMAN V SUPERMAN (BvS), it’s hard to deny how divisive it was. Projected to close WAY under its projected 1.5 billion dollars, director Zack Snyder’s second shot at the DC universe failed to find an audience. But why? Some moronically claim that the movie’s philosophy and themes were “too smart for Marvel fans;” others blame the movie’s dour tone; and still others point to the movie’s atrocious script.

As per usual, I’m in the third camp. BvS wears its philosophies on its sleeve, but it doesn’t execute them in a way that’s clear or entertaining. So how could it have improved?

With damn near a page-one rewrite.


  1. Good script notes understand a story’s goal and try to make the script the best possible version of itself. Batman v Superman wants to be a grim philosophy-fest culminating in dueling superheroes AND set up the Justice League? Sure. We can do that.
  1. BvS is a follow up to the just-as-polarizing MAN OF STEEL (MoS). It too had a slew of script troubles, but everyone honed in on the ludicrous amounts of violence, property damage, and implied civilian casualties. BvS was meant to address those issues and course-correct the franchise. Our script has to do that.
  1. Batman & Superman have an established comic book mythology with a worldwide following. While this doesn’t necessitate a slavish recreation (even the Marvel movies take liberties), it DOES indicate that, to one extent or another, these characters “work” and are cherished. If you’re using the characters, even in a deconstructionist sense, you NEED to be true to the spirit of their characters. Who are they at their core and why is that interesting?




It’s no secret that the first hour-hour and half of BvS is borderline incoherent from too many plot-threads, interchangeable themes, bad internal logic, and terrible pacing. This leads to a climax that doesn’t feel like the big payoff it should and that doesn’t adequately establish why its shared continuity is exciting.

By removing segments that are confusing, contradictory, irrelevant, overcomplicated, or inappropriate for the material, we can VASTLY improve the material.

So, what’s on the chopping block?

1. The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents & the discovery of the Bat-Cave.
-Everyone knows Batman’s origin. Nobody needs this rehashed.
-It’s only there to establish that “Martha” is Bruce’s mother, which will be used as an on-its-face-stupid plot device later to connect Batman & Superman
-This is revealed to be a dream sequence, which is a piss-poor way of opening a movie. Opening with a dream sequence destroys the trust between audience & storyteller (unless the story is literally about dreams and questionable reality). This script isn’t about dreams.

2. Everything that happens in Africa and as a result of Africa. We get a stunning 9/11 re-enactment of Bruce Wayne watching the destruction of Metropolis in the wake of Superman & Zod’s fight. THAT is your Inciting Incident –the first implication of the central conflict. BvS ignores this, instead focusing on Superman being framed for murdering dudes in Africa after he saved Lois from a warlord.
-Superman has never used a gun in the series and he’s demonstrably more powerful than bullets. Why would he use them?
-The focus on Africa ignores Metropolis as an Inciting Incident, which is a sloppy choice.
-Neither Superman or Lois mourn the human loss in Africa, especially to their friend, Jimmy Olsen, who is gunned down right in front of Lois. Instead, they have sex in a bathtub.
-The African massacre is clearly there to echo the War on Terror, which Metropolis’ destruction already covers.
-That makes the African massacre confusing as to its motivation and effect on the plot.

3. The Superman Statue in Metropolis.
Half of Metropolis was leveled, and countless people lost their lives in the devastation. Superman would be an extremely polarizing figure. There’s no chance they’d build a memorial statue for him. In all rationality, they’d first try him for reckless endangerment, as the trailers seemed to suggest.

4. Every Dream Sequence.
-As established, Batman’s origin is a wasted sequence
-The “Knightmare” sequence in the post-apocalypse where Batman shoots & kills people and Superman laser-visions people to death. Countless people have been put off by the violence in the sequence, it’s not pertinent to the immediate story, and it’s baffling to non-fans.
-Flash’s cameo. Flash shows up in a dream/time-wormhole/who knows to Batman after the “Knightmare,” to warn Batman about Superman. Again, baffling to non-fans, Flash’s armor confused many existing fans, and it’s not motivated by anything in a script sense. If this paid off later (if we saw Batman send Flash back in time to warn him IN THIS FILM) it might make more sense. As it is, it’s a weird dream-within-a dream. This is not INCEPTION, people.
-Pa Kent’s “dead horse” monologue. Pa Kent shows up on top of a mountain to tell Superman that heroism will always cost lives. Beyond the fact that it’s demonstrably untrue in real life, every other living character has spouted off about the cost of heroism. It’s unnecessary. Being a dream, it further complicates the movie’s already troubled grasp on reality.
-Martha Wayne, the Demon Bat. Bruce Wayne has a nightmare that his mother’s grave is bleeding. When he touches the blood, a Demon Bat bursts out and attacks him. Is this supposed to speak to the darkness within Bruce? To his fears of fighting Superman? To his survivor’s guilt over his parents? What? It’s not a clear line to anything. It’s only there to look kewl.

5. Batman Violence.
Yes, this is supposedly the “best” Batman (I’ll always say BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, or if pressed, BATMAN BEGINS, because those have the fighting skills, detective skills, compassion, and respect for human life going for them), but he’s got a serious problem with violence. Remember, the movie says he’s opposed to Superman’s violence in Metropolis’ destruction. He has to be consistent and offer a rational alternative. We’ll remove…
-The Bat-Brand. He uses this to mark “the worst” criminals so prison inmates know to kill them. That’s not any Batman I recognize, and if fundamentally misunderstands who Batman is. He stops crime; he doesn’t perpetuate it, even indirectly. More, what criminal would go along with what Batman says? That makes zero sense.
-Removing the “Knightmare” sequence takes care of Batman murdering people. Mostly.
-Tone down the Batmobile. Yes, the Batmobile is awesome, no Batman shouldn’t be shooting people or literally monster-trucking them to death.
-Physical violence. Even outside of “Knightmare,” this Batman MAIMS people. Most of the people he fights in the warehouse won’t be walking again. Or breathing without medical assistance. He also directly killed the guy with the flamethrower. If Batman is this violent, SUICIDE SQUAD couldn’t exist in this universe; they’d all be in traction. The Joker –WHO KILLED JASON TODD prior to the movie- would be six feet under.

6. Doomsday.
Lex Luthor is one of the greatest  villains in comic books. A master genius, strategist, manipulator, he hides his villainy behind a spotless reputation as a businessman and philanthropist. Bearing in mind that in the comics he made his own anti-Superman Iron Man armor, you have more than enough to make him a physical threat too. So why bother with Doomsday?
-Doomsday is literally only there to kill Superman. His appearance alone telegraphs this, making it unsurprising to fans and baffling to general audiences. The death of Superman, cinematically, occurs too early in the franchise for this to have any emotional resonance. It isn’t earned.
-Doomsday doesn’t have any bearing on the plot prior to his appearance.
-The devastation of Gotham in the fight with him renders Batman’s anti-civilian casualties point moot. Seriously, it’s like an atom bomb hit Gotham. One-line explain-aways like “everyone in that district went home for the night” can’t cover shitty logic.
-Although Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman fight together, they absolutely do not communicate. Nothing in the fight advances any of their characters, save for Wonder Woman, who receives the bulk of her (slim) characterization here. This makes their team up against a generic villain blank and kind of boring.
-The whole point of Doomsday is the slow, growing certainty of failure and death. In the DEATH OF SUPERMAN comic, Superman makes peace with Lois and himself before knowingly giving his life to stop Doomsday. Using Doomsday as random a boss fight fundamentally misunderstands the psychology of the source material.
-That cave troll is not Doomsday.

7. “Martha”
Batman and Superman’s fight comes to a screeching halt when they realize that their mom has the same first name. This is cataclysmically stupid and has nothing to do with the multitude of previously established themes. It’s trite, easy, overly convenient, and, honestly, not very satisfying. It doesn’t even begin to address their philosophical differences, which, I remind you, are driving this story.

8. Bruce Wayne’s Training
Seriously, we’ve seen Batman kick 9 kinds of ass already in this movie. We know that he’s in peak physical condition. We don’t need to see him lift tires to understand that. More, we know that no human being is remotely a challenge for Superman. It’s wasted screen time.

9. Talking heads
Batman v Superman pays homage to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS comic by all buy copy-pasting the talk shows that discuss the pros and cons of Superman. There are a few problems with this montage.
-This sequence was used in the comic to be political and philosophical babble. Satire meant to mock the hyper politicization of the 80s-onward and to show how far society has fallen. IT IS NOT serious political and philosophical discourse. Portraying it in this way misses the point.
-The talking heads are over a montage where Superman repeatedly saves people. This does not advance the plot in any meaningful way beyond “giving Superman something to do.”
-These people are stating multiple conflicting themes in a movie that already states multiple conflicting themes. Just because you state those themes doesn’t mean you execute those themes. Just because something’s on the screen DOES NOT make it intelligible.

10. Chasing experimental bullets
We already cut Africa, but so this is clear, Lois is kept “active” in the story because she’s chasing down experimental bullets that Lex’s mercenaries in Africa used. These bullets are meant to create a conspiracy that leads to Lex Luthor. Here are the problems:
-Experimental bullets that lead to Lex? How cartoonish and obvious can you get?
-Why the hell wouldn’t mercenaries just use normal bullets?
-Again, if this is meant to incriminate Superman, it’s far beyond his modus operandi

11. Kidnapping Martha Kent
Lex Luthor forces Superman to fight Batman by threatening to kill his mother if he doesn’t.
-Superman has demonstrated super-hearing in this script. No doubt he could find her in a matter of moments if he tried. Coupled with Superman’s x-ray vision, wtf is Lex thinking?
-All Superman has to do to prevent the fight is to tell Batman that Lex Luthor has kidnapped his mother. Instead, Superman decides to fight Batman out of chest-beating masculinity.
-Kidnapping? Really? That’s the best criminal mastermind and tech CEO Lex Luthor has to offer? C’mon…

12. The Destroyed World Engine
Early in the movie, children find a giant hunk of Kryptonite, Superman’s weakness, in the remains of one of the giant terraforming devices from Man of Steel. Why is its twisted wreckage just sitting there? Wouldn’t Superman have thrown it into space or the military have seized it? It’s bad world-building.

13. The Death of Superman
We’re not killing Superman. We’ve established that killing him in this way has no resonance and would mean nothing this early in the series. Let’s hold off until it CAN mean something after Justice League 3 or something.

14. Wonder Woman
Of all the pledged cuts, this is the only one I feel bad about, as Wonder Woman was one of the few things that audiences across the board seemed to like. She was cool, she liked to fight, she had killer theme music, and that WWI picture of her was fantastic. The problem is that she’s largely inactive when she’s undercover, having go-nowhere scenes with Bruce Wayne, and when she suddenly shows up to fight Doomsday, it feels like deus ex machina –like an easy out- for the main characters.
Yes, Wonder Woman is a major part of “The Trinity;” yes, she’s a major Justice League character; yes, we need more female superheroes; yes, Gal Gadot looked awesome… No, it wasn’t the best way to use her. No, it wasn’t her story. No, she didn’t add interesting themes to a movie that was, principally, theme-driven.
Because she was so loved by the fanbase and by general audiences, I’m willing to concede on this by saying that she can stay in the movie IF she can be given a more integral role so her appearance at the end doesn’t come out of nowhere.

15. The White Portuguese
Are you trying to tell me that Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective, the guy with a giant-ass crime-computer, couldn’t figure out the name of a boat?

By removing all these things, we already have a slicker, more understandable movie that’s prepared to tell the story it’s advertising: Batman v Superman. It also has more time to investigate the heavy themes that are so important to it. While this makes the movie more approachable, it doesn’t solve some other key issues.




Next, we’ll talk about what elements could be rearranged to make the story more entertaining. As it stands, DEAR GOD, BvS is poorly paced. If it’s not taking an excruciatingly long time to reach major plot points, it’s padding itself with sequel-baiting. Some of these issues can be fixed simply by placing them somewhere else.

1. The title fight
Why is the main fight between Batman & Superman saved for the end of the movie? Up until that point, they barely interact, save for glaring and Superman trashing the Batmobile. They disagree on… something. Collateral damage? Threat to society? That philosophical difference is all the movie cares about, not the actual fight. As a result, 2/3rds of movie feels like empty build-up.
So move the fight to the first act turning point, or roughly 25 minutes in. Doing this allows you to get to the crux of the confrontation faster; highlights that Batman doesn’t have a chance; more clearly motivates him to find kryptonite; gives Lex more reason to scheme and maneuver; and gives Superman more cause to question himself and his role in the world. Doing this also allows you to have them fight more than once. The first time, Batman gets his ass kicked. The second time, with Kryptonite, it’s more evenly matched. After that, well… you get to the rest of the story.

2. “Freaks dressed as clowns.”
Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent attend a party held by Lex Luthor, where they trade barbs about each other’s secret identity, leading to Bruce making the above remark. It’s a great scene, and –cut like it was in the second trailer- it’s genuinely the best written scene in the movie. Here’s the problem: their dialogue hints that they both know the other’s secret identity, which at this point in the movie is impossible.
Move it to after the first fight. Maybe Batman gets unmasked by Superman, or Superman discovers his identity with X-Ray vision. Maybe Batman plants a tracking beacon on Superman or deduces it with keen detective skills. Hell, maybe the glasses just don’t fool Batman. The point is, this scene plays better if the dialogue is a verbal representation of their physical battle. It plays better if they know each other’s secret identity.

3. Move the Justice League cameos to the end.
Just as Batman and Superman are about to fight Doomsday, Wonder Woman watches some youtube videos of forthcoming Justice League characters –Aquaman underwater stabbing a camera, Flash stopping a grocery store robbery, and Cyborg getting fused to a Motherbox –a teleportation machine from a distant planet. These aren’t quick cuts, but long takes of each character that destroy the pacing of the movie, especially right on top of the climax. Although WB/DC is trying hard not to be Marvel, these scenes NEED to happen at the end of the movie so they don’t distract from the current movie.  As to how to improve these scenes, well…



“What to change” in a nutshell.


BvS is failing so hard that some things need to be changed outright. Maybe they didn’t fit the movie’s tone. Maybe their theme is wrong. Maybe they push the movie in a bad direction. Hell, maybe they represent a missed opportunity.

What should’ve been changed?

1. The Justice League cameos
Film logic can be hard to explain to people who don’t speak the lingo. Think of a sentence that’s too long to be entertaining or easily understood. Think of a song that’s really repetitive. Think of watching someone walk toward you from over a block away. That’s how these scenes feel. The Aquaman scene goes on too long. The Flash scene is a little too staged. The Cyborg origin DEFINITELY goes on too long and has an inappropriate tone.
Maybe this should’ve been a montage? Batman or Wonder Woman looks through the secret files, and although they’re hidden camera footage, they’re arranged like a montage complete with music. Quick cuts, as much information as you need to see that your favorite characters are there and what might lie ahead for them. Aquaman stabs a camera; Flash stops a robbery and ties up the bad guy; Cyborg integrates more technology into his body or does a weapons test; Green Lantern gets his ring and blasts off into space; The Suicide Squad recruits a dangerous new member; etc.
Just showing audiences characters won’t get them excited. Showing them characters in a way that’s exciting will. Presenting information as action also gets people interested in future movies.

2. Batman’s captured criminal
So in a throwaway scene in Gotham, Batman saves a bunch of sex-trafficking victims by branding their slaver with a batarang. He then escapes the police. It doesn’t serve much purpose beyond establishing that Batman’s methods are extreme (even after what Superman did to Metropolis, it seems).
The scene could be marginally more interesting if he was taking down someone who’d appear in Suicide Squad. Maybe Batman stops Deadshot or Slipknot from assassinating someone. Maybe he books Harley Quinn or the Joker? Any of these would be a good tool for setting up Suicide Squad in a more natural way. After all, this Batman has been around for awhile. No doubt the criminals in Suicide Squad had to come from somewhere. Again, we removed Batman’s ultra-violence, so this scene no longer serves that point. Now, it’s here to establish that he can get the job done without collateral damage, and will do so at any cost. It’s also here to shamelessly plug future DC movies.

3. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Did anyone like Jesse Eisenberg’s Max-Landis-as-Lex-Luthor? Yeah, Eisenberg is a great actor, but within a certain context. Not in this context. He doesn’t fit the established tone of BvS, and he’s a pointless reinvention of the character. What was your favorite Jesse Luthor moment? Him forcing a cherry Jolly Rancher into a guy’s mouth? The jar of piss? “The Red capes are coming?”
This is getting into ad hominem territory, but when Zack Snyder’s Objectivist politics became known, it almost made sense that he wouldn’t portray Lex Luthor as his comic book counterpart. The comic book Lex Luthor IS an objectivist, and someone that Snyder would probably sympathize most with. Which is probably why he doesn’t like classic Superman –a guy who does good things out of the goodness of his heart. Snyder doesn’t agree with Superman’s politics. He can’t see him as the hero against an objectivist.
So, why not cast Lex Luthor as his traditional comic book self? The objectivist, bald, physically fit, manipulative genius of business and crime? He’d be a much more threatening foe, have fewer comparisons to the Joker, and still fall within the attempted themes of people seizing power for themselves. Why not have the most threatening version of the villain?
The only excuse I can imagine for keeping Eisenberg as Luthor was that he managed to break up the movie’s monotony.
Lex Luthor can still get the Kryptonian technology from MoS’s World Engines or from Zod’s crashed ship. He can still generate a physical threat (just not Doomsday), and he can still play both men against each other. He just doesn’t have to be an irritating asshole the whole time.

4. What the characters stand for
This isn’t so much a change as a massive clarification. BvS revolves around its themes, so it’s important for us to understand in no uncertain terms what the characters stand for.
Is Batman anti-alien? Is he anti-collateral damage and civilian casualties? Does he simply want justice for the people who died in Metropolis? Does he think that nobody should have absolute power to enact justice? If so, how does he reconcile his own actions?
What does Superman want? The movie indicates that he’s grappling with his own godhood. Fine, but what does that mean emotionally? “Am I a god or aren’t I” isn’t emotive. Is he trying to redeem himself after the collateral damage at Metropolis and Smallville? Is he anti-Batman violence? If so, why is he ok killing people? Does he feel that might makes right? Is he just trying to live a normal life? Without knowing his goals, it’s hard to say what he stands for thematically. Rather, most of the movie makes him an object to be acted upon.
BvS’ Lex Luthor stands for mortals seizing power for themselves, and perhaps doing it in a corrupt way. How does that play against Batman and Superman’s themes? Is it the correct theme for him? Do we even know what Lex Luthor wants, exactly, beyond a dead Superman?
Without knowing all of these things, it’s hard to tell a coherent movie with a clear division of philosophies. We need to have a clear idea of what these differing philosophies are and how they differ before we can understand why Batman and Superman would EVER come to blows. Otherwise, we’re just aping the imagery of The Dark Knight Returns without understanding how much its Batman/Superman fight was contextualized.

5. The senate hearing
This is one of the most important scenes in the movie, and it’s wasted. The senate hearing represents an opportunity for the characters to espouse their philosophies, goals, and methods, and to highlight the conflict of the movie.
Instead, Superman gets nothing to say, everyone stares at a jar of piss, and a guy in a wheelchair explodes, killing everyone. It’s meant to implicate Superman as a murderer, but how does that happen? We know from real-world arson cases that the source of the explosion could be easily determined.
The senate hearing needs to establish Superman’s platitudes, his goals, and his methodology. Or, more simply, what does he want and how does he plan to get it? That’s how EVERY movie works and neglecting it here is a major misstep.  ESPECIALLY in a movie about themes and ideology.  More, it needs to establish how society will deal with Superman. Will it take measures to assure his cooperation? Will it demand he leaves? What happens if he doesn’t agree with their decision?

6. No Darkseid
BvS heavily eludes to Darkseid as the JUSTICE LEAGUE villain, with a barrage of imagery in Batman’s “knightmare” and with Luthor’s implications of interacting with them.
All of this is horseshit.
Sure, Darkseid is one of those imposing foes of the DC universe, but he’s not the worst. More, although he was certainly the inspiration for Marvel’s Thanos, Thanos has already been seen on the big screen a few times now. Bringing Darkseid to your JUSTICE LEAGUE movie is only going to seem like you’re copying Marvel.
Trust me, Justice League has way more villains. Vandal Savage, Eclipso, Despero, The Injustice League, The Crime Syndicate, Amazo, Dr. Destiny, The Anti-Monitor, Prometheus, Circe, Starro, Queen of Fables, Imperiex, and some of the individual heroes’ most powerful villains: Ra’s al Ghul, Joker, Mr. Mxyptlk, Lex Luthor, Ocean Master, Ares, seriously, the list just keeps going on.
Pick one that better resonates with your universe and doesn’t make you seem like a copycat.
Want more? Making Luthor the stooge of Darkseid makes him a less interesting, less individual character. He’s not goddamned Loki; he’s Lex Luthor.

7. Batman’s Age
In the BvS universe, Bruce has been Batman for a long time, however, Gotham police and Clark Kent act like he’s a new phenomena. “He operates in shadows.” Sure he does. He also pilots a plane that spews bullets and a drives a car that might as well be a monster truck. Why is Batman 50-60 years old? Why are the cops unsure about him? Gotham would’ve LONG made up their mind about him. What is the benefit of this, especially when this info is contradictory?
Because it’s a callback to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. The other reason is that after the death of Jason Todd, Batman’s grown old and bitter, which is an excuse to have him use extreme violence.
I’d argue that his being an old man makes little sense, especially with A. how impulsive and overt he is. B. How soon the actor could age out C. How the universe responds to him.
Either he’s a relatively new urban rumor, or he’s a fixture of the city.

Ok, so by removing vast swaths of the movie that aren’t working and by reordering events to work better, we’re tentatively left with the “best parts” or “most vital parts” of the movie. That doesn’t leave us with much movie (the movie was singularly bad, and we’ve had to cut nearly all of it). That leaves our last step:




1. Luthor kills a Bat-Villain.
Let’s go back to Batman arresting a known villain who could get inducted into Suicide Squad.
Instead, maybe he arrests one of his known-but-minor villains. Mad Hatter, Anarky, Calendar Man, etc. But, Lex Luthor is waiting at the police station, having paid off the arresting officers to turn a blind eye. Luthor talks to this villain about the injustice of the arrest at the hands of the Bat. The villain swears revenge. Luthor asks him what he’d do for revenge. The villain says “anything.” Luthor kills him and dumps the body in an alley around Gotham City, telling the police that if they breathe a word to anyone, he’ll  make their whole family suffer.
Suddenly, it looks like Batman killed that guy. Won’t Superman be pleased.
Now you have a reason for Superman to want to fight Batman –”he killed a guy”- and the conversation can’t be ended as simply as “Martha.” More, Batman having murdered a guy allows Superman to do some soul-searching –after all, he killed a guy too (in MoS). Maybe he wants to take Batman down for both for justice and because Batman represents, to him, the dark side of himself –a reminder of his failures.

2. Superman is wracked with guilt from Man of Steel.
In the events of MoS, Superman is complicit in the destruction of Smallville, the destruction of a third of Metropolis, and the murder of General Zod. In BvS, Superman acts relatively well-adjusted, his chief worries about what it means to him to be a god. There’s no sense of character growth from the previous movie and little indication that he’s learned anything from it. Sure, he saves lots of people in this, but he also saved a handful of people in MoS from an exploding oil rig.
If BvS is a response to the criticism of MoS –you bet your ass it is- Superman has to show growth as a character. He screamed when he broke Zod’s neck. That indicates a perceived failure on his part (he’s not well-characterized in MoS for us to specify what failure that is), and a wish to change/improve.  This is all the motivation we need to evolve Superman’s character into one that more closely resembles his comic book counterpart –the pinnacle of goodness of virtue, an inspiration to all of humanity in the universe to be better than we ever thought we could be. He WANTS to be that guy.
So yes, let’s make Superman wrestle with his guilt. Maybe he’s trying to save everyone in the world. He can’t let a single person die because if he did, maybe the world’s right about him. Maybe he’s a monster. Maybe he’s too dangerous to live. Over the course of the story, though, we see that this drive to save people is a natural state for him. He’s shrugging off the bad morals of the Kent family and coming into his own.
He genuinely wants to help people. And that might have to start with stopping someone who he perceives as hurting people –Batman: a person who he sees as embodying his failure.

3. The first fight between Batman & Superman doesn’t go so well.
In BvS, Batman and Superman only fight once. At the very end. That is a catastrophic mistake for a movie whose name suggests a massive battle. Their fight is brutal but bland, and their only other confrontation is just an exchange of glares after Superman trashes the Batmobile. That’s nowhere near enough.
So give us a Batman/Superman fight at the first act turning point –about 25 minutes in. For this fight, we don’t need Batman in the Frank Miller armor; he’d take on Superman with the Batjet and the Batmobile and get owned. Batman uses both of his vehicles in tandem, and they’re swatted like flies. Superman isn’t even trying. Batman pulls out all the stops, emptying his utility belt to no effect. Superman just walks through the gadgetry, lecturing about stopping Batman’s violence. He grabs Batman, pledging to make him face justice –only to be distracted by screams only he can hear. He flies off, swearing to finish this another time. He leaves Batman scared shitless. Especially because he calls Batman “Bruce.” X-ray vision and whatnot.
Of course Batman planted a tracker on Superman, which he uses to determine that Superman is Clark Kent. Or, again, maybe he just deduces it. He IS the world’s greatest detective after all.

4. Batman comes prepared for the next fight.
In the second fight (about 50 minutes in), Batman’s had tons of time to prepare. The Frank Miller armor, Sonics, missiles, kryptonite, etc. Both men espouse their stances on justice as they fight. Batman gets the upper-hand with the kryptonite. Their fight causes a building to collapse, and Superman hears people inside. They work together, barely managing to save everyone before the building collapses.
In this moment, they realize that they’re opposite sides of the same coin. Both men just want to help people, but they have very different methods. They understand, from previous deeds or misconceptions, that maybe they don’t have all the answers.
You use action to show that these two can see eye-to-eye philosophically. It’s WAY THE HELL more believable than them becoming best friends over their moms having the same name.

5. Rooftop Heart to Heart
How weird is it that Batman and Superman barely talk to each other in BvS? Just a few sentences between them could’ve solved everything.
In our rewrite, these are guys who’ve been beating on each other for about half the script. After they nearly just killed each other in pursuit of justice, they realize that they’re more alike than they could’ve imagined.
So they talk it out. Both men explore their fears. Superman laments what happened to Metropolis and Zod. He wishes he’d been stronger… That he hadn’t been so impulsive …or so scared. He’d lived so long without limits that he didn’t realize that he SHOULD have limits. He can’t let it happen again. He has to be better than himself. He has to become a symbol of something greater. Batman explores his fear of loss. His parents; Jason Todd (the Robin Joker killed prior to BvS); and his employees during Metropolis’ destruction… He can’t let anyone else die on his watch. Even if that means losing his soul.
Naturally, Superman asks him why he killed that supervillain of his. Batman denies it, and, talking it out, they realize what’s going on:

6. Lex Luthor has orchestrated everything
Through crafty words and actions, Lex Luthor has turned public opinion against Batman & Superman, and he’s manipulated events to make them kill each other. He LET Batman steal Kryptonite. He supercharged the headlines to focus on Superman’s guilt in the destruction of Metropolis. He killed the supervillain and framed Batman.
But why?
Batman & Superman work together to figure that out. Complimenting each other’s strengths, they investigate Lex Luthor’s labs, and discover that Luthor’s been experimenting with Kryptonian technology. Just as they’re about to make a major discovery, Luthor’s security system activates, immobilizing Superman with a Kryptonite beam and Batman with a Kryptonian robot or something.
Luthor gloats, explaining that the destruction of Metropolis allowed him to profit like he never had before. Real estate, construction, infrastructure, technology. After its destruction, HE was Metropolis’ savior. He didn’t have to manipulate the media to become the city’s favorite son, and he wasn’t going to stop there. With a fleet of reverse-engineered Kryptonian drone ships at his disposal, he could stage “Kryptonian attacks” all over the world, fund the militaries that defeat them, and put the Lexcorp name on every building built on the ashes.
While this plan is almost as elaborate as Lex’s “plan” in BvS, it’s far more complete and with less extraneous steps. Moreover, the goal is not “a dead Superman, because reasons,” but superiority, domination, and control. It’s not quite as simple as “take over the world,” and its gleefully disregard of human life runs directly counter to the ideology espoused by Batman & Superman throughout the script.
It’s the antithesis of their character arcs.
It’s how you craft a resonant villain.

7. Lex’s secret weapon
Lex prepares to kill Superman with a knife. Batman, ever the escape-artist, manages to free an arm and disarm Lex with a batarang. Lex panics and runs while Batman finishes freeing himself. He manages to pull Superman from the kryptonite field, but Superman’s at death’s door. That’s when a pair of massive doors open revealing:
Lex’s battle armor. A kryptonite-powered death machine.
Batman tries to sneak Superman away as Lex hunts them down. Lex uses thermal vision to track them. Superman, regaining his powers piecemeal, uses his heat vision to distract Luthor with another heat signature while he and Batman regroup. Batman’s set all kinds of traps, but they’re not stopping Lex. The battle armor is all but impregnable. Superman has a plan, but Bruce will have to trust him.
Luthor manages to get the drop on them, scattering them. Batman’s knocked unconscious. Superman, agonized, struggles to get to his feet, but he’s too weak. Lex blasts him with Kryptonite radiation, gloating in his torment. Finally, Superman goes still. Death by kryptonite exposure. Lex prepares to deliver the killing blow—
Only for Batman to rip his suit open from behind.
Superman leaps to his feet, his face covered, and he uses a grappling hook to rip the Kryptonite core straight out of Luthor’s chest.
That’s right. Batman and Superman traded places. And kryptonite radiation has no effect on Batman. With the suit’s remaining power, Luthor attempts to kill Batman. Superman casually dismantles the armor with his heat vision, talking about how no one should have the kind of power that Lex has. He’s shown that the risk of abuse is far too high. Luthor swears that he’ll get away with it. They’ll never be able to arrest him. The people of the world are still turned against the heroes, they—
Batman plays a bat-recorder, Lex’s own words damning him. Lex just glowers.

8. The Promise
Batman mentions they should probably do something about the kryptonite. Superman agrees. He laser-visions the rock, saying, “I meant what I said about power. Nobody should have unchecked power. You trusted me. I trust you.” Batman goes to the steaming kryptonite.
It’s been burned into a ring.
Superman: “If I ever step out of line… If I ever fail to be the hero the world deserves… I need you to be the hero it needs.”
Batman tucks the ring into his utility belt. “I’ll never have to.”
They shake hands.
This completely brings their arcs together in a way that’s meaningful, true to their characters, and true to the established themes of the movie. In a movie about power and responsibility (hell, nearly ever superhero movie is), both men find a proper balance. It also references the hell out of THE DARK KNIGHT, which should make fanboys happy.

9. Luthor’s fate
Luthor’s admitted to the world’s cushiest prison cell. He paid for it. It’s only a matter of time before the courts hear his appeal and he’s free again. And when he gets out… there will be hell to pay. Contacting his people on the outside, he tells them to begin prepping the Doomsday project.

10. Luthor’s secret files.
At the Batcave, Batman and Superman go over Lex’s secret files, showcasing a barrage of super-powered people. Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Vandal Savage, Parasite, Trigon, etc. The world’s a far bigger place than they could’ve imagined. Together, they’ll be ready for it.
Again, the timing here means it doesn’t interrupt the flow of our story.

11. Not enough for you?
Yeah, that was a little contained for a blockbuster, I guess. How about Lex escapes with his fleet of Kryptonian ships after leaving Batman & Superman to their deaths at the hands of a Kryptonian robot? Superman and Batman free each other and fly out to stop Luthor’s ships before they level Gotham? You could have the same climax described above, but with a helluva lot more action and a ticking clock. Hell, maybe Lois has been trying to sabotage these things the whole time and she gets wrapped up in the climax? Or maybe we swap Lois for Wonder Woman?



Sorry, the internet ran all out of kissing jokes.

I’ve heard it said that BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE fails because Marvel’s had so many more movies to establish its world and characters. I reject that idea. EVERY movie has a chance to establish its own world & characters. BvS fails because it couldn’t be bothered to tell a concise, understandable, genre-appropriate story. It could’ve -and should’ve- been the second-highest grossing movie of all time after STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.

You CAN have heavy themes in your blockbusters. DAWN & RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES did that well enough. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and INSIDE OUT knocked it out of the freakin’ park. You CAN tell revisionist versions of established characters to great effect. See THE DARK KNIGHT and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. You just have to understand why the characters work; why cinematic language and storytelling tenants are important; what makes your movie entertaining; and why a movie in a shared universe absolutely needs to stand on its own.

Let’s hope Warner Bros. learns their lesson.

P.S. I also wrote a Man of Steel retcon. Interested?



Everybody’s got a list these days. Heroic Hollywood has one on the best Batman movie, but I respectfully disagree with their list and methodology. So, not only am I going to count down to the best Batman movie, I’m ALSO going to count down to the best Superman movie!

What IS my methodology? Simply put, what is, formally, the best movie, and what has the richest, most nuanced ideology. Is it coherent? Is it good? Does it have any humanity? What does it have to say? MAYBE bonus points if it’s true to the character.

Now, because there have been so many of these, we’re only going to count feature-length theatrical releases. That means none of the live-action or animated movie serials, and none of the animated movies apart from one. So, without further ado…

Let’s count down to the best of the Bat!




How could this not be here? Criticized upon release for its cartoonish camp, BATMAN AND ROBIN featured the garishly miscast Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, the atrocious Alicia Silverstone, the bastardization of the then-popular Bane, and the homoerotic imagery. The real crimes of BATMAN AND ROBIN were subtler. It was structurally identical to its predecessor, BATMAN FOREVER, had no internal logic, had uneven pacing, had nothing to say about Batman or his world, and –worst of all- was an unfunny comedy. It was the wrong movie for the wrong time –an irreverently campy take on Silver Age/Adam West Batman when the world was going nuts for Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and when kids had the far superior Batman fare: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. BATMAN AND ROBIN’s critical failure was profound enough to kill the superhero movie for nearly a decade.



Schumacher’s first outing of Batman is every bit as ridiculous as BATMAN AND ROBIN, but had loads more to about the man under the mask. Nicole Kidman’s Dr. Chase Meridian investigates Batman’s psychosexual elements, continually asking him if he’s got a rubber fetish; Batman and the newly introduced Robin hint at the pedastery that’s followed them since the Adam West days; the Batmobile is a straight-up phallus; and Batman woodenly says during the climax that he doesn’t have to be Batman; he chooses to be. On the nose as hell, but both are deconstructions of Burton-era Bat-films inasmuch as Schumacher’s neon aesthetics are. Don’t get me wrong, Tommy Lee Jones is miscast as Two-Face, and Val Kilmer always looks lost as Bruce Wayne, but BATMAN FOREVER’s bombast had a more coherent emotional arc guiding it.



If THE DARK KNIGHT was an examination of the Patriot Act and the War on Terror, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was Christopher Nolan’s attempt to address the 99% movement, and the results are mixed. Bane’s mid-air terrorist attack is insane, and holy shit, Anne Hathaway rules as Catwoman. Thematically however, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES argues that if the 99% got their way, they’d destroy their city in a matter of days, and are only ever truly happy when they have a fascist (Batman) ruling over them. Seriously. That’s what it says thematically. If Bane wasn’t muffled, he could tell you. More concretely, the movie was overlong with two first acts, a second act that nearly wrote Batman out of the action, and had ill-advised fan service throughout the material, most infamously Joseph Gordon Levitt as John “Robin” Blake. It’s clear that Christopher Nolan’s heart wasn’t in this one, and it marked the beginning of the bad habits of his brother and screenwriter, Jonathan Nolan.

6. BATMAN (1989)


Up until BATMAN BEGINS and IRON MAN, BATMAN set the gold standard for superhero movies. Tim Burton’s gothic aesthetic lent itself perfectly to Gotham City, as did his sensibilities of a hero with talents that set him apart from the rest of humanity: Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne is all but a damaged savant, reclusive, enigmatic, and tentative, only seeming natural in the bat costume. Despite this, the movie suffers from a lack of momentum and excitement, only really getting there when Jack Nicholson becomes the Joker. His maniacal performance cannot be understated, bringing a fractured vision of nascent 90s prismatic style into black and white Gotham. Without BATMAN, no superhero fad; without BATMAN, no Batman: The Animated Series, and by extension, no DC Animated Universe; without BATMAN, no Joker craze. So why so low on the list? Again, it’s poorly paced and stretched thin until the Joker –as the Joker- shows up, and after that, the movie is entirely motivated by and beholden to him.



“Better than BATMAN?! REALLY?!” Yes. Really. Adam West’s Batman is a polarizing figure, I realize, for his campy Silver Age antics, especially when grimdark Batman is all the rage with kids today, but find for me a movie better at being what it wants to be. Batman: the Movie is an imaginative, comedy adventure with his most dangerous adversaries from the 1966 TV series. More than a screwball slugfest, it offered minor satire on the nature of politics and bureaucracies. Don’t forget, for decades, this WAS Batman, through and through. Still, your mileage on its antics may vary.



Tim Burton took everything that was BATMAN, for good or ill, and turned it up to 11. Three show-stealing villains: Michelle Phiffer’s crazed dominatrix Catwoman-as-rape-metaphor; Danny Devito’s horny circus freak Penguin; and Christopher Walken as vaguely scarier Christopher Walken! Crazy macabre set design! Better action with Batman, the Batmobile, and the Batboat! A better romance! BATMAN RETURNS is a hallucinogenic nightmare of Gotham City, but its chief crime is overexerting itself. Penguin, though unforgettable, feels shoehorned into an otherwise brilliant revenge story between Catwoman and Walken’s Max Shrek. BATMAN RETURNS didn’t offer a character arc for Bruce Wayne, but it was unapologetically nuts and self aware. Gotta love it.



The only animated Batman movie to hit theaters, BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM was essentially a long episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and was more competent than most live-action adaptations. In it, Kevin Conroy’s Bruce Wayne was torn between his survivor’s guilt and calling to be Batman vs. love with a woman from his past, all while a mysterious new villain is slaughtering the gangsters of Gotham City. Atmospheric, creepy, and heartfelt, MASK OF THE PHANTASM only falters in that, as a mystery, it only offers one suspect.



I never forgave IRON MAN for copying this movie’s structure. BATMAN BEGINS is a slick, class-conscious update of Batman’s origin story, featuring top-notch acting by Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard; Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane; Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon; Michael Caine as Alfred; and Christian Bale as Batman. This is a movie that understands who Batman is: determined, compassionate, principled, and broken. Its training sequences have yet to be surpassed, and its pulse-pounding climax has yet to be topped in the franchise. I’d say its emotional journey and structure has yet to be matched, but IRON MAN copied it. Because it was that good.



Largely considered the greatest comic book movie of all time, THE DARK KNIGHT is essentially THE WATCHMEN of comic book movies in its thoughtful and pointed deconstruction of superheroes as agents of fascism, using heavy War on Terror imagery and themes such as extradition, the Patriot Act, mass trials for Mobsters (terrorists); and the looming threat of the “head insurgent,” THE DARK KNIGHT forced Batman to compromise personal freedoms to capture a villain and to lie to an entire city to protect the ruling hegemony (about Harvey Dent/Two-Face). Seriously, Zack Snyder didn’t need to make the WATCHMEN with how well this played out. What can be said about Heath Ledger’s nihilistic, anarchistic Joker that hasn’t already been said? The man gave the performance of a lifetime, energizing an already multi-layered and exciting movie.

The sun sets in Gotham only for it to rise in Metropolis! Which Superman movies fall to Kryptonite, and which triumph over evil?


6. SUPERMAN III (1983)


What is SUPERMAN III? Screwball comedy with Richard Pryor? An adult life high school melodrama? Superman coming to grips with alcoholism? Whatever it is, it’s barely a Superman movie. Robert Vaughn’s Not-Lex-Luthor contracts Pryor’s Gus Gorman into hacking weather satellites to destroy Columbia for not joining his coffee bean trust, then uses faulty kryptonite to turn Superman evil. Describing this slow-paced, unfunny comedy makes it sound far more interesting than it really is. Its only saving graces are Clark Kent’s fight with Drunk Superman, a strangely Whovian fight with a supercomputer that turns people into robots, and Drunk Superman hijinks like blowing out the Olympic torch and straightening the leaning tower of Pisa. Rumor has it that the executives thought that people couldn’t take Mr. Myxoptlk, Bizarro, and Brainiac seriously, so we got a “screwball drama” with Richard Pryor, Drunk Superman, and a random computer instead. Pass.

5. MAN OF STEEL (2013)


Zack Snyder makes a beautiful image, no doubt, and many of his scenes, out of context, are pretty great. I’d expect no less from a music video director. But MAN OF STEEL represents all of his bad habits: a rushed script with cliffnotes standing in for arcs; heavy-handed, mixed metaphors standing in for characters; absent emotion; imagery in the place of earned themes; bizarre treatment of women; wooden acting; and unintentional messages from poorly thought-out beats (like the destruction of Metropolis and Superman breaking Zod’s neck). The script has no emotional heart to hold it together, rendering all of its beats lifeless and unengaging. It’s deeply embarrassed to be what it is, and would rather paint Superman as a fascist like Marvel Man than actually, earnestly depict Superman. Only Henry Cavill seems to understand that he’s playing Superman, and gives it his best with what little the script permitted.



The right movie for the wrong era, Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS is an extension of SUPERMAN I & II, innocent and optimistic, when all fans wanted was something more like BATMAN BEGINS. Or at least Superman punching things. The movie has an awkward first half with Superman stalking Lois, who’s remarried in his absence, but the rest is a passionate tribute to the Donner films with Kevin Spacey giving the performance of his life as Lex Luthor, Sam Huntington’s Jimmy Olson and Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane pitch-perfectly matching their 70s & 80s counterparts. It’s hopeful in a way many movies are not, but, even with its coherent script, it’s a little too understated for its own good.



Go ahead, laugh at Mark Pillow’s 80s-tastic Nuclear Man, but don’t lose sight of what a confident, solid blockbuster this is. No movie, up until BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM can claim to be such a perfect 1:1 translation of comic to film, with Superman continuing his charming on-off relationship with Margot Kidder’s Lois while fielding advances from Mariel Hemmingway’s sex-starved Lacy Warfield; to the visually perfect 80s villain Nuclear Man, a walking allegory for nuclear armament; to Hackman giving another great Lex Luthor performance; to the playful montage of Superman saving people from the collapsing Great Wall of China and from a volcanic eruption in Pompei; to its thoughtful and hopeful message about the nuclear armament crisis during the Cold War. SUPERMAN IV only stumbles in motivating its third act, by then, it’s all gravy.

2. SUPERMAN II (1980)


Superman’s relationship with Lois hold the Christopher Reeve Superman movies together, and at no point is it more clear than here. Superman/Clark Kent and Margot Kidder’s can we/can’t we romance is the most passionate and mature relationship in superhero movies to this day, so much so that SPIDER-MAN 2 tried to copy it. While Superman struggles with love, honesty, and responsibility, Terrance Stamp’s elegant General Zod, Jack O’Halloran’s brutish Non, and Sarah Douglas’ psychotic, trophy-hunting Ursa destroy their way across America, discovering their strengths and playfully toying with the populace, ultimately forcing Superman’s hand. The resulting fight is every bit as explosive as MAN OF STEEL’s climax, but with a Superman who cares about collateral damage. The only weak moment in this film is literally in its last two minutes, which undercuts the beauty of Clark & Lois’ relationship. So what if it’s light and playful, this, like SUPERMAN IV, is proud of what it is.

Whatever you do, don’t watch the Donner cut. It’s serious, sure, but it rips coherency and the emotional heart right out of the movie.

1. SUPERMAN (1978)


BATMAN may have launched the 90s superhero fad, but the legacy of SUPERMAN is undeniable. SUPERMAN RETURNS, GREEN LANTERN, SPIDER-MAN, and BATMAN BEGINS lived off SUPERMAN’s script, just as MAN OF STEEL bastardized that of SUPERMAN II. And why not, for the first of its genre, it hit every note perfectly; the forward-thinking exile of Zod, Non, and Faora on Krypton; Marlon Brando’s Jor-El’s somber farwell to his son; wanderlust and loss in Smallville with the Kents; Christopher’s Reeve’s dual performance as the hapless wimp Clark Kent and the inspiring Superman; Gene Hackman’s flamboyant, mustache-twirling Lex Luthor; the stunning romance with Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane and the beautiful night-flight over Metropolis; and the sheer wonder and optimism of Superman. It’s hard to overstate just how sterling this movie is.

But who has the best overall movie? Let’s break it down!


BATMAN (1989)

Let’s be real, though. The closer you get to the best of each character, the harder it is to pick the best! What do you think? Think I nailed it? Misrepresent one of your favorites? Sound off below!




[insert Hot Topic joke here]

When you think of the first four Batman movies, you think of the villains first, Batman second, and with reason! Villains are unpredictable! Grandiose! Violent! And unforgettable, even when they’re played by Arnold Schwartzeneggar. Perhaps moreso.

So a movie about supervillains sent on suicide missions to commute their prison sentences? Count me in. From Ostrander’s run through BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM (2014), I love the Suicide Squad (officially called “Taskforce X” by their superiors) and all of the big ideas surrounding the team: redemption, purpose, ethics, government control, morality, and sacrifice.

Holy cow, the sacrifice. “Suicide Squad” isn’t just a colorful name. Characters die all the time on these missions. Sometimes just a couple, sometimes only one’s left standing, and Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) promises to be no different.

So let’s play a game and wildly speculate on who’s going to die!

First, let’s talk about the director.


David Ayer grew up in South Central LA and spent some time in the Navy, making him no stranger to hardship. His body of work reflects this, with films almost exclusively focusing on the military, ex-military, paramilitary, and the police of central LA. His themes revolve around brotherhood, machismo, violence, deadened emotions, moral ambiguity, and sacrifice.

Most of his male characters are chollo-masculine and speak with heavy colloquialisms. None are sinners or saints, but most have an inextricable attachment to and fixation with violence and their particular brand of honor.

His female characters tend to be victimized bystanders, often at the mercy of his protagonists. If they’re not directly manipulated or injured by the protagonist, they’re unable to fully understand their situation. If a female character isn’t victimized, she’s considered a part of the family and/or brotherhood, and in many cases, behaves indistinguishably from the men. She’s “just one of the guys.”

One last thing, possibly the biggest thing: Ayer LOVES to kill characters. Nobody is safe from the plot in his movies, and the protagonists often go down in flames prior to or directly following an impassioned speech.


Other quick things:

1. Every member of Taskforce X, the Suicide Squad, has a bomb implanted in their neck. Stray from the mission, the bomb goes off.

2. A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group for Uniting Superhumans) is the corrupt government agency that runs Taskforce X/Suicide Squad. A dirty version of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s based out of Belle Reve prison in Louisiana, from where it selects its “candidates.” EVERY inmate is implanted with a bomb. Try to escape, the bomb goes off.

3. Amanda Waller runs Taskforce X and is the head of A.R.G.U.S. She’s got a zero tolerance policy for bullshit and hates criminals. Cross her, the bomb goes off.

And now, without further ado…



A character whose name only sounds edgy thanks to a 90s metal band.

IN THE COMICS: Christopher Weiss AKA Slipknot is an assassin who specializes in ropes. A former member of the Suicide Squad, his arm-bomb was detonated when he fled a mission. Surprising no one, he’s never appeared in other media.

IN THE MOVIE: He’s played by Adam Beach and looks like a hardcore badass soldier. They gave him a rifle to make up for specializing in ropes being so stupid. Still, he carries more ropes than is healthy and is just asking to trip and fall down a staircase.

ARGUMENT: Slipknot’s an obscure character, even among Suicide Squad fans. He’s been on only a single mission and was dumb enough to test if he really had a bomb in him. Nobody’s talking about him and nobody’s quite sure why he’s in the movie.

PREDICTIONS: Slipknot’s going to die immediately after everyone on the team laughs at how stupid ropes are. Just wait and bleed, Slipknot. Wait. And. Bleed.




Don't laugh at the bowling jacket, yo.

IN THE COMICS: Chato Santana AKA El Diablo, is a Latino gangster from South Central LA who volunteered his services to the Suicide Squad after inadvertently killing innocents with his pyrokinesis.

IN THE MOVIE: He’s played by Jay Hernandez and looks like his comic book counterpart with a snazzy jacket. Everything about this guy is attitude and he’ll undoubtedly be chollo. More than likely, he’ll be playing a walking flamethrower.

ARGUMENT: Yet another obscure character, albeit a deeper one with a more visual power. Arguably, this will be the character Ayer most sympathizes with, but El Diablo just isn’t built to last.

PREDICTIONS: El Diablo’s likely to survive for a long time on Ayer’s empathy alone, but that won’t save him in late in the second act. Expect him to die in a literal blaze of glory.



It's subtle, but she's Japanese. Look carefully.

IN THE COMICS: Tatsu Yamashiro AKA Katana wields “Soultaker,” a katana housing her husband’s soul, which guides her on the path of justice. She has aided the Suicide Squad and has been a member of the Outsiders, Birds of Prey, and a version of the Justice League.

IN THE MOVIE: Played by Karen Fukuhara, she’s one of the few team members who actually looks like their comic book counterpart, and her costume looks extremely Japanese. Girl stands out like a sore thumb.

ARGUMENT: Karen Fukuhara iss an unknown actress playing a lesser-known character who almost exclusively operates on lesser teams and/or seldomly partners with Batman. Still, she’s wearing a comic-accurate costume and could theoretically help launch other DC properties, specifically the Outsiders and Birds of Prey.

PREDICTIONS: Remember that scene from PREDATORS (2010) where a yakuza member kamikazis against a Predator? Didn’t think so. Here it is. With Deathstroke rumored among the characters, I firmly expect Karana to die in a one-on-one showdown with him to raise the stakes and sell how badass Deathstroke is.



photo 2

IN THE COMICS: Wilson Slade AKA Deathstroke is DC’s #1 assassin, and has tangled with-and beaten- nearly everyone. With Captain America-level powers and fighting abilities, master swordsmanship, and enough firepower to start and end World War 3, he’s just about unstoppable.

IN THE MOVIE: Rumors peg Scott Eastwood as Deathstroke, and if so, he’ll be the antagonist with body count. As a rising star, no doubt Eastwood’s going to get some considerable play.

ARGUMENT: Deathstroke’s a fan-favorite character and a major antagonist for the likes of Batman, Green Arrow, the Teen Titans, Deadshot, and the Suicide Squad, and has a personal rivalry with several of them. With WB setting up the DC Cinematic Universe, it’d be a waste to kill him early. That said, with Ayer directing a grounded, paramilitary movie, it’s unlikely that Deathstroke would be merely paralyzed in defeat. It strains credibility and Ayer’s writing habits.

PREDICTION: If Deathstroke  dies, he’ll be killed in a duel to the death with Deadshot, who will likely be mortally wounded.



The Fresh Prince of Headshots

IN THE COMICS: Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot is a masterclass sniper and assassin. Serving a life sentence, he volunteers for for Taskforce X in the hopes of providing for his estranged daughter and ex-wife. He uses wrist-mounted machine guns, but has recently taken up a sniper rifle. He’s a regular adversary to Batman & Green Arrow, is a member of the Secret Six, and is the longest-standing member of the Suicide Squad.

IN THE MOVIE: Will Smith’s Deadshot’s mask and color scheme look like tactical adaptations of his comic book costume, and the tweaked Bible quote on his neck and three rifles “The Way – The Light” hints at deeper character, though who knows if the spirituality is sincere, mockery, or sheer machismo. A set picture featuring Lawton carrying tons of prissy shopping bags for his apparent daughter suggest a very faithful and deep adaptation.

ARGUMENT: Deadshot is a fan favorite perennial member of the team. At this point, it’s just not Suicide Squad without him. Will Smith, a bankable star, is playing him, but this is a David Ayer movie. Deadshot’s an expendable soldier in a movie ALL ABOUT expendable soldiers. All he cares about redemption and his daughter, and there’s all the reason in the world to believe he’ll die trying to provide for her. Deadshot doesn’t need to be alive for there to be a Taskforce X/Suicide Squad.

PREDICTIONS: If Deadshot doesn’t die in a mutual slaying with Deathstroke, he’ll certainly be mortally wounded by the encounter. Failing that, Deadshot will be mortally wounded and push through his agony to deliver a speech about how there are no heroes and die delivering the coup d’tat to the primary antagonist.



Voted in high school

IN THE COMICS: Waylon Jones AKA Killer Croc is a crocodile-man hybrid who started in freak shows and wound up as a cannibal in Gotham’s sewers. He  was popular character on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

IN THE MOVIE: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje seems to be playing a more human/hitman version of the character, the upturned hood suggesting a level of rejection from and loathing of the world around him. At the very least, he’s the team bruiser and quite possibly the aquatic specialist.

ARGUMENT: Croc’s a popular minor supporting character in the comics and shows, often serving as a brutal obstacle for Batman or, in rare cases, appearing as a tragic, misunderstood figure who lost his chance at redemption. In the movie world, he’s disposable. There are plenty far-more interesting Batman villains and there’s not a lot of purpose in keeping him alive, save as muscle for any one of them.

PREDICTION: Either Croc dies tragically early, unable to find redemption or respect, or he’s mutually killed in a brutal underwater deathmatch with the OTHER animal/man hybrid, King Shark.



IN THE COMICS: Nanaue AKA King Shark is a shark/human hybrid with a taste for human flesh, and he’s been a constant menace to Superboy, Aquaman, his Suicide Squad teammates, and anyone else stupid enough to get between him and a meal. This none-too-bright walking slaughterhouse has been depicted as a Great White, a Hammerhead, and A GUY WITH A BEARTRAP MOUTH.

IN THE MOVIE: While there haven’t been any official pics yet, I’m REALLY hoping Raymond Olubawale plays the Guy-with-a-Beartrap-Mouth version, which seems the most likely. Personality wise, I don’t expect there to be much difference. There will be blood. Buckets of it.

ARGUMENT: Despite my love of the character, he’s a stock bruiser and among DC’s lesser villains. He exists to be a bloodthirsty menace and to be overcome. Probably for the best. If he were popular, he’d be hearing an endless barrage of Street Shark jokes.

PREDICTION: No question, he goes out in a gore-drenched fight with Killer Croc, where both “men” tear each other limb from limb. I suspect this might take place in a sewer or in an A.R.G.U.S. holding tank.



Hermione on PCP.

IN THE COMICS: June Moon AKA The Enchantress is a regular foe of Firestorm, the Green Lantern, Superman, and the Justice League. She’s also been a member of the Suicide Squad. Docile and powerless as June Moon, when her split personality, the Enchantress, manifests, she’s an omnicidal magical onslaught.

IN THE MOVIE: Cara Delavingne’s Enchantress looks like Hermione on PCP, utterly corrupted by dark magic. She’ll probably try to kill everyone around her.

ARGUMENT: Enchantress isn’t all that popular, but if some of the plot rumors flying around are true, she’s absolutely vital to the plot. Y’see, Superman is weak to Kryptonite AND magic, and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor WILL be in this movie. Similarly, Enchantress is suspiciously overpowered for the team, if she’s even on it…

PREDICTION: I see Enchantress doing the magic equivalent of “Hulking out” and wreaking havoc for everything in a ten-block radius, possibly killing members of the team. Her death will probably be sudden and unexpected. Likely Deadshot, who sniped her in the back of the head from half a mile away.



Desperately trying to make muttonchops cool again.

IN THE COMICS: George “Digger” Harkness AKA Captain Boomerang is a regular Flash adversary and primary member of the Suicide Squad, where he’s trusted about as far as they can throw him. A deadly master of trick boomerangs, Captain Boomerang is a scummy, conceited, misogynist, hostile piece of shit. And he’s kind of endearing that way.

IN THE MOVIE: Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang certainly looks like a scummy, conceited, misogynist, hostile piece of shit. Hopefully that comes off as endearing.

ARGUMENT: Captain Boomerang is a fan favorite from John Ostrander’s run of the Suicide Squad and has a longstanding rivalry with Deadshot. He’s got little value to the bigger DC movies on the way, but if SUICIDE SQUAD takes off, he’s the kind of guy you’ll want around for a sequel.

PREDICTION: Truth be told, I have trouble seeing Captain Boomerang put down in combat. Sure he’s not that great a fighter, but bullheaded as he is, he’s more likely to test Amanda Waller and/or his field commander. Either his implanted bomb gets blown, or he carves it out with a boomerang and skips town. As I said, he’s just kind of a piece of shit.




IN THE COMICS: Described as “Batman’s Moriarty,” Dr. Hugo Strange was once Bruce Wayne’s psychologist and nearly drove his client to insanity. Donning the Batsuit, Strange terrorized Gotham until Bruce finally snapped out of it.

IN THE MOVIE: There are few details and no official picture of Ike Barinholtz’s Strange, but he’ll likely be Belle Reve prison’s chief criminal psychologist with nefarious ulterior motives…

ARGUMENT: Strange is an obscure but formidable Batman villain enjoying a surge of popularity after ARKHAM CITY. While he’s unlikely to be the star villain of a Batman movie, he’s the right kind of guy to keep around for a Suicide Squad sequel and general DC Cinematic Universe continuity.

PREDICTION: There’s a damn good chance the Suicide Squad decides not to play ball with A.R.G.U.S. and launches an attack on Belle Reve. Should that happen, Dr. Strange will probably meet his fate at the hands of Joker and Harley, who’d be his prized patients.



Nick Fury who gives absolutely zero fucks about collateral damage.

IN THE COMICS: Head of A.R.G.U.S., Amanda Waller lost her family to tragedy and is a decorated military vet where her iron will and inflexibility earned her the nickname ‘The Wall.’ Recruiting villains from every major city, she’s rubbed just about every DC hero the wrong way in the name of national defense.

IN THE MOVIE: All signs point to Viola Davis behaving like her comic book counterpart: cold, calculating, and uncompromising.

ARGUMENT: She IS A.R.G.U.S., more than any character, and if you want a sequel, you want her around. She’s the single most power P.O.C. in this movie and the one with the most transferability to other movies if Suicide Squad gets big. Besides, remember GREEN LANTERN (2011)? Back then, she was poised to be its Nick Fury.

PREDICTION: IF Waller dies, and it’s a big if, she’ll die in a towering explosion that takes out a wing of the prison, if not the entire thing. She could very well be the principle  antagonist, afterall. More likely, she’ll be the only one standing in the rubble, staring out at a sea of bodies that she helped create.



The Rick Flaggiest guy you'll ever meet.

IN THE COMICS: Rick Flagg, the field leader of the Suicide Squad is an army brat who volunteered for service after his WWII vet father, the first Rick Flagg, founded the team to fight dinosaurs. He’s humorless, mopey, insecure, and thinks he’s owed leadership. Time and again, he’s proven wrong.

IN THE MOVIE: Joel Kinnaman sure looks like a soldier, all right.

ARGUMENT: There’s not a whole lot to say about Flagg other than he continually needs to get knocked down a peg. If anything, the character might learn what it means to lose an entire squad or to think of soldiers as pawns, not people. BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM didn’t bother including Flagg, instead using Deadshot as field commander. Then again, Flagg’s one of the few “good” characters in this whole affair and the audience may need someone to latch onto.

PREDICTION: If Flagg goes down, he’s going down with a long, sentimental speech about humanity and what it means to him. He’ll have finally learned the meaning of sacrifice and blow himself up to give the surviving team members a fighting chance.



IN THE COMICS: Jonny Frost appeared only in Brian Azzarello’s “JOKER” where he was an ambitious lowlife thug and Joker’s chauffeur. As you might expect, things didn’t go so great for him.

IN THE MOVIE: Jim Parrack brings Frost to life and there’s a brief glimpse of him in the trailer shooting up a store with the Joker, suggesting a fairly faithful adaptation. Likely, Frost will play Joker’s right hand thug, but will likely have absolutely no place on the Suicide Squad.

ARGUMENT: Frost’s story is a tragic one, as befitting all near the Joker. In his only comic appearance, Frost suffers immeasurably at the Joker’s hands before falling to -in all likelihood- his death. Parrack is a strong actor, no question, but not necessary for this series to continue.

PREDICTION: If Joker’s good at anything, it’s killing his subordinates on a whim. Likely as not, Joker will betray Frost to raise the stakes and highlight how unpredictable and terrifying he is.



Tattooed Man

IN THE COMICS: Abel Tarrant, the Tattooed Man, is a former Green Lantern villain with the power to create physical objects from his tattoos -weaponry and monsters included. A member of the Injustice Gang and the Society of Super Villains before being recruited to the Suicide Squad, the Tattooed Man was killed by his Suicide Squad mates after he betrayed them on a critical mission.

IN THE MOVIE: Little is known about the Tattooed Man as played by Common, but given all that happens in trailer one, it’s safe to assume that he’s as deadly as his comic book counterpart. Living tattoos will have that effect.

ARGUMENT: The comics spell out the Tattooed Man’s a traitor and a deadman. While David Ayer has worked with Common before, he has zero problem killing him. Onscreen. Of course.

PREDICTION: The first trailer shows him decimating a subway train. As such a potent threat, I doubt anyone on the team would have second thoughts about dropping him where he stands.



Super stoked for the Good Charlotte concert.

IN THE COMICS: Harleen Quinzel AKA Harley Quinn was Joker’s psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum until he drove her insane -with love. She’s a kooky Jersey Girl who’s known for hitting things with an oversized mallet or using a lethal pop gun. Starting life as a one-off in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, she’s taken pop culture by storm, and has become as popular as Wonder Woman -if not moreso.

IN THE MOVIE: Margot Robbie’s punk rock Harley Quinn certainly looks like she’s going to make an impression, if not for her  outfit, then with her baseball bat and bubbly personality. Rumor has it that the film begins with her on the outs with Joker. We’ll see how long that lasts.

ARGUMENT: As indicated, Harley’s a pop culture icon to be reckoned with and her legendary relationship with the Joker suggests all kind of film longevity. If ANY female character is going to survive this movie, it’s going to be her.

PREDICTION: No matter what, Harley’s going to side with the Joker. If he’s on the Suicide Squad, they’ll conspire together and make their move at the worst possible moment. If he’s not on the team, Harley will betray them in a big way. I foresee her clawing out her implanted bomb and baseball batting it into a handful of A.R.G.U.S. soldiers.



The internet's blown through all the jokes already. He'll do the rest.

IN THE COMICS: The unknown man known as the Joker is THE most iconic villain in comics, Batman archenemies and a regular threat for the Justice League. He’s been adapted the most times to film, has appeared in nearly every Batman TV show, and generally steals the story in Batman video games.

IN THE MOVIE: Look at this guy. You can’t look at Jared Leto’s Joker and NOT have an opinion. The reveal of this guy messed up twitter for days, leading some to believe that it isn’t the real Joker. Clearly he’s the real deal and clearly WB/DC has a lot planned for him, especially after Tom Hardy’s comments.

ARGUMENT: It’s the freakin’ Joker! He’s a household name and there’s absolutely no chance of him DC squandering him to a single movie, especially one that isn’t called “Batman.”

PREDICTION: Joker WILL cause mayhem. No matter the methods, the results will be extreme and shocking. If he’s a Suicide Squad member, which I doubt, he’ll likely find a way to implant his bomb onto someone else. If he’s not on the team, he’ll get away with Harley and a trail of bodies in his wake.



There’s something poetic about how the Suicide Squad operates. Characters living and dying based on popularity, utility, and the roll of the dice… It’s a cruel, cynical, pragmatic system that’s in many ways a mirror for many facets of society.  Regardless of the results and who, if anyone, is left standing when the smoke clears, Ayer’s Suicide Squad is going to be a conversation-starter for years and years to come.

Retconning Man of Steel


Superman Handcuffs

(This article contains major spoilers for Man of Steel)

Man of Steel isn’t a great movie. It’s got a disjointed script of emotionless characters; on-the-nose theming; overlong action scenes; scattershot pacing; and more holes than a chain-link fence.

Perhaps the greatest stir came from the movie’s reimagining of Superman -the idealistic paragon of truth, justice, and the American way- into a gritty, sociopathic murderer. Initially, I, like so many others despised these changes. Why make a Superman movie if you’re not going to use Superman?

Still, just as many people seem to prefer the dark Superman, citing that they’d never liked the original character, and that he’s unrealistically pure and upstanding for our modern world.

Divisive, to say the very least.

With Man of Steel not being the $1.5 billion dollar success they’d anticipated, WB seems to have all but pulled the plug on the fledging franchise and has called in Batman to save the box office day. Maybe even Wonder Woman. Hell, it’s not like they’ve got Marvel’s level of foresight.

But what if they’d followed up Man of Steel? What kind of sequel could possibly reconcile fans of classic Superman purists with those of the dark-and-edgy new version?

Get ready- this proposed sequel is going to blow your freakin’ mind.

If you want to cut to the chase, I guess you could just jump to section 3.

Superman Sad

1.            The movie’s story.

To help understand the tools I’ll be working with, here’s a summary of Man of Steel. If you’ve already seen it, feel free to jump ahead.

On the dying planet Krypton, Jor-El helps thwart the crazed military leader Zod’s insurrection, putting him in the Phantom Zone, an extra-dimensional prison. Simultaneously, he sends Kal-El, his only child, loaded with the Codex (a record of all of Krypton’s genetic information) into space just as the planet explodes. Why he didn’t send himself and his wife on this ship is beyond me.

Discovered and raised by the Kent family on Earth, Kal-El grows up as Clark Kent. His parents teach him to hide his powers from society, even at the cost of human life. This culminates in Pa Kent allowing himself to die in a tornado while Clark watches.

Clark Kent travels the world, finding himself, using his strength to do “good things.” Sometimes this involves saving people on an oil rig, other times, it means skewering a lecherous trucker’s rig with logs. Still other times, it causes him to go to church and equate himself with Jesus. No, really.

Discovering a Kryptonian space ship buried in the Arctic, Clark and Lois shoehorned-into-this-movie Lane, inadvertently send a signal out from it, bringing Zod and his insurrectionists out of the Phantom Zone. Zod’s bent on terraforming Earth into the new Krypton, presumably because Mars doesn’t have enough genocide opportunities. Problematically, he also wants to use Clark’s genetic material for repopulation.


Also activated in this Kryptonian space ship? A holographic personality recording of Jor-El on a handy-dandy USB drive, who provides a Superman suit for Clark and tells him how important he is. Why Jor-El didn’t let his wife in on the holographic-personality-recording action is anyone’s best guess.

Clark/Superman sets out to treaty with Zod, but winds up having a series of smackdowns with him that leads to the destruction of Smallville and play a massive role in leveling Metropolis. Saving the day? Not for hundreds of thousands of civilians.

At the apex of their fight, Zod, in Superman’s headlock, uses his laser vision to threaten murdering some civilians. Ignoring the fact that he could do a million other things to prevent this, Superman snaps Zod’s neck.

“Triumphant,” Superman flies away. When the U.S. military deploys surveillance drones on Superman, he takes them down, warning the government to leave him be.

…And that’s sort of the end.

"Or we could just hug it out."

“Or we could just hug it out.”

2.            The Tools:

As stated earlier, everything in Man of Steel sets Superman up to be a sociopathic menace. Let’s unpack that.

Pa Kent repeatedly gives young Clark mixed messages about basic morality. To paraphrase…

“It’s ok to let a bus full of people die if it protects your identity.”

“Here’s your space ship! You were destined for greatness, and everything about you is special.”

“I’m going to awkwardly die in a tornado because your freedom is more important than anything else.”

The arrival of Jor-El, holographic ghost from an ancient flashdrive (bad script, remember?), complicates this with more mixed messages, which I’ll also paraphrase:

“You’re the first being to be naturally born on our planet, and you’re (theoretically) its only survivor. You’re special.”

“Also, you carry all of our genetic information, making you the most important person in our history.”

“We deliberately set you to this planet to be a God among men.”

“Wear these Kryptonian long johns that I somehow perfectly tailored for you 20,000 years ago to show how special, important, and godly you are.”

Torn between two some of the worst parents ever, Clark becomes a sociopathic super-powered being with a messiah complex, which again culminates in (1) a destroyed Smalltown, presumably at the cost of a hundred lives; (2) a leveled Metropolis, presumably at the cost of several thousand lives; (3) a slaughtered villain; and (4) a threat against the U.S. military.

I suppose we can add ‘fascist’ to the list.

Superman Collateral

Bear a few things in mind: (1 & 2) We never see Superman save anyone during these fights, and there’s no indication that either city has evacuated in any real capacity. When Superman slams Zod into the train station, the civilians had no idea what was happening outside. With this, by slamming Zod into buildings, there’s reason to believe that Superman was complicit in mass murder, at least by omission. (3) Yes, villains die in superhero movies all the time, but notice a common thread: they usually die by their own hand (ex: Spider-Man’s Green Goblin), or by the hero’s inaction (ex: Batman Begins’ Ra’s Al Ghul). What few times the hero DIRECTLY murders the villain are often extremely fantastical (ex. Iron Man 2’s Whiplash). Contrast this to Superman’s actions in Man of Steel where, on camera, he outright snaps Zod’s neck. Brutal and direct. (4) Superman’s cheeky and unchallenged threat to the military codifies him being above the law. Perhaps to the point of BEING the law. They are afraid to take measures against him.

Superman Evil

“…with justice and lobotomies for all.”

3.            The Sequel Idea

So Superman is a sociopathic, murderous fascist with a messiah complex, huh? Gee, I wonder where I’ve seen that before.

Superman’s got a long history of being the bad guy in alternate universes, either by leaning to far in a radical direction or by just being outright villainous. Hell, even within the mainstream DC universe, he’s got to deal with evil Supermen like Bizarro, Ultraman, Eradicator, Superboy-Prime, and Cyborg-Superman.

So what if Man of Steel’s Superman was actually an alternate/evil Superman from another dimension?

Superman vs. Man of Steel

4.            The Retcon/Sequel…

“Man of Steel 2” or whatever you’d like to call our proposed Superman sequel, would take place a few months after the events of Man of Steel.

Things have been quiet. Real quiet. Superman’s been dealing out justice with an iron fist. You break the law –anywhere in the world- you die. Simple as that. Crime drops 100%. Hell, there IS NO crime. That done, Superman turns his eyes to war, stopping every national and international conflict. Effectively, he becomes Earth’s dictator.

Superman broods in that ancient Kryptonian warship in the Arctic (his Fortress of Solitude), waiting to detect the slightest tremor of human aggression. Little does he know that the Phantom Drive Device that summoned Zod’s ship is on the fritz…

Earth’s governments band together in a desperate mission to overthrow Superman. Prodigy genius and strategist LEX LUTHOR leads them. This guy’s studied Superman for months, and he’s convinced he’s got a plan…

A seemingly endless wave of military forces siege the Fortress of Solitude, guns blazing. Superman soars out to meet them, cutting through their ranks like butter. He prepares to kill them, starting with Lex Luthor, when Luthor’s true attack comes into play:

A low-orbit satellite fires a kinetic bombardment missile, hitting the Fortress of Solitude with the force of an atom bomb, inadvertently sending that Phantom Drive device into hyper drive. This creates a vortex in space and time that rips Superman into it.

Here’s where things get really interesting.

Superman lands in the Arctic, right outside his Fortress of Solitude. Geographically, nothing much has changed, except the military’s gone… And there’s something else…

In Man of Steel, the dying planet Krypton looked dark and corroded, foreboding and hellish. That made sense; it was on its last legs. But Earth… Earth looked much the same, its colors washed out, its people existing only in grays and blues. People were short, curt, and passionless. The world felt empty and ready for ruin. But now… everything’s HIGHLY saturated and clean…

The sound of mayhem in the distance –Superman zooms after it with lightning speed, the prismatic world blurring past. He finds himself in Metropolis –a city so beautiful and strong to give him pause- and it looks like a major catastrophe never happened there –well, except for the GIANT ROBOT currently demolishing 5th avenue. Before Superman can intervene, a blur of blue, red, and yellow whooshes past him—


Superman Mind Blown

Superman watches in wonder –or is it horror- as another him zips around the robot, using a clever mix of heat vision, frost breath, super-speed, and super strength to reduce it to scrap –leaving its pilot unharmed to be delivered into police custody –all without any collateral damage.

As this other Superman helps clear away the robot’s mess and rebuild, Man of Steel Superman notices differences in their costume: while his costume is dark and washed out, other Superman’s costume is bright and cheery … and he wears a red speedo outside of his spandex. Man of Steel Superman? Meet CLASSIC SUPERMAN.

Alerted to the sounds of a bank robbery,  Man of Steel (MoS) Superman zooms off in its direction –Classic Superman notices and shoots off after him –nonchalantly passing the LEXCORP Building, where a terrified Lex Luthor gawks out the window. MoS Superman slams down, preparing to deliver his brand of justice –only for Classic Superman to stop him, apprehending the criminals effortlessly. MoS Superman yells about how they’ll just cause more crime, Classic Superman tries to calm him down, but it’s all too much for MoS Superman… the noise of crime, the chaos of the world, and of the presence of another him… he flies into the upper atmosphere until Classic Superman can talk him down, and take him to a place where he can get his head screwed on straight.

MoS Superman wanders the Fortress of Solitude. It’s brighter. Cheerier. There’s a zoo of Kryptonian animals, things he’d only seen in data records, and trophies of colorful villains he’d never (but we might!) recognize. Classic Superman sits down with him, hashing out the world. Classic Superman is what we, the audience, would know as “the real” Superman from the DC comics. Idealistic, wholesome, pure… you get the picture. MoS Superman can’t get over how calmly Classic Superman’s taking this. Classic Superman shrugs “After Toyman, Brainiac, and Parasite, it’s pretty hard to surprise me.” The two talk vaguely at first, both sizing up the other, not sure what to do. MoS Superman asks Classic Superman why his world is so chaotic. Classic Superman replies that he’s a hero, not a dictator. He saves humanity; he doesn’t rule it. It’s just not how he was raised. At one point, it becomes clear to MoS Superman that in this universe, Classic Superman’s parents are still alive. He flies out of the Fortress of Solitude at hypersonic speed, leaving Classic Superman to follow.

MoS Superman lands in Smallville at the Kent farm and sobs, hugging Pa Kent. Classic Superman lands. “I’m sorry, Dad. You died when he was just a child.”

Seeing the farm and Smallville in all of its glory before the Kryptonian attack on his world (in Man of Steel), MoS Superman agrees to help Classic Superman defend his world until they can find a way to send him back.

superman Farm

Together, they save people from natural disasters, and stop crimes, always stopping back to the Fortress of Solitude to work on the Phantom Zone Drive together. Still, this lingering doubt hangs in MoS Superman’s mind as they pass over battlefields, and as he sees political strife causing inequality and human suffering. It’s slowly driving him mad. Just as they’re putting the finishing touches on the Phantom Zone Drive, a series of major rumblings draw their attention—

They fly to Metropolis where they’re too late to save thousands of people from collapsed apartment buildings. Classic Superman mourns their loss, hating himself for not being more vigilant; but MoS Superman with glowers with a fiery vengeance for those responsible. Classic Superman sweeps over the ruin with his X-ray vision, discovering the buildings’ cornerstones: they’d been made by Lex Luthor.

The Supermen burst into Lex Corp, but Lex Luthor is ready. He assaults them with kryptonite, and prepares to kill them. The collapsed apartments? All to get both Supermen to come to him after his robot trick failed the first time. No one should have the kind of power they have; especially aliens from another planet. Earth deserves better. He levels a gun at Classic Superman, who struggles helplessly under the kryptonite… MoS Superman just uses his heat vision to kill Luthor. Just burns a hole right through his heart.

Luthor sinks to the ground, confused, “But… but you’re Superman…” and dies.

Superman on Killing

Classic Superman’s beside himself with horror, screaming at MoS Superman that he can’t just murder people –that they have to uphold the law. MoS Superman argues that in letting people like Luthor live this long, he’s let thousands die. If he hadn’t have snapped Zod’s neck, how many others would die? Classic Superman broods. “So you’ve killed before.” MoS Superman argues that Luthor slaughtered innocents just in the hope of killing Superman. Of course that justifies murder. He goes on to argue that this is the same man that united the Man of Steel world against him. Classic Superman wonders if maybe that world’s Luthor had his head screwed on straight. MoS Superman flies off to “correct the world” that’s grown too chaotic and allowed too much human suffering. Classic Superman tackles him out of the sky, refusing to let him kill again.

Commence epic Superman-on-Superman fight, Classic Superman in defense of justice and Earth’s sovereignty, and MoS Superman to save it from itself –at any cost. However, at multiple points during the fight, Classic Superman breaks off from combat to save people from collateral damage. MoS Superman screams at him to just surrender, starting to notice how terrified civilians are of him.

Classic Superman draws the fight away from people as best he can… which allows MoS Superman to maneuver him into a headlock. Classic Superman asks him if this is how it’s going to go… if life means so little to him. MoS Superman prepares to do it… but his eyes keep meeting those of terrified civilians… and Classic Superman isn’t struggling. He’s just waiting. Scared of himself, MoS Superman lets him go and falls to his knees, shaking. Classic Superman stands, telling him that they’re as much a part of the world as everyone else. Their talents are used to inspire humanity to greatness and to catch them when they fall. “We’re Superman. We’re not better; we’re held to a higher standard.”

Mos Superman helps Classic Superman rebuild what was destroyed in their epic battle, learning that final ounce of compassion… learning that people can sort themselves out, if he but gives them a chance.

Humbled, MoS Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude with Classic Superman. There, he uses the Phantom Zone Drive to travel back to his Man of Steel universe. Classic Superman wishes him good-bye, telling him to shape up. After all… He could always pay him a visit.

MoS Superman returns to where he’d been without skipping a beat: the militaries of the world surround him, Lex Luthor in his grasp… MoS Superman lowers Luthor to the nearest ship. He relinquishes his hold on the world, pledging to make it up to them. Then, he flies away, leaving them all in wonder.

He lands in the crater of Metropolis, now a memorial to those lost. Somberly, he begins to rebuild.

Superman Destruction

6.            What the hell was that?

At the end of the day, just like Warner Bros.’ forthcoming “requel” tentatively named “Superman vs. Batman,” “Man of Steel 2” would be about rebuilding: literally in Metropolis’ sense, but figuratively in crafting a Superman that’s a happier medium. Rather than wallowing in a cold, apathetic world as Man of Steel does, “Man of Steel 2” makes MoS Superman a fish out of water in his own world and redeems him through the power of compassion and humanity.

With my pitch, you get a surprising, creative story; an emotional arc; moral grayness; metaphysical wonder; and a few kick-ass, character-driven fight scenes all for the price of one. At the end of the day, you’re left with a Superman who’s got a closer, more genuine connection to humanity, with a greater understanding of what might be done to save it.

And really, that was all we needed from the first movie.

Nice try, Warner Bros.

Official pictures courtesy Warner Bros. & DC Comics.

Original and edited pictures courtesy the Nerd Bastards & headside.