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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Batman V. Superman' And The Objects We Desire

Henry Cavill as Superman in <em>Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice</em>.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Quick announcement, before we get started: During the month of April,Pop Culture Happy Hourwill be available a day early, exclusively in the NPR One app. Nothing else will change; the show will otherwise appear in your feeds and on this site first thing Friday morning. But for those who use NPR One, or who've been thinking about trying it, you'll get a little head start. To try NPR One, you can download the app or listen via your web browser.

Glen Weldon has a new book out about Batman — perhaps he's mentioned it? A few years ago, he even wrote a book about Superman.

So we couldn't possibly pass up a chance to discuss Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the gigantic new superhero-crossover blockbuster that's supposed to launch a zillion likeminded juggernauts in the coming years. And, as we so often do when we talk about movies in which buildings get knocked over, Linda Holmes and I called on our pal Chris Klimek to join us; after all, Chris was our staunchest defender of BvS's Zack Snyder-directed predecessor, Man Of Steel, and we like to showcase a wide range of opinions on this show as much as possible.

Unfortunately, that whole "wide range of opinions" thing didn't work out so well this time around, as we figured out pretty quickly. But we did pull together a whole mess of thoughts on not only Batman v. Superman, but also blockbusters in general — namely, what do we look for in a big-budget action movie? What makes the great ones stand out? Die Hard, Jaws, Mad Max: Fury Road, Close Encounters... we have thoughts.

Then we run down our answers to a question every geek should consider at least once: If you could own just one pop-culture object — the Batmobile, for example, or Excalibur — what would it be? I maintain that places count as objects, but ultimately narrow a couple of youthful fantasias down to a single Rube Goldberg device. Glen runs through a laundry list of possibilities before picking a single item in Batman's collection. Chris decides on a briefcase — not just any briefcase, mind you — and Linda has designs on pulling into the NPR parking garage with a conversation-starter for the ages.

Finally, as always, we close with What's Making Us Happy this week. I'm psyched about an unlikely shout-out to NPR Music's Tiny Desk, and about this truly sublime inspirational video. Glen, naturally, has experienced some joys surrounding the publication of his new book, and praises a long-awaited sequel that's near and dear to both of our hearts. Chris loves a pair of goofy videos: one with the great Rachel Bloom, and one with a magnificent military band. And Linda mentions a special, limited-time-only incentive to listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR One, and also praises a recent episode of the wonderful podcast 99% Invisible.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: the show, me, Linda, Glen, Chris, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus Mike.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)