At this point, I’m sure everyone is sick of reading about people’s thoughts on Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Well too bad, because I have opinions and a platform to shout them to the internet, and I intend to take full advantage. In talking to people about the movie, it’s clearly been highly divisive. There haven’t been many people saying they thought it was ok, most either seem to hate it or love it. I’m going to be honest with you up front, because I don’t want to waste your time. I didn’t like the movie. In fact, in reductive terms, you could say that I hated it. I found very little to be excited about or enjoy, and I’m legitimately concerned for the future of the DC cinematic universe under the guidance of Zack Snyder.
Before diving in, know that we’re in for a bumpy ride, because I really did not care for this movie and I will be pulling no punches. Beware, this will most definitely be spoiler filled. As the great Joker once said, “And here. We. Go.”
First, the good stuff. Don’t worry, this won’t take long.
1. Wonder Woman
Gal Godot is great as Wonder Woman. She unfortunately isn’t given much to do, but her name isn’t in the title so I can’t really complain. She gets some cool spy moments as her debutante alter ego, but especially shines when shit hits the fan against Doomsday. She’s a complete badass, and is able to hold her own against the thing while Superman is distracted by Lois and Batman is busy being useless. I’m also super excited to see her solo movie, and hopefully Chris Pine being in that old picture means we’re going to get a period piece.
I’m certainly not as high on Ben Affleck as Batman as a lot of people are, but I thought he did an admirable job. My issues with the character were in the writing, and thus not completely Ben’s fault. I just thought the character was a bit flat and angry the whole movie, and he certainly wasn’t someone I’d root for. It is worth mentioning here because I thought he was going to be terrible in the role, and I left impressed. You can’t see it, but I’m cutting into my humble pie over here. Also, I would totally be down for a solo Batman movie just based on the sequence where he’s saving Clark’s mom, despite the fact that he seems to relish murdering faces (more on that later).
3. Action Sequences
Not everything on the action side worked in BvS, and overall there was far too little action in general, but I was mostly happy. As I said earlier, Batman storming the bad guy hideout where Martha was being kept was completely insane, and the car chase in the Batmobile had some over the top fun moments. The Doomsday fight overall was pretty forgettable, but Wonder Woman kicked ass and it was nice to see all three heroes working together, albeit briefly. One of my favorite moments from the movie was when Batman krypto-gased Supes and was punching the shit out of him. The gas starts wearing off and Superman starts getting his steel jaw back with each punch. The sound effects really showcased that moment well.
4. The Concept
I love the idea of dealing with the fallout from Man of Steel. Superhero movies don’t talk enough about the consequences of their actions, and the affect they have on regular people. This could have been a great think piece, had it been put in the hands of a better writer/director. But instead, we got Zack Snyder, who’s like your stoner friend that always thinks he’s being super deep. “But like, why do cats have whiskers, man? What are they for?”
And now, for the not so good stuff. Get a shovel, because we’re wading into the shit here, friends.
1. Batman Kills Dudes
I’ve always been of the mind that not killing people was Batman’s line, it was the one thing that separated him from the criminals he chases. But, there have been plenty of examples in the comics, animated shows, and movies of him killing, so I can’t raise too much of a stink about that. Plus, this Batman has been doing this gig for 20 years now, so maybe it makes sense that he’s gotten rid of that line. Batman has seen some shit, after all. BUT. If that’s the case, if he really has no problem straight up murdering people by launching cars on top of other cars and letting them fucking explode, why is he so pissed off about Superman and the collateral damage he creates? Batman BRANDS CRIMINALS THAT HE CATCHES, KNOWING THAT SAID BRAND WILL LEAD TO DEATH INSIDE JAIL. This is not a man that gives a shit about life, despite what the movie tries to tell you. This is a broken man, searching for some kind of misguided justice for all of the wrongs that have happened in his life. That may not be the Batman that I want, but it would have at least been interesting. This Batman is just angry and hypocritical.
2. Superman Lets People Die
One of the biggest complaints about Man of Steel was that Superman was more concerned about kissing Lois than saving lives after, you know, DESTROYING HALF OF METROPOLIS. He put forth absolutely no effort to take the fight with Zod out of a populated area, and certainly didn’t seem to care about citizens after the fact, either. It’s like if your neighbor broke down your front door chasing a bee, then proceeded to break every single thing in your house in the process of chasing said bee. Then, after an hour of destruction and mayhem, he looks at you and says “I got the bee.” Then he walks out. No apology, no attempt to help, nothing. Just puts up deuces and heads back to his place. That is Superman in this universe. Fuck that Superman. And, just like Batman is of Superman, he’s so hypocritical in his hatred of Batman. “Batman kills people, I only do nothing to stop them from dying. That’s totally different.” And that shot of him moping after A HUNDRED PEOPLE EXPLODE ALL AROUND HIM? Come on, bro. Do something about it, you can’t stop crime by looking sad.
3. Lex Luthor
I could write a whole section about the bad acting/casting in this movie, but Henry Cavill’s wooden personality and lack of any depth was at least consistent with Man of Steel, so he gets a pass on this one. Today, my rage is focused towards Jesse Eisenberg, and all of the Zombieland fanboys that have convinced America that he’s some great actor. He was ok in Social Network. That’s it, that’s his claim to fame. In BvS, he’s doing some knock off Heath Ledger Joker impression, but with none of the subtlety. He’s trying way too hard in every scene, hell with every word out of his mouth. He’s trying so hard to be edgy and interesting, but his eyes give him away. I’m a pretentious actor type, I know, but I also think that makes me a harsh but good judge of acting. Eisenberg’s eyes in BvS are as dead as Bruce’s parents. He might be flailing around like a moron, manipulating vowels and consonants like a middle schooler reciting a Shakespearean sonnet at the talent show, but don’t be fooled. This is an over-the-top, shallow performance by an actor that doesn’t understand his character. Nothing about him was scary, or menacing, or interesting.
4. Lex’s Plan
And you can’t talk about Lex without dissecting his sinister plan to rid the world of Superman. His plan is to subtly convince Batman to steal his hidden Kryptonite and then get Superman to fight Batman on a specific night at a specific time, which JUST SO HAPPENS to be the exact night and time that Batman was totally gonna go attack Superman anyway. How did Lex know this? He didn’t, it’s a huge coincidence and something that he would have no way of knowing. THEN, Lex convinces Superman to go fight Batman, not because ridding the world of Batman is the right thing to do, which would be very easy to convince Superman of, but because if Superman doesn’t kill Batman, Lex is totally gonna burn his momma! And not with a yo momma joke, but like, literally burn her. With a flamethrower. So Lex’s whole plan hinges not only on Batman stealing the kryptonite in the first place, but on Batman being ready to fight on the exact same night, at the exact same time, in the exact right place, and on Batman succeeding in killing Supes. Which he almost isn’t able to do.
But, because this movie’s third act was running a little short, there’s also the subplot of Lex creating Frankenstein’s monster out of Zod’s blood and the power coming from Zod’s ship. What was Lex going to do with Doomsday if Batman and Superman killed each other? No idea. Destroy the world I guess, since there was almost no way to kill Doomsday, and Lex certainly couldn’t control it.
Let’s also analyze Superman’s reaction to all of this. Lex has my mom and he wants me to kill Batman. That sucks. Hmm, I vaguely remember a sequence just a few weeks ago where I flew into the desert and saved Lois by flying really fast into the guy that was holding her. But that totally wouldn’t work here because the script is saying there’s a ten minute fight sequence coming up, so I guess I’ll just go confront Batman instead. And then when I do, I’ll give him really vague reasons as to why we shouldn’t fight instead of simply explaining that Lex is holding my mom captive and I need Batman’s help. But wait, things will get a lot clearer for me when I’m drugged up on kryptonite and inches away from death. That’s when I’m most specific.
5. Martha, Martha, Martha
Bruce and Clark have moms with the same name. That was the big twist in the movie, the thing that tied everything together and what made Batman and Superman finally team up. And it totally makes sense. I remember when I was a kid, there was this bully at school named Timmy who never left me alone. He stole my lunch money, gave me wedgies, the whole cliched nine yards. Until one day, he followed me home from school and overheard me talking to my mom. To his (and later my) surprise, our moms had the same name! Carla Sanfranco Smith-Applegate! What a coincidence! From then on it was fucking roses between us. We went on bike rides together, traded pokemon cards, the works. Hell, he was the best man at my wedding and he’ll be the first phone call I make when my wife gets pregnant. That is, the first call after my mom. Hopefully I don’t call his by mistake! OMG LOL.
But for real, Batman decides not to murder Superman because Superman was a kid just like him and had a mom just like him. How sweet! And not only that, but their magical mom name kismet completely resolves all of the issues between them, like Superman’s wanton destruction of Metropolis, Batman’s tendency to take the law into his own hands and push things way too far, Batman’s hoarding of Kryptonite, the only thing able to kill Superman, none of it matters anymore because they’re Batman and Superman: Mom Bros.
6. The Music
I’ve been getting sick of Hans Zimmer’s shtick for quite some time now, and BvS certainly pushed me over the edge. Movie scores are an incredibly hard thing to create, and I know this because I’ve never done it. The timing has to match what’s happening on screen, and most importantly, you have to match the emotional undertones of a scene without distracting from it. It’s that latter half that failed Zimmer in this movie. The recurring violin solos were so out of place that I was constantly taken out of the what was happening on screen. And in a movie as confusing and hard to follow as Batman vs Superman, that’s a big problem. I felt like I was watching a bad operatic production of Phantom of the Opera where Bats is the Phantom, Supes is Raoul, and Lex is Christine. You know on second thought, that probably would have been a better movie.
7. It Was All a Dream
There were so many dream sequences in this damn movie, I was waiting for Christian Bale to wake up at the end and tell me that the whole thing was a sick joke. First, there’s the opening dream with little boy Bruce falling down a well and being surrounded by bats. You know, the thing we’ve seen in every Batman movie ever. Except this time, the bats MAKE BRUCE FLOAT LIKE HE’S CHARLIE BUCKET AFTER TRYING SOME FIZZY LIFTING DRINK.
Then there was the dream where Batman is in the post-apocalypse, fighting back against Superman and his Super-Nazi Stormtroopers, where apparently Darkseid also exists and is using his parademons to help Superman? I don’t know, it was incredibly confusing, and was likely just sequel bait to please the fanboys. Guess what? It didn’t. And I can’t forget about the scene later in that dream where Superman interrogates Batman and burns some dudes alive. I’m pretty positive this was only included in the movie because Zack Snyder really wanted to show Superman burning dudes with his heat vision.
Oh but wait, that dream was actually a dream inside of another dream where the Flash shows up from the future(?) to tell Bats some very cryptic stuff about Lois being important or some shit. I don’t know. Flash definitely should have written his speech down beforehand, maybe he got nervous or something. Not that it mattered anyway, because Batman did absolutely nothing with the information.
And in a very forgettable dream sequence, Supes meets up with his pops on top of a frozen mountain, and they talk about… something. To be honest, I can’t remember. Must have been really important. I think it was about humanity and like, Superman doing the right thing? I think Pa Kent said “With great power comes great responsibility,” but I might be mixing that up with something else. Anyway, that scene was only in there because DC locked in Kevin Costner for two movies before deciding to kill him off in the first one. At least they got their money’s worth.
8. Justice League Setup
In case you forgot or somehow didn’t notice, BvS had the subtitle Dawn of Justice, because apparently having Batman and Superman share the silver screen for the first time wasn’t enough, the movie also had to be an obvious setup for Justice League. And obvious is exactly what the setup was. Wonder Woman literally watches videos of the other super powered people. They don’t tie into the story at all, the videos just exist to introduce us to characters that we won’t see again for two years. It is the laziest bullshit I could have possibly imagined, but when compared to the rest of this movie, I guess it all makes sense. Then at the end, Batman tells Wonder Woman that they need to track down these super powered people because “I think we’re going to need them.” The conversation might as well have been:
Wonder Woman: Why do we need these people?
Batman: Because reasons, just do it! Gah, you don’t understand me because I’m so dark and angry and Batman!
9. Sequel Bait Ending
Not only was the inclusion of Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman completely ancillary, but part of the motivation behind putting this team together was Superman being a martyr for the super powered community. His death was an ideal for people to rally behind. But because this is a franchise, they weren’t going to keep Superman dead. The most annoying part was that they only let us think he was dead for like ten minutes of screentime. I mean, at least try and earn your emotional moments before undermining them. It made the funerals meaningless, Batman’s speech meaningless, Superman’s sacrifice meaningless. It was lame. I get that you can’t keep him dead. But bring him back as a surprise in Justice League Part One, don’t ruin the ending to your already awful movie with some floating dirt.
10. Zack Snyder
Zack Snyder hates you. He hates me. He hates anyone that cares about anything, and his sole purpose on this planet is to ruin the things you love. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic here, but Zack Snyder is the biggest problem with Batman vs Superman. And it’s not even his terrible direction or writing. It’s his attitude towards the whole thing. When Man of Steel came out, he received backlash from the fans about Superman not caring about the destruction and collateral damage he had caused fighting Zod. Snyder defended his decision by comparing Superman destroying Metropolis to The First Order launching the Starkiller Station in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He said Star Wars was way worse because they destroyed five planets and billions of lives. He thinks it’s ok for Superman to let innocent people die because THAT’S WHAT THE BAD GUYS IN STAR WARS DO. What kind of logic is that?
He also defended Batman killing people, but not in the way that I outlined above. He thinks it’s ok for Batman to kill people because Batman isn’t really killing people, they’re just dying because of his actions. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s because you aren’t an insane person. Zack Snyder doesn’t think Batman kills anyone in BvS. When Batman launches a fucking exploding car on top of another exploding car, presumably roasting everyone inside, that isn’t Batman’s fault. When Batman shoots the flamethrower tank, incinerating the dude wearing it, Batman isn’t killing that guy. If Zack Snyder was a judge, no one would go to jail. It isn’t murder that you shot someone in the face, their face just happened to be in the way of the bullet. Case dismissed!
In case you haven’t gotten this already, Zack Snyder thinks death is HILARIOUS. You want to know the funniest easter egg he threw into BvS? You know that opening scene where Lois’ cameraman gets caught recording their conversation, and then the bad guy shoots him in the face? That cameraman was Jimmy Olsen, one of the most beloved Superman characters in the history of comics. See, Snyder decided that there wasn’t room in the DC cinematic universe for ol’ Jimmy, so instead of leaving him out of the story entirely, maybe saving him in case an opportunity comes up, he decided IT WOULD BE FAN SERVICE TO HAVE HIM BE MURDERED IN THE FIRST 20 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE. What a great easter egg! Maybe in the sequel, we can watch Mr. Mxyzptlk be disemboweled in the opening credits!
And, what is perhaps most damning of all, Zack Snyder’s defense against all of the people hating on his version of Superman is that he just understands the character better than we all do. He’s like read some comics before and he just gets Superman, bro. You don’t know Supes like Snyder knows Supes. It’s his flippant attitude, his complete disregard for the subject material, and his general disdain and dismissal of the millions of Superman fans displeased with his movies that upsets me the most. Sure, he’s a shitty director. Sure, he’s a shitty writer. But he’s also a shitty dude, and that’s the worst of all.
And there we are, my not so brief review of Batman vs Superman. Not that it matters, you’ve probably already given WB your money because we’re all suckers.
I bet Suicide Squad is gonna suck, too. (Update: Guess what? It did!)