This review contains spoilers.
I was so excited to watch Batman vs. Superman, I mean Dawn of Justice, I mean Batman vs. Superman for a bit then it’s Batman with Superman and Wonder Woman vs. Lex Luthor feat Doomsday.
Yeah, this movie has a lot going on.
Before I give you guys my review, I feel it is worth mentioning that these superhero movies are the only movies I watch and have become a pseudo-obsession of mine. So it’s good timing that we live in the so-called Golden Age of comic book movies with at least four coming out each year for the foreseeable future.
I enter each movie the same way a film snob would enter a movie; I’m a connoisseur of the genre if you will. I’ve broken down these movies into a precise science with the knowledge of all the previous comic book movies both animated and live action dating from the late 70’s (when I was approximately negative twenty years old at the time) until the present day.
So with this knowledge, I’m not only going to tell you what fundamental yet fixable flaws this movie has, but I’m also going to tell you guys why this was a very okay movie and not nearly worth all the hate its been getting.
First of all, this movie has a sort of subtle brilliance to it that you seldom see in projects of this ilk. I saw this movie a few days after it came out and someone sent me the Rotten Tomato score, so I knew this movie wasn’t going to be great. But if you only watched the first act of the film you’d have no idea. Starting off the movie with the events of Man of Steel from Batman’s point of view was incredible. Zach Snyder also managed to weave seamlessly allusions to Batman’s Mask of the Phantasm, the God’s Among us game, references to the Joker and the destruction of Wayne Manor (which may be an homage to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins) in the first few minutes.
Furthermore, the way this movie foreshadowed its sequel by showing Darkside’s giant Omega symbol and altering his minions from their normal appearance to winged humans was beyond brilliant.
With that being said although the pacing of this movie was, at first, slow and deliberate it suddenly moved into frantic and borderline illogical by the end.
I’m going to start off by talking this film in its own right before talking about its place in the on going feud between Marvel and DC.
This movie has too much stuff happening:
One of the biggest reasons why these superhero movies fail is because the writers try to incorporate too much of the comic book cannon into it.
For instance, this movie incorporates three of arguably the most important storylines in the DC lore. Each of which has the clout to warrant their own feature film.
It’s borderline impossible for Zach Snyder to be able to weave together the Batman Returns storyline, while juggling the birth of the Justice arch and also the death of Superman comic.
The degree of difficulty in pulling off a single character story is high enough as is. But adding two more makes the margin for error almost minute.
If Warner Bros were adamant, they wanted to go for the home run and try all of these different things they were better off putting Lex’s plot to kill Superman parallel to the actual Batman vs. Superman confrontation. The movie spent the first act trying to build a real moral chasm between these two heroes only to abandon it a few minutes later (more on that soon).
The moral quandaries each have with the other is too great for it to be thrown to the wayside for them to fight for such silly and petty reasons. If this movie wanted to stay faithful to the characters, they would have let them fight over the way each believes justice should be done. This is beyond logical as both of these heroes are in direct philosophical opposition to the other, with the Bats believing fear is the best way to stop crime and with Big Blue resolute in the notion that hope is the only way to lead. This way of executing this movie would be similar to what happens in the source material, The Dark Knight Returns.
While their bro-off is taking place, Lex can do his thing trying to resurrect Doomsday. Once the beast is unleashed Wonder Woman can stop their little fight and get them to take on the ultimate killing machine.
After Superman dies the world mourns and Batman sees that Superman was right all along blah blah superhero cliche yet still a good movie.
The dichotomy of Ben Affleck’s Batman:
Although this is obviously paradoxical, I honestly believe that this rendition of the Caped Crusader was both the best and worst I’ve ever seen. Ben Affleck managed to grasp fully the physical force of nature that is Bruce Wayne yet at the same time neglect his indiscernible ethos. I am not talking about the fact that this Batman kills and uses guns. Unfortunately, I am talking about Batman’s psyche, something I never thought I would.
The Batman we saw in this movie was the closest thing we will ever get to the Batman in the Arkham franchise. Zach Snyder borrowed the game’s signature “from above” takedowns, the infamous group fighting scenes and some of its weapons. Even the Batmobile got pimped out Arkham Knight style.
The biggest difference with this version of the Bats and others is that we got to see how physically imposing Batman is when he’s not duking it out with demigods. The best microcosm of Bruce’s physical might is the time when he picked up random henchmen #86 before reverse choke-slamming him wrestle mania style.
With that being said this movie completely missed the mark with Batman rationale. The point of Batman in both culture at large and comics, in particular, is that he is the ultimate manipulator. He’s the person with a plan B for everything and just like every underdog in history; he manages to out-think his opponents. He’s a sort of warrior Spock whose brute force and infallibility makes the ideal hero to root for.
But of course, the Batman we saw in this movie wasn’t cold and calculating, he’s emotional and xenophobic, but worse of all he’s scared. He ceases to be the chess player and is now a pawn. Think about how easy this was for Lex, all he had to do was frame Superman for a massacre, and all Superman had to do was emasculate him by tossing his car around. And voila the world’s greatest detective reduced to the role of a brute.
Even though the reason behind the conflict with Superman is deplorable in its own right, the way it’s resolved has to be one of the most ludicrous scenes in movie history. All Superman had to do was say Martha few times then Batman is suddenly all in on the Soups ban wagon and is ready to go and save his mom.
Even though I enjoyed the fight, it was cool and all, it felt almost hollow, though. There were no real consequences to it because we knew, the reason behind their rift was ridiculous, and we knew that for the movie to be resolved nothing of significance was going to happen.
You would think in another life this version of Master Wayne would have spent his billions endorsing Trump as opposed to being the modern day Machiavelli.
But, this movie biggest mistake was showing us the man in Batman. I thought it very symbolic that after his fight with Big Blue half of Batman’s cowl was ripped off, he was both man and bat. But as we know, in the words of his predecessor, The Dark Knight cannot be both:
As a man, I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol…as a symbol, I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.-Batman Begins
The Doomsday Question:
The fact that Doomsday was included in this movie took me by surprise because I don’t watch trailers at all.
So when I first saw Lex trying to unleash the abomination (I thought the lightning was a cool homage to Frankenstein), I thought this would be the saving grace of the movie.
After all, how many people can say that they’ve “killed” the man of steel?
But, after I saw how they designed Doomsday I wasn’t too enthused anymore.
First of all the way Doomsday looks in the comics is amazing as is, so I don’t see why they needed to change that. Secondly, electric powers or whatever he had never works in live action. The end of the movie was just a CGI show with random bolts of lighting exiting Doomsday’s body for no apparent reason (is he meant to Symbolize the modern day Doomsday an EMP?). It was annoying to watch, and it was unnecessary because the Doomsday in the comics doesn’t have these powers.
This is very pedantic on my part, but I’m not a fan of when the hero and villain are radically different in size. I think it doesn’t make for a good fight scene when one is five times bigger than the other because they can’t actually fight in combos, they resort to throwing haymakers flinging one to the other side of the scene each time.
Also, it would have been cool if Wonder Woman and Batman actually could fight him as opposed to annoying him until Superman is back.
So I really hope they don’t make the same mistake with Darkside in the sequel because some of my favorite moments in the comics are when Batman goes toe to toe with the New God and manage to evade his Omega Beams.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe vs. the DC Cinematic Universe:
For better or for worse just like Batman vs. Superman everything one does is compared to the other. These are the two alphas of the industry (sorry Fox). But, even though they are a sort of big two in the nerd market it hasn’t been much of a competition between them. TV and animated movies aside, Marvel has whipped the floor with DC, and the biggest winner of this film is by far the MCU.
But there are real reasons why Marvel movies are consistently better than DC’s. Although stuff like casting and directors make a big difference in the long run. Marvel’s real success comes from creating a series of core pillars that form each movie. This turns the MCU into a machine of sorts where they’ve discovered the optimal algorithm, and each of their movies are just derivatives of the other.
Their first pillar is that they usually stick to one story arc and don’t try to fit all of the characters story lines into one movie because they understand the delicate balance of maintaining the substance necessary for future projects yet at the same time giving each movie enough to keep us entertained for the next.
The second pillar of the MCU is that unlike DC they make their movies humorous for the most part. Marvel realized a long time ago that it is way easier making a superhero movie funny than making it serious. This works especially well for their model because they release tons of movies each year, so they rather hit a few doubles in a row than try to go for the home run every single time. Think about it, the only time the MCU attempted a dark movie was Captain America The Winter Soldier, which was the greatest superhero movies of all time by the way.
But, with DC every since the early success of the Christopher Nolan’s gritty Batman franchise they’ve only made depressing movies. DC made Superman, the most uplifting and inspiring of heroes, sad and dark. To be honest, I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, but it’s much harder to do effectively.
What I feel we should give DC credit for is that they are taking the most laborious route and are trying to make the way humans would embrace heroes as realistic as possible. In Marvel, we get a bit of huffing and puffing by a bunch of extras or TV characters talking about how dangerous these super people are. But in DC, the filmmakers attempt to decipher what it would be like if Superman actually existed. The montage in which they show prominent figures in real life having a nuanced debate and asking each other esoteric questions regarding the notion of a ubermensch, his role in government and his role in society in general.
The third pillar is something more intrinsic to Marvel and DC and less of a choice that they can make. DC was designed to be a pantheon of gods among men while Marvel is meant to be man’s finest. If you remove Thor from the equation, all Marvel characters are relatively small potatoes compared to their DC friends.
Take Flash and Quicksilver for example. The former created and is part of a supra-galaxy entity which allows him to travel the universe and time at incomprehensible speed. The later is just really fast compared to a normal person. Another seemingly good fight I hear from my friends would be the Hulk vs. Superman. The Green Goliath is strong, but his greatest accomplishment is picking up the New York bedrock underwater. The other managed to punch universes together and can destroy planets on a whim at his peak.
This is not to say that one is way easier to make that the other, but Marvel has somewhat of an advantage making a movie about Spiderman who is just like you minus a radioactive Spider than it is to make a film about the king of the mythical city of Atlantis.
What I found rather interesting about this movie is that DC was too slow to mobilize and as a result had to adopt a sort of anti-marvel model. Because DC was so far back behind it had to come out guns blazing with their super team to stay relevant. Marvel’s 6th movie was the Avengers, and each of their team’s characters had, for the most part, their own movie. So we got to see the maturation of the characters in their stand alone films, and when it came time for the super team, all they had to do was show up and kick ass. If DC took this approach, this movie would have been a lot cleaner, and they might have actually gotten to make a movie focused only on the Batman vs. Superman fight.
Beast Mode Superman:
When Superman took a Nuke to the knee, I really wished he did what he does in the comics.
Which is going to the sun, chilling there for a few minutes, before coming back beast mode.
I think it was a deliberate choice by the film crew to make Lex less like his comic book self and more like the Joker in Batman: The Dark Knight.
Both have long hair, both are trying to take down the resident superhero because of ideological reasons, both kidnapped two separate people to get the others attention, and both have no regard for human life.
Was this the best choice?
That depends on your own view of the movie, but this vision was executed as best as possible.
Also thought it was cool when he was talking about how he was foreshadowing Darkside at the end.
Superman Vs Batman fight scene wasn’t long enough:
Despite its advertising, this movie wasn’t meant to be a versus movie. But having said the 8 minute whatever fight we got between these two titans was woefully lackluster.
If you forget about all the traps Batman set for Superman, the majority of the fight consists of Superman poking Batman across buildings, and Batman shooting Kryptonite farts at his face before beating him down.
We didn’t need the entire movie to be a boss battle between these two, but at the very least we should have gotten some legit sparing between the two characters.
Boss Battles usually disappoint:
As is the case in most movies it’s much better when the protagonist has to mow through a group of people as opposed to fighting an individual boss.
Think about all the good comic movies you’ve seen, how many of them involve the heroes fighting ONLY against an equally power super villain. Both Marvel’s Avengers movie, the Winter Soldier, and the Dark Knight consists of the main heroes destroying hordes of lesser opponents as opposed to one ultra adversary.
The ideal scenario, especially in a team format, is that you have one of the heroes destroy mere mortals, whilst the other engages in the boss battle.
The Flash problem:
I think I am in the side of the majority when I say I love the Flash TV show.
So in the spirit of honest, I have to admit that I was a bit salty seeing someone else take up this role.
But I get why DC did it.
Unlike the MCU, they want don’t want the TV shows complicating their cannon.
Think about it, if something happens why won’t Arrow and Supergirl come to the rescue right?
Like I said before, this is a very okay movie and it dosen’t deserve whatever score it has on Rotten Tomato or IMDb or whatever.
The reason why this movie didn’t do well because it was over hyped and I thought it was hard on the non-comic book fan.
This is not to say that if you don’t like comics you are less likely to enjoy it, but people who are really into this genre will forgive some of its shortcomings because the movie has Batman and Superman.
Hope you guys learned a thing or two
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