I have been looking forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice since it was announced in 2013. I thought the trailers were good, approved of DC’s decision to take their movie universe in a darker and more drama oriented approach than Marvel, and I enjoyed Man of Steel, which is considered the first movie in the DC Extended Universe. After watching BvS, to say I was disappointed would be an extreme understatement. BvS is a bad movie with mostly good actors that manages to give hope to the future of the DCEU, while also causing doubt over the upcoming Justice League movie.
Starting with the good, Ben Affleck as Batman, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman are a good at their roles. Affleck plays a very convincing Bruce Wayne and Batman. His Bruce is much angrier than Christian Bale’s and seems to have more of a life outside of Batman based on the his involvement with the Wayne building in Metropolis and the scene when his wakes up after having sex with a woman that I don’t think showed up in any other scene. Both scenes suggested that this version of Bruce likes being involved with his company and having sex without it involving or benefitting Batman in some way. His Batman is the best live action fighting version of the character that was shown in the most recent trailer and was my favorite part of the movie when Batman beats up a group of thugs in a sequence that was likely inspired by the Batman Arkham video game series.
Alfred and Wonder Woman wasn’t in the movie as much as I would have liked, but they did the most with the screen time afforded to them. This version of Alfred is more hands on than previous versions of the character. While Alfred doesn’t ride in the passenger seat next to Batman in the Batmobile, he works on Batman’s gadgets, remote controls the Batwing, or whatever Batman’s plane is called in the movie, and gives advice in sometimes funny ways. Wonder Woman’s only fight scene in the movie was a great advertisement for her upcoming solo film and the actress does a great job portraying the character in and out of costume. The only issue with Wonder Woman is the poor reason the movie gives to explain her inclusion. Her motive is so weak that you can easily imagine a group of Warner executives telling Snyder to throw Wonder Woman into this Batman versus Superman film, because she has a solo film coming up soon.
I liked Henry Cavil’s Superman in the Man of Steel and still liked him in BvS. While his Clark Kent doesn’t have much development and his relationship with Lois was rushed, I enjoy his more serious version of the character and the idea that people would both fear and worship him. My biggest issue with Superman’s role in BvS is how the movie ends. It was a bad decision that causes unneeded issues for the upcoming Justice League movie and helped end an already bad movie on an even worse note.
BvS is also the best example of a movie being spoiled by trailers. Maybe I would have enjoyed the action scenes more if I hadn’t seen most of the best parts of the movie before I saw it, and maybe the people that liked the movie didn’t mind seeing the same scenes again. Watching the movie I wasn’t impressed but didn’t hate most of the action scenes, with the Batman fight mentioned earlier being the only fight I thought was amazing. The Doomsday fight was mediocre and the Batman verse Superman was didn’t live up to the hype.
The biggest issues with the title fight was all the philosophical and personal reasons suggested in the trailers and earlier in the movie is not the reason they fight. The actual reason they fight could easily be avoided with a conversation between the heroes, it required Batman to be a complete idiot, and had a ridiculous ending and explanation for why they became friends. The fight also takes place during the last third of the movie, so it’s understandable for people that came to see the two heroes fight being bored for two thirds of the movie, but the movie does have an undisputed winner between the two heroes.
From being to end, BvS is plagued with story issues. There is a plot involving Lois Lane, Superman, and Luther so ridiculous that it has plot holes within plot holes and should have been removed from the script. Lois’ role in general has issues, and takes the role of damsel in destress to such an over-the-top level that it’s almost satire by the end of the film, but is treated very seriously.
Despite Affleck’s great performance, his Batman’s lack of intelligence and morals bothered me and kept me from liking this version of the character. It’s not just the issues that lead to his fight with Superman, but the brutality the character displays during several different moments in the movie that I and other fans could argue betrays what Batman as a character traditionally stands for. While I would be okay with film makers deciding to change things about the character, the movie suggest that Batman wasn’t always this brutal and changed after twenty years of being a vigilantly, but never gives an exact reason for why he changed or what he was like before. With a movie coming out later this year staring Batman villains in Suicide Squad and the scene shown in one of the BvS trailers suggesting Robin was murdered by the Joker, it’s strange the movie would do very little to flesh out Batman’s backstory.
Speaking of strange decision BvS made with some of its characters, Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luther is the worst part of the film. From dialogue to performance I hated everything about this version of Luther, and unfortunately the entire story of BvS revolves around Luther’s actions. Most of Luther’s dialogue involves speaking in a philosophical way, but instead of making him look smart, it makes him look cartoonier or a non-riddle telling version of the Riddler due to Eisenberg’s over acting. For example, “We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky”, Luther said to senator Finch that was clearly a reference to his view of Superman that was meant make the viewer worry about what Luther might do to the senator that’s talking back to him and the devil that is one of the main characters of the film, but instead made me want to roll my eyes due to the idea that I should take this very of Luther seriously.
BvS does introduce all the members of the Justice League and foreshadows future DCEU movies, but does so in ways that are confusing or lacked creativity. Let’s just say the scene where three of the other heroes cameo could have been handled better and the dream sequence showed in the trailer featuring Batman in the Desert fighting the Superman army will key part of discussion about the movie for years to come.
BvS is no where close to being the worst movie of all, but is a massive disappoint that could have been good with a better script and a different Lex Luther.