The year was 2013. Zack Snyder takes to the stage in San Diego’s Comic Con and announces what might just be the biggest movie idea in film history: the Dark Knight taking on the Man of Steel. 3 years pass, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally hits the big screen, but was it all that it piped up to be? Meh.
Straight off the bat (no pun intended) I’d like to put out there that I’m a HUGE Batman fan, so when this movie was first announced, I somersaulted through my room in my white undies. I mean, Batman himself taking on Superman? Who wouldn’t want to go and see that, right?! However, to say the movie was underwhelming would be an understatement.
Being the optimistic and positive person I am, let’s talk about the things I really enjoyed first. Ben Affleck. The guy absolutely killed it as the Dark Knight we know and love, but did so in a way we haven’t really seen yet. Affleck did an excellent job in portraying a troubled Bruce Wayne and in turn, an unhinged Batman, with Robin’s death still fresh in his mind. And this really showed, I mean, Batman was a complete badass. My favourite scene from the movie came from the trailer, when he shoots up from the floor below and takes out a swarm of enemies very similar to the way the Arkham video-games would. You really got the sense that Affleck’s Batman was ruthless in his attacks, something that Bale and Keaton failed to demonstrate, for me. Bruce Wayne in this movie was awesome, too. Snyder did well in showing how both Wayne and Bats were indeed the same person, with one being just as appealing as the other. This may be a bold statement, but Ben Affleck might just be my favourite on-screen Batman so far. Yeah, I said it.
I also loved the way the movie teased the upcoming Justice League movie and other individual additions to the DC cinematic universe, with Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg also getting nods. Wonder Woman also made her first appearance, here, too; and her brief moments in the film were amazing to watch. Seeing her, Batman, and Superman together in one film was a sight to remember, one which I will never forget!
But, sadly, that’s where the good things come to an end. The main problem I have is the overall pacing of the movie. The first half-or-so tailors around the political debate on whether Superman can be deemed ally or foe, with his actions becoming more and more controversial in the eyes of the general population. But then the film picks up a lot of pace very suddenly without any sense of progression or build-up. For a 151 minute film there really seemed to be very little planning or thought going into the film, with so much being crammed in. If they had cut down on some of the lesser-relevant footage you could have been left with a smoothly-paced narrative that would have been so much easier to watch. And when I’m talking about unnecessary footage, I’m talking about Lois Lane. Her continual need for saving and the cringe-worthy relationship that her and Clark Kent share was tedious to watch, and really dragged out the movie. If I’m going to see a 2 and a half hour movie, I don’t want to feel that I’m there for that long. I want to be completely immersed and engaged throughout, but the pair left me looking at my watch whenever they were on screen.
When I saw that Batman v Superman had cast Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, I had my immediate doubts. Unfortunately, these doubts were confirmed through both the trailers and the movie itself. His witty approach came across as nothing less of tacky and to be brutally honest – awfully annoying. What was worse, though, is that Eisenberg’s Luthor lacked any complexity or character development, which raised questions about why he had a grudge against Batman and Superman in the first place. Henry Cavill’s Superman was also responsible for the movie’s downfall. Even if I looked past how easily Batman put up a fight against the Man of Steel, I couldn’t ignore the complete lack of interest I had in his character, despite the fact that this was supposed to be a sequel to Man of Steel.
Batman v Superman was also unnecessarily stupid at times, too. One minute Batman and Superman want to kill each other, but as soon as they realise their mothers share the same name, they become besties. Uh…what? The entire movie had built up this conflict between the two heroes, yet in a matter of minutes, it is put aside for sentimentality. Surely, for a 2 and a half hour film, there could have been more subtlety in the way they settle their differences. And also, did Batman, erm you know, kill people? I’m pretty sure he did…
In a sense, I’m glad this was the first instalment of the upcoming DC cinematic universe. With my fingers crossed, I hope Snyder will learn from his mistakes early on and understand what worked and what didn’t. But is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a bad movie? No, of course not. But was there room for improvement? Sure. There is still so much potential, here, and I remain confident that there’s still much more to come for the DC universe.
Published March 26, 2016
– Corey Hughes.