The time has come. An epic showdown between two titans. Batman v Superman has hit theaters and unfortunately the majority of early reviews have not been kind. Does this reviewer share the same sentiment as others? The only way you’ll find out is if you read on! WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
BATMAN V SUPERMAN
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter
Producers: Wesley Coller, David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Michael Uslan, Deborah Snyder
Cinematography: Larry Fong
Runtime: 151 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros.
SO, IS IT REALLY THAT BAD?
Lets get it out in the open, clear the air: Batman v Superman is really good. At least, I loved it. I will add a little caveat that I loved Man of Steel and think it is the best Superman movie we’ve been given. Not to hate on the Christopher Reeve films, I adore them, but for this day and age Man of Steel felt like a comic book Superman movie with the action that we had always wanted. If that opinion upsets you, you probably should stop reading now…
Still here? Awesome! Batman v Superman is set 18 months after the events in Man of Steel and the whole film is very much a reaction to the cataclysmic events at the end. Zack Snyder reminds us just how destructive the fight with Zod was, taking a view from the ground as Bruce Wayne is in Metropolis and sees his building destroyed with people he knows inside. Before this though, Snyder does the shortest retelling of Batman’s origin ever, which I was thankful for even if I don’t think it is ever needed again. It was effective, to the point and got the job done. Superman has now been helping save lives throughout the world and it seems very much like he “learned his lesson” of sorts after the devastation of Metropolis. When people complained about the destruction at the end of Man of Steel I understood but I also had a feeling that it was a set up for following movies. He was still learning how to be Superman and take on that responsibility. Here, he’s better at it but when he focuses on saving Lois from terrorists in the Middle East, innocents get hurt. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has discovered Kryptonite from some of the wreckage of Zod’s ship and is trying to convince the U.S. government that a defense weapon needs to be made to stop Superman. Bruce Wayne is also uncovering a criminal organization that is smuggling secret weapons into Gotham that end up having ties to…you guessed it: LexCorp. For the purposes of time and space I’ll summarize and say that Lex goes through painstakingly brilliant measures in turning people against Superman and bringing Batman and Superman together to fight. And he makes Doomsday using Zod’s body, mixed with his own blood on the Kryptonian ship, as Krypton didn’t allow genetic crossbreeding and mutates Zod’s body. There is some really great thread work that the story does and they all end up tying together, most in ways that I didn’t see coming. I certainly wasn’t prepared for Superman to be forced to fight Batman because Lex was holding Martha hostage. Batman just wants to fight Superman in this because he’s a dick (more on that in a moment). HUGE SPOILER: Batman stops from killing Superman when Superman mentions his mother’s name “Martha”. Since this is the same name as Bruce’s mom, it snaps Batman back and makes the two have a connection with each other. Some may say heavy handed but I honestly never made that connection before seeing this movie and am still amazed by it. It’s a great human connection for Clark to have and something that Bruce can share with someone else. SPOILER END.
I’ve heard lots said about the tone of this movie and I can agree that it is much more serious than other superhero movies, even Man of Steel. Somber at times, but if you take this as the middle part of a trilogy (Man of Steel being part 1, Justice League part 3) then it would make sense. Plus, the DC movies have never tried to imitate Marvel and they shouldn’t. This is the course they’ve set, let them stick to it. I think it works. Metahumans are mentioned and it turns out Lex of course knows more than anyone. He has files on other members of the League, which is how we see our cameos. They’re short and nothing to be excited about, though the Flash gets two and his first is exciting and you do see him in costume. Other parts of the story feel forced to make it fit with the Justice League film. The dream that Bruce has of a future with Superman ruling the world with Parademons is totally out-of-place and extremely confusing if you’re not familiar with comic books. When that part finished (followed by Flash’s appearance), my buddy’s wife said “I’m totally lost right now.” I couldn’t blame her. It comes out of left field and seems needlessly wedged in. Which brings me to another of the movie’s faults: the runtime. I never felt like checking my watch but there are certainly areas where they could trim. Bruce has one too many “dreams” and the ending drags after the climax. For what is here, I was always glued to the screen and never bored.
MEAN AND MURDEROUS BATMAN
Man, if you had a problem with Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel, you’ll hate Batman in Batman v Superman. He is Frank Miller’s Batman cranked up to 100. This Batman is old and has seen some things. He’s mean, vicious, brutal and not afraid to kill. Seriously, he straight up murders at least three guys. It’s a gutsy move to take and Ben Affleck certainly plays the character well. I liked that this was the most detective work we’ve seen a Batman do before, and he’s clearly smart and a planner but I’m mixed on the killing. On one hand, for this universe and our time I think a Batman who kills works. Plus, this is an older Batman who has been affected by what he’s seen and now there is a god that has come from the sky. He’s unhinged and pushed to the edge so I get it, but it also goes against the character. And make no mistake: He’s out to kill Superman. Kill him. In fact, Superman doesn’t want to fight Batman at all, which was brilliant. Henry Cavill’s Superman is put in such a difficult position but he still tries to reason with Batman, telling him that Lex has his mother and he’s being forced to fight. Batman’s such a dick he doesn’t even listen and is the first one to throw the punch. And if you’re wondering how Batman can fight this Superman…Kryptonite smoke grenades. Henry Cavill does the same performance he did in Man of Steel and his Superman seems more confident but more conflicted. And I don’t want to hear anyone say how Cavill’s Superman doesn’t act like Superman because that just isn’t the case in this movie. He flies Doomsday out into space to get him away from everyone, clearly to avoid what happened in Man of Steel and makes the biggest sacrifice not just for the love of his life, but for his world. If that isn’t a Superman act, then I don’t know what is. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor surprised me the most though. Those trailers don’t do Lex Luthor in this movie justice. I was honestly terrified of Lex at times and while he does have some strange ticks and quirks, he’s remarkably intelligent and the evil mastermind throughout the film. There are times where he is socially awkward and literally can’t talk to people but that is because he is the smartest person in the room and can’t relate. You can understand his reasoning and hatred toward Superman and when his plan comes together and works, it literally brings Superman to his knees. A man with all kinds of powers is brought to his knees by a scrawny, evil genius who never once has to lift a finger. Perfect Lex Luthor moment. It’s another example of a different take on a character, Snyder and Co. doing something different and I applaud them for it because it worked. This is the best version of Lex Luthor that has hit the big screen. And yes, he does get a bald head.
Then there’s Gal Gadot and dammit, I want my Wonder Woman movie now!! She’s the breakout of the film and I really hope everyone else loves her as much as I did (even if I’m a bit biased as a WW fan). Every time Gadot is on screen she’s strong, confident and holds herself like a warrior; even when she’s not in costume! During the fight with Doomsday, there are moments where Wonder Woman smiles to herself as she’s a warrior enjoying the thrill of combat. She kicks some of the most ass and I can’t wait to see her during WWI, which we’re teased a bit with.
BOTTOM LINE: THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT
There hasn’t really been anything like Batman v Superman before. We’ve had these characters in their own movies, but in some minor and majorly different ways. Snyder and the others involved certainly took some risks, both stylistically, tonally and characteristically but whether that worked is ultimately up to you. I think it did. The Lex Luthor we get is not only the best to date, but new and different while also being the evil genius from the comics. Batman is a gigantic assh@le who kills the criminals he fights and the whole movie does have a bit of a dark side. Snyder’s direction works but is a bit uneven. There were times when I thought “This is such a Zack Snyder film” and others when what I was watching showed a director who had grown. The action is fantastic and fun and never a letdown in the effects department.
As I said at the start, the film feels very much a reaction to the ending of Man of Steel and that’s not just from the characters. During the fight with Doomsday, there are three times where characters go out of the way to mention that civilians are not around, or the area is abandoned etc. After Avengers: Age of Ultron and now this, I hope it doesn’t become a thing. Can’t we as viewers just go with the flow and enjoy the movie and people may or may not get killed? In the end, I’m ecstatic over how much I enjoyed Batman v Superman and can’t wait to go see it again. I don’t know what movie other reviewers watched but I’m wondering if it was the same one. As always, your mileage may vary and you should always judge for yourself. Like it or hate it, either way it is okay. Don’t let any reviewer tell you what to think. Even this one.