Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Not-So-Jolly Rancher: The scene in Batman v Superman that ejected me from the movie

Shamus Young, in his Twenty-Sided blog, talks about the different types of disbelief that forces a person out of the fictional work he or she is reading, watching, etc. For one person, it could be something technical. For another person, it could be some discontinuity in the sequence of events. For still another, it could be simple boredom. But they all have the same result; complete ejection from the fictional work into the real world.

This happened to me while I was watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. One scene occurred that was so out of place, so unbelievable, that it violently ejected me from the movie and planted me squarely in the real world. And this scene is in a movie that has a guy that flies and shoots eye-lasers, a woman with a magic rope, and a murderous thug in a winged rodent cosplay.

It was this scene: around half-an-hour into the movie, Senator Old Guy talks to Alexander Luthor (the young son of a far more interesting supervillain), saying “We can help each other”. Luthor asks for two things while reaching for a bowl of Jolly Ranchers; access to the kryptonian ship and Zod’s body. The senator agrees to this. Luthor pulls out a Jolly Rancher, unwraps one, and offers it to the senator, saying “It’s cherry”. Luthor then SLIDES THE JOLLY RANCHER INTO THE SENATOR’S MOUTH AND THEN LICKS THE FINGERS HE JUST USED TO FEED THE SENATOR. 
  
What the hell did I just see? What was the sense of that scene? I screamed these questions as I was being thrown out of the movie into the real world. After the movie, I ruminated on that one scene for weeks. I went to TV Tropes to see if I could derive some meaning to that scene. This scene is not even mentioned there. And none of the other tropes which involve feeding (Romantic Spoonfeeding, Food as Bribe, Through His Stomach) were even close to helpful. I scoured the internet, trying to find something that would explain the jolly rancher scene. Nothing. So, the scene had no cinematic meaning, suggested no deeper plot (like maybe mind-controlling jolly ranchers), wasn’t a setup for something later (like “Granny’s Peach Tea”), did not have characters who acted like human beings, and didn’t even make sense within its own universe. 

I have a feeling this scene was where a lot of people mentally checked out of the movie. What’s more, this scene raises a lot of questions:

1) Why did Zack Snyder waste time, money and effort making this scene? What was he trying to say? I subscribe to the notion that everything added to a book, movie, whatever, was deliberately put in. So why was it put in? It added nothing; it explained nothing; if the scene was deleted, the only part of the movie that would be affected would be the running time.  

2) Did no one involved in the making of that scene point out how ridiculous it looked? Remember, there were hundreds of people involved in the production. Want proof? Look at any end credits part of any movie. So how did no one speak up?


3) Did the Warner Bros. executives, when they screened the movie before it was released to audiences, looked at that scene and said to themselves “Holy crap, we made a mistake hiring Zack Snyder to direct all our Justice League movies?” Or did they say to themselves “A young idiot feeds an old dude candy! That’s what the people want!”   

This movie has a lot, and I mean A LOT of problems. This was just one of them. But it was the one that stuck out the most for me. 

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