The Weight of Destruction: How the DCEU Allows Both its Heroes and Citizens to Mourn

The world changed that day.

People looked up, hopeless and helpless as they watched buildings topple and towers fall. Street corners, blocks, and boroughs were destroyed under the weight of changing gravity. Metropolis was being destroyed by the world engine, and there was nothing the world could do to stop it. Then Superman – a guardian from the sky – came to save them from one of his own people. The two, Kal-El and Zod, fought while the world watched in terrifying wonder.

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The battle was over. Superman won. Zod was dead. The people mourned their losses and rejoiced in their Man of Steel, their Superman. The destruction between the battle of New York in Avengers and the battle for Metropolis is similar in scope and in scale, yet one took the time to show the effects of the chaos and destruction. What happens after the dust settles and the rubble remains? We weren’t used to this on film. There was no stopping, no reflecting in previous films on the weight of destruction, on the toll it took not only on the citizens below, but also on the heroes – just a few quips and on to the next big set piece.

The first four films of the DCEU, and Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition in particular, force us to dwell on the destruction, on the loss of life and on the despair the destruction brought to the everyday people who inhabit this world.

But first, the films do something that previous superhero films haven’t: they allow their heroes to mourn.

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Several seconds of silence pass before the Man of Steel mourns over killing Zod.

Superman mourned the death of his enemy he killed by his own hands. Similar to when he killed Zod in issue #22 of Superman, he mourns death. In Man of Steel he immediately mourns; in the comic books it takes him longer, but he still does mourn the loss of life, even if it was justifiable. We see that poignant moment on film, displayed in full by the gut wrenching yell made by the beacon of hope as he falls to the floor, the weight of his burden; killing the last of his race in order to save a race not his own. In that scene all music stopped, everything surrounding him was quiet until his mourning yell pierced the silence and the Man of Steel wept over the dead. Superman displays the decidedly human emotion of lament across his face as he looked at what his hands had done, even if it was done in order to save. We are given that moment for a reason. It shows us although it is a fantastical comic book world where Greek gods are “real,” and gods hurl thunderbolts from the sky, these heroes are not so removed from the world so as not to react to the death and destruction; they still mourn death.

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Wonder Woman sees the wanton death and destruction humans can bring on themselves

Similar to Superman, Wonder Woman mourns and questions the goodness of humanity (as anyone who has studied any portion of history could and rightly should. We are a messed up, sin-stained people – and history proves it, no matter how many times Joel Osteen or any other prosperity preachers or talking heads say we are “basically good”) when she sees the wanton destruction in the bloody and poisonous battles of World War I. She is confused, heartbroken, and angry when she walks upon the town destroyed by gas. People, livestock, dead simply by breathing in the wrong air, and all for a test; no more than an experiment by Ludendorff to showcase his latest creation.

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Instead of grieving the deaths of his parents and his protégé Jason Todd, Bruce uses it to fuel his hatred of criminals, and of Superman.

Batman mourns differently. Of course he does, right? He’s Batman. In BvS it is shown instead of mourning, he uses the grief of losing his parents, grief of losing a Robin (presumably Jason Todd, for obvious reasons), as fuel for his hatred of criminals. It then warps into his hatred of Superman. Like Jesse Ventura from Predator, Batman, “Ain’t got time to grieve.” No, instead it turns to hatred. And drinking. And women. Alfred laments that the next generation of Wayne’s will inherit an empty wine cellar, “Not that there will be a next generation,” he said in hushed tone. And Alfred is always on the lookout for a good woman for Bruce to make him honest, straighten him up. Batman’s grief has turned to cruelty. He’s a mirror of real life cops or vigilantes who take justice into their own hands. Who have seen one-too-many innocents gunned down and decide to take matters into their own hands outside the law. Bruce Wayne slowly fades as the Bat of Gotham rises, inflicting pain and death on all who do ill in this world. But that’s not enough for a man who can’t grieve. Even the potential for evil must be punished. And in Superman, he sees great potential for evil, death, and destruction. In Bruce’s mind, the Man of Steel is only one changed mind away from becoming the next Zod. In order to keep that from happening, he must strike first, even if it is only a one percent possibility of Superman turning evil.

Bruce, and former Wayne Enterprises employee, Wallace Keefe, are similar. They both cannot grieve their loss. Bruce has shut everyone out emotionally, and Keefe’s wife left him to grieve his loss alone, reminding him “I’m half the man I once was.” Their stories are tragically similar. Instead of learning how to grieve, they turn their sadness into anger, and turn their anger into hatred of the one who destroyed Metropolis, and their lives. But since he’s dead, they deflect it to the one who saved them instead. We are shown throughout the film the two brooding in their anger. Through them we see the overwhelmingly negative aspects of what happens when people do not learn how to mourn well.

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Wallace Keefe looks up at the one who saved Metropolis, but who he blames for making him half the man he now is.

Sadly, Keefe’s story does not end well. His ends as he unwittingly plays the sacrificial pawn in Lex Luthor’s deadly game to ensnare Superman to do his bidding in order to show the world Superman is not the beacon of hope they think he is.

But thankfully, Batman’s story doesn’t end in a likewise dire manner. During one of the most beautiful scenes of the film he’s shown that no, Superman isn’t this evil being who wants to rule the whole world; he’s just a kid who’s trying to save his mom. Bruce is able to fully grieve the loss of his parents finally through the cathartic experience of ”Saving Martha” after all these years. And Superman’s sacrificial death, he now is able to use his grief as fuel to fulfill a promise he made to the Man of Steel to not fail him in death as he did in life.

People mourn death. In BvS and Suicide Squad, people are mourning their loved ones lost in the Battle of Metropolis and the death of Superman. Candlelight vigils for the great one lost, memorials to remember the lost, t-shirts to keep close to their chest, keepsakes and photos to remember loved ones by. All these are common examples, and we are shown the wide range of human emotions as they respond to their fellow humans perishing, and to their Superman as well.

Much like in real life examples after terrorist attacks and the deaths of world leaders held so dear, the people in the DCEU are confused, angry, and weary in the face of such death and destruction. Governments concoct radical plans and take preemptive measures to stop more destruction, which often leads to a cycle of more violence. We see our endless wars repeated, only in different forms in the DCEU. Here we witness preemptive attacks on other sovereign nations to stop terror; there we watch the government agree to a plan to wield captured villains as a weapon against other villains. And the cycle continues.

Lastly, we are shown most-clearly the emotions of rejoicing and lamenting through watching Lois Lane. She is the lens through which we see much destruction and grace. She is the one who uses her journalistic skills to find the man behind the suit and cape, and she’s the one to tell Batman he’s about to kill a man who’s just trying to save his mom. She is filled with wonder at Superman, and faces her fears when confronted with his powerful enemies. Through her we the audience are brought in to witness some of the most poignant moments in the DCEU thus far. She was there to comfort Superman when he took a life to save the world, and mourned over his dead body when he sacrificed his life to save the world. And in the latest trailer for the upcoming Justice League, we are given a glimpse of her living without him. She is given time to mourn the loss of her coworker and would-be husband, her hero and friend.

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You think I teared up when they played Superman’s theme in the latest trailer? Yeah, yeah I did.

Death touches and affects us all. It elicits one of the most basic and common of human emotions: sorrow. In reflecting our own society, Directors Zack Snyder, David Ayer, Patty Jenkins, and (hopefully) Joss Whedon, have shown and will continue to show the weight of being superheroes in a fallen world that distrusts those who do good because it is so foreign to them. We are shown explosions and great and massive set pieces full of grandiose, exciting, exhilarating battle; and still we are shown the rubble of what remains, the after-effects of destruction. We are given the ability to watch our heroes, and citizens, mourn over loss, learn from their mistakes, and strive to be better.

Not only that, we are shown what comes at the end of grief and mourning. What comes after the darkest part of the DCEU, the Death of Superman. We are given the Dawn of Justice, the gift Superman gave to the DCEU. In a word; we are given Hope.

Did you enjoy this content? Let us know on our Facebook page, via Twitter, or check us out on Tumblr!

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy our argument as to who really is to blame for the destruction of Metropolis.

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/who-is-to-blame-for-the-destruction-of-metropolis/

Also, our series covering when the big three get weary in the comics and the DCEU.

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/when-heroes-get-weary-the-man-of-steel-loses-hope/

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/when-heroes-get-weary-a-good-man-turns-cruel/

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/when-heroes-get-weary-diana-regains-her-wonder/

Last but not least, you may also enjoy these in-depth articles as to who Superman is in the DCEU.

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/superman-the-snake/

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/calvary-the-trials-and-death-of-superman/

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/?s=man+of+hope

 

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Horror Marathon 2017: Diagnosis of They Look Like People

A man in his mid 20’s reconnects with a childhood friend who, currently having undergone a change in lifestyle that leads him to take charge more often,  invites him to stay with him until he leaves town. Also, he thinks humanity has been infiltrated and infected by creatures who take over their hosts though speech and eye contact. Continue reading

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Where Horror and Faith Collide

When I was eight or nine, my cousin forced me to watch one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. One scene in particular etched itself into my mind and left me scarred for years. In hindsight it was a dumb scene, but as a kid who had never seen a horror movie besides Ernest Scared and Stupid (a great movie in its own right), it was traumatizing. Freddy Krueger had taken a huge cue tip and shoved it through one of the hapless teen’s ear and went out the other. For a young kid with an overactive imagination, watching a movie where the villain could not only step into your dreams, but also kill you in them, sleep wasn’t an option that night.

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I hope he’s been drinking his ‘malk’

Horror reaches down to the dredges and pulls out our most basic primal fear: the loss of ones own life. Freddy took from his victims the peace of sleep, of sweet dreams and replaced them with nightmares and death. Jason took the universal childhood experience of summer camp with friends and in its place brought hunting and death. The villains of horror are more powerful than humans. The films remind us that there is evil in the world, and it’s more powerful than we are. So it takes something other than physical strength or prowess to defeat the evil. Some popular tropes are the old indian burial ground, revenge by an old classmate the protagonists used to pick on; and defeating them often entails finding their bones and either putting them in their proper resting place – or, in more cases: burning them.

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The movies admittedly exaggerate much in the way of supernatural events in their cases, but they touche on the reality of evil so well.

I know the Conjuring movies are vast exaggerations of what actually happened in the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren; but to continue the theme of the inability of humans to stop evil on their own, this series showcases it so deftly. In both the Insidious and Conjuring franchises, Director James Wan doesn’t hold back when he shows how horrifying and powerful evil is and how it preys upon the weak and strong alike. Dalton Lambert is lured and captured by the demon in Insidious, and his father, Josh, had to rescue him. And even then, he wasn’t strong enough to defeat his own demon who haunted him. Only in the second film do we see the entire family freed from the grasp of evil. But in his films, Wan also shows how truly powerful good is. Light always shines through the darkness, as we see most clearly in the two installments of The Conjuring. Ed and Lorraine are not relying solely on their wits and wills to get them through, they are relying on God Himself to cast the demons from their hosts. The Warrens, Lorraine especially, are able to come face to face with evil and come out in victory, not because they Rambo’ed their way through the hordes of demons, but because of their faith in God; in knowing good will overcome evil.

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She’ll get her new book done even if it kills her!

Now if every horror film fell into that exact scenario, it would quickly make for a stale genre. Sometimes, like Hush, horror touches on another topic worthy of discussion: human perseverance in the midst of adversity. Showing how bad humans can be to another, while not solely in the realm of horror, is brought in much clearer view in this genre than in others. Which brings me to another point to why I have grown to enjoy horror films: they often serve as cautionary tales.

The villain comes to judge the sins and wrongdoings of hapless teens. Whether underage drinking, smoking, promiscuity, name a vice and they’ve come to make you pay the price. Zombies, monsters, or any other plot device, they all serve as physical embodiments of judgment come to make the protagonists pay for their transgressions.

I personally don’t believe in ghosts. I believe in demons disguised as ghosts who draw on our desires to speak to loved ones who have died; to make peace and say that one last thing we wanted to tell them before they passed. The aspects and implications of Insidious touch on that so brilliantly with the concept of the Further and possession in James Wan’s Insidious series, another favorite of mine. Again, I am a Christian and hold to what the Bible says about the afterlife and contacting the dead: don’t do it. Don’t tread in that realm, nothing good can come of it. You aren’t to contact the dead because that’s not who you’re actually contacting. Once you die, that’s it. There’s no coming back to this life, only awaiting Heaven or Hell, life with God on the New Heaven and New Earth, or eternally separated from the God who created you in eternal rebellion in Hell. So these “ghosts” walking the earth, haunting people are not those of the dead, but of demons, as is pointed out in Insidious with the demon that haunts the Lambert family in the first two films. Dalton isn’t contacting family who have died, he’s been drawn farther into the Further by a demon, who is using that to possess his physical form to wreak havoc on our world. And as I’ve stated earlier, it takes a higher power to rid Dalton of the demon inside.

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The Demon from Insidious was using people’s naivety about contacting the dead to bring himself into our world.

Not every movie ends well. Sinister, directed by Scott Derrickson (another favorite of mine), is an excellent example of showing not everything will always be tied up in a nice bow by the conclusion. Sometimes, the conclusion is what happens to our protagonist instead of what they do to propel the story. Ellison Oswalt doesn’t save his family in the end. They all die at the hands of their possessed son. He tried to figure it out on his own, and he did, only too late. He sought out the terror, unkowingly and unwittingly bringing the demon back into the world through his need to research ghastly murders in search of writing another famous book. The film teaches us not to willingly seek out evil for gain, whether fame from a book or a ghost documentary film, as many “found footage” horror films go. Greed is bad. These types of horror films help tell us why.

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These are the worst family videos I have ever seen!

Horror makes us ask the uncomfortable questions. It reminds us we are human and as such will die. Horror highlights the evil we already know is out there.  Whether it be creatures or monsters or spirits or ghouls, or some other horror movie trope to stand in for evil, it shows how much more powerful evil is than us, then gives us the only option for defeating it, which is through good. As a Christian, that is encouraging and a great reminder that although evil is real and present and for my bad, God, who is infinitely more powerful, promises to be working all things out for my good. Evil is real, active, scary, and it’s out to get you; but thank God, ultimately good always wins out.

Did you enjoy this content? Let us know on our Facebook page, via Twitter, or check us out on Tumblr!

If you enjoyed this article, check out my article over why M. Night Shyamalan’s Horror/Suspense comic book world is one of my favorites. 

https://articleasylum.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/heroes-horrors-suspense-and-twists-inside-the-comic-book-world-of-m-night-shyamalan/

 

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Blade Runner

Blade Runner retrospective

Blade Runner 2049 is set to debut this weekend and multitudes of critics have already begun the process of beatification. The consensus seems to be that Villenueves’ sequel (decades in the making) is a tremendous film, superior even to the original, a remarkable achievement given the fact that the original Scott effort is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.

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Gotta Catch A Lot of ‘Em

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So I’m walking down Route 12 on the way to Fuchsia City and I realize, for the third time since Mount Moon, that Pokémon’s first generation had some excessively long treks with no healing available for ages. Naturally I have learned that I should stock a lot more potions. I aim to open the horribly inept item menu available in Pokémon Yellow only to accidentally open the Pokédex. Then it hit me: Catching 151 Pokémon seems like it’s actually an attainable goal now that there’s only a meager 803 species of Pokémon.

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Now I know tons of people have accomplished the goal of the first Generation multiple times and I am late to that game but I’ve never cared much for collecting the little devils. I’ve caught shinies, bred millions of now abandoned Pokémon in the name of greater stats and Egg Moves, and replayed numerous games in the franchise. Caught ‘Em all though? Nah. Not in any Pokédex. Nor do I plan on doing precisely that. I have the goal of collecting all 151 original creatures (and no I’m not one of those people who love only the first generation because somehow Muk is the height of creativity).

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They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

So when I finally reach Fuchsia City, I decide to pop into the Safari Zone- knowing that it’s an important stop to catch a lot of rare, exclusive Pokémon. I never really took the time to use the Safari Zone outside of the main quest requiring you to. What I discovered after three hours of infuriating low encounter rates, high fleeing rates, and abysmally low capture rates is that the Safari Zone blows and the realization that the worst part of my quest is over. I didn’t get Chansey but there’s an opportunity for a normal encounter later so screw throwing Safari Balls at something until it captures.

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Cubone may not wear your skull ma’am, but I might.

 

After doing some mainline quest stuff, I came to the horror I detested most: surfing. While I discoverer surfing wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered, I decide I’ll head on into the Seafoam Islands to get Articuno and some other Pokémon found there. I re-learned why dungeons in Gen I We’re the absolute worst. Seriously, it was super hard to go back to after the convenience of Sun and Moon. Chances to heal are minimal, distances are great, you can’t run or limit random encounters, and it takes 50 HMs to accomplish even the simplest of puzzles. I love Pokémon but boy I’m glad it has evolved.

Articuno is now mine and because I’m simply trying to power through and catch ‘em all, Articuno joins my party. I never used Legendaries on principle before but I’m trying to catch ‘em all and Uno will help me with Dos, Zapdos that is. Mercifully, Zapdos is found in the far less cavernous and puzzle-like Power Plant. There’s also Magnetons, which is great because any evolved form I can catch is one less I have to train later. I get to the majestic beast only to find my PC Box was full. Another great advance in Pokémon is the novel concept of PC Storage Boxes automatically changing when full. I save and decide to mitigate that bummer by downloading and playing the freshly available Pokémon Silver Version on the 3DS Virtual Console.

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Sequels done right.

Sounds like have ADHD, but playing Silver has furthered my goal in ways you might not expect: Ekans and Vulpix are catchable in Silver but not in Yellow, for example, and Johto is paced so much better than Gen I Kanto. I know I probably upset some with that opinion but I’ll do Union Cave a hundred times before I do one Mount Moon (and probably take less time). Since Gen II didn’t add too many new Pokémon, it’s furthered my goal to catch them all significantly, though I still have a ways to go yet. Uno down. Dos to go.

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