46 – Monument

coverblackSegments originally recorded March 29th, April 30th, and July 19th.  Heroes Park monument, memorial, and the Superman statue.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • Motif of monuments, memorials, and memory throughout the film
  • The Superman statue as political expedience
  • A scar on the city
  • National September 11 Memorial parallels
  • Remember the city as it was, incorporating the city
  • Impact of Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Maya Lin’s design, intention, and overcoming criticism
  • The certainty of youth
  • Chronological listing of names
  • Names as a meaningful abstraction
  • Symbols of the Wall
  • Criticism over abstraction and ambiguity
  • Critics can turn anything into a controversy
  • Critics upset over the unexpected and unconventional
  • Public grieving changed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Accessibility of art beyond the directly connected and invested
  • Interpretation and understanding increasing appreciation of art
  • Benefits of wonder and awe
  • The pose, humility, and abstraction of the statue
  • Do heroes have to be known or perfect to get a monument?
  • Wallace Keefe’s objections to the statue
  • Monuments versus the fluidity of history
  • Keefe’s arrest as the central statement
  • Superman’s feelings about the statue, being put on a pedestal

…and much more!

Sorry, I don’t have access to Doc’s notes.  He’ll update the show notes with links after Suicide Squad.

Time Out Shortlist Metropolis & Gotham | Dan Wallace (editor)
Dawn of Justice: The Art of the Film | Peter Aperlo
Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1982 | Smarthistory
American Icons: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Studio 360
Maya Lin and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Rear Window
Hidden Brain: Great Vacations and Awe | NPR
Heroes are good – let’s make statues of them | Nikolas Lloyd
ISIS destroys ancient artifacts in Mosul | CBS
A History of Controversial Monuments | Eveline van Rijswijk

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8/8 – Thanks to H.H. for publishing the episode and moderating the site!

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  1. Hi DOC,

    what do you think of this nerdwriter video explain about zack snyder flimmaking flaws in BvS:


    From what I understand the nerdwriter said that zack flaw’s is that he is focus too much on awed moment but not on the actual character moment or scenes for the good storytelling. He also give elaborate on the flaw overused of close up and medium shot.

    • @Leon
      There is a commentary to the video you may find interesting:


      I must add that I also think nerdwriter does not understand (or just doesn’t feel it) that many of these “awed moments” are not just for awe, but are used for actual character development. Zack uses the rule “show, do not tell”, but most people must have every detail explained (of the plot, character motivation and feelings) in dialogue. I believe this was one of the reasons so many people didn’t see any character development or misunderstood motivation or feelings (e.g. some people claimed that Clark didn’t care what people thought of him, because he said it in the bathroom, despite the fact that film showed something completely opposite!!).

      I strongly recommend to everyone a very interesting article about visual storytelling:


      • I do think Civil War is a good comparison to BvS in that critics seem to “get” that movie but not BvS (or the masterpiece that is MoS). In Civil War we see Tony Stark show regret over an innocents death in Sokovia, beg for Steve to join the U.N. then completely spend the rest of the movie putting an untried teenager into battle and going off doing his own thing. But because he explicitly says something else the critics just go along with it and ignore the actual character choices. It drives me crazy. In MoS and BvS Superman continues to choose the higher value, the right thing, but gets summed up as “not inspiring”. Aaahhhh, the “s” types in Myer-Briggs drive me nuts.

        • The 1st linked youtube commentary has it´s point, honest and well thought out too and it´s nice to see the the-fanboy-perspective being liked. The site has a lot of good DC editorials.
          Some of us love these self-important “scenes” movies though. The comic medium is famous for such. Watchmen and the mentioned 300 are obsessed with them. Snyder himself said that he likes his movies to feel like “movies” and not real life, so the perceived disconnect is intentional.
          Being unable not to get behind a directorial style is a far better reason to not like a certain “take” on source material that channeling the basic nature of it in every shape or form, despite a lot of prescience.

          • @Residentgrigo
            I agree with you – I love this kind of “scenes” movie, too. I didn’t mean that all these “scenes” are used for character development. I just wanted to stress that a lot of information about the plot or characters (missing according to critics) was conveyed in a visual way. Like you, I love these shots and find them very “comic-booky”. I don’t think that telling a story in the efficient way is the only goal of the movie, because it is a unique experience – it can also induce emotions or reflections, create associations, make our dreams come true etc. Many people, however, seem to be convinced that the plot (with all details explained in dialogue) is the only thing that matters. I have even seen a comment on another site that everything in the movie should serve the plot. It is true that many movies are made that way, especially superhero movies, but it is not the only option.

    • I’m always skeptical if an essay makes up an undefined and not-established terms and poses a false dichotomy for things along a spectrum. I respect his ability to present, but the argument isn’t very sound or persuasive. Different movies can and do focus on different things. Even if, for the sake of argument, we want to say BvS lacks character… so what? He doesn’t justify that as an issue, he just assumes it. I’ve read comics with incredible art and no dialog, or feasts for the soul in dialog with stick-figure art, or intricate complicated and engaging plots with dry characters. It’s bizarre to consider any of them “fundamentally flawed” unless I assume there’s a template of what it should be. The last part is what he fails to back up. In this case, he just relies on people’s prejudice… and that’s unimpressive punching down.

  2. I love that “if you seek his monument, look around you” seems to be written by the people of Metropolis, versus the more government-looking statue of Superman that had preceded it. The idea that the people took it upon themselves to memorialize Superman is much more meaningful to me.

    I also love that it’s a real world phrase, borrowed from Christopher Wren’s inscription because as you mentioned in your episode, the people who wrote it probably knew of that reference and incorporated it for themselves. It’s a nice melding of the real world and the fictional world.

    There’s something very inspiring to me that Superman’s example would have made the people of Metropolis (and possibly also the entire planet, given that Superman was an active hero in other countries) look inward and recognize their heroic nature inside themselves. It fulfills Jor-El’s words that Kal would give the people an ideal to strive towards.

    Thanks, as always, for your fantastic research to help us understand the bigger picture ideas of what’s going on in the story. I visited the Washington Mall last year and was moved at the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. Maybe it’s because they were literally larger than life figures, but I think it was more because of the words etched in stone. I stood there, just reading through Lincoln and Jefferson’s writings and it connected me to them as people and leaders more than anything ever has. There’s something very powerful in the words on a monument.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! I actually had another 15 minutes on Wren but cut it because the episode was long.
      Your DC experience is moving, totally agree about the feeling of awe and the power of their words!

  3. I have to agree with the (later converted) veteran that the Vietnam memorial feels anti-war and for a lack of a better word “depressing”. It´s an amazing piece of art though! I never saw it myself but a school-mate took part in a yearlong exchange program and was left in awe by it. The next best thing I is saw in RL is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. I ain’t a fan to say the least.

    That Snyder posed for the Superman statue is interring and the amount of details (the laser) the set designers put into their work deserves recognition. I look forward to the Wallace episode. I liked that he “lost” his family due to his depression and “faults of character” and not due to an expected death, according to the UC.
    That cut turned him into surprisingly layered character, instead of a McGuffin.

    Random DC thoughts: Talltale´s 1st Batman episode turned out well (a lot of twists!) and anyone who hasn´t seen the Killing Joke toon film should tune in @ minute 31 on 1st viewing, due to the highly misguided original Batgirl lead-in. The producers crated controversy for the sake of it with that one. I hope that the DCEU will explore that plot. The Arkham games did it for example.

    • re: Depressing: The memorial was designed for a Funeral Architecture class, so that’s not surprising! I didn’t put it in the episode, but it’s funny that Maya Lin’s professor graded the project a B+… but the panel of judges were made up of the most prestigious architects in the nation at the time (because it was such a big deal to put a war memorial on the Mall) and THEY selected her design. Lin’s professor was no slouch but definitely not on the level of the panel and they picked her design over a 1,000+ designs.

      So, it kind of feeds into the recent Suicide Squad episode theme of “which jurors matter?”

  4. Movie-censorship.com (the original German site is named “schnittberichte”) did a very detailed breakdown of the US and TC of BvS as see here. The one for UC Watchmen is a beast and the whole site is worth a look:

  5. Hi,


    What do you think of THR reporting that WB studios is once again meddling with david ayer SS original cut similar to what studios have meddling with zack snyder BvS theatrical cut? This could explain the criticisms of SS being a mess and having a editing and pacing issues. There is a chances of SS having a ultimate cut or extended edition similar to BvS ultimate cut on blu ray/dvd. But to be honest I kinda have a mixed feeling on this recent WB trends of meddling with director original vision on the movie and only releasing the full vision on blu ray/dvd.

    What do you think?

    • I feel that it’s one of those many double-standards. Do you know how many times has Marvel Studios meddled with their films? At least two directors have walked out of their films because of such thing, yet almost nobody calls that out. It’s a little bit frustrating, really.

    • I acknowledge that THR is a reputable trade, but I personally consider them biased against WB’s current executives. They did an anti-Tsujihara feature with the water tower literally pissing on Kevin, they bring up rumors and scandals in interviews with the execs that they don’t press other studios on, they’re the source of many of the rumors and scandals, and they don’t print retractions when they don’t pan out. It’s kind of unprofessional so it filters how I perceive additional rumors from them and their intention. Note that THR is the ONLY “original” source for this narrative of the film. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, but I take it with a lot of salt.

  6. Wow, this was a great episode, Doc. Thanks for delving into this one. I always felt that this statue of Superman was very awkward – his legs, his arms out like that, even his hands and fingers are posed funny. But in the context of the film the humility (and verisimilitude) of it make sense. Your thoughts and research on it justify it even more of course.

    I recently read an analysis by Bryce Wainwright on WordPress that pointed out the pose is very similar to the “Spirit of Detroit” statue, which of course is where parts of the movie were filmed. The Detroit statue has the higher rear hand holding a beaming sun, and the lower front hand holding a human family. Though I guess not officially, the statue is understood to depict Prometheus delivering the light of the gods to humans, much in the same way that Superman chose side with humanity over his own kind.

    I also read another excellent analysis that viewed Batman and Superman as aspects of America’s various military and political identities (“Beautiful Lies and False Gods” by Rick Quinn at Pop Matters). In it he discusses the funeral for Superman in DC, where they bury an empty box, devoid of humanity and honoring only the loss of raw power. He says “Soldier and hero are collapsed together in public consciousness. Ironically, this honor comes at the cost of considering him human, potentially courageous or callous.” I thought that was an interesting sentiment and I was reminded of it while listening to your musings and quotes about these monorails and honoring the dead vs. celebrating heroes. It’s a great read, and yet another fascinating interpretation of the movie.

    Anyway, thanks again!

    • Thanks Phil, I had two lines on the Spirit of Detroit, but since I couldn’t source when the monument was designed / if it inspired the design, I left it out. Prometheus is definitely a theme somewhere in the film… it just bounces around a lot, so I don’t have a lock on it yet.

      Added Quinn’s analysis to my reading list, thanks for the heads up, sounds fascinating!

  7. I have an important bit of info for all who saw or will see The Squad very soon, as the most important review you will ever read, by John Ostrander, the Creator of the Suice Squad, just landed:
    “Hi all. I’m back. Short form — I had a wonderful time and i loved the film.”
    You had one job DC and you accomplished the mission! He also created Oracle and is one of the finest US writers of all time, please look him up. WB even credited him properly. (BvS did the same too.)

  8. Will you make a Spoiler-Free post about SS? I just watched it and I had a really good time. Not as deep as MoS or BvS, but still an enjoyable film, and I really liked how the presence/legacy of Superman was so ingrained in the lore of the film. I would like to know your thoughts about it.

    • I’ve been 80% dark for two weeks due to a trial, then 100% dark last week due to a business trip. I went into my first viewing, out-of-town at 12AM local-time but 3AM my-time, knowing zilch about anything happening in the last week. Unfortunately, that’s not a fair way to watch it and while I planned to muse on what I saw on the flight home… I just slept the whole way back. Then spent Sunday busy prepping to be back at the firm today. I literally had no idea about the critical reception until about 20 minutes before this reply.

      I was going to see it a second time tonight, but I’m still too tired. I want to see it alert and not deliriously tired once before weighing in. Not sure when that will be. I’ve already committed to plans to see the new Star Trek this weekend.

      Until I can watch it awake, I’m doing my best to stay dark on reviews, podcasts, etc.; got too much other stuff to catch up on regardless!

      • Star Trek Beyond is good. Nearly as good as the 1st. I didn´t hate Into Dumbness but it was such a mess. I am looking forward to the new Trek show too.

        John Ostrander Reviews the Suicide Squad:
        The reviews clearly ticked him off but Ayer´s response is even better.
        I said it once here and i will say it again. The next 2 will also be “rotten” and then comes Flash (filming starts in nearly 2017), who can only fall too due to the CW show. Why do we even care?
        How about MoS2 though. I bet on Braniac. They teased him twice now.

      • My country isn’t showing Suicide Squad just yet, but the most damning thing I’ve heard about it on positive/neutral DC podcasts is that many scenes (prominently Joker ones, because he was of course one of the smaller parts of the film than many fans nonetheless look very much forward to, and left lasting impressions in all trailers and TV spots) that even made it into the SDCC trailer back in late July are missing in the finished film.

  9. I saw Suicide Squad today, I thought it was great.

  10. I saw Suicide Squad and in my opinion is great. A movie that combines characters development, story and action, in a fresh new way. It expands the DC movie universe in a good way. The acting is amazing and all the actors have done a really good job. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is simply extraordinary and Viola Davis is The Wall, she’s the perfect actress for Amanda Waller and I hope she’ll be back in other movies. Jared Leto is scary as the Joker, in a good way, and I like his relationship with Harley. I just want to spend few words regarding all the negativity, that in my opinion, were expected just because is a DC movie. First of, I don’t care about critics or reviews, but I want to say to all the fans that is now clear that this so called “critics”, that are unprofessionals, are trying to ruin the image of DC in every way. I found weird analogies between some of the criticism of BvS and the criticism of SS. They used the same words to criticized the two movies, even if BvS and SS are two different movies with different tones, directed by different directors. For example, some of the critics are saying to the people to not watch SS, they said the same exact thing back in March, about BvS. Is it normal? No. Is not normal at all. Everyone’s free to decide if he want to watch a movie or not, no one has the right to limit the freedom of thinking. They want to keep people away from the DC movies, because they are insecure and little people, they are afraid that their beloved other company, can be put in the shadow by DC. For the records, that other company would never have existed if it wasn’t for the creation of Superman back in 1938 and the development and creation of all the DC characters back in the 40’s. DC and all the DC artist have created the Superhero genre in comics and they were copied by other companies later, especially during the Silver Age. But you know, critics are showing they real colour, they are hypocritical double standard, coward, they hide themselves in their “fantasy world”, trying to ruin art of real artists. A movie can exist without a review, can a review exist without a movie? All of their words are bias, their way to “review” this movies is a sign that indicates their true intentions. Ruin the movie and the possible success of the DC. The only way to see, is to open the eyes. SS scored the August record with the highest opening weekend in the US, for this month. Isn’t surprising that the “reviews” and the real reception in term of box office are going in two different directions? We have a successful movie at the box office, this means that a lot of people wanted to see the movie, but we also have people who are trying to bash the movie. The same happens months ago, with BvS, dèjà vù. Seems like this critics have a “script” with critical words to use in every occasion that a DC movie get released. Seems like a plan, or a strategy. And this could be the definitive proof that this kind of people have preconceptions, and hate against DC. Is possible to dislike something without hating it, but a lot of people likes to hate DC. Why? Maybe they are ignorant, they hate what they don’t know. We must not forget that we live in the world where people are judged by their ethnicity, gender, orientation, religion. Unfortunately, hate is a constant in our world, I am not surprised if there are people who hate a specific company or type of movies. In any case, this type of behavior is alarming and a sign of possible antisocial disorders. As DC fans, we can just enjoy our movies and be happy that we finally have the DCEU, with tons of movie to come. The Wonder Woman movie will be the next one and the Justice League movie is closer than ever.

    • 100% agreed, the critics lost their credibility with me, they have to do a lot to earn it back at this point, meanwhile The DCEU is constantly putting out consistently artistic product.

  11. This is an essential interview. A lot of honestly about film making too. Ayer on the DCEU:
    “This is a fleet of ships crossing the ocean, but you get to be captain of your own vessel.”

  12. Hey everyone, I found this article on Reddit that points out the current state of modern “critics” and I really recommend to give it a read.


  13. @Residentgrigo
    You probably already know it, but it seems Rebirth is pretty successful (sales are very good) 🙂


    • And how, Harley No.1 even sold over 400k due to the film last week!: http://www.comicsbeat.com/category/sales-charts/
      The previous “worst title” Aquaman really kicked it up a notch by now and even the much dreaded Red Hood Vol.3 turned out to be good (as of now). There are NO bad Rebirth books being published by DC proper right now. Vertigo is being somewhat rebooted next (Doom Patrol!) and the Hanna-Barbera reboot is great too. The new Flintstones is such good satire, 9/10.

      Half of Marvel Now (besides Star Wars) can suck it though. So much “fake” diversity…
      I am lastly a huge Valiant fan. That reboot from 2012 always delivers.

  14. Suicide Squad Dominates Despite Media’s Gloom And Doom by Mark Hughes
    About the THR numbers of 800. mil to “break even”: They wrote an article based on a DCEU reddit thread this week that guessed the “2015 cut” for SS based on the movie book. Ha. A trade magazine pulled such a stunt. And today´s “insider-news” that Wonder Woman is a readymade “disaster”, yeah… i ain´t buying even 1 single word. Poor Wonder Woman + Patty, that movie got real heat last month for the A-list writing team of “all men” (including Zack). Even by RT… (WB owns 30% btw.).
    We have seen nothing yet, as 2017 will have a “double dose” of Snyder, for them and for US. Good for us, eh?

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