Last week, I tried to defend the glaring flaws of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but that film had so many flaws that I wasn’t able to say everything that I wanted to or needed to say in less than 2,000 words. So here I am again, doing my best to prove that while Batman V Superman is a FLAWED movie, it’s not as bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which currently has a higher rating over at Rotten Tomatoes). Heck, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a much higher rating over at Rotten Tomatoes and I actually enjoyed Batman V Superman a little more (which is very hard to admit especially for a Spider-Man/Marvel fan).
So let me pick up from where I left off last week by going through some of the more common complaints that I’ve been hearing from the naysayers in an effort to make the flaws of this film easier to swallow. I’ll be talking about spoilers, so SPOILER WARNING!
I wanted to keep using Black Widow as my spoiler muse but thanks to a certain “gal”, I think I found a better image to mark spoiler territory:
Alright, let’s start with the SPOILERS!
The Lex Luthor that we deserve
Eisenberg’s Luthor (Luthor Jr.) got a ton of flack from critics and regular folks who didn’t like the movie, and to be honest I also didn’t like his version all that much. I don’t blame Eisenberg because my beef with this Luthor has nothing to do with his acting. The version of Luthor that we got simply wasn’t what we were expecting.
But should we have gotten the Luthor that we wanted? I initially wanted a Luthor that was essentially Bruce Wayne but completely selfish. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, don’t we already have a lot of villains that are similar? Not as bad ass as Lex Luthor could have been but still, we already had good and bad versions of a rich and devious mastermind who mstermind plans from behind the scenes in different superhero films like Victor Von Doom (Tim Story Fantastic Four films), Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3), Darren Cross (Ant Man), and Wilson Fisk (Daredevil). Batman V Superman tried to give us a different take on a genius/business man role and I don’t think we should hold it against them for trying.
Was it believable for Luthor Jr. to have hatched and executed his masterplan of taking down Superman? For me, it was. Was Luthor Jr. someone that audiences would root against? I did. In this aspect, Luthor Jr. worked.
But I’d still want Luthor Sr. to take over in a future film, with Bryan Cranston in the role. Someone who can stack up to Superman and Batman. Jesse Eisenberg/Luthor Jr. simply isn’t on the same level.
The Justice League setup
Batman V Superman didn’t just spend time trying to set up Wonder Woman, it also planted seeds for the rest of the Justice League solo films for audiences. But the way this was done was so lame. First was this non-intrusive subplot of Lex Jr. running some sort of study on “metahumans” that was briefly mentioned, but then this becomes Wonder Woman’s subplot as well (she’s one of the metahumans that Luthor was investigating).
Then this tied into Bruce Wayne’s weird dream sequence that foreshadowed a future film and was visually pleasing but was largely out of place, especially that Flash cameo at the end of it. That Flash cameo was a sore point for me as it fed misleading information to the audience that was never explicitly addressed in the film (everything he said points to the future Justice League film).
This culminates in Wayne getting access to Luthor’s files on the different metahumans (complete with each hero’s logo/insignia) including videos that he sends to Wonder Woman via email. Who then views each video in the exact order of each character’s scheduled film release.
These are all shoehorned into Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and quite badly at that. I wish they just made a separate Dawn of Justice film, but they didn’t and this is the movie that we got so we should just sweep this under the rug and look at this as longer than usual easter eggs for DC/comic book fans.
Batman versus Superman – the actual fight
I also heard/read a lot of negative feedback about the actual fight between Batman and Superman, mainly revolving around Superman being ineffective to say the least. That’s true, but there are some factors that can justify this.
First, this version of Superman is a rookie. Before Batman, how many superhuman fights has he been in, exactly? How many times has he faced a foe that could actually hurt him?
Second, Superman has this tendency to be overconfident, holding himself back while also showing off his invulnerability. He doesn’t dodge bullets, he shrugs them off. He pulls his punches in fear of accidentally killing his opponents, and he rarely uses his superhuman speed in battle.
So when Batman shot off that Kryptonite gas canister (and how many times has Superman been exposed to Kryptonite, by the way), he catches it and doesn’t throw it away. When Batman does this a second time, Superman doesn’t try to avoid it because (1) he’s a newb and (2) he’s used to simply enduring whatever comes his way.
Third and final reason is that Superman isn’t fully invested in this fight. Yes, his mother is being held hostage, but that isn’t enough to get Superman to kill off Batman. Rewatch the film and look at Cavill’s facial expressions during the fight – that’s not a Superman that wants to win this fight.
The “Martha” Safe Word
Alright, so let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I agree that Superman blurting out “save Martha” instead of “save my mother” felt forced, but it’s still believable and anyone holding onto this as a complaint is simply nitpicking. What surprises me a lot is how audiences didn’t seem to get why the mention of Martha got Batman to stop killing Superman.
First is obvious – Bruce Wayne is already an emotional wreck at the start of the film, and we know that because he doesn’t mind it if criminals are already getting killed during his antics. Then, at this point in the film, Batman is at an emotional high – he just handed this all powerful Kryptonian his ass, so of course he’s got lots of adrenaline pumping through his veins. So is it that hard to believe that this Batman, at this very moment, would be unsettled by the mere mention of his mother’s name?
The second key point was when Lois Lane stepped in and explained that Martha is Superman’s mother. Throughout the movie, Batman just saw Superman as an alien whose tremendous power made him a dangerous threat to Earth and mankind. You familiar with those scenes in other movies that show criminals having a few intimate moments with their own families and children to humanize them? Well, and I don’t get why this was lost on people, but a Superman pleading for his mother to be saved obviously “humanized” him in Batman’s eyes and made Batman realize the error in his judgment.
So no, Martha is not Batman’s safe word. How this scene was used to resolve the Batman/Superman fight was perfectly reasonable for me.
Luthor’s Doomsday Plan
Ugh. Doomsday. Everything involving Doomsday and this movie was wrong. Everything.
First was his revelation in the second trailer which essentially spoiled the movie. Seriously, is there is anyone who saw the second trailer and didn’t think that DC’s Trinity would unite against this monstrosity?
From a storyline perspective, Doomsday was also a bad idea. So Lex Jr. made him as a backup just in case Batman failed to kill Superman, right? Okay, well what if Batman DID kill Superman? How are you going to deal with Doomsday, then? Because the way Doomsday’s creation was depicted didn’t seem like it could be stopped or reversed.
But Batman failed, so we have Doomsday. What if Doomsday was able to kill Superman, then? What does Lex Jr. have planned for Doomsday? Because Doomsday would’ve killed Lex if Superman didn’t block that punch. Batman was doing all that he can to not get killed, so I don’t think we can rely on him to stop this monster.
From a movie making standpoint, this remains to be a bad idea. There are only a few characters who can convincingly oppose Superman, and DC just put three of them in this film (Luthor, Batman, and Doomsday). Doomsday could have been saved for a future Justice League/Death of Superman film, but he had to be shoehorned into this movie instead.
If you can’t already tell, I hated Doomday’s inclusion in this movie. But I also understand it. They needed a reason to unite the Trinity and Doomsday was a relatively quick fix. Just think about this – if Doomsday was off the table, who could the filmmakers have used? A generic robot invention of Lex? Maybe Lex in a power suit?
Going back though – Doomsday was a quick fix and a wasted villain who could have been the main villain in a separate movie, but him being in this movie doesn’t break it. The second trailer was a bad idea, but we shouldn’t take its existence against this movie. And this kind of serves as fanservice for all those DC fans who have been waiting to see these characters in live action films, so it’s fine.
And that’s it! I’ll say this again – Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a good movie, but it’s not as bad as some people are making it out to be. This movie has flaws but flaws that can be accepted with an open mind and the notion that not everything in this is there to make a tightly-knit story. Currently, it has a rating of 29% in RottenTomatoes which is just 5% higher than Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is not THAT bad.
Have you seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? Did you find any glaring flaws that I wasn’t able to address? Share your thoughts on the film by leaving a comment or two below!