This was supposed to be the most epic superhero movie ever made. Instead, we got a cliched, manic villain and two well-intentioned heroes fighting for no reason at all. What happened?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the superhero face-off Warner Bros. hopes will help it give Disney a run for its spandexed riches, plays off a bazillion-dollar idea: Pit the most iconic DC Comics hero of all time against the other most iconic DC Comics hero of all time, thereby resetting the superhero game through the ultimate clash of titans.
Instead, Zack Snyder’s would be game-changer sets the big business of spandexed spectacle back a step, because, shocker!—watching Batman and Superman rage at each other like little boys makes for a pretty tedious 2½ hours. When you walk away from the unfocused BvS with no desire to see another Batman or Superman story ever again, someone up the chain has made a terrible mistake.
The blockbuster superhero movie unlike any other blockbuster superhero movie that’s come before, opens on the one scene we’ve seen countless times already: Little Bruce Wayne, in front of that theater, watching his parents gunned down in front of his young, impressionable eyes.
Many decades later, grown-up Bruce is still haunted by visions of that night and of the winged creatures that inspired his hobby as Gotham’s No. 1 bad boy vigilante. It’s possible these visions are glimpses of some awful future, because in some of them he sees giant winged bat-demons doing horrible things. But are they the nightmares of an overworked vigilante with major survivor’s guilt, or psychotic hallucinations indicating greater mental health issues?
The dark and brooding Batman clearly could use some therapy. Anyway, there’s a bigger target in Bruce’s sights, and it wears a red cape.
So why does Batman hate Superman so much? We see the events of Man of Steel unfold again through Bruce’s eyes, watching helplessly as Superman and Zod carve a path of death through downtown Metropolis. They take out a Wayne Industries office building in the process, leaving a seething Bruce tending to his surviving employees in the rubble, cursing the Kryptonian for the life insurance policies he’s going to have to pay out.
Two years after defeating Zod and earning a hero’s reception across the globe, the blithely ignorant Superman finds himself in a pickle in the desert. Swooping in from across the world to save his girlfriend, embedded journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams), from the terrorist cell she’s inadvertently crossed, he wreaks yet more havoc in a nearby village. Whoops!
As the world questions whether or not even a benevolent god-hero should operate with such unchecked power, Batman and Superman tangle in the streets of Gotham and Metropolis (which are apparently neighbor cities so close together you can see the Bat-signal from the rooftop of the Daily Planet). They argue over the moral schism that divides them and trade ominous threats, bickering over who gets to save mankind.
Meanwhile, floppy-haired prodigy Lex Luthor starts stocking up on Kryptonite, plotting a way to turn the two biggest heroes in the greater Gotham City-Metropolis area against each other, because… well, what supervillain really needs a reason? At least Lex Luthor isn’t a clichéd, manic villain enacting an insidious plot to control or decimate humanity ….. Oh wait, scratch that.
Thankfully, the infantile beef between Batman and Superman is interrupted by the welcome presence of the only person who could give either of them a run for their spandex: a woman. Wonder Woman, to be precise.
But alas! When Batman and Superman start fist-fighting over whose pursuit of justice is the most righteous, nobody really wins.
Not Ben Affleck’s pouty sadboy Batman, fueled by rage and grief and utterly humorless, skulking about his Bat-cave as his right-hand butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) tries to talk him off the ledge. Or Henry Cavill’s clueless Superman, who really just wants to put a ring on Lois Lane and keep living his double life in Metropolis, shrugging off his haters.
It feels like only the most devout of fans will leave clamoring for more of these powerhouse characters whose new found frenemyship is supposed to launch us into Justice League and beyond.
It’s a trying and utterly deflating thing to spend hours watching two well-intentioned heroes fighting for no reason at all. The hollowness of Batman and Superman’s actual beef effectively neuters everything that’s interesting about these two heroes: Vigilante human vs. godlike messiah, cool guy loner dude v. goofy four-eyes, confirmed bachelor vs. dopey monogamist.
The action veers from explosion-filled car chases on slicked down Gotham streets to bruising brawls in abandoned buildings, but any promise of deeper meaning dissolves the minute Batman and Superman start trading blows.
Annoyingly, another thing they do have in common is how easily they’re played by Luthor, too blinded by their superhero pissing contest to see that they’ve fallen victim to a very obvious set-up. By the time the two beloved DC heroes are trading blows, trying to rip each other apart, you realize how easily this could all have been avoided.
Even ace reporter Lois Lane sells herself out in the end. After delivering the cringe-worthy line “I’m not a lady, I’m a journalist” to a sexist terrorist leader, she admits she was played for a fool for a story.
By the time it reaches its inevitable conclusion with nods to the comic book crowd, it’s already got one eye on the horizon, trained on setting up the next movies in the series.
With Batman v. Superman, nobody wins. That includes Warner Bros. and Snyder, who are so committed to launching the DC version of Marvel’s MCU that they’ve sacrificed this film to the cause.
In short is dull apart from the action sequences, but a film should not have to rely on those alone to save a film. As bad as this is as least its free of bat-nipples which is always a blessing!
Now usually a film is rated between 1-5 stars, but on this occasion it feels fitting to change this up, so Batman vs Superman: Dawn of justice earns itself:
Three sad Afflecks
What did you think of this film?
Thank you for reading.