“God versus Man. Day versus Night. Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham.” – Lex Luthor
Well, I have been so excited to write this review and go over and process all I experienced when I finally got to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the weekend. I don’t think that there was a movie I was more excited for this year (except possibly Civil War, but that is a special story for me in comics so seeing it come to the screen is something I’ve been longing to see).
I also want to Preface this review by saying I am very aware of the arguments and sides people are taking. Some Loved the movie and some thought it was awful and a let down. I am not here to pick a side during this, some will agree with what I write and some will disagree but this is purely my thoughts and feelings on the movie. And incase you missed it in the title, there will be Spoilers through out this review so I can review it thoroughly.
With all that out of the road, lets get into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I went into this the same as everyone else with the amazing excitement of seeing DC go beyond just Batman and Superman solo movies and build a universe of movies to follow on from Man of Steel, just like Marvel did with Iron Man back in 2008. This is after all what DC is like in it’s comic books, a multitude of solo heroes who all exist in the same universe and crossover and connect with one another. This is the first time that DC has done this on this scale, or that’s even worth talking about.
My official verdict on it is… It was alright.
I did not absolutely hate this movie by no means and there are a lot of things that are great and it does well. But I also didn’t love this movie and there are a lot of things that it didn’t do well. I want to begin with some positives.
The biggest positive of the entire movie is the casting. There was not a bad casting choice made in the entire movie. Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent is great just as he was in Man of Steel and portrays both aspects of Kal-El and Clark well and has a great balance in bringing both sides to life in one person. I can’t say much more as he continued the amazing job he began in Man of Steel and I hope he continues to do so in many more movies to come.
Ben Affleck’s haters and doubters I think have safely been put to rest. He did an amazing job as Batman. In the Bat Suit he looked like he had been ripped from the pages of a Frank Miller Batman comic and he portrayed him well. It was good seeing Batman doing some elements of Detective work as part of his story to find out what Lex was up to and in trying to procure the Kryptonite to take on Superman. It was definitley one of the best Batman portrayals I have seen. There were some things I was unsure of like his use of guns and apparent disregard for taking lives at times but I also know this movie borrowed heavily from The Dark Knight Returns and the older Batman in that story is a lot more liberal about using guns and killing than in other incarnations so I am not surprised this transferred to the screen. But the fight in the Knightmare scene (we’ll cover that) where he is simply shooting soldiers and hitting them with a gun, which when compared to the warehouse fight there is no comparison that the second of the 2 is the Batman I want to see, the Batmobile machine gunning criminals blatently as well as setting KGBeast on fire who is holding Superman’s mother hostage seems a bit far from the Batman I know and read. I understand the source material that this Batman is coming from but these aren’t the elements of Batman I wanted to see on screen. Even with these issues though I think Ben Affleck’s Batman definitely has more positives than negatives.
I also hope that Gal Gadot’s critics have been silenced, She portrayed Wonder Woman well in the movie. The Demi-god warrior woman stood side by side both Affleck’s Batman and Cavill’s Superman and did not look out of place. She definitely looked like she belonged. I am excited to see her solo movie (My only worry is one of the writers on it is the write of the awful “Pan” where the bad writing wrecked what had the potential to be a decent movie) because honestly I would loved to have seen more of her in a relevant light than she was allowed to have in this. This was my only complaint that you could have taken out every scene she was in Prior to the Final fight and it would not only not have had a detrimental effect on the movie or on her character development. And that is a travesty when she done such a good job that she was thrown in so half-heartedly just to introduce her when she deserved a lot more.
We also seen Amy Adams reprising her role as Lois Lane from Man of Steel. She did a good job as Lois Lane. I wasn’t blown away by what she did here or in Man of Steel to be honest, but she did a fair job with the role. My issue is I felt like we spent way more time with her than was necessary. If this had been a solo Superman film, her story would have been good in terms of leading to Superman and Lex Luthor’s confrontation for the final act but as this was not a solo movie and meant to be about Superman and Batman and leading to a Justice League Movie. She didn’t need to be there this much. She should have been a supporting character like Alfred’s role for Batman.
And speaking of Lex Luthor, lets look at Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Possibly causing more controversy and intrigue amongst fans than Ben Affleck being cast as Batman or whether Gal Gadot’s would be a good Wonder Woman based soley on her cleavage size was Jesse Eisenberg’s casting as Superman’s arch nemesis. I am personally still torn as to whether I enjoyed this version of Luthor because I 100% enjoyed Eisenberg playing the character and with what was presented to him he made it work well and we got that maniacal villain with a hatred for Superman and how the people adore him. But the version of Lex Luthor was taken from Superman: Birthright where we see a younger, sociopathic, slightly deranged Lex Luthor compared to the version of the upper class, calm and reserved businessman that we have become so used to. This was what I did not enjoy, although an interesting road to go with Luthor it was definitely not the Luthor that I wanted to see portrayed on screen in this movie.
And a special note to possibly the best casting of the entire movie, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s beloved Butler. Delivering lines right out of The Dark Knight Returns in such comedic fashion and with such dry wit and sarcasm he was the perfect aid to Affleck’s Batman and I look forward to seeing a solo Batman movie where we can see more Alfred.
To move on from a pretty perfect casting to the story, which was the movies biggest problem. It was plagued by bad pacing and the want to cram too much into one movie. Think of the main complain of Spiderman 3 when people said 3 villains was too many but turn 3 villains into 3 stories or movies worth of information plus having the actual plot of this movie AND set up for Justice League Part 1 next year all in the space of about 2 1/2 hours. That means to cover everything you can only explore it at a surface level.
This is not to say that the movie didn’t have great moments because it did but it really should have been presented a lot better. The announcement of this movie was for DC what Nick Fury appearing after the credits of Iron Man wanting to talk to Stark about the Avengers Initiative was for Marvel. DC was spreading into a full Cinematic Universe that would be connected. But whereas we are now heading towards Marvel’s biggest and most hero filled movie to date in a couple of months, it took 8 years to get here across 13 movies including Civil War and another 9 movies lined out for another 3 or 4, DC is trying to play catch up but no one thinks they need to or is asking them to but they are taking the worst route to catch up with Marvel. They are trying to start from an established point without the prior movies feeding into it and then back track with the Solo movies to fill in the gaps. They are trying something new which I commend them on but this isn’t bad but doing that and also trying catch people up with these heroes and stories in one movie is too much. You could have removed the Batman elements, the wonder woman elements and just had this as Man of Steel 2 and even keep the story of all the Meta Humans Luthor is looking for, and the stories of the Bat vigilante and just have Superman go after Lex Luthor culminating in Superman vs. Doomsday for the finale of the movie. You could have used the great Batman elements to have a great Batman solo movie. Have the solo Wonder Woman movie come out prior to this also and then and use all 3 to lead into Dawn of Justice and set up the Justice League Movie.
Speaking of setting up for the Justice League Movie, that is all this movie was. It was a way to establish these characters so they can do Justice League Part 1 next year. The whole movie was about foreshadowing what was yet to come. From the bringing together of Batman, Superman and Wonder Women to seeing the files that Lex Luthor had on Meta Humans which gives us our first looks at Cyborg’s origin, Flash stopping a street level theif and seeing Aquaman destroying a camera with his Trident and swimming off and off course the set up Picture of Wonder Woman during World War I with Chris Pine who we know will be playing Steve Trevor. Everything was in place to set up for Justice League or linking to other films coming out.
But the Biggest and most confusing scenes were Batman’s dream sequences. These were completely foreshadowing things to come in future movies and just confused the plot of this movie. Honestly I didn’t understand what was going on and why they were included at first and had to read another review to understand what they meant. Let’s begin with the second dream where we see a portal or opening in reality appear and a man halfway through it stating things like Bruce was always right about him, that Lois is the key and asking if he has arrived too early. It wasn’t until looking for answers that I realized that this was the Flash and fully understand what he was saying. Flash, as well as being the fastest man alive is also known to have gone fast enough to travel in time. Most notably in Flashpoint where he seeks to save his mom’s life and changes the world. It would seem this is showing Flash will time travel at some point to speak to Bruce with some information but this is also portrayed as a dream so whether it will factor in at all we will need to see. The initial dream, being called “The Knightmare” sees Batman in a desert setting where he is trying to acquire some Kryptonite presumably to use against Superman. He is surrounded by soldiers and enters the back of a truck to look at his recent acquisition only to realize that it is a trap and have his soldiers taken out by Superman’s Soldiers and be surrounded by not only them but flying creatures/soldiers. Batman then is held with 2 other men underground and Superman drops down the tunnel ahead of him with all the soldiers kneeling to him and he walks forward and uses his heat vision to destroy the other men and removes Batman’s cowl. Bruce wakes up and the audience is left a little like “what the…”. This could be taken as just Batman being afraid of what Superman might do if he ever turns on People and abuses his power such as we see in the Injustice: Gods among us Video Game and Comic series. But at the beginning of the Knightmare we see an Omega symbol in the ground and if we take the flying creatures as possibly being Parademons (The minions of a well-known DC Villain) then this may be foreshadowing the arrival of a long rumored villain for the Justice League movie, Darkseid. Darkseid is one of the New Gods, the ruler of the world Apokolips (think planet Hell and you pretty much get it) and an adversary that has fought the Justice League many times. His desire is to eradicate free will from the universe and is often seeking the anti-life equation. His foreshadowing also comes when we see Lex Luthor in his sell telling Batman that The Bell cannot be Unrung and that God is dead along with his Devils come from above line earlier in the movie could be hinting that he knows that now Superman is dead (we will get to this) Darkseid sees earth as ripe for the taking.
Ok, I have looked at a lot this movie, but what about the actual fight and lead up to the fight of Batman v Superman. This has to be good, I mean it is the title of the whole movie. The bulid up for this doesn’t totally make sense. I can understand that Clark Kent sees the Bat Vigilante as a problem and something to keep an eye on but this never seems to escalate too far on his side even to the point when the fight is coming, he knows he actually needs Batman’s help and he can be trusted. For Bruce Wayne though, this seems to be an all encompassing passion and hatred to rid the world of the threat of Superman, to the point that he steals Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite to make weapons to stop him just like Lex wanted to do. And I know he destroyed Metropolis while fighting Zod and millions died in that including people Bruce knew but 18 months later surely you can have done enough investing to realize that this guy is trying to be a hero and although he could be a threat, do what Batman doesn’t in the comic and have a back up plan incase he goes rogue. The hatred Bruce starts to develop makes him start to look like a psychotic supervillain at one point and then it just disappears following the fight. Unfortunately the build up leads to a 5 minute fight in the remains of Wayne Manor. Which honestly wasn’t impressive as it became Superman beating Batman, use a Kryptonite gas on him and Batman beats the crap out of him, Superman recovers fights back, hit with another one and gets beat down. Only to be standing over him with a Kryptonite spear and stop when Superman says Lex is going to kill Martha. Yep, Superman says his mom’s name and of course Batman’s murdered mom has the same name and makes him stop in his tracks and all of a sudden decide to throw away the movie worth of build up that Superman is a menace and could be the biggest threat on the planet and begins to trust him just because their mom’s have the same name. What makes it worse is realizing Superman didn’t go to fight Batman but ask for his help and you realize there is a moment after he takes out Batman’s turrets where they are face to face and Superman pushes Batman launching him and beginning the fight, when really if he had explained it even partially could have stopped the whole fight from being necessary consider his mom’s name stopped it later. Let’s be honest the Versus was part of the build up to draw audiences in but definitely was all build up in the movie with no worthwhile pay off.
And after the 5 minute Batman v Superman fight we get the REAL final fight of the movie. As Lex Luthor’s Plan A of having Batman kill Superman failed he unleashes Plan B, Doomsday. In the comics Doomsday was a lab experiment raised in prehistoric Krypton and forged into the Ultimate killing machine and Survival of the fittest. The movie alternative is created in the crash Kryptonian ship when Lex is able to take command and use the ships technology to turn Zod’s Body mixed with his DNA into a prehisotic Kryptonian evolutionary throwback. This Doomsday doesn’t look anywhere near as cool as the Comic book adaptation, looking more like the troll from LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring who has spikey bits growing on him as it goes and seems to absorb any energy of what’s thrown at him and uses it to grow stronger. The fight is unnecissarily destructive and feels very over the top which is just how Zod and Superman fought in Man of Steel and I suppose it’s hard to go backwards but it doesn’t become an intriguing fight as much as hitting each other miles away. Batman is all but made useless in this fight as it is a slugfest and only comes into play really when he hits Doomsday with Kryptonite gas later to weaken him. Wonder Woman does a good fist fight with the monster and lassos him holding him in place at the end and Superman takes the Kryptonite spear Batman made and runs it through his heart. While killing the beast, Doomsday is also able to run a spike (which grew in place of a hand he lost during the fight) through Superman and killed him too just as Doomsday is best know for having done in the comics in the 90’s. Doomsday is a great villain and became a throw away element at the end of this and would better have suited a solo Superman film ending. What makes the death worse is hearing Zack Snyder wanted to kill of Superman so that he had a reason for Batman to be the one to bring together the Justice League himself.
And to end the film we see a state funeral for Superman side by side a simple funeral for Clark Kent which is attended by Batman and Wonder Woman who say they have to get the Meta Humans together and be ready to fight, because Batman has a feeling they will have to.
Overall, this movie is worth seeing especially if you are a comic book fan and has lots of great elements. Seeing your favorite comic book heroes come to life like this is amazing and knowing they are piecing together for a shared universe is great too! But the story and pacing mixed with too many things being crammed into this movie when it should have been split across at least 3 make it a bit all over the place. And Zack Snyder done a fair job but draws these obscure versions of characters like Superman:Birthright and The Dark Knight Returns which I can understand him wanting to do different variants of the characters than we have seen portrayed before and do something new but there is an element of people wanting to see the best known and loved versions of the characters, especially leading to the first extended universe. Snyder has a love for darker versions of the characters and more destructive and violent versions of the characters and I think this can be good if tempered and used sparingly. Honestly time and Justice League Part 1 will tell where the DC Cinematic Universe goes from here.
I would give the movie a 5/10 rating.
What did you think of the movie? What would you rate it? And is there parts I wasn’t able to cover you want to know my opinion on? Do you totally disagree and want to tell me your perspective? Then like this blog and comment below.