DC Universe and The Suspension of Disbelief

I like Marvel's pseudo-scientific storytelling as much as the next guy. Thor is not a god, he is just a member of an advanced Alien civilization, which happens to be the source of Nordic mythology. Incidentally, anything that looks remotely magical, either harnesses energy from other dimensions or it dates before time itself, so laws of physics do not apply. Even the Spiderman's smart suit got its share, and the trailers made me feel feelings.

In contrast, DC's narrative renders such explanations redundant. With DC, what you see is what you get. In the DC Extended Universe, gods are gods and black magic is black magic. All the paranormal coexist with the rest of the world history, and I'm especially confused about the implications: If Zeus, Ares and all that bunch exist, it means the Ancient Greek got it right, right? Not Christianity. Maybe it is why Superman is a Jesus allegory: he makes up for it.

So, even though the tone couldn't be further than what I'm really trained to expect from a dark superhero movie, I think I'm OK with the stark contrast between Marvel and DC.

Since Marvel presents the material in such apparent technical accuracy, it implies a demand of attention and invites the viewer to nitpick. It invites you to say "yeah, like hell it does that". In contrast, because DC avoids such an attempt, it forces the viewer to suspend their disbelief way further. In order to immerse, you have to abandon your disbelief and accept a world in which the impossible just happens.

"Are we addressing the tank throwing incident? No? OK, just checking." - imdb.com

Why is Wonder Woman so powerful? BOOM she is a demigod. Done. That is the only explanation you get for her being able to beat the life out of the God of War himself, or that she can scale a tower by finger stabbing the bricks. Her (demi)godliness is not a revelation that is further explored or gradually introduced. It is ubiquitous and it is the foundation on which the entire narrative is built.

Since suspension of disbelief is an indispensable mindset for the DCEU viewer, everything becomes plausible. Nobody bats an eye when Wonder Woman obliterates a tower by a forceful shoulder thrust. Or the movie doesn't waste time on explaining meager details such as the working principle of the power enhancing nasal serum. My humble guess is that it relieves congestion and increases the oxygen intake.

I think that this is a useful narrative technique, because it makes the viewing experience a cinematic equivalent of listening to a fairytale. It steers the movie away from possible pitfalls, which would otherwise force them to devise workarounds to make the technical and realistic aspect of the story work. They will neither explain how the lasso works, nor will they elaborate on how being an Aunt works in an immortal society where classical reproduction doesn't seem to play any role.

This is, at the same time, a dangerous narrative technique, because such an approach makes it possible for an American spy to do this:

"Good Evening Fräulein, I am German und this is mein accent." - imdb.com

Really? I mean, yes, making foreigners speak English amongst each other with an accent is an overused technique in countless work. But come on, man, you are an undercover spy, put some effort into it. Doesn't this make the scene look instantly like a child's play?

Sure, the movie was magical from beginning to end.
Glowing thermal ponds in Themyscira?
Probably bioluminescent bacteria, OK.

Ares, the son of Zeus, who chose a British disguise by the 30th century of his existence, incidentally looked completely British as a Greek God as well?
Well, maybe the British gene descends from Olympos, whatever.

Steve Trevor passes for a German, among Germans, by speaking English with a German accent?
...I think there is a fine line between magical realism and trading reason for a very youtubeable scene.

To reiterate, I don't mind the heavy reliance on mythology and suspension of disbelief. I think it works well, once the context of the movie sets what is redundant properly. In the Groundhog Day, I never felt the need of asking how the time loop works. Because the story was about Phil's character arc. In the Edge of Tomorrow however, the movie spends considerable time on explaining the physics of time loops and this leads me to be cranky about how it doesn't really makes sense. Like hell alien blood does that to you.

I like this contrast between Marvel and DC because I find them complementary rather than rivaling. But, the sparing use of magical elements should not be mistaken for complete lack of reason.

Last Thoughts

The feminist tone of the movie was very refreshing, but I don't think we are quite there yet. The outfit and the naive demeanor of Diana are all remnants of an earlier feminist tone that belongs to 50 years ago. Seriously though, why is Diana - along with all the other women on the island, without exceptions - portrayed as conforming to the classical definition of female beauty; clean shaven legs and everything? On the one hand, the movie passes the Bechdel Test, but on the other hand Wonder Woman's full potential is unlocked as a response to her love interest Steve Trevor's ultimate heroism of self-sacrifice. Wonder Woman and her character arc are both led by the male supporting character throughout the movie, which is a topic that deserves its own article, written by people who can analyze it much better than I can.

The movie is obscenely video game friendly. My right trigger finger was twitching with excitement during the lasso pull scenes; It is such a classic R2 + X execution strike. mark my words.

Weren't the Amazonians a little too isolated from the rest of the world? I mean, more than you'd expect from an immortal army of warriors, sworn to bring peace and justice to the world? If Zeus could cover the island with one-way vision fog, I'm sure he could conjure a fountain of eternal FM transmission or something to capture communications to inform the inhabitants about what's going on in the rest of the world. What is the purpose of knowing a hundred languages when you're oblivious to a war where more than 30 countries are slaughtering each other?

I think I know what's in the power serum to which General Ludendorff was totally addicted to. I also use something similar when I have the spring allergy and the eucalyptus kick is almost identical.

Colonization: 101

There has never been a group of people that had it coming more than the crew of Covenant did. This includes all the B movie kids, who assume spending a night at a cabin in the woods is a good idea for not getting brutally murdered.
And I blame Weyland-Yutani Corporation for it.

I can't claim to be a colonization savant - though not for the lack of trying, which is an entirely different story - but I believe the first thing to be taught to the future settlers should be alien planet hygiene.

The entire plot was driven by the recklessness of the expedition team. Interplanetary Contamination is a real, ethical issue that has real life impacts on actual missions even today. So, I'd expect the settlers of 22nd century to be better than throwing around cigarettes and urinating on an obviously life harboring planet.

"Oh, let's not freak out over finding Earth vegetation on this conspicuously livable planet", source imdb.com

Stumbling upon a living planet is a monumental discovery in itself. But finding life of Earth origin would require a wholly different level of precautions. If anything, you know that this is an isolated, planet-sized petridish, where Earthian life had who-knows-how-long to diverge from its ancestral genetic makeup. Even if there weren't any airborne alien microbes, waiting to burrow in your ear canal to have your sumatran frog style back-babies, you would at least be wise enough to suit up to protect yourself from mutated pathogens originating from Earth. An alien bacterium may not have the necessary instructions to infect your flesh, but a mutated bird flu would mean you'll need a replacement colony. So, from hugging a guy who just vomited his innards, to cleaning their wounds in the subterranean waters, these guys had zero clues about how to handle a new planet. We were literally pulling our hair out when Hallett nonchalantly disturbed, what I could best describe as the ominous ash anemones and inhaled the parasite. Come on guys, for the first time in the history of the Alien franchise, these deaths are a hundred percent on you.

Apart from the suicidal mission, the movie was simply delightful to look at. Especially the spaceship design of the Covenant immediately reminded me of this passage from 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Discovery, like all vehicles intended for deep space penetration, was too fragile and unstreamlined ever to enter an atmosphere, or to defy the full gravitational field of any planet. She had been assembled in orbit around the Earth, tested on a translunar maiden flight, and finally checked out in orbit above the Moon. She was a creature of pure space - and she looked it.2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke

"A creature of pure space", source: imdb.com

The intricate and impossible-to-break-free-from-planetary-gravitational-pull design of the ship was thought provoking in terms of imagining the future of space travel. Once zero-g factories are a reality, it will have significant implications in the designs of the spaceships. Right now, every space vessel is primarily designed to withstand piercing through the atmosphere against gravity. The fragile giant with its retractable solar sails was a graceful thought experiment.

Speaking of design, the movie neatly tackles an inherent problem of prequels: What is supposed to be an earlier technology looking more modern than its successors depicted in the original movie. Staying true to the design of the original, the movie would suffer from looking too unimaginative and archaic. Using too innovative and contemporary design elements, however, would be an anachronism. In this sense, using a completely different kind of a vessel is a clever idea, since it is difficult to compare USCSS Covenant, a colony spaceship with USCSS Nostromo, a commercial towing vessel that is supposed to look bulkier. Not that I've seen one of either, but logically speaking that is.

More than the visuals, the sound design borrowed heavily from the original movie as well. Mother's interface sounds were almost identical, and the main theme was a beautiful rendition of the original score. For those who are interested, you can listen to the album on Spotify, below:

So to wrap up

In David's obliteration of its creator's creator, there is an important take away message about bad parenting, though it currently eludes me.

The movie felt like "as if The Alien (1979) had sex with Assassin's Creed the movie", which makes two Michael Fassbenders a birth defect.

I believe the creepy kissing scene was more than what it seemed. The movie nicely bridged the gap between Prometheus and the Alien, even though we still haven't seen the conception of the Alien Queen. What we have seen is, however, David regurgitating facehugger embryos. This might be a foreshadowing. When he asks "is this how it's done?", it seems like he refers to kissing. But he might also be referring to impregnation à la facehugger. I believe he was genuinely worried about Daniels' life, because he planted the queen in her, making them the most diverse family of all time.

Mark my words: David's sketchbook will soon be available on Amazon. And I will kindly ask Amazon to please take all my money.

When the technology is ripe, having your corpse catapulted into outer space will be a thing. It is poignant yet poetic to have the wonders of the cosmos be refracted onto your retina, in your no-longer-seeing eyes, not to be transmitted to your no-longer-comprehending brain.