Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

DC Comics is home to some of the most beloved superheroes.  While their depth of characters the mainstream public is familiar with is undoubtedly much smaller than what rival Marvel has to offer, when Batman and Superman are in your stable, you will always be relevant.  However, Marvel’s Avengers have changed the landscape and shown the world the wonders (and profits) that can come about from ensemble productions.  Why should DC staples remain separate?

The timing is also perfect.  Chistropher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy concluded a few years ago.  Superman has recently been reset with 2013’s Man of Steel which, while not perfect, was definitely the best thing to happen to the Superman franchise in a long time.  None of the other major DC characters have anything active going on.  So why not build a new combined universe?  Just because it’s not an original idea doesn’t mean it can’t produce great results.

Enter Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. attempt to kickstart this new shared universe into high gear.  Who wants to sit around for years of solo movies and slowly build into an ensemble piece.  Look how for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is?  Lets get this party started!

Unfortunately, Batman v. Superman leaves much to be desired.  Without the years of solo pieces providing any sort of relevant backdrop, there seem to be major issues with the basic  backdrop.  Instead of taking characters we know and trying to put them together, the audience is forced to try to figure out both who these people are, and why they are brought together.

The direction the studio has taken with Batman makes this all the more unsettling.  While Henry Cavill continues to shine as the perfect portrayal of the last son of krypton, the Ben Affleck decision for Batman seems unwise.  He is never able to really pull off any credibility that he is actually batman.  Combine this with the fact that in this new universe, Batman tends to be a little . . . ok a lot more violent compared to previous films and the end result feels disconcerting.  Yes, there is precedent for batman using guns in various comics, but this is new territory for film.

The biggest problem is the basis for the titled conflict.  The technical reason that brings the the two protagonists to fight each other is believable in the most unexciting and 3rd grade level sort of way.  However, the reasons why the two of them are actually wanting to fight each other remain perplexing.  Batman’s primary traits seem to be hateful and obsessive.  From Superman’s perspective, Batman does kind of seem like he is borderline crazy and out of control, but again, his strong feelings seem a bit excessive given what’s going on.  This whole film is designed around this conflict but it is all so arbitrarily contrived.

Add to this the numerous plot points that at the end of the day are completely meaningless.  I challenge you to watch the film a second time and ask yourself at every scene, what that scene contributes to the movie.  You will be surprised how many completely random sub-storylines are woven through the film that really don’t contribute anything meaningful to the main story arc.

In summary, Henry Cavill is great.  Gal Gadot was surprisingly intriguing.  Ben Affleck and Jesse Eisenberg largely fell flat.  Zack Snyder was meant to be the Kevin Feige or Joss Wheedon of the DC world, but hopefully Warner Bros. will reconsider that notion.  Sure, watching Superman and Batman go at it is sort of entertaining, but this isn’t a great launching point for the new shared DC universe.

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