Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a movie that I wanted to love. It had two of my favourite superheroes going head to head for the first time in cinema history. With an excellent cast and a huge range of talent behind the film. Even after the mixed and negative reviews, I still remained hopeful and even lowered my expectations quite a bit. If you came just to see Batman and Superman throw punches then you probably won’t be disappointed, but if you paid money to see a good movie then you’ll most likely end up leaving the cinema the same way I did.
The movie kicks off with a retelling of Batman’s origin and it’s probably the best version we’ve seen of it. While unnecessary, it does set the tone of the movie and portrays the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne in a more cinematic way than in any other previous incarnation. Straight after that, we are pushed into the climax of Man Of Steel but this time from the perspective of Bruce Wayne witnessing all of the devastation from the streets. It’s probably my favourite scene from the entire movie since it brings an element of humanity to the city devastation. Also while setting up Batman’s hatred and disdain of Superman.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice continues the story of Man Of Steel, with Superman now a public figure and out saving people. But after the destruction of Metropolis, people have come to fear and hate him, which is shown through Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor who both see him as a threat to mankind. From here Lex sets a plan in motion to pit the two heroes against each other while creating a monster of his own. Throw in an excessive amount of subplots and you get the narrative of the film.
The setup is perfect for a superhero brawl and it could’ve offered plenty of chances to delve deep into these heroes’ conflicting world views, yet somehow the story devolves into an unfocused mess that doesn’t do justice for any of its characters. There are simply too many storylines going on at once. It’s trying to be a sequel to Man Of Steel, a Batman movie, a versus movie and a Justice League precursor all at once. And the movie still tries to cram in numerous character introductions and a Lois Lane investigation that goes nowhere. The film constantly cuts between all of these before actually settling into any of them. In the end, none of the film’s storylines actually feel concluded.
Another big problem I have with this movie is that the scenes simply do not flow together to create a coherent narrative. All movies are made by filming scenes and then putting them all together in editing. For me, this process has never been clearer than it was in this movie. In the first act, it felt like they just filmed a bunch of separate scenes and then shoved them into a movie without any regard for how they fit together. The storyline of the world holding Superman responsible for his actions, drives the first half of the story and is then forgotten later on in favour of treating Superman like a hero at the end. The movie also attempts to fit in all manner of different comic storylines that could easily be their own movies.
As Superman, Henry Cavill pulls in another okay performance. Once again he doesn’t present a lot of emotion and doesn’t really portray any of the qualities of Superman, other than being handsome and saving people. I really do think he has a great Superman performance in him but neither the film’s script or direction allows him to show it.
On the opposite side, Ben Affleck shines as Batman. This is definitely the most physical Batman we have ever had. There is a particular scene where he really gets to show off his moves and it’s great. Quickly lurching from one enemy to another and brutally taking them down. Ben Affleck also does a pretty good job at showing the mental and physical torture of being a vigilante but the film always cuts away before we can dig any deeper into his psyche. But one of my biggest problems with the movie also has to do with Batman. You see, this Batman isn’t very bright and his entire fight with Superman is caused and ended by a misunderstanding. He foolishly gets manipulated by Lex into fighting Superman and then ends the fight when he misinterprets what Superman says. He is also a straight up murder who kills several grunts without any moral pause. Which doesn’t exactly bode well for him when he’s arguing that Superman is the bad guy.
Wonder Woman is given a small role to play in this story but what we do see of her is cool and Gal Gadot is a good fit for the character. The other heroes such as Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are given mere cameos that feel out of place and don’t really mesh well with the story as a whole.
Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Alexander Luthor is something you’ll either like or hate. He’s far more campy than I’d like him to be and when he’s trying to be menacing and villainous, he just comes off as whiny and annoying. All of the other supporting characters do a pretty good job. I particularly like Jeremy Irons as Alfred since he’s more than just a butler. In every other Batman story, it’s always seemed weird that Bruce would treat his father figure as a servant. Here he is more of a tactical guide like he is in Batman: Earth One.
The action is probably one of the best elements of the movie. The actual fight between Batman and Superman may feel brief but it definitely delivers on what it shown in the trailers. Although everything leading up to the Batman and Superman showdown felt rushed and their confrontation was unjustified. This should’ve been a fight where I was picking sides and rooting for a hero but other than looking cool, it did nothing to further the story.
The movie ends with a climatic fight against Doomsday that has the Trinity teaming up for the first time. The fight itself is fun and engaging to watch, mainly because it’s the first time we get to see Wonder Woman in action. Although the CGI for this section of the movie could’ve used more work, since a lot of their actions come off as exaggerated and fake. Doomsday himself also has a pretty ugly design that fails to capitalise on the look from the comics.
When it comes to the future of the DC cinematic universe, I’m cautiously optimistic. There are some elements from this movie that are terrible and some that are great. But the whole experience is unfortunately marred by poor film making and a weak storyline that ultimately falls flat on delivering any emotional impact. Hopefully they’ll carry on what worked well onto future projects and abandon the things that went wrong. So next time DC and Warner Brothers, please don’t piss in my popcorn and call it Batman v Superman.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Is A Mediocre Movie