Batman vs Superman started my year at the bottom of my Top 10 most anticipated films for 2016. My reasoning for this was because “Only one of the two main characters has an establishment. The idea of having to learn about this new Batman while having to deal with his beef with Superman, the introduction of Wonder-woman, Aqua-man and The Flash and still fight the villain of Doomsday really makes this film feel cramped. I feel as though DC are trying to play catch up with this film and trying to form the Justice League as quickly as possible.” After watching the film, I’m afraid that Batman vs Superman will more than likely not feature on my top 10 films for the year list. Whilst in no way was the film an awful movie, I just feel that their were some major let downs and for me personally, most of my fears coming into the film were true. This is going to be a complete spoiler full review as I’m going to go into key event of the film and talk about the stuff I really did enjoy, and the parts that just left me feeling empty.
The first problem that needs to be identified that for me caused the most disappointment was in fact the title of the film, specifically, Batman vs Superman. Walking out of the movie I felt that in know way I saw a legitimate war between these 2 main characters. Without going into too much detail, there was only really 1 major scene that involved both of them fighting each other. Apart from that scene they had just 1 what we could call confrontation/chat that really went no where. When you hear Batman vs Superman as a title you really expect to be the whole movie to be just one big war between Batman vs Superman. Instead we got a very determined Batman and a not so interested Superman. Honestly, I could this of a much better title that would have suited the film much better. Batman vs Lex Luthor.
By far, the best thing of this film was Batman. After the doubt surrounding Ben Affleck as Batman, he really proved the people wrong with this one. I thought he was a great Batman and most importantly, Bruce Wayne, an aspect of a character that people often forget plays a major role of the Batman Franchise. I thought from the start they really developed and introduced us to the new Batman. I really loved how they set up the emotion connection Bruce had to the destruction in Man of Steel. They opening scenes featuring Bruce racing through Metropolis, trying to save the staff from his Wayne Enterprises building were fantastic. With this they really kicked off the film well and were able to state a strong motive of why Bruce wants to defeat Superman. From this lead to the competition between Batman and Lex to create a super weapon to defend plant Earth. Although it was not staged as a competition and Lex didn’t have much knowledge of it, they ultimately wanted the same thing but Batman didn’t trust Lex in developing it. This was the story line of the film that stood out to me the most, so much that after seeing the film, I feel they could of split the events of the film up into 2 separate films with the first one purely being used to establish Batman by following this storyline. This storyline was essentially the bulk of the film. We got to see Bruce and our new Alfred develop new armour to be used to fight Superman. We also got to see Lex Luthor import a rock of Kryptonite into the US without it being detected, which then Batman eventually steals and uses himself to create a Kryptonite weapon for Superman. However, even in a movie that was over 2 and a half hours long, this story managed to feel rushed. I would of really prefer it much better if for this movie alone that Superman, the character itself and all of this storylines were left out and the film use this time to play out this story in more detail. Because of everything they established with Batman, this film however really got me excited for the stand alone Batman film. As long as it’s not directed by Snyder, which I will get to later.
A characters that I have mentioned that I need to talk about is Lex Luthor. Similarly to Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg was unpopular in this casting as Lex. But similarly to Affleck again, he really shone in this film for me. While I understand that he didn’t hit it with all people, as someone who does not know much about the character of Lex Luthor, I thought the whacky portrayal worked well. I’ve always been a fan of Eisenberg and I think he can play those highly intelligent, too smart for their own good roles really well and I think he pulled it off again.
Now to Superman. A large reason why I said this should have been a solo Batman film and used his motivation towards Superman as the story line is because many of the things in this film that involved Superman directly were just plain bad. Everything from his scenes with Louise to the court scene just seemed to go pear shaped and boring. The thing that was by far the most disappointing thing of Superman in this film was that he had no really legitimate motive to fight Batman. While I understand that the sequence of Lex kidnapping his mother and forcing him to fight was meant to humanise Superman, it instead made him weak. The fact that he goes straight to Batman, instead of hunting for his mother made him feel like a big pawn in this whole story. If this film was written in a realistic sense, Superman wouldn’t even be worrying about Batman but instead go and find his mother himself. Instead Batman is the one to find her, a task Superman could of simply done by himself. The writers really made me dislike the character of Superman even more than I did after seeing Man of Steel. The thing that really bothers me is that it appears the writers knew that there was not much love for Superman from the audience, so they tried to win it over by killing him at the end. Superman dying really had no effect on me. His death was meant to be the coming together of the city of Metropolis but it didn’t make sense. Many people wanted him dead so wouldn’t there be a celebration rather than a city wide funeral? The fact that the Justice League is yet to be established and many people know there was no way in hell DC were going to establish a Superman-less Justice League is a little bit insulting. Marvel really has this problem at the moment of killing a character than bringing them back with little explanation and I feel DC is just following the same path. With the dirt rising on Clark’s coffin in the final scenes, implying that he is still alive, it really cancelled out everything that had just happened in the last few scenes, making the death of Superman completely meaningless. It’s like the writers just wanted to trick us into thinking they really pulled the ballsy move of killing Superman, but didn’t take into consideration that most of the audience most likely knew that there wouldn’t be a Justice League without Superman. The death of Superman in the end just felt like another comic event they wanted to shoe horn into the film.
Apart from the title, for me, the biggest part of the movie that missed for me were the amount of substance they tried to cram into this film. While theres nothing wrong with having lots of substance in a film, its the execution that decides if it works or not. The execution in Batman vs Superman was just awful. Of all the event and set up for future films they had, really only the establishment of Batman was they only that for me was done with enough detail to make me feel as though it wasn’t an after thought. Everything else they had felt like it was the writers and editors being like, and we need this in here and this in here and this in here. It got to the point where the movie started feeling like a dot point list as they were going through everything they had to introduce to use as an audience in order to establish the DCCU. There were a few major moment where it really took me of the film.
The first time we see anything to do with them is in a dream sequence that Bruce is having. In this sequence, Bruce sees himself as Batman in an apocalyptic future where Superman has turned evil. Whilst I thought this scene was great because it really showed Bruce’s fear of what Superman can do as an alien, it was the event after it that really made me feel as though it was shoe horned in. After he wakes up from the dream, a wormhole like portal appears in front of him and a man that appears to be the Flash comes out of it. Flash then tells Bruce that he was right and Louise Lane is the key, before returning to the wormhole and disappearing. Bruce then wakes up for a second time. At this point I was extremely confused on what just happened. Did we really see a future version of the Flash or was it all a dream. I in the end interpret this scene as pure set up which I have a problem with. While it will problem pay off in the end and we are all going to say how well they planned this scene from the beginning, the fact that I see this sequence as pure set up and it has no other meaning really makes it pointless to me. Even though this film is a set up film for the whole DCCU, I never wanted to feel like I’m just watching this so I understand the rest of the films later. I want to feel as though this can stand by itself without needing to be apart of a bigger picture. In this way I thought the writers were lazy and tried to make it easier on themselves later in the DCCU.
Another time I was really disappointed was again a set up scene involving the new members who will join the Justice League, them being Wonder-woman, Cyborg, Flash and Aqua Man. While I thought the idea of there being a file dedicated to following these Meta-Humans and storing all known information on them, the fact that Bruce just happened to get it from Lex was just too convenient. Again I thought this was lazy writing that made it feel like a set up scene. Even though I got really excited when I saw the logos on the folders, the fact that there was already customised logos already pre made for all the characters made me feel like they have jumped a heap of steps in the establishment of these new characters.
The final thing that by far took me out of the film the most, so much that in my head I couldn’t even believe they just did it, was when Doomsday crashes back to Earth and just happens to land on an island off the coast that just happens to have no one living on it. The reason we know all these specifics to where he landed was because they purposely made a point of saying that Doomsday landed somewhere where no one can be killed in the battle scenes. After the criticism from Man of Steel, this felt force and opened itself up for more criticism. It was like when someone is about to say something and they say “No offence but…..”. This was them saying “We are about to have a big fight scene and things are going to get destroyed but don’t worry, everyone is safe because they are on an island that no one lives on so no one will get hurt.”
There was however and extreme positive to come out of this film, however, because of it cost the film some execution in the story department. Zack Snyder has always a very visual director and with that action is his specialty. I loved the action scenes we had, everything from the big Batman vs Superman fight to Batman’s dream apocalyptic fight in the desert. They were all choreographed so well and followed in a natural way. By far my favourite fight scene was Batman in the warehouse. After coming off the recent Daredevil season, this fight scene was in a similar tone to many of those. It was dark and gritty but was fantastic. This scene was by far one of my favourite of the whole film. I really expected more scenes like this in this film, but either way, it just adds more to the excitement I have for the stand alone Batman film and the tone they are going to take this reboot of the franchise.
Overall, I feel as though this movie is going to be much better after we see both the stand alone Batman and Wonder-woman films. They simply tried to use this film to do too much for the DCCU and it ended up coming off as cramped and sloppy. Whist there were many moments that were amazing, it was the editing and writing that should of brought all those great moments together as a film but instead made it an okay film with some amazing moments.