Batman v Superman Tops $800 Million: Why It’s Still A Disappointment

Ugh, why are we still beating this dead horse?

Scott Mendelsohn over at Forbes wrote an article puzzling over why people consider BvS a disappointment. He writes:

[B]ecause Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice came about in a post-Avengers era … it finds itself on the defensive with “just” $800m worldwide.

Now Scott, I appreciate you and your reviews. I really do. And I know that you are aware of BvS‘s flaws and that you loved Batman as a kid, so I won’t get into the well-trodden weeds about this film’s flaws. But let me help you understand why this film is a disappointment, because it is, and it isn’t Marvel’s fault.

First, your argument that The Avengers raised the bar for all superhero movies is spot on. In fact, there probably wouldn’t even be a Batman v Superman if it weren’t for the $1.5 billion haul of Marvel’s alpha team. And, yes, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk were both fortunate to come out in a pre-Avengers time when their (relatively) low grosses looked like successes. But to say that Avengers’ huge pile of cash puts BvS on the defensive is clearly missing the mark.

One could say that, in this post-Avengers world, the $700 million earned by Amazing Spider-Man 2 helps the argument that we are being unrealistic about the success levels of movies. But in making that argument, we’d be ignoring several other post-Avengers successes: Ant-Man (a “paltry” $518 million), Deadpool ($757 million), and Guardians of the Galaxy ($773 million) all earned less than BvS and are considered successful. Does this demonstrate some sort of bias against BvS and should we instead be dancing around its box office numbers in celebration? Uh, no.

Clearly – very, very, clearly – box office numbers don’t tell the whole story of success. The above films were critically adored while BvS and Amazing Spider-Man 2 were … not so much. That’s one indicator. Another indicator is the huge box office drop BvS experienced in its second week. After WB crowed about BvS defying critics to earn a huge opening weekend, it was apparent something was very wrong when the second weekend sales slumped. Analysts quickly revised their predictions on how much money the film would make and it was a lot less than initially forecasted. When a movie doesn’t do as well as it is forecasted? Well, Scott, that’s a disappointment.

I live in Ohio, so let me compare it to something Ohioans know a lot about: sports. The Cleveland Cavaliers got LeBron James back a couple seasons ago and the expectations are that he will bring a title home to Cleveland. When the Cavs lost in the championship game last year? That was a disappointment. There was no “That’s okay, you made it to the Finals!” talk, no trophy for second place. For Cavs fans, it’s championship or bust.

Batman v Superman should’ve made it into the $1 billion club. This movie isn’t Iron Man circa 2008, because movie-goers circa 2008 *didn’t care about Iron Man*. They only grew to love him after a well-received film. That’s not the case with BvS. Hulk in 2008 is not well-liked. Fans *love* Batman. And they at least like Superman a lot. When Iron Man and Incredible Hulk do decent business on lower budgets, that’s a semi-success. When Batman v Superman doesn’t bank a smooth billion? That’s a failure. Expecially because of that budget.

Oh, that budget.

Scott, how can you wonder why this film is a disappointment when it’s expected to earn less profit than Man of Steel? How on earth do you add Batman and Wonder Woman to a Superman film and earn. Less. Profit? Batman, for chrissakes!!!

BvS *is* a disappointment. But to all of its fans and defenders (even you, Scott), I’ll say this: the movie is not a failure. It will be profitable. And it will spawn more films. Batfleck will be back. Wonder Woman will get to make good on her potential – hopefully. And maybe in a few years with six more movies under their belt, this will all be forgotten. Like Incredible Hulk.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone who even slightly disliked BvS to pile on. If you want a better film, complain about the parts you didn’t like about this film so much that WB feels compelled to make changes. If you don’t complain, then don’t be surprised if you keep getting more of the same. That’s democracy, baby!

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