Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has been, for lack of a better term, a troubled production. Not in the sense that it was a rough production. Far from it. Unlike something like Fantastic Four or even some of the Marvel movies all stories to come out have been pretty positive. The problems mainly come from critics and the fan community. Since the film was announced it has been a much talked about, and dreaded, film for many comic fans. Whether it was the return of director Zack Snyder to the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman it has gotten the kind of over analysis few superhero movies get. So much so that when reviews started pouring in there was some legit talk of there being some crazy Disney/Marvel conspiracy. Needless to say this has me a bit worried. Still I go in hoping for the best. If nothing else the fact that it is Batman should be enough to carry it, right?
It has been two years since Superman’s epic battle with Zod. A fight that left bodies and destroyed buildings in its wake. People are split between groups that see Superman as a savior and others who fear a being with such power, including Bruce Wayne. Convinced he is a danger to humanity Batman embarks on his own campaign to take down the Man of Steel.
Now that I have seen Batman vs Superman I get the negative criticism. In all honesty the film has quite a few problems. The biggest of which being and overwrought script. Written by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Chris Terrio (Argo) this film is stuffed to the gills with content. Not content with it being a sequel to Man of Steel it is also an introduction to the latest iteration of Batman. And an introduction to Wonder Woman. And an introduction to a younger and possibly coked out Lex Luthor. And the other Justice League members. And it goes on and on. Essentially they try to introduce several parts of a cinematic universe in two and a half hours and things don’t get enough time to develop. All of this wrapped in a relatively joyless package. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be packed with jokes. I’m generally fine with a gritty style to oppose the more lighthearted Marvel fare. But for everyone to be miserable? It gets tiring after awhile. Needless to say quite a bit of editing on the script could have been done.
What we do get is a Superman that is pretty darn unlikable. I will admit there may be bias as a Batman fanboy but he comes off as a douche the whole time. This is best displayed early on when he saves Lois from a group of terrorists but doesn’t take into account that taking down this despot has crazy implications in the region. He never really shows remorse or contemplates what happened. He just kind of goes on living life. Maybe it’s Henry Cavill’s acting (or lack thereof) but he very rarely felt like a hero. Speaking of performances I can’t say I was feeling Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Played as a threat throughout the film I never saw it. Sure he did bad things but it’s hard to take too seriously when it is played more like a child on a constant sugar high.
On the flip side I did dig Batman in the movie. Admittedly the comic fan of me is annoyed that he seemed to kill people with ease but as the grizzled, bitter hero fearing these other heroes, I can get behind it. I didn’t have to see his parents die yet again but a fan nevertheless. A decent portion of this is because of Affleck’s performance. I noticed it especially in his scenes as Bruce Wayne. Sure it wasn’t too much of a stretch but he did the whole billionaire playboy thing without it ever feeling forced or exaggerated. Credit where credit’s due, kudos to the writers for giving a solid reason for another Batman doing the goofy voice.
Still there is no denying that the writing and the performances were lacking for the most part. So is it wrong that I liked the movie?
It’s easy to pile on director Zack Snyder; he’s like a more nerdy version of Michael Bay. What can’t be denied is the fact that he knows his way around an action scene. Like Watchmen and Sucker Punch before it all of the fights look really good. I especially liked it when Batman and Superman squared off. I thought that considering all the hype for their fight it delivered. As good a fight as you’ll get in a PG-13 film the whole thing was cool. Even more importantly it felt like a fair fight between the two. More impressive was him pulling off a mostly CG fight. The best directors can have trouble when an action scene is mostly special effects but I think he pulled it off better than most.
The real highlight of the film is Wonder Woman though. Throughout the film she interweaves herself into Batman and Superman’s lives. And when she finally does come to fight she is just as cool as those two. Never too intrusive or taking too much screen time we get just enough for me to get hyped for her solo movie next year. The same can be said of the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg cameos we get. Short introductions that are hahrdly a minute each clips hint at an interesting background or cool powers. It certainly has me excited for the future of DC movies. Unfortunately that’s not all this should have been.
There is a lot of hate for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and I get it. As a movie there are a lot of problems. With an overly stuffed script and some questionable performances it can drag at times. As a spectacle though? I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. With some cool action scenes and some solid directing it delivered on it’s premise. Here’s hoping that the future movies are as interesting as they looked here. At least there will be a different writer on Wonder Woman.