You can count me as one of DC’s doubters. I didn’t have enough faith in DC being able to start off their own cinematic universe, especially not after the laughable Green Lantern and the average Man of Steel. I knew that having Batman and Superman would draw enough moviegoers to prevent Batman V Superman from becoming a box office bomb, but all those trailers made me worry about the actual viewing experience that Batman V Superman would provide.
Well, the film has been out for almost a week now, and I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Let’s talk about the specifics:
- The cast did phenomenally well. No one was phoning it in, everyone was very engaged in bringing their respective roles to life. Major props to Ben Affleck and Jeremy Irons for their take on older, more battle-hardened versions of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. I loved both actors in these roles and I’m really excited for their turn at a new Batman solo movie. Note: Acting is different from characterization. I won’t blame the actors and their efforts for any characterization issues – that’s a screenplay and direction issue.
- And because we’re already talking about Batman, I’d like to talk about one detail that barely anyone talks about: his Batman voice. The Batman voice here is still menacing (as revealed in the various teasers and trailers) but there’s a good and explicit explanation as to why. A lot of people made fun of Christian Bale’s growls in the Dark Knight trilogy; people won’t do the same with this Batman.
- And more more thing about Batman – Batman V Superman did an excellent job in showing why Batman was gunning for Superman. Even if I didn’t necessarily agree with him, even if I disagreed with his methods, I couldn’t find myself siding against Batman once the fight was actually happening. Ever watch two of your closest friends fight and you just wanted them to stop because you didn’t want either of them to get hurt? I was feeling that way by the time the two title characters were trading blows.
- Henry Cavill wasn’t a pushover himself, although there’s no denying that Affleck had better material to work with. But what Cavill got, he did well with. His portrayal of a conflicted and confused Superman was perfect. He definitely deserves the Man of Steel role in my eyes.
- Gal Gadot also did the Wonder Woman/Diana Prince role justice. Her role in Batman V Superman was minor but more than just a cameo and gave us enough of a glimpse of how she’d do in a solo Wonder Woman film. She still looks too thin (Wonder Woman is very shapely, especially in the bust and hip regions) but the way Gadot moved and acted made me forget about what she lacked in terms of physique. I’d say she did her job in making the audience want a Wonder Woman film – or at least get the audience interested in one.
- Batman V Superman had a lot of moving parts to it, a lot of things that required proper set up. Luthor’s role in the conflict, Batman’s introduction and his reasons for wanting to go against Superman, Superman’s conflict, Wonder Woman, and so on. Zack Snyder has this reputation of being good when it comes to visual presentation and I’m glad to say that with all the bits and pieces that this film had, Snyder managed to make a visually pleasing film without sacrificing the story. There were a few questions in terms of the plot’s direction, but nothing too glaring that took out the sense of the movie.
- I can’t end this section without talking about the actual Batman and Superman fight, can I? It’s brutal, it’s engaging, it looked great (although there were a few moments when the CGI could have been done better). Whenever someone landed a strong blow, I flinched or winced. It was a little short for me, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make the fight longer so it’s all good. Oh and someone wins too – this isn’t one of those lame hero vs hero fights that don’t get resolved. There is a decisive victory at the end of this bout, and I’m glad that the filmmakers didn’t choose the easy way out. This battle is the best superhero vs superhero fight that I’ve ever seen captured on film, and it’ll probably stay in the top three for a long time.
- I feel really bad for Jesse Eisenberg. I think his portrayal of Lex Luthor is going to get most of the negative criticism for this film, and I hate to say this but I feel the same way. His mad genius take on Lex Luthor didn’t work for me when I saw the trailers, and it didn’t work for me after I saw the film. It’s not for a lack of effort – Eisenberg was solid in that regard. This version of Luthor just didn’t connect with me. However, there’s still hope – I can see how the events of this film would change Luthor into a more palatable version, something closer to what people (including myself) are expecting.
- Speaking of Luthor – I think I needed the film to be more explicit in explaining why he was after Superman. In the section above, I said that I liked how the film showed Batman’s motivations and I didn’t get the same from Luthor. On a similar note, I also didn’t fully understand why Superman was against Batman. If it was there and I missed it, well… I needed that to be more explicit. Spell it out for me, please.
- Speaking of being explicit, Luthor’s involvement in the entire thing was a little too subtle for me at times. So by the film’s climax, when Luthor was taking credit for everything, a part of me was saying “but you didn’t… but he didn’t… but this only happened because it was a coincidence that this also happened…”
- All the scenes that served to set up the future Justice League movie felt out of place. It felt out of place in Iron Man 2, it didn’t work in Amazing Spider-Man 2, it certainly didn’t fit Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it definitely did not work here. Comic book readers and fans of the source material will see these as fan service or easter eggs, but if you’re going to be hard on the other films that I mentioned here for the same thing then you can’t give Batman V Superman a pass, especially not with the method that the filmmakers went with. Ugh. They could have used this time to further flesh out Luthor’s motivations. Take out the Justice League setup, take out the Dawn of Justice subtitle, and you would’ve had a better movie with a better title.
- Oh and Doomsday? He’s there. This isn’t a spoiler – that second Batman V Superman trailer did the spoiling for us. You can’t take it against me if I say Doomsday here because that freaking trailer spoiled it for us already. I wish that they never came out with that trailer. Thankfully, not everything was spoiled – the film will have some surprises in store for audiences, but Doomsday would’ve been a really good surprise too.
- This item is a little spoiler-ish, so forgive me if I’m going to be very vague. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice goes to an unexpected place – a place that I didn’t anticipate DC to go to this early. But they did, and I was shocked. And then they reversed course. And now I’m worried that by doing this, they’re going to paint themselves in a corner and have trouble getting out of this again. I understand why they did it, I understand why they had to reverse their direction. I just wish they waited before they turned back from it. This will all make sense once you see the film.
- If you start thinking about the events of Batman V Superman and start asking yourselves “Did Batman really have to do that? Why didn’t Superman do this? Why was Wonder Woman doing that?” then the film starts to fall apart. So I suggest that you don’t. Don’t expect the characters to act in the most ideal way possible. The best analogy I can come up with is like in a horror film – you know how characters seem to keep towards their doom instead of running away? A lot of times, the characters in Batman V Superman will act a certain way in order to get the plot to move forward.
It’s very easy to deconstruct Batman V Superman if you really want to nitpick because the film has a lot of flaws, from characterization to the storytelling up to the film’s editing. But whatever issues it has with its story is made up for the movie’s visuals and the commitment of the actors involved to their roles. The last point that I made when I was talking about all the bad stuff of this movie holds true: when you start to think back to what happened and start to question why the characters acted as such, the whole film unravels. So don’t, and just enjoy the film for what it was made for:
- To have both Batman and Superman fight each other in a live action movie
- To set up the DC cinematic universe
I know that’s a cop out, but Batman V Superman can be a highly entertaining movie if you don’t expect the characters to make the logical choice or act sensibly. Batman and Superman, caught up in a really brutal battle against each other, all in a live action movie – there was a time that this wouldn’t have been possible, so we should be happy that we have something like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice that we can watch and re-watch. I didn’t let all the flaws ruin my enjoyment of the film, and neither should you. This is definitely worth buying a copy of, I’m sure to get one once it’s released on DVD (at a discounted price).
Have you seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts with us and drop us a line or two below!