“It doesn’t have any humor. There’s too much CG. The story is a mess. It has too much destruction. Jesse Eisenberg isn’t good in it. It’s too rushed. It’s boring.” Those are some of the gripes heard from critics in almost every review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of justice. And while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it seems like critics are going out of their way in certain cases to put this film down. With complaints upon complaints about the film not feeling like the Marvel films they’ve grown accustomed to, it’s easy to lose a little enthusiasm for it before actually viewing it yourself. But as I learned after actually watching the film, you can’t rely on film critics to give you a proper and unbiased review of DC’s biggest film to date.
Batman v Superman is so much more than what it has been given credit for. While definitely not a perfect film, it continues the universe set by Man of Steel in order to forge its own style of entertainment that’s unique from anything that Marvel has released so far. But if you hated the look and feel of Man of Steel, then you will most likely not enjoy what Batman v Superman brings to the table as well. Because it seems like DC is more concerned with telling a story than simply entertaining with superhero antics. But when it does bring the superhero action, it comes off more like a live action version of one of DC’s animated films; which is definitely not a bad thing at all.
The film works as three stories wrapped in one. It’s a reintroduction to Batman in Man of Steel’s world, it’s a perfect continuation of Man of Steel that deals with the aftermath of the world becoming aware that they are not alone in the universe, and it’s a prequel to Justice League. Batman’s story hasn’t changed from what fans may already know about the character. With a trilogy that is still fresh in the minds of fans, as well as a television show currently on air depicting the origin story of the character, the film was able to reintroduce the character with the confidence that the audience is aware enough of the character’s background to skip giving him a lengthy and unnecessary backstory. Instead, we’re introduced to a version of Batman that has been at it for quite some time now. If I’m correct, it seems like possibly twenty years to be exact. He’s well established, but he’s not in the spotlight the way Superman is. His work is mostly done in the shadows with the public knowing he exist, but knowing nothing else about him.
Batman’s issues with Superman spawned from the destruction left at the end of Man of Steel. It’s the fear of Superman being a threat to mankind that fuels his war against him. The media has not been kind to Kal-El, and that paranoia and fear drives the Dark Knight to take matters in to his own hands. Also, Superman has his strong opinions on Batman’s methods as well. Batman deals out his own brand of justice that also has consequences as well. So their ideologies are different, and leads to an intense face to face meeting that further escalates their negative opinions of each other. Their issues with each other are obviously sorted out by the end of the film, but it’s Batman’s point of view as a human living in a world in which a man is essentially a god among men that ignites their path to eventually coming to blows.
While Batman’s arch in the film deals with him figuring out how to handle the Man of Steel, Superman’s is more based upon how the public views him. The general theme of his first film outing was the concept of how the world would react to Superman. He makes the decision to expose himself to the world in hope that the general population would accept him. Batman v Superman picks up after the events of Man of Steel, and continues the talk of how Superman should be perceived. The conversation and opinions on Superman are the focus point for most of the film. While the movie may be Batman heavy, everything in the film revolves around the talk of Superman’s place in this world. So much of Superman’s story in the film deals with him questioning if he made the right decision exposing himself to the rest of the world, and if he even has a place in it.
The Justice League prequel section of the film mostly deals with Wonder Woman. Her story has very little to do with the conflict between Batman and Superman, and has more to do with her personally. However, her involvement within the storyline leads to the first hints of the Justice League forming. And by the end of the movie, it seems like the League is more of a necessity rather than a choice. Her character isn’t given a lot of screen time before the final battle at the end, and she has no back story to her when introduced. She enters in to the story as a mysterious character that we learn very little about as the film goes on. She mostly serves as a segue in to the Justice League, but she’s front and center in the last act of the film. The lack of character development with her character is excusable considering that her solo film is currently filming. And from the looks of it so far, it seems like it will be a proper origin story for her.
What I loved
The talk and questions raised about a being such as Superman existing in the real world fuels most of the movie as the subject matter is tackled with more of an adult point of view. While not as action packed throughout as other superhero films, it demands the audience to use critical thinking to join in on the conversation on Superman. This approach is completely different from what fans of Marvel’s film work are use to, but it helps to give the DC film franchise its own unique voice in a time in which comic book adaptations are cluttering the big screen as well as television. Batman v Superman continues the formula Man of Steel started as a action drama rather than an action comedy. It delivers the type of action fans could expect from a comic book or animated film, but it takes its drama seriously. And while a lot of fans may not like this approach, it would be smarter for DC to do something different from Marvel to make their film brand stand out as an alternative form of comic book based film entertainment.
I also like how the film takes the audience’s intelligence in to consideration. It speeds through Batman’s origin in a way to introduce him to new fans, but it also assumes that you’re well aware of who Batman is. This was the same approach they took with Man of Steel as they sped through a lot of his origin to move the story along. It makes sense that Wonder Woman would receive a proper origin story in her own film while Batman is quickly reintroduced in Batman v Superman. This adds on to the feeling of an more adult comic book franchise from DC along with their focus more on drama.
I loved Ben Affleck’s version of Batman. He captured the essence of both Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight perfectly. I can go on and on about how incredible his version of Batman is, but I’m aware that there’s nothing new I can add to the conversation considering that his version is widely praised by all critics despite their feelings on the film. But I can speak to how much I loved his interactions with Alfred. Sarcastic and filled with dry humor, Alfred supports Bruce in his war against crime while still voicing his negative opinion on it as well. Unlike The Dark Knight trilogy’s version, this Alfred has given up on Bruce ever living a normal life. Regardless of this being both Bruce and Alfred’s first appearance in the new DC cinematic universe, it’s really easy to sense that they’ve been at it for a while. Alfred throws out sarcastic comments towards Bruce as if he’s given up on convincing him to live a normal life, and Bruce ignores them as if he’s had to deal with Alfred’s comments for years. I also love the idea of Alfred communicating with Batman through his earpiece and assisting him while relaxing and having a scotch. Although I know this will never happen in Batman’s future solo film, I can imagine Batman being on patrol while hearing Alfred grow progressively drunk in his earpiece.
What I Disliked
There were only a few things I disliked about the film. One being Lex Luthor’s reasoning behind wanting to get rid of Superman not being thoroughly explained, and how Doomsday was handled. There is a lot of hatred for Superman in this film by some of the citizens of Metropolis. There is a fear of what he’s capable of, and it seems like Lex’s disdain for him comes from that as well. There are other reasons for his hatred of the Man of Steel as well, but it seems more like it stems mostly from a quest for power, and the usual dislike for Superman due to him being an alien like every version of Lex has shown in the past. But I wish he would have bluntly stated his reasons instead of having to decipher his monologues throughout the film. And with my dislike for Doomsday’s look aside, I wish the movie would have invested more time in to Lex creating him. The tension of him having a plan B brewing would have had a bigger payoff when the reveal was finally executed. It felt more like Doomsday came out of nowhere in the end.
Addressing The Criticism
There were a ton of negative reviews for this film. And while some are justifiable, some seem like they were going for blood with how vicious they were when attacking the film. Going in to it, I had a negative vibe about it due to reading and watching so many spoiler free reviews tear it apart. But as the movie went on, I became aware of how exaggerated most of the reviews were. So I feel the need to address some of the criticism that I found absolutely ridiculous.
- Batman kills
Before The Dark Knight trilogy, no questioned as Michael Keaton’s version of the character murdered his way through two films. And let’s not pretend like Batman hasn’t killed a lot of villains during his 75 year existence. The truth is Batman is not above taking a life if he has to. And in a film that’s focused on adding a little more realism to its world, it’s hard to believe that Batman would have an arsenal built in to his vehicles and not take a few lives in the process of using them. Also, the film shows the line between him actively killing someone in cold blood, and doing so out of necessity. Most of the complaints come from when he’s inside the Batmobile. But it would be impossible in real life for him to use the Batmobile and Batwing’s arsenal and still spare lives in the middle of action.
The criticism not only ignores his comic book background, it’s a criticism that only exist because of the strict no kill rule he follows in The Dark Knight trilogy. The irony is that most people comparing his actions in this movie to his last trilogy like to overlook that the first film in the trilogy ended with him murdering someone. Sure, he technically stated that wasn’t going to kill Ras, but he didn’t have to save him either. Knowing someone is in a situation that will result in certain death and deciding not to save them despite being fully capable of doing so is murder. Intentionally letting someone die is murder.
- There’s no humor in it
There are a few minor jokes from time to time, but it’s not a Marvel movie. The subject matter deals with the death of thousands that occurred during the first film, and how to address Superman moving forward. There’s no place for slapstick humor and funny gags. What’s the point in DC launching their own universe if the plan is to just copy what has already been done countless times? The film takes itself too seriously at times, but it is what it is. Viewers should have learned that from Man of Steel.
- The story is complicated, boring, and doesn’t make any sense
The story is pretty straight forward. There are a few twist in it to lead up to the big reveal that Lex is evil, but everything, including some of the minor twist, revolve around Superman and his place in this world. There are a few things involving Batman that weren’t fully explained, but it’s obvious those moments were placed in the film to pay off later in Justice League. After reading so many reviews about how complicated and thrown together the story is, I left the film wondering if the education system has failed this country. Is this what we’ve become? Has our intelligence dropped that low?
- Jesse Eisenberg’s performance was awful and cartoonish
This is more of an opinion than a valid criticism. A lot of critics are upset that his portrayal of the character wasn’t similar to the version they’re familiar to. But as a die hard Superman fan, I’m fine with his performance being different than what we’ve seen before. Michael Rosenbaum will always be the best version of the character on film. Anyone else after him will definitely draw comparisons. So his performance is give, or take depending on personal opinion. But his character is more like an awkward nerd with no social skills and a few mental issues. He’s intended to be a little unhinged. Also, this is the first of a newly launched franchise. His character will definitely grow over time, but he probably would have shined more if given more screen time to develop his character. But I can honestly understand why some may not have liked his take on the character.
- No character development
The film assumes that both Batman and Superman, DC’s most well known characters, are familiar enough for the audience to get without having to beat them over the head with who they are as individuals. There are moments in which both men have to deal with certain situations involving them (being vague) and they have lasting effects on their views by the end of the film, but we know these characters by now. There’s noting else to do with them aside from moving forward to new territory.
- No after credits scene
A lot of critics complained about the film not having an after credits scene. In fact, there was a scene in the film that they felt should have been an after credits moment. I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this criticism. Because if you analyze it, critics are basically complaining that a DC movie did not follow a trend Marvel films made popular. The exclusion of an end credits scene was intentionally avoided in order to show their originality.
Batman v Superman has received a lot of criticism for being everything that Marvel films are not. Its uniqueness makes it stand out as more of a comic book film with a serious tone. People will compare it to what Marvel has already done, but it has accomplish things Marvel has failed to do. For example, Marvel has only had one series in which the sequels were actually good, and that’s Captain America. Batman v Superman not only lives up to Man of Steel, it improves it with how the aftermath of the film is addressed. It’s a continuation of what DC has already done, and it further expands their brand as an alternative to the Marvel powerhouse. Does the film have problems? Yes. Certain parts of the story could have benefited from being a little more fleshed out, and a lot of the more interesting segments of it were already spoiled by the excessive amount of trailers and footage released. It also suffers from having a premise that was too big for the film to ever live up to. Is it okay to not like it? Of course, it is. But the critics brutally bashing the movie for not being what they’re accustomed to is ridiculous.
So don’t let the reviews stop you from seeing it. If you’re interested in the film, give it a shot yourself. If you liked Man of Steel, then you will most likely feel the same about Batman v Superman. But if you’re looking for a Marvel film with DC characters, then you will be extremely disappointed.