Movies based on comic books have come a long way in the last few years. What at one point even in recent memory would have been a low-budget, cheesy action film has recently transformed into something with huge mass-market appeal and stars lining up to be a part of the production, reaching both commercial and even critical success. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly had huge mass-market appeal and stars lining up to be in the movie. In this Batman v Superman review we’ll chat about some of the reasons why you should wait to see this movie.
As with some of my previous reviews, I’m going to do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, though honestly, if you’ve seen any of the trailers for this movie, you’ve already had most everything spoiled for you anyway.
Full disclosure, I have not seen the 2013 Man of Steel movie, so there are some plot points that I am speculating on a bit. I’ve heard enough about the end of that movie though that I don’t feel my speculations are too far of a stretch.
Batman v Superman opens during the climactic battle at the end of Man of Steel, though from a different perspective. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) arrives in Metropolis via a helicopter in time to see some of the destruction. He hops into a waiting vehicle and tears off towards the city center. He does his best to help from on the ground, but there’s only so much one (non-super) man can do in that situation. All-in-all, I didn’t really mind Affleck’s performance as Bruce Wayne. Even his Batman wasn’t completely awful, though Zack Snyder definitely took the character in some decidedly uncharacteristic directions which may have soured my overall opinion of the entire movie somewhat. Oh, we get another Batman origin story here too, because we all need to see that again. If nothing else the background story elicited about my only laugh in the movie, but that related more to how the actors playing Mr. and Mrs. Wayne are about to have a significantly different relationship on another project they are working on together.
Fast forward to a few months later and we see Lois Lane (Amy Adams) continue her typical “damsel in distress” trope, and of course she is saved by Superman (Henry Cavill). There are other wheels turning and plots thickening here which I won’t delve too far into, but the net result is a bit of skepticism that Superman is really as good as he seems to be. That is a main overarching theme throughout the entire movie, and what ultimately leads to the titular confrontation.
Bruce Wayne is far more interested in this confrontation initially, and there’s even a montage to wrap up the training and preparation needed for the conflict. Superman is far less interested, but is pressured into fighting by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Lex has his own reasons for pursuing this fight, most of which boil down to him being a jerk. I actually didn’t hate Eisenberg’s performance, though I think he would have made a better Riddler/Edward Nigma based on his quips and somewhat erratic acting.
The most criminally under-utilized character in the movie might have just been the most interesting and overall best character — Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). I’ll admit I was initially somewhat skeptical about this casting, but I felt much better after seeing her in action in some of the trailers. After the movie I’m definitely on board for the Wonder Woman movie, and really just wish more time was spent on her character in Batman v Superman. Some of the other members of the upcoming Justice League made cameos, though they’re easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention.
The main actors were at least mostly effective in their roles, though Superman’s entire emotional range seems to be portrayed via eyebrow furrows. Bruce Wayne has some obviously-nightmare nightmares throughout the first half of the film (many of which were seen in the trailers) that work to further push him towards a fight with Superman, while Lois Lane conveniently seems to be in all of the wrong places at all of the wrong times. Batman is so completely un-Batman-like in parts that he could honestly be mistaken for someone else throughout most of the movie.
Even some of the action was pretty good. The fights were generally well choreographed, and there was enough action that the movie doesn’t drag along, even with a two and a half hour runtime. The worst part though is that it mostly felt like this movie wasn’t even necessary. Batman v Superman feels like a bridge to get directly from Man of Steel to Justice League. It also felt like everything was super-dark and gritty just for the sake of being dark and gritty. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to want a dark/gritty Batman and/or Superman, but there are definitely better ways to go about that. I’m going to sound like a Marvel fanboy here for a second (I’m honestly not, these are just valid points), but Marvel certainly had films lead up to the Avengers movies. Each of those movies felt like their own story though, just with some hints of what would eventually come when the heroes inevitably got together. Marvel also has some experience in the dark/gritty department. A great example of dark/gritty done well can be seen in the Netflix Daredevil series.
I honestly think the best example of the overall feeling I had for Batman v Superman was expressed by the entire theater I was in. At the end of a good movie — action movies in particular — there are usually at least a few people clapping and cheering. When the credits started to roll last night there seemed to be a general feeling of indifference coming from the audience. No one clapped, no one cheered. Just a sour taste left in the mouths of fans. I know that plenty of people are still going to go see Batman v Superman. Some of those people will obviously disagree with my assessment. I would mostly just caution fans that might be on the fence to wait. Maybe catch a matinee or see this once it gets to a cheap theater or something. If you have to see Batman v Superman, at least do yourself a favor and save yourself a few bucks.