A Nearly Spoiler Free Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Can you spot the real star of this movie?


I have just returned from watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and while I normally don’t do movie reviews, I felt this one warranted it.

Let’s start off with a little lesson about movie trailers. Those little snippets of movies that we see to get us excited about upcoming movies. Movie trailers aren’t made by the movie’s directors. They’re made by another crew that takes footage from the movie and pieces them together to make something to tease the viewer. Trailers can make or break a motion picture, and often times, directors are frustrated by bad trailers. This is not the case with Batman v Superman.

The trailers for Batman v Superman are a comic’s fanboy’s dream come true. That first tease where we saw Batman turn on the Bat Signal to see Superman floating there glaring at Batman with his glowing red eyes, and Batman staring back with his glowing Batman suit? It was enough to make your heart skip a beat. Unfortunately, that scene didn’t really play like that in the movie. Not at all.

Director Zack Snyder and the producers of the film had best thank those who made the trailers for this film, as they are ultimately responsible for the quick success of this film, and in all honesty, those minutes of trailers made a much better and more exciting story than the actual movie.

Much has been made of Snyder incorporating well known comics panels as scenes in the movie, and the visuals of the movie look great. Unfortunately, I’m left wondering if Snyder and co. actually read any of those comic books, or just looked at the pictures.

Allow me to give some back story here. I was a comics fan growing up. I loved them! But I was a Marvel Comics fan, specifically a fan of the X-Men and all their related titles. I never really got in to the DC comics except for a short stint reading Green Lantern. Marvel had a much more character driven universe, by this I mean that the superheroes had personality. The powers and battles didn’t drive the storylines so much as what was going on in these character’s lives. DC, who was the first to see success with superhero comics, soon ended up following Marvel in delving in to the “superhero with a problem” tool of story telling. And they never really achieved the depth of Marvel in this. DC has always been more power driven, and as such, they tend to have a problem keeping things straight. While Marvel had decades of carefully laid out continuity, and were mindful not to screw it up (too much), DC would simply have a “Crisis” and start fresh every now and then.

But throughout these restarts, some things remained the same. Superman wouldn’t kill. He’d do whatever it took, to keep people safe. And this is often what made battles last more than a few panels. Honestly, when you’re Superman, you should be able to finish a fight in seconds. What stopped him from doing that, was the risk of collateral damage. This is what bothered me so much about Man of Steel, the last Superman movie. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of innocents would have died in that battle. Yet Superman never batted an eye. I’ve continuously said, it was an entertaining movie, but that was not Superman. In the same vein, Batman doesn’t use guns. Someone should have told Snyder that. Really….

The not-Superman character played by Henry Cavill returns in Batman v Superman. Yes, it’s the Superman character, but that is all. Ben Affleck seems to think that portraying an older, wiser Batman simply means playing a tired Batman. Indeed, the character of Batman in this movie is all about the visuals. The cowl looks great with the short ears circa “The Dark Knight Returns”, an amazing comics story by Frank Miller which Snyder attempts to pay homage to, although I would consider it more of an effigy.

When I heard that Jesse Eisenberg was playing Lex Luthor, I was initially worried. Don’t get me wrong, I’m typically a fan of Eisenberg. However he typically plays a part that would have been written for Michael Cera but when Michael Cera just wouldn’t have been right for the role. Upon seeing the black and white shadowed images of Jesse Eisenberg that were released, I had second thoughts. I could suddenly see him playing Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor. Now that I’ve seen the film, my initial thoughts were right. Just as the movie Superman is no Superman, and the movie Batman is no Batman, the movie Lex Luthor is Michael Cera’s character from Arrested Development had be been raised by his uncle Job.

There was one bright spot in the movie, a bright spot I did not expect. Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot surprised me. She had very little screen time, and most of that time was spent in evening gowns. When I saw Gadot, my first thought was she was too slight to play Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is an Amazon who can beat most of DC’s other heroes just short of Superman. However, I’m used to Wonder Woman being relegated to just the “girl” in a sexy costume in most of DC’s film properties, and that’s what I expected here. Gadot however had the most on the spot character of the bunch, and it lasted less than a second. After arriving to save the boys as everyone has seen in the previews, she leaps right in to battle with the “Monster”. I know there has been some question over who the monster is. Is it Doomsday? Is it Bizarro? I know but I’m not telling. In the battle, Wonder Woman isn’t just responding to the “monster”, she takes the battle to it, as any Amazonian gal would. And in one blink-and-you-missed-it moment, she became the star of the film. After taking a huge hit and skidding across the ground on her back, tearing up the turf beneath her, she doesn’t respond in the oh so boring way Bats and Supes have, she smiles. She gives a little smile, and runs back in to battle.

Would I recommend this movie? I don’t have to, you’re all going to see it. It will make a ton of money and continue to do so. But will it be remembered? Will it go down in history as the best Batman or Superman or JLA or superhero movie? I don’t think so. I don’t think it has even a shot of that. Taking this movie as any indication of the future movies, I think Wonder Woman may be the only one I rush to see.

Before anyone rushes about claiming my disappointment in this movie has anything to do with my childhood fanboyism of Marvel and the X-Men, I think the X-Men movies are a travesty. I wish Marvel could take the movie rights back from Sony just due to the abuse of the characters and storylines done by Sony. The Avengers movies produced by Marvel are amazing though. There are so many places within these movies that would make a comics fan have to catch their breath. I think Snyder was trying for this by duplicating comics panels within the move, but he fell short. Very short.

  • veeru789

    A bit harsh but I agree. Overall film was a let down. And Gadot was pretty, not wonder Woman. Henry is the worst superman till date. Batlfeck was surprisingly good as the older batman.

    • Brad

      To me, Affleck was my biggest letdown. I knew what to expect from Cavill. Gadot was surprisingly good once she started fighting. Ben was zzzzzz

  • bambinoitaliano

    DC comic books heroes had gone through several evolution, none the least the iconic Batman and Superman characters themselves. Each evolution inherit a slightly different universe from different writers. The Batman character in this instalment is in the Justice League that is very different from the one in Christopher Nolan’s version. This Batman is much older and jaded just like the one I saw in the animation movie Batman: Bad Blood or Justice League:The Flash Point. Ben Affleck’s Batman cannot be view as a remake or a reboot rather a different universe of the former Batman franchises.

  • E

    Thanks Brad. It’s nice to hear an honest, opposing view to the fan rhetoric.