Batman v Superman – A Reaction

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Lego toys

Oh my, my my. What has Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder wrought upon us?

So I ended up seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice late Friday night. I went with two of my friends, one who works at a theater so we were able to avoid paying for this.

That was one of the few redeeming things about watching this – which will be at the top of my list of positives about going to see this long-awaited, hyped-up, universe-building superhero epic. We all found it difficult finding any good out of this movie, but my one shellshocked friend kept reminding us, “At least we didn’t have to pay for it.”

Putting aside Snyder’s movie for a moment, I want to mention a little side story. At my screening, which there was a decent amount of people, two parents and their little kid came in about five minutes late. The kid must of been about nine or ten years old. He had his big bucket of popcorn and a box of candy. He hurriedly found a seat and started watching the screen.

Sporadically I would glance at this kid, since watching his body language was more compelling than anything happening on the screen. As the movie dragged on I could see him getting more and more disengaged by it. He started slumping in his chair, putting his feet over the armrests, becoming more focused on his bucket of popcorn, telling his Daddy that he had to go to the bathroom and then slowly, casually walking out of their aisle seeming unworried about missing any of the movie and grateful they were getting a break from it.

Wonder Woman Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Gal Gadot

By the end of the movie when the credits were rolling that little kid stood up from his seat and looking like he had no joy on his face, slowly walked up the aisle not saying anything. In fact, most of the audience was dead silent when it ended.

I started to think about all the little superhero fans around the world who were going to drag their parents to this movie over the weekend. All of that excitement that must of been filled up inside of them getting to see a Batman and Superman movie, and I wondered if they would have the same reaction as this little kid had when the movie faded out. It made me feel bad and a little pissed off at what WB, DC and Snyder had served up.

You can guess I didn’t like it, right?

Batman v Superman ended up being pretty close to what I expected it to be when it was first announced three years ago. Knowing that Snyder was taking the reigns again, that it was going to have that gloomy slo-mo style of his, that David Goyer was writing it and how Man of Steel ended up being, I had a pretty crisp picture in my head of how this would turn out. It was like one of those arbitrary hallucinations that crop up sporadically in this flick.

I hoped I was wrong. It would have been nice to have been surprised. I had low expectations going in to this and sadly those weren’t even met. Unbelievably, I thought it was worse than I thought it would be. So I was kind of wrong in a sense. At least I can’t say I was monumentally disappointed, but just disheartened.

I hate to go on a long dissecting, melodramatic rant about what I thought this movie failed at, why I found it such a joyless, dreary event and how it managed to leave me even less interested in seeing this series of DC films continue than I was before. There are plenty of verbose fans who are already doing that. Along, with discussing the direction and presentation the WB and DC have plotted out for their future movies, fans are also questioning whether the leadership of Snyder and his vision is the right route to take with these characters.

I suspect more fans after they see Batman v Superman will be joining in to circle the wagons for these DC superheroes and voice their concern as to how this DC Expanded Universe is progressing.

So, I’ll attempt a rundown of what I felt was the good and the bad out of Batman v Superman. No worries there won’t be any spoilers, but there are much more bad stuff than good.

The Good

Ben Affleck Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Ben Affleck as Batman. He was fine. Some are praising his performance, but I thought he was fine nothing spectacular. The movie feels more like a Batman movie than anyone else’s. He has some good moments and one decent fight scene.

Most of the time he’s sullen, brooding and angry and Affleck does…fine with it. The amount of flashbacks, dream sequences and visions he has gets completely ridiculous. His Batman apparently sleeps more than any other Batman before him so he can dramatically jolt awake from these fever dreams and visions. He could probably make a decent Batman movie on his own.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Fans were apprehensive when the Fast & Furious star was announced as the Amazonian Princess. Despite her inclusion not having any point in this other than to set up her solo movie and Justice League she’s actually a bright spot in this bleak and depressing adventure. I had said before I would be much more interested in seeing a Wonder Woman solo movie than this flick and the introduction of her solidifies that. Hopefully Snyder won’t be too involved with her movie.

Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter. Irons is Alfred. Yep. He gets a few sarcastic whimsical lines and makes it through this without any damage.

Holly Hunter Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

I always liked Hunter and she had more screen time than I thought she would get. Good for her. I hope she got a decent paycheck out of this. Thanks to her participation in this she was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning where she talked about her career and explained how she prepared for her role in Broadcast News with the help of a CBS news producer. Very insightful.

OK, I think I’m done with The Good.

The Bad

Henry Cavill. Well, it was just as I suspected, Cavill gets to do nothing here other than wear his costume and mope. He doesn’t get to create a character that you want to root for or even remotely like. I didn’t know who his Superman was from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman didn’t shed any further light on him. I can’t figure out if he wants to help people, if he thinks being Superman is a curse, if he’s bothered by not being liked, if he feels guilty thousands of people died because of him, what kind of morals he has instilled within him. The only thing I get is he loves Lois Lane – and that’s only because we see them kiss. Cavill and Adams have absolutely no chemistry between each other.

I seriously start to suspect that Snyder and Goyer don’t really much like Superman. Even when shown a quick montage that is meant to show that Superman saves people it becomes a string of pompous, metaphorical Jesus-posing shots with people raising their hands towards him. There’s not one genuine moment where you feel a rush of excitement that Superman just saved a train from crashing or catching a bank robber and you want to smile and are happy he’s around.

Henry Cavill Batman v Superman Dawn of JusticeYou remember hearing all those bits of dialogue and the tagline – “It’s day versus night!”

I was confused as to who was supposed to be representing ‘day’ in this matchup.

Ever since seeing Man From U.N.C.L.E. I discovered Cavill has some real charisma and could conceivably make a good Superman. But it hasn’t happened in Snyder’s hands and I don’t think it will ever happen. An opportunity that could have made him a great Man of Steel is amounting to something equally as forgettable as Brandon Routh. If Cavill can manage it he should try to get out of his WB/DC contract and just make more Man From U.N.C.L.E. movies.

Amy Adams. I thought she was miscast in Man of Steel, and I still think she’s miscast. She’s not as bad as Kate Bosworth, but she’s close. The problem with her is that there is no reason why she’s in this other than to be a damsel needing saving and doing some half-assed investigating story and the movie seems fine with that. If you’re going to have Lois Lane in this then give her something worthwhile to do in the story. Make her Clark’s confidant or giving Luthor headaches with her reporting or something. It’s fine to have Lois and Clark Kent be a thing, but as I said she has no chemistry with Cavill. She ends up being forgettable in this and just gets in the way.

Jesse Eisenberg. I predicted he and his performance would either be loved or hated. Well, I hated him. He was so showy with his quirky dialogue. Maybe it’s a Snyder thing – drop all subtlety and just act as crazy and goofy as you can.

The Story. Let’s just get this over with, yeah the story was not to my liking.

Ben Affleck as BatmanEverytime the movie started to gain momentum it would cut to another seemingly ultra-serious random scene or an out of nowhere dull dream sequence to set up sequels. Forget the sequel crap, what about this story?

It was so simplistic, but told in such a muddled way I got bored with it very fast. The movie just kept dragging things out going from one thing to another, not building anything or connecting one scene to another. At one point I checked the time and saw I was only an hour into this flick and couldn’t believe it. And then Snyder films everything in such gloomy bleak moody colors it just adds to the misery of it all. I was actually surprised to see the Daily Planet had working lights inside the office.

At the very least I thought the action would redeem this movie. And what do you know, it’s an abundance of CGI effects, with no stakes, no excitement, nothing unique happening. Maybe others enjoy it, but even after a two-hour slog to get to the reprieve of a punching climax I didn’t enjoy it. The Batman/Superman fight was short and dull and the climactic fight with the cave troll was long and dull. They can make the ‘splosioins as big as a cityscape, but that doesn’t do much for me.

I guess these CGI, fast-paced, action scenes are just not for me. I’ll take Batman beating up a roomful of bad guys over huge nuclear blasts raining down on an abandoned island with not a fragment of it looking believable every time. Snyder made sure to tell us the area was abandoned and no innocent people were getting killed during the mayhem. Oh boy, did they try to correct that criticism from Man of Steel this time out.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice fight scene

This is a new Batman and Superman. The characters are changed up and are more dour than ever before. Let’s not get into the whole ‘should they kill or not’ argument. That is a never-ending debate. They both clearly kill in this movie. We barely ever see them save or help people, but we do see them clearly kill. One problem I had with that here is how it’s not only not addressed, but the hypocrisy on either side that leads to this big versus battle between the two.

Bats doesn’t like Supes because during that Metropolis battle people were killed. So Bats has to put him down. But Bats has been killing people left and right, so what’s the difference between his killing and Superman killing? A means to an end? Because Bats’ victims were bad guys? The scale of deaths Superman caused? What makes Bats think he’s any better than Supes? Because he’s not an alien, he’s a homegrown killer?

Superman doesn’t like this Bat vigilante because he uses unnecessary force on bad guys. Well, wasn’t that big fight in Metropolis with buildings raining down on people sort of excessive? As I said we don’t see that Superman is too troubled by that day. They give us a sullen look by Cavill at one point so I guess that means he feels kind of bad about all that, but it doesn’t seem like he’s doing much to earn people’s trust after that. Yeah, when that building squished a lot of people…oops my mistake. But Batman branding his mark into bad guys’ chests that’s completely out of line! He’s a real danger!

Henry Cavill as Superman

That’s the crux of their conflict and again it was very half-assed and I was confused by their reasons and point of views. There could have been a clash of beliefs going on between them. Maybe each could cause the other to rethink their own principles, their morals and question the actions they use. That could be kind of cool, but any weighty dramatics get tossed aside so they can just punch each other and big ‘plosions can erupt. Real missed opportunity.

Even when we’re about to get to hear what Superman has to say in front of the big hearing, protesters surround the building, accusations are being fired at him, concern is growing, what does he have to say, how does he feel about all this? Well, we don’t know because a big ‘splosion happens before he gets to talk!

I think I know why Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has been getting pretty consistent praise – because she’s the only likable person in this flick! She seems like a hero I could cheer for. She should have put both Batman and Superman down. I could have been behind that!

Oh yeah, cameos and comic book stories being included into this. All those fan service tricks and come ons….whatever. I didn’t care about the teases of more to come. If they can’t excite me about the movie I’m watching at the moment what makes them think I’ll be geared up for Snyder’s Justice League. And the famous comic stories Snyder decided to incorporate into his film held very little weight for me and were so poorly done and ill conceived it didn’t make this story any more meaningful.

I know some people really liked Batman v Superman. Even some that could enjoy it despite knowing it has problems and is not perfect – and good for them. I’m glad the movie lived up to their expectations, they felt rewarded after the long wait, saw an entertaining epic superhero movie and are anxious to see more in this DC Extended Universe. Obviously, I don’t feel that way.

I keep going back to that little kid in that theater and wonder how he felt about Batman and Superman after seeing this. Ok, maybe this is a more adult-oriented superhero movie, but we all know little kids will be interested in seeing it and ARE going to see it. I can’t imagine Batman v Superman will generate much enthusiasm by kids who will want to dress up as these characters, play with the toys and reenact scenes from this. This movie was not a great showcase of them being superheroes. They deserve better – and so do all of the fans of all ages.

 

A much better Batman and Superman movie – 1997’s World’s Finest


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5 Responses

  1. robert short says:

    Agree that I like to see more of Cavill in an UNCLE sequel!

  2. Lee Leonard says:

    A sincere thank you for seeing the movie, so I don't have to!

    I predicted it would be awful based upon the sheer number of advertisements that I saw for it (which were pretty bad in their own right) and my experience with Man of Steel.

    I saw Man of Steel at home, so there weren't any little kids to observe. However, the whole time I kept thinking to myself that no one under age ten could sit through this thing. There was no joy.

    I like Superman (the character) and read the comics and saw the movie as a child. So who was this movie made for if I hated it so?

    I remember seeing Empire Strikes Back when I was ~7 years old. I had to pee really bad during the Hoth battle but held it for the entire movie because I didn't want to miss a second. Times have really changed.

  3. spaceodds says:

    Batman vs Superman is the Heaven's Gate of Comic Book Movies. Like Heaven's Gate, Batman Vs Superman, aestheticly, looks good, it tries to do something, but it fails and because it is so big, it is a disaster. I agree, Affleck, along with Irons, was the one redeeming feature of this film, and his performance as a mature, bitter, and cynical Bruce Wayne is fantastic. Not to mention his Batman costume is fantastic. Another minor postives are Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Not the characters, but the actresses who play them. Both Gal Gadot and Amy Adams are just so beautiful, Gadot looks fine in her costume, while Adams naked in a bath is a sight for sore eyes.

    Anyhow the film itself is a mess. The story jumps all over the place, exposition scenes are missing and the fight between Bats and Supes is just… well dull. Also Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is a disaster, he is just pure and utter crap. Why couldn't WB offer Gene Hackman to come out of retirement? Not only he would have delivered a great performance, but it would've been great to see Hackman on the screen again.

    A total disappointment, and yet I'm still intrigued in seeing the Director's Cut, but only on a rental through streaming. All of a sudden Suicide Squad has become so unappealing that a rental maybe the only way I will see this film.

  4. Capt. Nemo says:

    My god!

    It's a tepid remake of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

  5. I found the review of the film by way of a kid's reaction and interest to be the best. I love it. If a kid cannot get interested or inspired by some of the best superheroes ever put to print, than WB has utterly lost the plot. I have not seen it yet but from watching Man Of Steel it is pretty obvious there are 2 problems
    – Dark Knight took a dark angle and a ton of money – so WB, being risk averse and thinking this is what we want from Superheroes, took this attitude with all their superhero movies
    – Marvel is printing money. So WB want to replicate the "universe" with DC without the time spent on character investment. The people behind Marvel are really smart. They planned over 20 movies when they realised, probably after Iron Man II, they were onto something. WB just are not willing to put in the time or money for this kind of investment but want the pay-off asap. What you get is this type of movie.

    I recently read that after the reaction to this film, and most likely after the disastrous week 2 when word of mouth got out, WB is quickly rushing to fix TJL with some humour with fewer darker tones. You shake your head in wonder how the bottom line trumps everything.

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