Batman Vs Superman has had a difficult development to say the least. After 2013’s Man of Steel decidedly split audiences and with Marvel Studios streaking ahead with its Cinematic Universe, a sequel to Superman’s origin story was halted in favour for a duel with DC’s poster boy (and studio Warner Brothers’s favourite son) Batman. What baffles me is that its development didn’t stop there… no, in the intervening months the BvS project was laboured with the ugly title: “Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice“.
DC was not messing around; they want what Marvel already has, but without any of the setup. Man of Steel 2 became The Justice League movie…
Couldn’t we have gotten Man of Steel 2 instead of this…?
After the destruction in Metropolis caused by Kal-El, aka Superman, Bruce Wayne seeks revenge on the inhuman many consider a savior. But as the Dark Knight attempts to track the Man of Steel down, someone else is intervening with both men’s lives; Alexander Luthor, son of Lex Luthor, is looking into Kryptonian technology…
This film is a total mess.
I cannot fathom what director Zack Snyder was thinking when editing this together. Scenes and moments are chopped to bits, it is very hard to feel any sense of weight or gravitas during this movie with it tossing the audience to and fro like it does.
Superman has been completely outed in his own film by Batman; the film opens with Bruce Wayne’s origin story. Really? The most well known superhero of all time, a superhero who has had seven box office smashes in the last twenty-six years alone… you feel the need to waste time telling us all of this again?
We have a dour Bruce Wayne, and a Batman who liberally kills people while Superman himself feels woefully misused here, looking more lost than we are as Jesse Eiensberg’s frenetic Lex “Mark Zuckerberg” Luthor bounces around like an insane puppy on speed. What is he doing?? Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent doesn’t get much of a say, as we would apparently rather have Luthor walking to the beat of his own theme music, or his unorthodox ways of painting Superman as a villain… (Psst, by the way Lex, Superman doesn’t use guns. So having victims shot with specialised bullets doesn’t frame him as the murderer.)
The film also contains the most lazy, underhanded technique to introduce future Justice League members. They may as well have just shown Warner Brothers’ future film schedule it was so deliberate and shoehorned.
Krypton’s only son couldn’t have held up this bloated and narratively absent movie. It feels like a checklist: Superman, check; Batman, check; Batcave, check; Batmobile, check; Batwing; check; a cool opening to the cave, check; Lex Luthor, check; Lois Lane, check; Alfred, check.
Believe it or not there are good elements here, despite the endless flaws and problems around the screenplay, narrative and characters:
Tying into the controversial ending of Man of Steel was a great move, and using that to springboard a fight between the titular characters was genius, the fight itself was great too. Affleck as Wayne and Batman was very good, criticism on him is unjustified. Jeremy Irons and Gal Gadot are both good in their roles too and despite what little development Superman gets, a scene in particular around the senate was perhaps one of the best moments in my opinion. It leaves me confident at least in Wonder Woman’s film next year.
But at the end of the day when you look back at it, the film is a cluster of moments that aren’t strung together. When the final battle takes place, yes it looks amazing, but I literally don’t care since I barely comprehend how we got to this point… Narratively and thematically lost, it feels like four or five stories welded shakily together.
I didn’t particularly like Man of Steel, but it is positively golden compared to this; at least that film had a clear narrative and theme running through it. Batman Vs Superman is exactly what you think it is, be that good or bad.
If you only care to see two epic characters fight (like Freddy Vs Jason) that is about all this film caters for. Characterisation, story and setup are all either ham-fisted or completely missing in DC and Warner Brothers’s desperate struggle to form a Cinematic Universe as quickly as possible.
Additional Marshmallows: Oh, and that second trailer literally gives everything away (don’t worry, below is a different trailer)