It’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.
There are two types of audiences going into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Those hoping to see a more faithful adaptation of the DC Comics characters they know and love, and those who absolutely loved Man of Steel and the universe that Zack Snyder helped create. Both audiences will find some things they loved, some things they liked, and some things they hated in this film. For myself, I’ve seen the film twice and found more to love the second time around.
If you’ve seen the film, then let’s get the obvious out the way. Ben Affleck as Batman was an absolute success. He was everything that I was promised in the marketing of this film. His portrayal of the character showed me a Bruce Wayne that no longer shows mercy to criminals terrorizing the innocent. His pain and his rage has made him more of an executioner than vigilante. Yes, Batman kills in this film, but consider the reasoning behind it. He’s lost his parents and now 30 years later he still suffers from the memory. He’s also fought crime in Gotham for 20 years, and has seen good people die or arguably worse turn evil. Yes, Batman kills, but considering the universe that’s been established, it rather fits.
The long awaited debut of Wonder Woman has finally arrived, and Gal Gadot proved herself worthy. Director Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio are aware of the actress’ limited skills, and utilized them well. Her lines weren’t perfectly delivered, but they hit when it mattered. Gadot has never had a problem doing action scenes, and Wonder Woman steals the end battle against Doomsday. Even the most skeptical viewers will admit that Gadot did great, and she’ll no doubt use this momentum going into her solo film.
Without question the most polarizing opinion among critics regarding characters is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. For me, his performance as one of DC’s most iconic villains was… pretty good. The character had great motivations towards his evil acts. He does not trust Superman, and doesn’t want our world depending on the kindness of a monster. His reputation and politically friendly stance gives him power to set things in motion that will eventually help cause our heroes to turn against each other, or get destroyed by something deadly. The character wasn’t perfect, especially in the moments that made him more comical than intimidating, but he undoubtedly caught my interest throughout the film and made me curious to see the character further developed.
Other characters worth pointing out is Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler Alfred played by Jeremy Irons. The actor was a perfect cast for an Alfred character that was more hands on and confrontational than previous incarnations. Henry Cavill is once again great as Clark Kent/Superman. Cavill looks more comfortable and confident in the blue tights and red cape. Holly Payne gave an incredible performance as Senator Finch. Her reaction towards uncovering Lex Luthor’s plan prior to the courtroom explosion completely sold the insane moment. Lois Lane was given the most do as far as supporting cast members are concerned. Amy Adams is terrific as always, however, the character’s involvement was at times found unnecessary, including the end battle.
Many of the problems regarding Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are outside of the performances, themes, and visuals. The story features many great plots that ask honest questions and put characters in uneasy situations. However, things like editing, cutting, and scene transitions suffer massively. During my first viewing there was a few times I struggled to keep up with the film’s story. One scene would focus on a set of characters, and then instantly cut to a dream sequence without any setup. As far as story is concerned, the conflict between Batman and Superman isn’t given enough time to develop, which left me feeling underwhelmed about the promise of Batman v Superman. The film clearly has too much on its plate, including the conflict between Batman and Superman, the public opinion of Superman’s existence, the Dawn of the Justice League, and more. Even the cameos didn’t really sit well with me. I love the idea of Lex Luthor keeping tabs on meta-humans, but the whole point and click at surveillance footage didn’t fit so well.
One thing Zack Snyder doesn’t get enough credit for is some of the film’s visuals. I counted four beautiful shots of Superman that looked breathtaking in IMAX 3-D. The fight between Batman and Superman, for what it’s worth, is ten minutes of awesome. Also, I cannot go without mentioning that Batman fight sequence towards the end of the film. Snyder captures the intensity and insane violence that Batman delivers to his enemies. I seen some things I’ve never seen before, like Batman getting shot nearly point blank and taking a knife to the shoulder. Lastly regarding the action, how about that Wonder Woman entrance and fight sequence? Snyder’s ability to make these DC characters work together, and make the fight appear right out of a comic book is nothing short of brilliant. There’s plenty to love regarding Batman v Superman that unfortunately gets clouded by its flaws.
This film suffers from too much setup, and the Batman v Superman part of the movie doesn’t get to be as great as it should’ve been. Snyder certainly missed on delivering the film as a whole. However, I will also give him credit for what in my mind is three quarters of a good movie. If you take a step back and look at the task at hand, it’s nearly impossible to deliver on all fronts with just a 2 hour and 30 minute run time. This film is not just a sequel to Man of Steel, but also sets up an entire DC universe. Still no excuses, Snyder didn’t live up to the hype that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I’m curious to see what difference the extra 30-40 minutes included in the Ultimate Edition would do, because while general audiences are liking this film, loyal fans of the comics are desperately looking for something to ease their pain at the idea of Snyder directing Justice League. All the pieces of the DC universe are there, and to be frank I’m quite looking forward to Justice League next year.
Batman v Superman gets a 7.25 out of 10