Midnight Special is not showing anywhere in Dayton, OH. I don't ask for much. I just want the Giants to win the World Series every other year and for a good movie every so often. So in my resignation to wallow in the chaotic fallenness of worldly depravity, I settled for Batman v Superman. I am a man of a particular age, you see, and I have developed high tolerance for bad sci-fi and comic-bookish movies. To be honest, I am sometimes glad to see really poor reviews of such films so that my expectations are sufficiently low. Batman v Superman, however, was not helped by the expectations game. It was reported to be bad and it was worse.
**Spoiler alert: this review will reveal that the movie is an abomination**
It is not uncommon for superhero movies to play with a God/messiah motif or theme. Sometimes it is understated, like Superman or Spider-Man in a cruciform pose. Sometimes it is an echo. E.g. Dr. X saying, “It’s the greatest gift of all, to bear their pain without breaking.” Sometimes these narratives get more overt with a religiously motivated plot line (e.g. the train wreck that is Netflix's Daredevil). Batman v Superman might be the most overt of recent efforts to marry religion to a comic book narrative.
In short, Superman's legacy is in jeopardy because his super-duper powers strike many as god-like. So, of course, Superman becomes divisive in a God-is-dead culture. Among the many references to Sup's messianic status, the most overt is Lex Luthor's motivation to destroy him. Just before the big showdown, LL explains, “At a young age I learned that if God is all good he couldn’t be all--powerful and if God is all--powerful then he couldn’t be all good.”
There you have it. A veneer of sophistication meant to mask an otherwise dull movie. Perhaps with this nod to an old theological problem, the audience will overlook the simplistic portrait of good and evil, the incoherent motives of the key characters, the inability of the directors to cut scenes with any elegance, the clumsy political subplot, or the failure to render any of the characters relatable. On this last point, there is no reason for the audience to care about about the outcomes of any person in the film. The theodicy theme functioned as chocolate sprinkles atop a steaming pile of Chet from Weird Science.
I could write more. It might be interesting to explore the use of theodicy to humanize an antagonist (something this film fails to do) or to complicate a protagonist (again, failure). But wouldn't we all be happier if we could just convince our local theaters to play Midnight Special? I'm looking at you Neon.