One of the biggest blockbuster events in cinematic history is finally here, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. For viewers looking for a mindless entertainment motion picture where the two god-like superheroes fight it out with one another for two and a half hours will be drastically disappointed. It is a film that has a story to tell, and while there certainly is a fight between Batman and Superman, it’s more psychological than one would think.
Approximately one and a half years after Clark Kent / Superman (Henry Cavill) took down the villainous General Zod (Michael Shannon) in the city of Metropolis, many individuals including civilians, news reporters, and more, feel that Superman is an immensely menacing threat to the city, and to the rest of the world. One of the people that views Superman in this way is Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben Affleck), as he was present in the city of Metropolis during the day where General Zod was taken down. While taking down the foe, Superman caused a catastrophic amount of damage to Metropolis, and as a result killed many innocent people.
After this, Batman believes that Superman should not be allowed the freedom to roam around and do what he wants in the world, due to the destruction he caused back in Metropolis. From here, the two titans go toe-to-toe with one another.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was for sure my most anticipated movie of all time. I remember as a thirteen year old, talking to my friend about how I was so excited for a Batman versus Superman movie, and so was he. But at the time, all talks of a Batman versus Superman movie said a release date of 2018, which made us upset thinking we would be eighteen when we could see the movie. The anticipation for the film was colossal. For both my friend and I, seeing the two finally on screen together would have been a dream come true. It felt so far away. But in 2016, we finally got it in theatres.
Batman v Superman is a very different Batman movie. The Superman aspects of the movie are by far the least interesting parts of it, meanwhile the Batman stuff is always interesting. The first hour of the film builds up Superman’s character, while in the meantime we see scenes containing Batman scattered around the course of the blockbuster, and for the most part they all work. However, one of the weakest elements by far in Batman v Superman is that Batman actually kills people, and does not even show any remorse for his actions. For me, and for likely millions of people that adore the character of Batman, his portrayal in this film will come across as shocking. Furthermore, we never get an explanation as to why this iteration of Batman roams around killing criminals. It simply is not the traditional Batman way of dealing out justice.
Apart from those bizarre and jarring sequences with a ruthless Batman, Affleck is actually great in the role. He certainly has the gritty feel that the character has in many other films such as The Dark Knight (2008). There unfortunately is not much to go off of yet in terms of his character, as this film marks Affleck’s first appearance as the caped crusader, but what we get in Batman v Superman is exceptionally well done. Something that every single Batman actor up until this point (with the exception of George Clooney in 1997’s Batman & Robin) has done extremely well, is portray Bruce Wayne and Batman as if they are two different characters. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire playboy philanthropist, similar to Marvel’s Tony Stark / Iron Man. He can be extremely cocky at times, reserved, and a little bit eccentric. But, when it’s time for Wayne to change into the persona of Batman, he is straight to the point, coming off as extremely serious, without the room for cockiness. The duality is perhaps best showcased by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s masterful Dark Knight trilogy, but Affleck does do a terrific job of showcasing this within Batman v Superman. Let’s hope he can continue this down the road with future DC Extended Universe films.
Although Affleck and Cavill deliver strong performances in the film, there is only really one actor in Batman v Superman who is just downright appalling, and it is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. In the many comic books he has appeared in, as well as the many cartoons, he has been showcased as a villain who is extremely evil, and not a comedic character at all. But, for whatever reason, Eisenberg feels like he is playing the Joker rather than Luthor in this picture. What’s worse is his lines, and his delivery as well. There were several lines that Luthor spoke in the film that left many people in the movie theatre audibly laughing at how bad they truly were.
If moviegoers go to the theatre expecting to have the entire film devoted to Batman fighting Superman for two and a half hours will be immensely disappointed, however. The film focuses more on the psychological battle of Batman and Superman, more than a physical one. They do indeed physically fight with one another a couple of times in the film, but I personally thought that the mental battle between the two was greatly intriguing.
Though Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman isn’t in Batman v Superman that much, when she does first appear it is absolutely amazing. Her portrayal of Wonder Woman here feels extremely well done and something we have not seen before. Also Hans Zimmer’s theme song for her is the best film theme song so far this year.
Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman is a film that boasts strong performances with great action sequences and an intriguing story. Where it falters is with a few minor characters, and bad dialogue. It may not be the film millions of people were expecting, but it certainly is one that will get people talking. For better, or worse.
My Rating: A-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Gal Gadot
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 151 minutes