Review | Batman v Superman – What Went Right, What Went Wrong?

Despite crushing the weekend’s box office, Batman v Superman had some highs but a lot of lows.

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead

Back in 2013, when director Zack Snyder announced the film, I admit I was excited. Excited that Batman would make a return to the big screen after what was the awesome Dark Knight Trilogy. Then my excitement began to dwindle as castings for these legendary comic book characters started rolling in. I was very skeptical on the castings of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) (I’ll get to that); Henry Cavil does a phenomenal job as Superman. Even with the castings, I was holding out hope for this film. The teasers and first trailer did its job for setup without spoiling anything major, that was until the second official trailer hit. After that, everything went south.

So why exactly are Batman and Superman wanting to fight one another? In the film, there are no real motives for both. Bruce Wayne/Batman hates Superman because of the destruction he caused  during the final battle in Man of Steel. On the other side, Clark Kent reads a newspaper and sees that Batman is branding the criminals he takes down (Yes, this version of Batman brands and kills people – we’ll get to that soon enough), and this is what makes his Krypton blood boil with anger. In the middle is Lex Luthor, who is a mad billionaire scientist who just wants to see the two clash. To get these two to fight, Lex Luthor pulls some strings and finds Superman’s one weakness, Kryptonite, and in the process gets full access to General Zod’s body and ship. No expalntion is given, but somehow Luthor knows this is Superman’s weakness (Batman finds this out when hacking Lex Luthor’s computer in the film). It should be noted that Lex doesn’t have a real motive; he just wants to see these two fight to the death. No world domination or evil plan, he just wants to see a fight. When the fight does happen during the second act, it is done well for the time it is given. As mentioned, there is a lot wrong with the film, but there are some things that did work.

One piece that was done right was the inclusion of The Dark Knight Returns material. It works great with this film. The fight between Batman and Superman was choreographed great, as it allowed an equal playing field, as it did in the comic.  I also enjoyed the opening. The audience gets to see Bruce Wayne’s perspective on what happened on that day when Superman fought General Zod.

Ben Affleck’s version of Batman is different; he kills and brands the criminals he captures. The killing is nothing new as Tim Burton’s version of Batman did the same, but the branding criminals with the Bat symbol was all Zack Snyder. Whenever Affleck’s Batman was on the screen, it was a sight to see. You could tell this Batman was aged, tired and angry with his past.

Zack Snyder might mess up portrayals of iconic superheroes, but one thing he does right is the destruction that these heroes cause when they do battle. Snyder received a lot flack over all of the destruction he produced in Man of Steel, I for one enjoyed it. When I think of a Superman battle, I think of total chaos, streets breaking and buildings getting destroyed. So I did find the last battle with the three heroes taking the fight to Doomsday quite entertaining.

Which brings me to Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) – when she showed up on screen, the theater I was in erupted with applause. This would be the first time the character would be seen in live action form since 1979! The little time Gadot was on screen as Wonder Woman, she displayed what it was to be such an iconic character – Powerful. Wonder Woman would use all of her famous weapons, the golden gauntlets and Lasso of Truth. It was great that studio and Snyder decided to have Wonder Woman come in and get the upper hand on Doomsday. It displayed that a woman can come to the forefront and conquer it all.

Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman
Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman
With the good, comes the bad. From the Justice League setup to Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor, Batman V Superman had a lot misses instead of hits. Going into the film, it seems as Zack Snyder didn’t do a lot of studying with any important comics, but instead took bits and pieces from huge comic storylines and throw it all together in this film. That truly shows with Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. It seemed as Snyder nor did Eisenberg know anything about this character. Instead of trying to adapt into the Lex Luthor role, Eilsenberg legit just played his self with a nervous tick, reprised his role from “The Social Network”, and took some inspiration from Heath Ledger’s Joker. Nothing about his performance screamed Lex Luthor to me.

When Zack Snyder stated this film was not a Man of Steel sequel, he was right. Henry Cavill didn’t have much material to work with in this. Throughout the whole the film, Superman was billed as weak against Batman, which makes no sense whatsoever. A lot didn’t make sense in this film, such as some dialogue. In a scene, where Lois Lane is overseas interviewing an evil war general, the general tells Lane “Oh I didn’t know a woman was going to interview me”. In return, Lane states “I’m not a woman, I’m a journalist”.  I know the writers were going for a feminist line here, but it should have been worded better. I’m also not sure who signed off on this edit of the film, but somehow this mistake goes unnoticed – In the scene where Bruce Wayne speaks with Diana Prince at a museum, you can hear Ben Affleck’s mic peak and pop causing muffed sound.

Let’s touch on the random setup for the Justice League. After hacking Lex Luthor’s computer, Bruce learns about The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman through files and secret security camera footage with the heroes logos attached to them. Why are the logos there? Who made these logos? It would have worked a lot better without them. Bruce then proceeds to email, (yes , email) all of this classified information to Diana, informing her he knows that she is Wonder Woman. This would have to be one of most rushed and worst setups for a superhero team up.

What can be said that has already been said about the introduction (and end) of Doomsday. Whenever a comic book film introduces a large iconic villain in the third act, it never works (see Spider-Man 3). The huge monster that Lex Luther creates using General Zod’s (Yes this happened) could have just been a generic monster, but no, it’s Doomsday. Such a huge villain wasted in about 15 minutes.

Batman v Superman is a film that tries to pack too much material into a 2 hour and 31 minutes film. Given that much time, a lot of nothing happened.  The clash of storylines shows that Zack Snyder didn’t read too many comics going into this. Having The Dark Knight Returns, The Flashpoint Paradox, and The Death of Superman stories jumbled together made a huge mess. This film doesn’t take place on Earth 1, Earth 2 or in any other dimension, it’s the Snyderverse.  The Snyderverse is whatever Zack Synder wants to feature in his DC Comics films, no matter how far it strays from the source material. If you’re a Batman fan, you will enjoy his scenes, but if you’re Superman fan, don’t count on him having a strong leading role. It’s a Batman film featuring Superman.

– Journalist Without A Beat… Out!


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