If you’re going to say that I want nothing more than DC movies to fail, trust me, that is far from the truth. I wanted to see this movie succeed so bad, because two comic book universes can only mean that us geeks win. I felt alienated by the DC’s New 52 reboot, and since Batman v Superman draws heavily from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, I was hoping for something that resembled the old DC that I loved. Too bad. I’m not going to mince words, people: I hated this movie.
WARNING: Major SPOILERS for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in this review.
Toward the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, our two heroes finally started their much-hyped battle. Batman managed to outsmart Superman and was able to take down the alien hero with a mix of tech and Kryptonite. However, Superman only confronted Batman because Lex Luthor kidnapped Martha Kent, his adoptive mother, and one of the conditions for her release was for him to kill Batman.
Superman begs Batman to find and save Martha. This triggers a PTSD-like flashback sequence for Batman, where we see every single mention of his mother’s name, also Martha. The thing is, for the first hour, the movie goes out of its way to set up that Bruce Wayne’s mother is, indeed, called Martha. Then we get the same scenes flash out as if we’ve forgotten. Okay, we get it. Their moms have the same name. Did you know that their moms have the same name?
That’s the sort of movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is. It is a movie that refuses to trust its audience – every single moment and plot point was waved in front of our faces with the subtlety of a car crash, and every beautifully constructed frame has none of the storytelling backbone underneath. It is a huge, convoluted, pretentious, boring mess that tries to make a grand statement about superheroics, but does not just fall flat on its face – it also undermines the two protagonists of the film and the cinematic universe it tries to establish.
If you need any evidence that Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder is out to destroy the DC Cinematic Universe even before it starts, look no further than Jimmy Olsen. If you are not familiar with the character, he is simply the best personification of the Silver Age of comics. He is a photographer for the Daily Planet and Superman’s best friend, armed with a wristwatch that can emit a signal for the Man of Steel to rescue him when he gets in over his head in his adventures. His adventures are, in a word, insane – he fought gorillas, became a speedster, was able to stretch his body, grew four extra arms, the works. He was, in a word, fun. How did Batman v Superman deal with Jimmy Olsen? He became an undercover CIA agent who infiltrated the Daily Planet, only to get brutally murdered in the first 30 minutes of the movie.
Okay, sure. That’s movie universe Jimmy Olsen. Different rules. This universe is edgy and not fun, and let’s not let our comic book fanboyism get in the way of looking at this movie objectively. Sure, let’s set aside for now the terrible characterizations of Batman and Superman. You know what? The movie still fails. Lex Luthor’s gameplan is unclear and convoluted. The first act is a weirdly-edited mishmash of scenes that have no coherence at all. Characters make decisions that have terrible motivations behind them. This was a movie that was supposedly examining Superman’s brand of heroism – they tried to portray him conflicted with the movie’s unclear message, only to make him absent for most of the first two acts. Superman was supposed to struggle with the hero’s journey, but his aforementioned absence makes his character growth – and eventual self-sacrifice at the hands of Doomsday – fall flat on its face.
Let’s move on to Batman. Ben Affleck is phenomenal as Batman. He movies with a grace and fluidity that no other live-action Batman has been able to match, and I feel that his Bruce Wayne is a more fleshed-out character than Christian Bale’s. His chemistry with Jeremy Irons’ Alfred Pennyworth is great, and I am excited for the upcoming solo movie.
However, his Batman is imbued with one major and glaring character flaw – he is brutal, even going as far as to brand criminals like cattle with the bat logo. Heck, in one scene, he straight-up murders people whom we thought were thugs carrying a dirty bomb, only to find out they are Lex Luthor’s armed guards, carrying a shipment of Kryptonite that he wants to steal so he can kill Superman. At the end of the movie, he is inspired by Superman’s sacrifice that he… learns that branding people is bad. No, seriously.
There’s really more I want to say, but I’m leaving the rest for our upcoming massive group review in What’s A Geek. Wait for it, because I’m hoping that somebody will actually defend this movie. I feel so bad for hating it more than Green Lantern.
A few thoughts:
- Batman literally bashes Superman on the head with an actual kitchen sink. I suppose that’s what passes off as symbolism for the people who made this film.
- Okay, sure, Wonder Woman was great. But I was too exhausted at this point that I don’t know if it’s because she was genuinely great or I was just so happy that there was a break in the bleakness when she entered the scene.
- Why did Zack Snyder and company even hype the fuck out of the Knightmare sequence when it doesn’t even have any bearing at all on the overall plot?
- Why did Lex Luthor give Cyborg, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash their logos?
- Somebody please explain why Luthor bothered to give his mercenaries a bunch of experimental bullets to me.
- Maybe if you stop acting like a scary alien and act like a Kansas farmboy like, I don’t know, how you act in the comics, maybe the entire world wouldn’t be so scared of you, Superman.
- Why did Batman bother to put a tracker on the kryptonite transport truck when – instead of stealthily following the convoy like any rational person would do, since HE HAS A FUCKING TRACKER ON THE FUCKING TRUCK- he just blows up 90% of the convoy and trashes the truck and almost destroys the tracker?
- Why can’t Superman use his super-speed, x-ray vision, and super hearing to find his mother, when Alfred was able to find her by using a fucking drone?!
- And all those super-senses and you can’t even detect a fucking bomb installed in a fucking wheelchair. What are you good for, Superman?
- Lex Luthor makes Jim Carrey’s Riddler look like Heath Ledger’s Joker.
- So Gotham City is… literally across the river from Metropolis. K.
- “Hey, can we release this movie during Holy Week? I’ve got a Jesus thing going here.” -Zack Snyder, probably
- If you can’t wait for Civil War to see two comic book characters fighting over conflicting ideologies, you’re better off watching Daredevil season 2.
- Superman and Wonder Woman never talked. At all. Not a peep. Probably because their mothers don’t have the same name.
- In case you forget, Superman and Batman’s mothers have the same name.
What did you think of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? I wanna know what you think. Let’s talk about this movie in the comments.