Batman v Superman has become one of the most divisive comic book films ever made. It’s not a fans vs critics thing, which WB would have you believe.
Professional film critics overwhelming have issues with the movie, while “some” fans overlook the issues with open arms. Most of the fans I’ve talked to completely understand the film has issues and are still entertained by the film. Earning $170 million (projected months before bad reviews) at opening weekend, clearly means that there is a audience demand and Batman has been box office dominate since The Dark Knight. I’d imagine both Justice League and The Batman could do similar opening weekend numbers.
Reviews play their part and for a studio/actors/director to actively dismiss movie critics as not fans of movies and comic book material is just as nutty as the people crying-fowl critics are being payed-off by Marvel and Disney. Neither are true.
I figured I’d give a second perspective on the film as a Batman and Wonder Woman fan with my own opinions and attempt to analyze why people might take issue with what director Zack Snyder came up with.
This review includes heavy spoilers throughout, you’ve been warned.
Instead of jumping straight into the negative, here are some of the things that the film did well.
First, Ben Affleck was admittedly one of the best on screen performances of both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Everything concerning Batman was on point, even if this Batman might not play by the rules established in Nolan’s films.
I think Zack’s small setup for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman while minimum was interesting enough to help stoke the fire of her solo adventure. While the film was bloated as is, it would have been nice to see Gadot actually speak a bit more and have more things to do in the first two acts.
Their performances make me beyond excited to see their solo adventures.
The film promises some exciting things in the future and I did like Bruce’s nightmare sequence, even though his costume was a bit goofy for me.
Callan Muvley’s Russian mercenary character was actually the best villain in the film and had wished others in the film were as menacing.
Okay, now to get to things I really didn’t like about the film.
Speaking of villains, Marvel gets deserved flack for their mostly throw-away villains, the same could be said for Doomsday and Lex. While Man of Steel wasn’t perfect, there were clear motivations for General Zod. The same can’t be said for Lex and Doomsday.
I couldn’t get over how awful the CGI was with Doomsday and how he essentially birthed like an orc from Middle-Earth, the compassions to Incredible Hulk‘s Abomination is also valid.
Lex’s annoying banter might have impressed some, but I am not one of them, he felt like he was from another movie possibly an animated one. I also couldn’t get over how Lex’s henchman was more menacing than he was.
I get the correlation that Superman is a god or Jesus figure in the DCCU, they hit that over our heads last time and releasing the film during Easter weekend wasn’t too subtle either.
The god comparison is overdone in the film, the humanity of the character is overlooked and mostly ignored. Yes, he can talk to his mother or have a romantic moment with Lois, but this doesn’t really flush-out the character’s real personality or depth. He rarely smiles in this film and my own impressions of Superman is a fun hero is negated.
Yes, it’s god vs man, but the reasoning behind their clash is paper thin.
The humanity just wasn’t there for me and Snyder went out his way to paint Clark as this genocidal monster for most of the film. Focusing more of what he could do to harm us, rather than what he could do to save us. His death at the end really loses all weight because you kind of want him to die, as the film makes a convincing argument he’s very dangerous.
This isn’t the Superman from the well liked Richard Donner films.
He spends most of his time being mopey or pissed-off, what happened to the happy-go-lucky Superman everyone used to love?
While I didn’t grow-up with the Superman films (too young), I did know them to be extremely fun and entertaining. Batman V Superman isn’t that at all, it’s an ugly, messy and has almost zero narrative.
The entire point of the film is to essential setup Justice League, but I feel like this could have easily have been a Batman film and didn’t need to justify the creative choices made in Man of Steel. Basically, Batman v Superman feels like a defence of a better film to be honest and it really didn’t have to go that route. They seemingly dug a deeper hole for Superman and at his expense made the other two heroes look much more appealing.
It becomes a problem when the future films they’re setting-up are more interesting than the one we’re presently watching, deflating whatever they were trying to accomplish.
They built the whole film around a ten minute fight sequence, which might be extended in the R-rated cut, but we’re talking about the theatrical version at the moment. I really think they should have just gone and made The Dark Knight Returns instead of whatever this film was intended to be.
I get what Warner Bros. is attempting to do with the cohesiveness of the two pictures, and the film did originally start out as Man of Steel 2. However, it feels like the Justice League cameos were rushed and could have easily had been stingers, they didn’t even need to be thrown into the actual film.
The DC Cinematic Universe brain-trust has stated multiple times that they’re trying their own thing in comparison to Marvel Studios. The problem with that is this film ends-up feeling like some odd mash-up between Iron Man 2 (rushing to introduce to new characters) meets Incredible Hulk (Doomsday), two of the worst films from the Marvel franchise. There’s some defiant attempt for an extremely darker tone there but I think they’re going in the wrong direction if you ask me.
This film was unnecessarily nihilistic at times, feeling like an Alan Moore adaptation rather than Frank Miller.
When Jimmy Olsen finally makes his appearance in the franchise what does Zack Snyder do? He shoots the beloved side-kick of Clark Kent in the head, and goes on record calling it “having fun with him”. I get that Nolan was grim at times too, but Snyder is going a bit overboard there.
The roles of supporting women in this film are jarringly misogynist, when in comparison to Gal Gadot. Holly Hunter and Mercy Graves (only non-white female character) are essentially canon-fodder to prop-up Lex as a bad guy. While Martha Kent and Lois Lane are simply kidnapped and used as bait, Lane insulting used in that manner twice. Gal Gadot while great, should have been given a bit more to do in the first two acts.
Killing-off potential reoccurring characters like Olsen and Graves really rubbed me the wrong way.
Another issue was the messy state of the film, I couldn’t tell if the problem with the pacing stems from the script or the terrible editing as well. The runtime was gruelling and because of the pacing issues making it longer than it actually was.
I feel like the thirty percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is justified, but had this been a Batman film that wasn’t a huge defence of Man of Steel it would have been easily nabbed seventy or eighty percent.
If this movie had maybe been released like ten years ago I think it would have been given a different reception, but there’s a certain level of quality we now expect from our comic book movies. This why films like Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the recent Fantastic Four reboot got destroyed by critics as well.
Justice League‘s production starts next month and I’m genuinely optimistic about it, but will be keeping my own expectations as low as possible. Considering, the same creative people are involved again.