For nearly three years the hype for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, much like Hulkamania, ran wild. So, being the fan of comic books that I am — more specifically Batman — and a giant man-child, I followed this movie from its announcement at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con and quickly boarded said train of hype, riding it all the way to my local cinema.
So after all that time waiting to see Henry Cavill’s Big Blue Boy Scout and Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight play alpha male then come together with Wonder Woman to save the world, I walked into the packed theatre ready to fall in love — mixed reviews and all. Besides, Snyder’s Man of Steel was a solid, modern take on Superman, who is continually becoming a much more flawed character in the comics. Not mention Watchmen premiered to the same type of criticism upon its release for being too dark of superhero film, but is arguably one of the best big screen adaptations of a comic ever. Especially it’s director’s cut. However, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is no Watchmen. Though, it does come close at times.
Like all of Snyder’s works, this is a beautiful film. His attention to detail for the universe he creates for us and its mythology by mixing some new elements with tons of direct pulls from DC’s mythology and vast library of titles; specifically The Dark Knight Returns, Flashpoint, Superman: Doomsday, and another hugely important book I won’t mention for spoiler’s sake, offers fans of the source material plenty of Easter eggs, and non-fans wanting to learn more. These little Easter eggs and building blocks for things to come would be immaculate if not for some of the Justice League’s other members being forced upon us with an overused guitar riff and questionable plot point, which is something this film is riddled with. Batman v Superman is a very ambitious film, and filled with fanservice — so much so that its story suffers for it.
There are far too many plot points happening in this film, making payoffs for certain subplots and the main story hard to come by. This results in losing any real sense of heart this film could’ve had, and connection to any of the characters in the film. Obviously Warner Brothers is having to play catch up with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point for their properties to stay relevant with moviegoers, but still, you’d at least expect a little build up and some hand holding; or at the very least an above average story for the first go at their expanded cinematic universe.
That all aside, everyone turns in a solid performance in their respective roles. I was, however, slightly disappointed that Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman hadn’t evolved much from his wooden, brooding self in 2013’s Man of Steel. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor starts off great, giving us hope for the character; but quickly morphs into a cheesy, over the top villain — seemingly out of nowhere — harkening more towards Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever instead of the methodical evil mastermind Luthor is in the comics. Although, I’m not so much as sure that was Eisenberg’s fault as much as it was the editor’s; given the recently released deleted scene showcasing why he loses it after taking in the knowledge of a looming threat to mankind.
Two performances that don’t suffer from poor editing or characterization, however, are Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman – who was both able to steal the ending fight scene from our marquee characters and tell Princess Diana’s backstory of being an Amazonian warrior with one simple grin after being knocked down by the ever-evolving Doomsday; and Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne who is — without a doubt — absolutely the best part about this movie. Not to mention arguably the best live-action adaptation of Batman ever, even if at times he’s doing some pretty uncharacteristic things like blatantly shooting people in the face, breaking his two biggest rules: don’t kill and no guns. This is not to say that other on screen portrayals of The Dark Knight haven’t killed: Keaton kills roughly ten people between two films, Kilmer and Clooney kill around eight in their respective films, and Bale tops the death toll count with about 25 people. What I’m trying to say is, all the previous incarnations have blood on their hands and have also used guns before in one form or another; just not as blatantly as it is in this film. There was just something about seeing Batman run-and-gun people while trying to avoid capture in the movie’s “Knightmare” sequence that took me out of the movie for a second.
Does Batman v Superman live up to the all the hype that followed it since its announcement? Meh, kind of. Honestly, it would be almost impossible for it to after three years of hype and the public analyzing every bit of news to come from its sets. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may not be a perfect film, or filled with the sometimes overwhelming sense of fun in the way Marvel’s films are (which is a nice breath of fresh air to feel our heroes actions have real consequence) but still is very much a good, fun film, and a very solid start for DC’s cinematic universe. Even though I left the theatre somewhat disappointed, I also left excited for things to come in Justice League Part 1, and for Batman v Superman’s director’s cut. Luckily the film is getting a director’s cut later this year; adding an additional hour to the film’s run time and hopefully clearing up a lot of the confusion it’s theatrical release caused, as originally Batman v Superman was supposed to be a two-partner with a runtime of over four hours. Something tells me this is going to be the film we all hoped Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be, just as Watchmen’s director’s cut was for it. However, that doesn’t exactly make up for the sometimes hot mess of a film that the theatrical release is. Ultimately, to quote Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor: “You flew too close to sun. Now look at you.”