Batman vs Superman – From the eyes of a Product Manager


The movie recently released to high expectations. I noticed some heavy Twitter campaigns as well. For the record, I have been a huge fan of Nolan’s Dark Knight series and cannot envision any other Batman other than Christian Bale.

None the less, the concept of the two superheroes going all out against each other is a plot line (product idea), that holds enormous potential. Additionally,based on the reasoning provided by the production house, I felt that the decision to cast Ben Affleck was actually a good one. Without wasting further time on dilly dallying, let’s dissect the product –

Development of modules (scenes) that were not needed.

Clients usually demand a full suite of features without actually going after a specific target problem or target user base. This leads to the creation of a bulky product with multiple features which may not address the core problem. Even if the problem is taken care off, it might create a negative impact on the actual target category of users. This generally occurs because a user might tend to feel bombarded with multiple features.

In this case, the initial half an hour of the movie was utilized to establish the beginning of Batman and a bit of Superman. This was completely unnecessary as the target audience mostly comprised of users who were aware as to how Batman “began his career”.

Spent a ton on user interface (CGI) without defining a user experience strategy (core offering for the user)

When I conduct initial meetings with stakeholders, I try to extradite the ideas sitting in their heads. Along with that, I also try and study their psychology. This helps in understanding the vision that they have for the product. Which in turn, helps me in extrapolating and defining the true vision of the product to be built.

In this case, multiple resources (time and money) were heavily invested on the UI of the product. The resultant effects produced, were visually stunning, but lacked the connect. In order to reflect the darkness within the characters, the movie itself was shot in a very dark frame.

This tends to reflect the reality of many a product out there! A lack of clarity on the UX tends to overflow into the UI as well, leading to a domino effect on the entire product.

Villain was a repackaged dude seen before (lack of innovation)

With a plethora of mobile apps and web apps on offer, competition is extremely stiff is an understatement to make! It has become really hard to capture the attention spans of users.

Jesse Eisenberg was delightful as the disturbed villain, Lex Luthor. But, his creation, Doomsday, snatched the fun out of the game. The go to story line for almost all superhero movies these days, has been about varied forms of aliens; bursting on to the scene with an intent to either conquer or destroy the citizens of Earth. From a personal perspective, I really do not mind this sort of a story line. But, when the product looks like an imitation of other successful products on the market, I tend to draw the line there.

Which is what happens in today’s world! Even non technical users are increasingly becoming aware of the kind of apps they use. And that is where imitation becomes less of an art and more of a disaster.

Product manager (director) trying to handle 5-6 advanced features (theories) in a single product (movie)

Without a doubt, I have to give due credit to the director for helming this film. It takes courage to direct such a plot line when people have seen really great Superman movies and have savored the Dark Knight trilogy respectively.

But as a product manager, it goes without saying that one has to walk a tight rope, between balancing the vision of the product and the demands of the stakeholders. Especially, if the demands point towards high end features that take time to build. More importantly, features that might not be needed in the current iteration.

I believe that if there is a strong use case for such features to be integrated, then the details should be ironed out thoroughly. Such an approach helps in

  • Clear reasons to actually move ahead with the implementation, thereby helping in defining clear flows within the product. Some data might definitely help. Or in the case of this movie, some more feedback could have been gathered while scripting (user story mapping)
  • Seamless integration while implementation
  • Frictionless experience for the end user.

End Product – Disengagement of end users, Negative effect on the branding of the entire DC universe.

Well, as a product based company, your product defines who you are. And is the lifeline for revenues. In this case, the impact of the product went south. This was touted to be a product that would get users engaged into its plot. It was supposed to have a great emotional connect with the audience. Thereby, leading to the launch of further related products (Justice of League movies).

Instead, it has affected the entire DC brand of comics. Warner Bros. is trying to reinvent the wheel from what Disney Studios has already achieved through the Marvel universe.

With so much at stake, surely the executives will have to be a lot more careful; before they can boomerang into the production of further movies.