Hello, readers! It’s been awhile since this site has seen an Email Throwdown, so it has returned to mark the occasion of the highly anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Surely you’ve already heard and read the many reactions to this movie, but why not see what Andrew, Jun, and Morgan thought of it? Read on and find out! WARNING: Major spoilers ahead.
Andrew’s thoughts are in red, Jun’s in blue, and Morgan’s in purple.
Dawn of Justice. Before we get into it, I’d like to make you guys jealous; I paid less than $10 for my ticket to the 6:30PM showing and purchased my ticket at 6:20. I was in a theater with about 15 people. There was no line, there was no crowd – just painless movie experience. So I was in a good mood going into the film. About two and a half hours later, I had one thought: “I can’t wait for the Justice League movie.”
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m very excited about how studios build out their worlds and prep us for the next installment of their cinematic universe. I’m fine sacrificing some clean edges here and there when it comes to story and character development if they leave room to present information in a future movie. The argument could be made that this hurts the film overall but I would respond that the long-term experience becomes more engaging. All this is to say that I thought this movie kicked off DC’s foray into team-ups with a bang.
Now, to the specifics. I’m going to jump right in and talk about Ben Affleck. He was such a controversial choice and going into the movie, I was hoping for him to be successful. I like the guy and think he’s very talented – he’s just made some poor career decisions. So what did I think of his Bruce Wayne/Batman? I borderline hated him. Which is to say, he might be my favorite version of the character to date. We’ve had so many versions of Batman in his prime, but this iteration speaks to an emotionally beaten and cynical Batman who has become more and more brutal over the years. He is ruthlessly efficient and uses his mind to take advantage of any weakness available. As a Superman fan, Affleck captures everything about Batman that makes him one of my least favorite heroes in the comic book world. It also makes him exceedingly entertaining. His performance is vicious and cruel. Physically, I don’t think there’s been a Batman as ripped as him and visually, he fills up the screen. It is an intense experience and I think he did a phenomenal job.
Now, I’ve prattled on quite enough. High-brow, what are your first thoughts on the movie and how do you think Affleck did?
You’re right, I’m jealous that you got to see BvS for a cheaper price. Did you see it in IMAX, by the way? If you did, then that’s a sweet bargain – before you get to see the actual movie, that is.
Yup, I’m definitely not a fan of what is basically a two-and-a-half-hour long preview for Justice League: Part 1. The more I think about how the film moves along and how it makes sense, the more I realize how shaky it is such that it just falls apart. Even if you don’t look at it from a story standpoint (which has way too many problems going on there), I ended up not really caring about any of these characters except for Wonder Woman, who’s probably the best thing this movie has going for it. Superman is flat-out dull and does whatever the script requires him to do, and as for Batman, I liked him up until he essentially became a pawn in Lex Luthor’s grand scheme (so much for being the World’s Greatest Detective) and then a mindless douche in the titular showdown. If that’s my final reaction to two major superheroes in the second installment of what will be a long-running franchise, then I’m not going to be excited about any movies that feature them unless Zack Snyder – who cares about his characters only when he assigns them “cool” stuff like murder people or being killed (R.I.P. Jimmy Olsen) – isn’t sitting in the director’s chair.
I think Ben Affleck did the best he could given this version of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and I generally liked his performance, although I’m not on board with the way that Snyder, along with screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio, use him in the story. It’s hilarious how his casting met so much controversy and hatred when it was announced back in 2013 considering that he’s delivered some fine performances over the past few years, and he puts in a good shift here. I appreciated how they took the character down a brutal, cynical, and world-weary path, which clearly shows in his well-choreographed fight scenes in addition to his conversations with Alfred (played by a great Jeremy Irons). The sight of him branding criminals, using projectile weapons, and killing will no doubt draw the ire of many fans, but honestly, you can’t deny those are what make him remotely interesting in this film. I mean, he’s basically playing billionaire Rorschach, and as a fan of both that character and the Punisher, I dug Batman before he fell victim to the story’s stupidity. If Affleck does end up directing the stand-alone Batman film and throws a ball far away for Snyder to chase, I’m down to see it. Just make the character consistent throughout, yeah?
Well howdy, folks! Yeah, yeah, yeah, you thought it was just going to be just the high and low brow of the group. Well, surprise!
I might as well be a long time listener, first time caller, but I’m ready to dish on some Batman v Superman action. And yes, I’m definitely jealous of the lower price, but getting to see it in IMAX was completely worth it!
Jumping right into things – honestly, I had such low expectations for this movie, I came away surprised that I enjoyed it fairly well compared to most people. I’m not saying I loved it, and it honestly doesn’t land in my top ten comic book movies of all time, but I probably enjoyed it about as much as Man of Steel – yes, I was one of those people who liked Supes’ reboot.
As for the highlights, it’s pretty obvious that both Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot were the best characters in the movie. Gal seemed to command the screen whenever she appeared and the first time she showed up in costume was quite memorable – unfortunately, they spoiled this in almost every piece of marketing they produced.
As for Batfleck, I thought he was wonderful as he brought a darker, angrier, and more brooding version of the Dark Knight to the screen. Without mentioning the Schumacher atrocities, Michael Keaton’s Bruce and Batman were certainly a different vision, as Keaton was able to depict a very focused and methodical vigilante (that couldn’t move his neck) within a more stylized gothic universe. Keaton also did a great job of making the audience believe that Bruce had learned how to control his psychosis. Christian Bale on the other hand helped deliver a much more realistic world version of Batman – I know, it’s a stretch, but it could happen! Bale and director Christopher Nolan downplayed Batman’s detective skills to make him a billionaire playboy with a bunch of fancy gadgets and ninja training, and it TOTALLY worked – you know, until The Dark Knight Rises.
Well, Affleck’s portrayal of the caped crusader was the best comic book adaptation of the character that I have seen on screen. From his physical presence and fighting style, to his focused mentality and relationship with the wonderful Jeremy Irons, he was marvelous. This is obviously an older Batman who has been worn down through his battles fighting crime in Gotham and Ben does an incredible job of playing both Bruce and the Bats with their own subtle differences. I even enjoyed small details like Wayne waking up at his lake house with a mystery woman in his bed that they never address. Though minor, I thought the moment helped to separate Snyder’s Batman from other on screen iterations who honestly didn’t sleep around but rather just put up the façade of a playboy for the public. This small detail helped to depict Bruce as a man who has wants and desires outside of revenge. I’m certainly very much looking forward to Affleck getting his own Batman flick, with a fully developed Bat-universe – GIVE ME NIGHTWING, DAMMIT!
Now let’s talk about all those other characters they introduced. Outside of the main heroes, BvS also gave us our first introduction to Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ray Fisher’s Cybog, and Ezra Miller as the Flash. Oh yeah, there was also Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther and – as Deadpool put it in their opening credits – “a CGI character” AKA Doomsday.
This is understandably the cause of the biggest complaint about the film, which is that it’s too disjointed and jumbled. To be honest, I kind of agree it was packed with too much universe building, and at certain times it felt like the movie tried to explain things with a mouth full of marbles. I did enjoy Eisenberg as Luther as he was a different take – less methodical genius businessman and more psychotic billionaire techie. Jesse’s performance was certainly nothing we’ve seen before from Lex, but I rather enjoy different interpretations and don’t feel things need to stick strictly to canon. After all, isn’t that what art is all about?
As for the rest of the Justice League’s appearances, I did enjoy their scenes and felt they did their job if Snyder and the studio felt they absolutely HAD to force them in the film. They didn’t need be included, but since Warner Bros. is trying to rush a Justice League movie, it makes sense. Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg were all introduced via footage that Wonder Woman was watching. To put it lightly, it felt very contrived, as cool as the clips were. The Flash also showed up in another scene where he came to Bruce to warn him about the future. Some will argue that this was a vision, others that the Scarlet Speedster traveled through time. I enjoyed this tacked-on addition to Batman’s nightmare dream sequence, but again, I felt that whole dream thing wasn’t really necessary. All that being said, I’m still lukewarm on Miller as the fastest man alive, I have my doubts that Warner Bros. will go through with a Cyborg solo flick, and I’m extremely excited to see Momoa as the Prince of Atlantis.
And now, for the final major character they dropped in, Doomsday. Meh. The famous villain didn’t really excite me, and it was honestly frustrating that they revealed him in the trailers. I believe the response to the big baddie still would have been mixed, but it could have been a really incredible “OMFG” moment for some. Doomsday was there to serve one purpose, to kill Supes so Batman can form the Justice League.
That’s enough ranting and raving from me, what did you think about the introduction of other characters in Dawn of Justice?
Boy oh boy, does it feel good to have someone (kind of) on my side. Welcome to the Throwdown, Morgan – it’s great to have you! I was so excited to talk about Batfleck that I didn’t even get a chance to address the other characters introduced or making second appearances. I’m going to go the route of discussing what I think went well first:
Lex Luthor. Eisenberg does a great job giving us a modern-day techie villain that, if you imagine today’s world, really fits a more current Lex. His mannerisms were on point and, unlike Jun, I did not mind how he managed to puppeteer Batman. I’d argue that Wayne had primed himself to be taken advantage of and that Luthor did a good job of playing to the thoughts and ideas that Señor Bats was already having. Even the best of us have off days. Additionally, it was interesting to see how he portrayed his strength as he held the Martha Kent trump card over Superman. Not the standard villain performance, and I found it quite refreshing (and creepy, at times).
Good God, Gal Gadot. In addition to being absolutely stunning – just a bang up job. With two larger than life figures sharing so much screen time, it’s a credit to her presence that she is able to command so much attention. Although it’s not exactly what I expect from Wonder Woman, there was a playfulness in her fighting that set her distinctly apart from the brutality of Batman, and the vanilla of Superman. As much as MCU has succeeded, creating a strong female lead as a standalone character has been an area where they’re lacking and Wonder Woman looks to be the perfect chance for DC to take the lead in the world of heroines.
Finally, Jeremy Irons was an excellent Alfred and the only thing that kept him from being my favorite Alfred/Bruce duo was the fact that Michael Caine and Christian Bale had a lot more screen time to develop chemistry. He was a strong voice of reason to a rage-blinded Batman and had just enough sarcasm to provide a bit of humor to an otherwise somber film.
Now the biggest disappointment – Superman. This plays much better as a Batman flick than a Superman one. Due to the length of time between Man of Steel and BvS, I feel like I’ve forgotten much of how they’ve built up the Superman/Clark Kent character. Similarly to Morgan, I appreciated Man of Steel as a step in the right direction for DC. However, given the story that was presented to us, Henry Cavill wasn’t offered the opportunity to present the human side of Superman, which is what makes him such a compelling character. The scenes with Lois and Ma Kent felt a bit shoehorned and unfortunately just don’t do him justice. Additionally, the Clark/Bruce dynamic will have to wait for the Justice League film, and I did not realize I would miss it so much in this movie. Superman is a challenging character because it’s hard to write someone who is seemingly invincible in a sympathetic, vulnerable way without being too on the nose. Visually he was awesome but emotionally, he felt flat.
The introduction of the other Justice League members was a fun add on but not particularly necessary. I am excited for the world being developed, and seeing Momoa as Aquaman – though brief – really got me stoked for a my favorite DC hero’s cinematic premier (that’s right, I own to it). Doomsday was wasted in this film, and considering how big a deal The Death of Superman was, it seems that they skimped (okay, understatement) on what could have otherwise been a great Superman film. In fact, if I had to complain about anything, it’s that this film felt one Batman movie too early. The problem is, we just had a pretty iconic group of Batman films and a reintroduction was needed. I guess I could envision this movie being broken into two separate films: everything leading up to Batman and Superman fighting and ultimately teaming up being one; and the introduction of Doomsday, Wonder Woman, and a final fight leading to Superman’s death being the other. Spend more time on those two separate portions of story and a lot of these character issues get solved. Granted, I stand by my original statement: I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of this film.
Quick hitters: Perry and Lois. Thumbs up and thumbs down respectively – same as Man of Steel. Two thumbs way up for the always classy Diane Lane.
Good to have you on board with us, Morgan!
Both of you hit the nail on the head in regards to the glimpses we got of the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. On one hand, their brief, individual scenes are cool (with Cyborg’s also being disturbing), but they are completely unnecessary and shoehorned in with no ounce of subtlety because this is supposed to be the launching pad for the Justice League movies. Does the movie really need Batman’s nightmare sequence? Of course not; it has absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever, yet it’s still there because Warner Bros. bit off more than they could chew. Such scenes also halt whatever momentum the story builds, which indicates just how poorly paced and sloppy this movie is. That scene where Diana views each clip of the previously mentioned “meta-humans”? Not only does it call so much attention to itself, it comes before the showdown between Batman and Superman, which the film has spent most of its runtime building up to it. It’s like the studio is trying to make us more invested in the franchise’s future films than this one.
Then you have the big baddies, and they ultimately miss the mark. I think Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex isn’t as godawful as some people have been saying, considering that nearly all of the problems with the character stem from how he is written. The Lex we see up until the explosion in the Senate (where the film’s interesting ideological conflict conveniently dies) struck me as The Social Network’s Mark Zuckerberg on speed, and it’s a weird sight to behold, with him stuttering and being brash. He then shifts into a cruel, maniacal Lex that fits very comfortably in this world. His dialogue improves significantly, and him getting Superman to kneel before him (he took up Zod’s job) was very well done. Apart from that, his grand plan doesn’t make much sense and is full of holes, which proves to be an enormous problem considering that’s what binds the entire story together. What’s more, the filmmakers never establish his background (what does he do, what does Lexcorp specialize in), and the way that his actions supposedly set up Justice League: Part 1 is very muddled, if not half-baked. Then there’s Doomsday, one of DC’s most terrifying and revered villains, who looks like an ugly CG mess that reminds me of a worse version of the cave troll from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He’s not an organic character by any means, and his only purpose is to simply be a final boss for the heroes and also kill Superman.
This leads me to the character of Superman himself, and as Andrew noted, he’s downright disappointing. I don’t necessarily fault Henry Cavill; I’ve seen him deliver a good performance before (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., anyone?), and as I mentioned earlier, the problem lies with the way his character is written. In his review over at Birth.Movies.Death., Devin Faraci claims that Zack Snyder doesn’t just misunderstand Superman – he actually hates the character. After watching this film, I’m inclined to agree. It’s not just in his death; it’s in the way the character is portrayed and written.
In Man of Steel (which I found decent yet forgettable), Superman’s father Jor-El says to him, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” Do you know what that means? It means hope. Hell, the S on his suit means hope, as Superman himself says in the same damn movie. The problem with Superman here is that I never get the sense that he embodies hope. If anything, he may as well embody its complete opposites: defeat and frustration. Almost every emotion that he goes through falls in line with those, which goes to show that he hasn’t changed at all since the last movie. You may argue that he doesn’t quite embody hope until the ending with his funeral/memorial, but I don’t buy it because not once in the movie do I get the sense that people look to Superman and become filled with hope. Yeah, he saves people, but they’re expressing gratitude, not hope. Everyone else reviles him, and to think that the public does a complete 180 by the film’s end is laughable because we never see that change occurring from their point of view. In other words, that ending is never earned, and that proves to be a recurring problem in this film (Lex’s background, Lois and Clark’s relationship, Superman’s death). If you ask me, Snyder doesn’t believe that Superman’s one quality has a place in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which doesn’t bode well for the character considering that Snyder himself is a key player in the development of this franchise. Frankly put, I don’t care about this Superman. There’s nothing about him that I’m emotionally invested in anymore, and that saddens me.
Speaking of being morose and somber, what do you guys think of the tone of these movies so far? One of my friends whom I watched this with said afterwards that he needed some kittens and rainbows in his life, stat. I know people will point to DC’s mature content, but is there a point where it should be reined in for the sake of creating an enjoyable movie? I don’t know about you, but I’d like for these movies to strike that balance between the dark and fun, and they haven’t hit that yet. The only moment in this flick where I actually felt some positivity is when Wonder Woman smirked during the final battle and charged into the fray. If the rest of DC’s slate of films continues down the same path as this one, then it’ll be worrisome for the studio should the audience fall to superhero fatigue. People tend to gravitate to the positive more than the negative, y’know?
Also, we’ve heard stories of studio interference in this particular genre, from Iron Man 2 to the recent Fantastic Four. Warner Bros. prides itself on being a studio for filmmakers, and it appears that they’re willing to abide by that philosophy even for this franchise. Given the negativity towards this film’s bloated, disjointed nature, do you two think that’s due to any studio interference, or are you inclined to believe that this is the movie that Snyder wanted to make and was happy with?
Guys, guys, guys, why all the Superman hate? It’s not like he was completely underutilized in what was originally supposed to be a MoS sequel, or that he doesn’t have a separate personality from Clark Kent, or the movie focused too much on building the DCEU instead of establishing Supes as an accepted character. Oh wait, ALL of that happened.
The Superman of it all is a very difficult subject for me to talk about because he is my favorite superhero (Batman gets a 1b in this category). Andrew, you are on point that we didn’t get enough Clark/Bruce interactions, which was surprisingly disappointing. Jun, I couldn’t agree more that Superman should represent hope and altruism in the second movie he appears in, and instead Dawn of Justice sidelined further developing his personality for introducing Batman and building up the DCEU. One of the things I thought they handled well with Supes was depicting his bond with Lois by showing that he is always listening to and watching after her. However, their relationship honestly felt a bit rushed because Snyder didn’t do a great job of making their relationship feel real and organic in Man of Steel. Sure Lois and Clark kissed in MoS, but their “true love” didn’t really feel earned. There was very little emotional investment in the characters and Clark and Lois’ relationship in BvS just adds more evidence that there really should have been at least one more movie in between MoS and BvS.
As for that dark tone, I’m honestly not as turned off by it as some are. I understand Warner Bros. felt the need to differentiate their universe from Marvel’s, but I do think some sort of comedy is necessary. The DC Extended Universe doesn’t have to be as lighthearted as Marvel’s gets at times, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be any humor. Looking at Chris Nolan’s trilogy, as Andrew pointed out, Bale and Caine have wonderful chemistry together and even make light of certain situations. Even Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox added some great comedic moments, like during his meeting with the WayneTech employee who was attempting to blackmail Bruce. Unfortunately, BvS continues to the trend of MoS by not implementing enough comedy to break up the movie and give it some laughs in between the drama and action. Each film and hero can have their own brand of humor while still sticking with the dark tone, and I can only hope that’s something the studio is able make sure happens while developing more DCEU movies. There certainly is some hope there though, as rumors have circulated that Suicide Squad is going through some expensive reshoots to add a bit more levity to the film.
Though Snyder has been working with WB on most of his movies, sadly I think this is the BvS movie he wanted to make. Looking at the comic book properties that Zack has handled in his career, the recurring theme seems to be more action and focus on style rather than substance and storytelling. Don’t get me wrong – 300 was great, but it was also fairly basic and straightforward. I was not a fan of Watchmen and much like BvS, it seemed like a long, bloated movie that didn’t focus so much on the psychology of its characters, but rather just their actions. I’m not even touching the awful mess that was Sucker Punch. MoS was good, but it really seems like Snyder gets full of himself, makes his stories too grand, and sacrifices character development for cool and badass moments. Sadly, I’m looking forward to Justice League Part 1 less and less knowing that Snyder is directing, and I hope that the studio might step in and change that. However, this is extremely unlikely as it’s set to start filming this month. UGH.
As for the rest of the universe, I’m actually excited to see a NON-Snyder DC superhero film and I look forward to both David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as well as Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman – but most of all, James Wan directing Aquaman. Outside of Aquaman though, I think the hero I’m looking forward to seeing most of the big screen is the Flash. The Scarlet Speedster is really the studio’s best opportunity to breathe some humor into the franchise and I hope they take full advantage of it. I’m still not convinced Ezra Miller is the right choice for Barry Allen (let’s be real, Grant Gustin is a perfect Flash on the CW show) but I’m hopeful they’ll make it work. All that said, I think Warner Brothers might step in and make some changes to what they had originally plotted out – I still don’t believe Cyborg is getting his own movie in 2020 – but then again, nothing ever really goes according to plan, and I would certainly welcome some tweaks.
That’s just my DC fanboy opinion though. What you think, Andrew?
Oy vey… Zack Snyder. I will say, I remember a day when a trailer that featured the words, “From the Director of 300,” was met with excitement – as opposed to the apprehension and skepticism I feel when I see it today. Having said that, I do think he puts together a beautiful-looking product, and BvS is up to his standards. To echo Morgan, it’d be nice to say that the storytelling was driven by pressure from the studio, but looking at his films, this is the standard convoluted flow that has become trademark Snyder. However, my vision of team-up films prioritizes actions and banter more than the actual plot. The reason being is I feel you need to maximize the time you have all your heroes together, which makes character development and smooth story challenging at times. That’s why I was disappointed at the lack of Bruce/Clark banter. But overall, the action was on point for me and there was enough fanboy love for me to be entertained from start to finish. I’m okay overlooking some (or a lot) of the issues this movie carries.
I will say that this exercise has shown me what I’ve already come to know: it’s easy for me to be entertained. Reading through our thoughts, I’m seeing issues with the film that have been brought up that I noticed (and to be honest, didn’t notice in some cases) but did not detract from the entertainment value of the movie. For me, the idea of a Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman team-up was so awesome that as long as I had fun, I could overlook some of the issues. However, objectively speaking I would probably tell someone that this was not a great movie.
The more I think about it, the more I will probably categorize this along with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Granted, Marvel does the banter part of team-up films about as well as you can expect, but as popcorn-worthy and entertaining the second foray into the world of the Avengers was, it lacked the legs of rewatchability that the first one had. I enjoyed it immensely upon first viewing because it was FUN-FILLED and ACTION-PACKED. However, the villain lacked depth and the story was disjointed. I prefer BvS because it has the benefit of being the first time we see the big three of the Justice League in action together on the big screen. Additionally, the individual performance of Ben Affleck as Batman (and the overall look and feel of this Batman) is IMHO the best we’ve seen to date. I am seeing a lot of people complaining about Superman and Batman killing people, but I didn’t get the sense that Superman had killed anyone (he was just being held responsible for collateral damage) and I thought the idea was that Batman had crossed the line on brutality, potentially allowing for the occasional dead bad guy. I prefer to hope for the best and will assume that neither of them were a direct cause of death for any villain in the movie. In any case, I enjoyed the movie, blemishes and all.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice goes down as a failure in my book, with its deficiencies far outweighing its very few accomplishments. If you look at it with an objective eye and judge it solely on its filmmaking merits, there’s hardly anything to like here. Not only is the convoluted plot (i.e. Luthor’s grand plan) full of holes, it’s haphazardly edited due to its bloated story, which forces in multiple attempts to build the DCEU. When I look at it from the perspective of someone who loves comics, I also find very little to like. The movie is dour and lacks soul. This should come from likable characters with plenty of meat on their personalities, but they’re in very short supply here. I didn’t particularly like or care for any of the characters (again, with the exception of Wonder Woman, who’s here for like 10 minutes tops) – a huge problem for a comic book movie since that means I can’t emotionally invest in the proceedings. Despite some of the performances, some Batman action sequences, and the visual orgy porgy, this is a borderline boring movie that almost never earns the results that it guns for.
I’ll be honest: watching this movie was a chore, and I went into it with lowered expectations because of the negative buzz it was receiving, and even then I felt underwhelmed. If you asked me before watching it whether I would check out that three-hour-long, R-rated version that will release on home media, I would have said yes. Now, I’m not as enthusiastic about that prospect since doing so means I have to once again sit through stuff that made me incredibly tired by this movie’s end. But hey, this version comes out in July, which means I have three months to recover and prepare myself for a movie which demands that I bend over and take it. Hooray for morbid curiosity.
I don’t like to propagate the DCEU v. MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) discussion since it’s done far too often in geek circles, but the comparison is difficult to ignore. Not to say that all the MCU films have been great, but what I can tell you is that I remember all the main characters because of their personalities, and seeing them work or clash with one another is fun. Marvel trusts their characters and works to fit them in. Contrast that with the DCEU (which has produced only two films, I know), which has resorted to beating down their characters to the point of existential and near-suicidal depression in order to make them fit. Some may find that appealing, and to be frank, that isn’t for me. It may work in other genres of film, but last time I checked, audiences see superhero movies to enjoy the ride and fall in love with the characters. This movie fails to do that for me. I think it’s rather telling that the most enjoyable thing about BvS is reading and watching all the editorials, reviews, and videos in response to this movie and not the movie itself. I’m still looking forward to the likes of Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman (since Snyder isn’t directing those), and I can only hope that this is simply to the DCEU what Iron Man 2 is to the MCU, only worse.
At the end of the day, I’m torn when it comes to my enjoyment of Batman v Superman. On one hand, I really liked it on a pure entertainment level and loved finally getting to see my favorite heroes on screen together. Ben Affleck was unequivocally the most true to comic book Batman we have seen on screen – ignoring Kevin Conroy’s voice-over in Batman: The Animated Series. I enjoyed Henry Cavill’s second outing as the Man of Steel, despite the story clearly not adding much to his character. I didn’t mind Amy Adams in either, though she was wasted as the bullet investigation story just felt forced. The other bright spot was Gal Gadot as she has me actually excited for the Wonder Woman movie, and I can’t wait to see what Patty Jenkins does with it.
Sadly, most of the criticism all really comes down to one of the most important aspects of filmmaking – story and script. I’m not blind to the fact that the movie was bloated. Not to mention it sacrificed meaningful story, what could have been great character development, and the opportunity for emotional connection for cool imagery, awesome action, and rushing the building of the DC Extended Universe – let’s call it the Snyder Syndrome. Doomsday was an absolute waste in this film and the fact that they killed Superman at the end didn’t feel earned because I wasn’t as emotionally invested in him as I could have been. Supes really should have been killed off in his own movie with a large focus on the world – particularly the city of Metropolis – starting to see him as a hero. That way, when he died, there would have been a more emotional impact on the civilians in the film and in turn the film’s audience. It never really felt like Superman was fully accepted, which seemed to undercut his death.
I know BvS was far from perfect and it could have been much better than it was, and I’m very disappointed that Warner Bros. decided to rush their universe building to try and catch up to Marvel. I think many people would agree that a slow burn would have been a better way to go as it allows the audience to get to know the characters better and empathize with them as opposed to being emotionally detached from what they’re witnessing. Wouldn’t it be more profitable to try and stretch a character’s story out to give your universe more longevity? I liken what WB and Snyder have done to a get rich quick scheme that didn’t pay out as much as it would have if everything was invested properly. But hey, there’s still the three-hour-long, R-rated version to questionably look forward to that could help, right?
After airing all my grievances about the film, I still didn’t hate it as much as it may have come across. I thought that despite a lot of missteps, the movie was still very enjoyable on a pure entertainment level and it was an okay, albeit shaky, first step in a direction towards building the DC Extended Universe. The Marvel question is a silly one in my opinion as there’s no doubt that the MCU is head over heels better than the DCEU at this point. However, maybe it’s my DC fanboy bias, but I enjoyed BvS more than a movie like Iron Man 2. I thought there were a lot of great action sequences – Batman’s warehouse scene was probably the best combat I’ve seen from the caped crusader in a movie – and I’m greatly looking forward to both a solo Batfleck film and Gal’s Wonder Woman. My expectations were so incredibly low for BvS and I was already prepared for a pretty humorless movie. That’s probably the reason why I came away a bit surprised that I liked it more than most critics, and still don’t fully understand why it’s received so much hate. Honestly, BvS is currently sitting at a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and Green Lantern has a 26%. Even Ryan Reynolds would agree it’s not CG animated suit bad. Overall, my criticism of the movie comes from a place of love and wanting more from a universe I grew up with and knowing it could be better.
If you’re looking for a fun action film with some of comic books’ most iconic characters and you got some enjoyment out of Man of Steel, then BvS is probably worth catching in theaters. Much like any other film directed by Zack, the imagery is wonderful, but be warned of the Snyder Syndrome, as story is sacrificed and you’re left feeling that there was a decent amount of untapped potential. Yes, at times the movie did feel like a long trailer for Justice League Part 1, and it may be confusing to non-comic book fans at moments, but there was definitely quite a bit of enjoyment in seeing the greatest heroes team up. If you make sure to have realistic expectations, you won’t be as disappointed as most critics have been.
Andrew’s Rating: 3.25/5.0
Jun’s Rating: 1.5/5.0
Morgan’s Rating: 3.0/5.0
* Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.