Lex Luthor and terrorism: Another look at Batman v Superman (with SPOILERS!)

MY RATING: 7.5/10batman-vs-superman-official-logo-HD
WARNING!!! THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!

It has been quite some time since I saw Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). I went to see the movie prepared to be disappointed because I had seen the review titles and read a few comments here and there. Rotten Tomatoes’s rating was at 29 percent at the time before I sat down and watched the opening scene. I loved it. The next morning morning I still did not feel like Snyder’s movie failed to deliver. I started writing this review the day after I saw the movie but before publishing it I wanted to see it one more time. Circumstances have so far prevented me from doing so but because I want to share my thoughts about some aspects of this movie I am publishing the post now anyway.

***

The movie is not the best movie that I have seen in the past few years and some of the criticism is valid, for example, certain actions scenes are too hectic and longer than they should be. However, it is a great movie, which a lot of commentary on knowledge and the (mis)use of power.

A lot of other reviewers were not happy about the overall darkness of the movie and they compared it to Marvel’s Avengers and Deadpool. Compared to these critics, I am happy that Snyder did not try to amuse the audiences with too many jokes and instead chose the darker path. Not all superhero movies need or should be funny, relatable happy stories with hints of depression here and there.

I do not want to review all aspects of the movie here, at least not in this first article. Instead, I would like to focus on Lex Luthor.

I was not too much into Lex Luthor when I saw the trailers. I did not like his spoiled smart rich kid persona and his jokes did not land for me.  He is still a smart rich kid with a very unlikable personality after seeing the movie. However, he is more evil than the trailer lets you to believe. The moment you realize Lex can and will do more than just threaten people verbally is one of the strongest aspects of this movie. Lex Luthor blowing up the US Capitol is a turning point and it surprised me because it comes out of nowhere. Although it is clear that Lex will cause trouble, this act of terrorism is unexpected in its boldness and extremeness.

Lex Luthor shares characteristics with another DC villain, the Joker, at least on the surface: he plays games with other characters and he likes to joke and laugh like a maniac. One of the big Nolan-Joker-like moments is Lex setting a timer and giving Superman an ultimatum to kill Batman or Superman’s mother Martha dies. Everyone who saw Nolan’s Dark Knight will remember an almost identical scene when Joker gives people on two boats an hour to either kill the passengers of the other boat or both boats will explode when the hour passes. Joker wants to prove that citizens of Gotham will always kill in order to protect themselves because that is human nature. However, Lex wants to prove to himself that he has power over aliens although he is physically weaker or cannot fly. Lex’s superpower is his brain and the movie portrays his journey towards self discovery and self improvement. Thus Lex’s interest in metahumans is not merely scientific. They made him feel self conscious and weak and it is not only until he enters the mothership that he is able to successfully use his knowledge to fight them.

Lex Luthor  hints at this sense of powerlessness when he gives a speech at the Metropolis Central Library re-opening party:

Books are knowledge and knowledge is power, and I am… no. Um, no. What am I? What was I saying? The bittersweet pain among men is having knowledge with no power because… because that is *paradoxical* and, um… thank you for coming.

Lex is a genius but apparently he feels that after the arrival of metahumans this is suddenly not enough. Later, in a frankenstein tradition, he creates a monster by bringing Zod back to life using alien technology and his own blood. Does Lex Luthor bring something new within the frankenstein tradition of mad scientists on TV/in the cinemas? Lex Luthor is a subtype of mad scientist: he wants to use his knowledge to secure himself a power grip that would defeat metahumans. However, Lex Luthor is a mad scientist who is engaged in a war of terror in a movie that is intended for mass audiences all over the world. Lex Luthor is a white rich terrorist in a blockbuster movie and this is what makes him fascinating.

Did you like Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman?

 

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