Is this DC’s answer to The Avengers, what comes before, or simply the battle comic book fans have always been waiting to see on the big screen? Zach Snyder gives us his vision of the world’s finest fight.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot
Directed by Zach Snyder
This movie pulls a lot from the comic books, but above all else it is a straight sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel. Some sequels pick up several years later, some days later. This movie begins with a dream sequence of the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, their funeral, and then the last ten minutes of Man of Steel from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. Bruce owns companies in Metropolis and just happened to be in town when Zod and Kal-El threw down.
Bruce Wayne sees the destruction Superman and Zod cause up close. He saves a man trapped under a beam and then pushes a small girl out from under collapsing ruble. When he asks her where her parents are she points to the top of the destroyed Wayne building.
We then continue to see the very real-life fallout of events like this. Senate committee meetings are held, politicians and pundits debating whether Superman is truly good or not.
After the chaos in metropolis (and over the Indian Ocean), Lex Luthor Jr.(Jesse Eisenberg) begins to gather what he can of small pieces of Kryptonite.
In this version of the Superman tale, krytonite is irradiated pieces of kyrptonian material. When exposed, kryptonian cells begin to deteriorate, but the effects are brief. Typically, krytonite has been irradiated pieces of the planet Krypton found in space and sometimes landing on earth. This is almost always Superman’s only physical deterrent.
Lex Luthor Jr., son of Lex Luthor, the founder of LexCorp, is looking for any and all kryptonite to use/sell as a weapon against Superman and any future Krytonian threats. He is also secretly gathering information on other “meta-humans” around the world. People that can breathe under water, run really fast, are part-robot, and even women who seem to live a really long time.
Lex is also setting up situations to frame Superman and turn the world against him. Lois spends the majority of the movie off trying to prove him innocent. Why does Lex Luthor Jr. want to turn the world against Superman? He is a snarky hipster-millennial that despises authority and thinks everyone in power should be brought down to the same level. #feelthebern
Bruce Wayne, in all his detecting glory, finds out Lex is going for the kryptonite so he steals it from him. After witnessing what these otherworldly-beings can do, the dark knight feels it’s his duty to rid the world of Superman. He believes that if Superman decides to turn against humanity at any point, we’re doomed. Fueled by strange apocalyptic dreams of Superman taking over the globe, he prepares for a massive battle against the kryptonian.
Batman synthesizes the stolen kryptonite into a powder, as well as fashioning a spear for the final attack. He builds a suit that can protect him from the power, albeit weakened, of Superman. And like a hunter, he sets up traps to slow Superman down. He turns on the bat-signal and waits.
Lex has captured Lois AND Martha Kent (Superman’s adoptive earth-mother). He pushes Lois off his tower to get Superman’s attention. Of course Superman saves her and then flies to Lex. Here is what truly causes the big battle on Superman’s side. Lex gives Superman one hour to kill Batman or he will have his men kill Ma’ Kent. Superman flies into battle hoping to explain the situation to Batman.
Oh and did I forget to mention that Lex is tampering with Zod’s dead body inside the crashed Kryptonian spaceship and somehow figures out how to use the previously unmentioned “Genesis chamber” to combine Zod’s genetics with Lex’s and ends up making a giant monster that somehow knows to kill superman? That’s on top of everything else! I’m getting exhausted with this.
I won’t get into the fight too much. Like this entire movie, it is absolutely a comic book come to life. Out with Nolan’s grounded and gritty realism. This is Zach Snyder taking every Batman and Superman comic, stuffing it into a CGI machine, and vomiting out an impressive but entirely ungrounded Transformers battle. Without spoiling perhaps the single scene of the movie that carried any emotion with it, I won’t say who wins the fight or what makes it stop, but Superman is able to finally tell Batman that his mom needs help. Batman goes to save Martha in a very cool scene while Superman confronts Lex and Doomsday in a less cool scene.
BUT WAIT, THERES MORE! WONDERWOMAN IS HERE! She had a two short scenes earlier and is now here to help. If you’ve seen the trailers you’ve seen 60% of what she contributes.
The battle rages on for what seems like an entire Pink Floyd laser light show until finally… if you’ve done your superhero homework you know what happens.
The movie ends with Bruce Wayne telling Wonder Woman that they need to find the other meta-humans because they will be needed to fight in the future. How does he know this? Well Lex was caught for all the murder and corruption trying to frame Superman and was sent to jail. Batman payed him a visit but leaves worried (?) as Lex psychotically warns him that the bell has been rung and “he is coming.”
So comfortably vague, they could slide in any villain they want! How wonderful.
There is certainly a lot more but I wanted to make a brave and bold attempt at streamlining this beast of a movie and hopefully saving some surprises for you. There are some, for better or worse. And I do recommend you see this movie, however…
You know when someone is going to say something bad so they start with the good news first to soften things?
Here’s the good news:
Batfleck works. Old bitter Batman is great. And in the first half an hour of the movie, when he is in the suit, he is basically a demon. It’s intense!
One thing I have to come to terms with is the fact that Batman kills. That goes against who this character is. It goes against his origins. And it removes a lot of potentially dynamic conflict in the future. If we have a Batman and a Superman that are ok with killing, then I guess we now have Dark Jason Bourne and Super Jason Bourne. Big deal.
But I read an interview with Zach Snyder where he talks about how if you examine every other batman movie EVER, Batman knowingly allows people to die. Unless he’s in Tim Burton world, he never directly kills anyone. He does major damage to things bad guys are sometimes around. What makes it so pronounced in this movie is that Batman does a ton of shooting. No more grappling hooks and baterangs. He has a machine gun mounted to the front of the Batmobile and the Bat… fighter jet? I can live with this compromise knowing that this new Batman has not yet had a chance to be established. You know almost nothing but his standard origin story, there was a Robin that is probably dead now, and Joker is the cause of whatever happened to Robin. Nothing you don’t get from the trailer.
Wonder Woman is here. So that’s nice.
There is some strange hyper-feminist adoration for women in genre films these days. The new Ghostbusters stinks of it. Just because a woman is present, excellence isn’t the automatic product. Same for men. I kept reading about how Wonder Woman steals the show in this movie. That is absolutely not true. I found her much more interesting in her few non-uniform scenes chatting with Bruce Wayne. Yes she looks cool. Yes she is tough. Yes it should have been Jaimie Alexander and not Gal Gadot. But she really doesn’t steal the movie at all. I look forward to her solo film. I will say that her part in the soundtrack is great. It stands out and actually adds something to the final battle. Listen to it here.
Just briefly, to continue with the music, it mostly plays off of the Man of Steel score. I enjoyed that, especially the main Superman theme. I thought that was an impressive touch in Man of Steel. Tackling the John Williams Superman theme is like trying to replace the John Williams Star Wars theme. Or the John Williams Jaws theme. Or the John Williams Jurassic Park Theme. Or the John Williams Indiana Jones Theme. Wow did he fall asleep for Force Awakens.
My second favorite thing about this movie is that is really picks up on the devastation of Man of Steel. Everyone kept talking about how Man of Steel killed so many people and how insane that was, well BvS says “yes we did and here’s what happens when you do that.”
I’d like to take a moment and just acknowledge how frustrating this is. How long did people joke that no one ever dies in superhero movies and that in real life SO MUCH DEATH would occur. We finally got a movie that had the guts to just do it. Man of Steel showed what it would really look like if god-like beings fought in a major city. And then everyone freaked out that so many people died. Well which is it???
There are a lot of conversations in this film about accountability and where Superman’s loyalty lies. These conversations, while very limited, are satisfying. What does it look like to have this all-powerful being living in America. Does he fight for his own purposes? America’s purposes? This is not a Superman that fights for “truth, justice, and the American way”. At least not simply the “American way”. I think these are some of the questions that will be discussed in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
Where this movie takes it up a notch and really shows why DC is superior to Marvel, the questions about God and power come out. This is what I really latched onto in this film. And it’s why, to my surprise, Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor Jr. really works. These are the scars built into his character. At one point he says:
“If God is all powerful, he cannot be all good. And if he is good, he cannot be all powerful.”
Now for anyone versed in Christian Apologetics or Theology 101, that isn’t a very shocking statement. But imagine that this supposed dilemma is introduced to the masses in your blockbuster comic book film? A film that has made $115.3 million globally as of tonight Friday, March 25.
You’ve got Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about human evolution in one shot while in another Superman is being reached towards by flood survivors stranded on their roof, as though they were lepers reaching out towards Christ. These are not issues tackled by your standard popcorn action flick. How should humanity view this immortal? And what are the socio-political ramifications of his escapades? These are incredibly interesting questions that are brought up by word or deed in this movie. Big points for that!
Unfortunately… this movie does not stand strongly when you allow time to think. Actually there are major issues when you are sitting in the theater. I think the majority are because of one source: Zach Snyder. Let me take you through his main directing credits before I get started.
- Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004. Like it or not, you’d never accuse it of being clever or intelligent.
- 300. I enjoyed the movie, in a “let’s go kill boar in the nude, cook it over and open flame, and eat it while shouting at the moon” sort of way.
- Watchmen. This was considered the greatest graphic novel of all time and “unfilmable.” It’s a very polarizing movie that I see a lot of similarities of in BvS.
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. That speaks for itself.
- Sucker Punch. Truly truly garbage. A failure in every respect.
- Man of Steel. He had Christopher Nolan with him. Still is polarizing movie.
- Batman v Superman. See the problem?
There is nothing to emotionally connect with in this film. I can think of two brief moments that moved me. Otherwise this is just a cold, painfully dark and brutal movie. I cannot stress that enough, this movie is very dark. Do not take younger kids to see this. I was perfectly fine taking my 7 year old to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This movie is nothing like that.
It was announced that the Blu-Ray would be the R-Rated cut of the film. I don’t think they need to add much more. It’s intense! It’s not gory, the language wasn’t noticeably bad, and other than Amy Adams showing more than necessary in the beginning there is nothing sexual about this film. But for comic book violence and intensity, which is not a category I really every think much about, this movie was really punishing.
And I think what makes this movie the most difficult is its inconsistent nature. I praised the beginning for its dealing with real-world issues. There was a realness to it that almost grounded the fantastical nature of it. The second half of this two and a half hour movie is so hyper-comic book computer generated imagery. Nothing existed in a real space. We went from Capitol Hill to a green screen on the Warner Brothers back lot.
And enough with the dream sequences. I know that’s Snyder’s new favorite thing, but it adds little but confusion. Give it up Zack, you aren’t clever!
I’m not a special effects snob, despite my love for 70’s film and practical effects. Guardians of the Galaxy had incredible visuals that I loved. And the first Iron Man did a flawless job of integrating digital characters into a real world. Batman v Superman is just a digital mess. The graphics are fine I suppose. But it was just so much that it became irrelevant at a certain point.
So how do I sum this up? Its potential is through the roof. All the acting from people who weren’t in Man of Steel was excellent (except your Larry Fishburne. You were great). I want to love Superman, but Cavill just didn’t click. I’m concerned this might be a false start for the DCU. Is this DC’s equivalent to Avengers? I think the next film, Justice League Part 1, is the true comparison.
Affleck is great. I can’t wait to see his solo Batman film. Eisenberg is great, looking forward to seeing him in Suicide Squad. Jeremy Irons as Alfred, with the little screen time he gets, is perfection! He was better than Michael Caine and Michael Gough IMO. Gal Gadot was better as Diana Prince than Wonder Woman but I still thought she was good.
See Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s an unbalanced popcorn flick. I don’t dislike it enough to say avoid it. Does that count as a recommend?
And for the record, I have started an island where I am banishing certain people for the good of cinema. Previous occupants for all eternity include Damon Lindelof and David Goyer. Zach Snyder has just earned a one way ticket.
And I’ve got my eye on you Ridley Scott. Prometheus has you skating on thin ice!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @World_Re_Views, where we do mini-reviews and talk about worldview trends in movies and literature.
If you have questions about this post or would like to disagree with me in a delightfully snarky way, leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
Review by Ryan.