Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a very mixed review kind of film. Ultimately, there should have been more “Batman v Superman” and a little less “Dawn of Justice,” but most of the criticism seems to stem from writing, plot holes, and everything else that comes with making a movie where you’re biting off more than you can chew. Adapting Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns while simultaneously introducing a new yet old Batman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Wonder Woman, and setting up a prequel to the future Justice League DC Extended Universe is a big task for one movie, and there are some things that they did great, and some things that they did not. Some things even that might’ve ruined the whole DCEU’s future (an awful amount of spoilers ahead, maybe see the movie first).
Starting off this review, I think it would be best to talk a little about Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, just to add some context into where Snyder/Goyer drew inspiration for this film. I think it would also be helpful to note, especially for critics that were looking at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as a The Dark Knight Returns adaptation, that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is its own movie with a new story that is very, and I mean very, loosely based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Snyder and Goyer have essentially, through borrowing story elements from DC comics, forged an entirely new version of the DC universe. This is actually something that I love, and it’s something that I’m going to try to stand by when discussing my critique of the film.
Personally, and I know this goes against popular belief, I love movie reboots. I don’t always love the films, in fact I usually love the originals better than their remakes, but I love that they exist. Reason number one: I never see it as shitting on the original, which is something I reserve very strongly for sequels, not reboots. When it comes to reboots, I love that I can see the same story from another director/writer’s eyes. If Snyder/Goyer had just projected Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in a frame for frame visual adaptation, it honestly would have been boring.
I think they could have drawn from the story a bit more than they did, which I’ll get to later, but it’s the fact that they made their own adaptation, something new from something borrowed, that I actually love about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I don’t agree with all of their choices, but I’m not one to sit there and say the movie was bad because it “wasn’t true to the comics,” because I personally never want a movie to be 100% true to the comics. I read the comic, I know the story, now show me something new. Frank Miller’s Year One and The Dark Knight Returns were revolutionary because of how he retold Batman. Just because Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film, a different medium doesn’t change that people can adapt and retell Batman in new and interesting ways.
Therefore, let’s get back to discussing the basic plot of Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, for those who don’t know the back story of how Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was created, and even for those who have read it, because I’m going to be making a lot of references to it throughout the review anyway.
In Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne is 55 years old, Batman has been retired for over 10 years, and as crime levels rise once again, Bruce comes out of retirement to reclaim his city and put an end to crime in Gotham once and for all. In doing so, Batman becomes the most violent and unmerciful he’s ever been, fighting Two-Face, The Joker, and a mutant army, but he still respects his one rule: no killing. The U.S. Government however, views Batman as an unhinged vigilante menace and orders Superman to bring him down.
Superman tries to tell Bruce he’s gone too far this time but Bruce won’t hear it. He views Superman as a puppet of the government in his way and builds a suit of kryptonite to fight him. Beating Superman within an inch of his life, Bruce suffers from a heart attack right before the finishing strike, which is later revealed to have just been a chemical that reduced his heart rate long enough to fake his own death in the fight. He never meant to kill Superman, just to let him know he was a force to be reckon with and that he should stay out of his way. Superman signals that he gets the message when he hears Bruce’s heartbeat start up again and winks at the new Robin at Bruce’s “funeral.” In conclusion, Batman, the new Robin, and a new vigilante army go deep into the Batcave and begin planning how to bring order back to Gotham for the next generation.
One of the most famous comic book stories of all time, it depicted a very dark and “I’m too old for this shit” Batman, a Superman that was essentially a puppet of the government, and an epic showdown between two of DC’s mightiest and most popular superhero’s while simultaneously painting them both as antihero’s with flaws worse than simply just kryptonite – they both questioned their morals, especially Batman.
Thus, we segue way from 1986 comic book back story to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder/Goyer’s 2016 adaptation and creation. Unlike the five movies we had leading up to the first Avengers movie in Marvel, DC has decided that two movies, Superman’s origin story of Man of Steel, and apparently this film, would be enough before their version of the Avengers, The Justice League.
Sure, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might be a prequel to Justice League, which is now only a year away from its theatrical release, but even that shows that DC is really rushing into making the DCEU happen, and it shows in the movie’s plot holes and even an attitude in the writing that kind of says “you’re going to get the implied back story because you’ve read the comics or know about the characters, or you’re just not going to understand what’s going on.” And problems like this occur all over the film.
Sure, I got them because I know, but for the general audience, I don’t know how much they’ll pick up and how much will just be straight up confusing. I assume it’ll mainly be the latter, especially since Batman in this movie has supposedly been fighting crime in Gotham for over two decades, but to us, the audience, he’s not the same Batman from Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy. In fact, he’s a new Snyder/Goyer Batman played by Ben Affleck, and we just have to figure out what elements of his various possible back stories from the comics they’ve chosen to give to their new vision of the character, and how that will affect him and his actions as the movie goes on. Even for me, it was hard to see what they included and what they didn’t.
Nonetheless, I think Affleck was a great Batman. If I have any complaints about the character, it comes from the writing, but his performance of this character was surprisingly the best character of the film. Starting the movie off with a quick little retelling of Batman’s origin, very similar to Miller’s in The Dark Knight Returns, aside from an oddly placed dream sequence of a young Bruce Wayne rising out of the pit of bats like a levitating Jesus from the grave, I thought it was just enough to get the origin across, especially one we’ve seen done so many times.
The only harsh element however is the one stated in a couple paragraphs above, that it quick jumps to a now older Bruce Wayne, seeming more in his 40’s than the 55 year old from the comics, and we don’t know how many of Batman’s villains or number of Robin’s he’s gone through previously up to this present day Batman. This Affleck Batman is a new version, one even different than The Dark Knight Returns Batman. The only clues we get into what Batman’s done between his origin story and now is that he’s fought the Joker, whom we know to be alive because he’s going to be in DC’s Suicide Squad movie, and that one of the Robin’s is dead, killed by the Joker, and now Batman fights alone. Ben Affleck himself confirmed that the suit with the words “Hahaha joke’s on you Batman” spray painted on it is in fact Robin’s bullet holed uniform, but whether or not it’s the first Robin, Dick Grayson, or the second, Jason Todd (who is actually murdered by the Joker in the comics), has yet to be revealed, though might be in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie.
Another thing to note is the clear age difference between Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker, and how the new, younger Joker factors into this DCEU’s Batman story: something else that might be revealed in Suicide Squad, and also might not. Like I said, Snyder/Goyer wrote a lot of the film under the impression that we would just know who the characters were and what they’ve gone through based on prior “you know these characters” knowledge.
There’s also the theory that Jason Todd is this new Joker and maybe Suicide Squad will give us that answer or not, we’ll just have to wait and see. Other things I would have liked to see in this new Batman: an Alfred who didn’t seem to be the same age as Batman (though no offense to Jeremy Irons’ performance), the presence of Commissioner Gordon (especially the scene from The Dark Knight Returns where they get drinks and celebrate Batman’s retirement, to which he leaves after Gordon mentions Jason Todd’s death by the hands of the Joker), and even signs of Batman’s age affecting his ability to be a crime fighter, which apparently doesn’t affect Affleck’s Batman. Also, Batman doesn’t actually fight crime once in this film, which is really odd, and something I’ll get back into later.
What I think was a great introduction to the film however, to add some positives, is the idea that Bruce Wayne was present in Metropolis during the fight between Superman and General Zod from Man of Steel that leveled the city and killed hundreds of thousands of people. Driving like a maniac through the streets as buildings crumble in order to save his employees from a doomed Wayne Enterprises building in Metropolis, there is a heartbreaking scene where not only does his friend/co-worker perish, and one of his employees that he saves loses the ability to use his legs, but he also saves a girl who when asked where her mother is, points to the destroyed upper half of what used to be the Wayne Enterprises building.
Bruce looks down, saddened that this girl has lost her parents, and then looks up into the sky as Superman and Zod fly by fighting, and Bruce’s face changes from despair to rage. It’s such a perfect face transition that also sets up the ground work for what is to become their motive for why Batman would want to fight Superman: he’s an alien/god whose powers must be put in check because he’s leveling cities and killing people.
Sure, it was to protect the entire planet from General Zod, but people like Bruce Wayne apparently tend to overlook these things in the film and just blame Superman’s existence for all of it. It honestly baffles me a little bit as to why they weren’t more angry at Zod than they were at Superman. Is it because Zod’s dead so they can’t scapegoat him, or because we just have the tendency to fear anything that we don’t understand? The movie tends to go with the latter reasoning, which I can understand, but the world’s anti-Superman agenda gets a little more hard to understand as the movie goes on. A great example comes with the government blaming Superman for an attack in Africa where he saves Lois Lane reporting on a terrorist organization whose meeting goes south and mercenaries start shooting up the place.
The government blames him for the death of the people there and asks him to come speak at a court hearing and explain why he was there, which is super odd considering that everyone who died there in Africa were shot with bullets, and no one stopped to think “why would Superman shoot people with bullets, he’s Superman for god’s sake he doesn’t need bullets,” and instead some random Senator from Kentucky declares that it was all Superman’s fault. Sure, it sets up the scene where Lex Luthor blows up the Capitol building to further try to frame Superman, but there’s still a huge plot hole in the motive for why anyone would believe Superman would ever blow up the Capitol building in the first place, and Lex just creates media buzz that honestly isn’t even really talked about after it happens anyway.
If anything, Superman should have to give the public some answers about the fight against Zod that leveled the city and killed hundreds of thousands of people instead of answering the question of what happened to a dozen people riddled with bullets in Africa. It’s honestly unfathomable why he’s never really asked to answer for the fight against Zod, or why he never chooses to just do it without having to be asked.
But back to Batman, this idea that Superman is a uncontrollable god that must be stopped before he possibly turns evil one day and for some reason decides to destroy the world is what drives his anti-Superman agenda. It’s pretty much the same reason as to why Lex Luthor hates Superman, but Lex Luthor’s reasoning as to how he got to that same conclusion is honestly never explained. Other than the fact that we’re all familiar with the idea that Lex Luthor is a character that hates Superman, we’re given no reason in this new Lex Luthor retelling as to why he hates Superman other than that he just does and believes he’s a god that must be eliminated.
The same kind of goes for Batman. While I like that he was there when Metropolis was under attack and felt helpless to the situation, it’s honestly hard to believe that he would despise Superman from here on out for it. As a hero for two decades now, one that has witnessed the death of his sidekick and the horrible villains that exist in Gotham, maybe even the Two Face storyline, he turns off the idea of Superman as a hero real quick and never really even gives him a chance. Oh what Bruce you’ve never caused any destruction during one of your fights against crime? Sure, not on the Superman vs. General Zod level, but they’re basically gods compared to you.
So what does Batman do? Basically Batman makes it his mission to rid the world of the 1% chance that Superman could become dangerous by deciding to murder Superman with kryptonite that he’s going to steal from Lex Luthor, and all the “crime” we thought he was fighting in Gotham the whole movie is actually just him tracking down the location of the kryptonite. As I mentioned before, Batman doesn’t actually fight crime once in this entire movie. It’s not the “get out of my way Superman as I try to protect my city the only way that I can in my old age” Batman we have from The Dark Knight Returns. Instead, we get a hell bent on acquiring the tools to murder Superman kind of Batman that surprisingly actually murders a lot of people in the process.
It’s a completely unhinged Batman that Snyder/Goyer wrote for the film, and while the motive for setting up the Batman vs. Superman fight is a little insane, it’s one of the darkest and most badass Batman’s we’ve ever had. He’s literally branding people with the Batman emblem, blowing up and demolishing criminal filled cars, dragging said car miles down the road only to slingshot it into another criminal filled car, literally shooting them with guns, sending a harpoon through a man, and actually at one point stabbing a guy with a knife in the heart. The list goes on but the criminal body count is unprecedented in this film for a character whose one rule was always that he never killed.
It would have been interesting if they went with The Dark Knight Returns plot of Batman’s fighting crime way too violently, and in this adaptation murdering criminals, so Superman is called in to stop him, but sadly that “Daredevil vs. Punisher” foil isn’t how it plays out at all. Sure, Batman’s murdering criminals, but it’s all just to get the kryptonite to murder Superman, so it’s all pretty insane any way you look at it. It’s weird to say that Batman was my favorite character of the movie, but with all that questionable motive for fighting Superman aside, it was actually a really interesting portrayal of a completely insane and unhinged Batman.
I do think however that with some mentioning of Jason Todd’s death, the Joker, and maybe Two Face, that Batman’s spiraling madness would seep into the audience a bit more easily, especially since we’ve never seen Batman kill anyone, let alone with no remorse towards it, until now. And the writers don’t even really address it at all, not even with a conversation with Alfred saying something like, “Bruce you’re killing people, this is crazy, this isn’t you.”
They have Alfred disappointed in the whole bat symbol branding bit, but he kind of takes a blind eye to the whole murder part. I mean, all of sudden Batman just obviously murders some criminals and it’s crazy that the writers didn’t expect us to be sitting there, turn to the person next to us, and ask things like, “did I just see that right? did Batman just shoot a harpoon through that man?” or “wait a second pause it, did Batman just stab that guy in the heart?” or “hold on, did Batman just smash everyone in that car to bits and then proceed to drag that car by the Batmobile for a mile and then launch it at another car full of criminals?” because all of those parts were insane.
Touching on other characters of the film though, Superman and Lois Lane pretty much act exactly as I would expect them to based on the film’s plot. Best Superman performance definitely comes from his facial expression of pure disappointment and loss of hope as he’s standing in the rubble of the courthouse. And aside from a ridiculous scene where Lois jumps into the pool of water to retrieve the kryptonite spear she had just thrown down there because now Doomsday is here and that’s the only thing that can stop him; to which she gets stuck and almost drowns, is saved by Superman, who then goes down there to get the spear himself, and then is saved by Lois as he himself almost drowns due to the spear being made of kryptonite.
The scene was so “why did that even happen anyway?” I mean Lois was holding the one thing that can murder Superman and she just throws it in a pool of water instead of holding onto so Superman can keep it safe or destroy it? What poor thinking. It was honestly so oddly written and the whole end of the Batman vs. Superman fight / inclusion of Wonder Woman / inclusion of Doomsday ending added a whole new plethora of plot holes and “why did that happen like that?” questions and confusions that I don’t even know where to start with now that I’m done discussing the whole Batman becomes a murderer hell bent on killing Superman segment of the movie.
I guess I’ll start with Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and the clearly yet not entirely horrible differences there. I personally don’t really like any of the characters Jessie Eisenberg has ever played, but for some reason that he does it now as the villain Lex Luthor and not someone like Mark Zuckerberg, it’s like okay to hate that personality because we’re always supposed to hate Lex Luthor. In the earlier adaptations, I didn’t hate Luthor’s character as much as I did now that he’s Jessie Eisenberg, because it was like Heith Ledger’s The Joker or other villains you hate but secretly root for a little bit because they’re great characters. No, the fact that he’s Jessie Eisenberg really brought on the hatred for me, as well as the lack of motive for anything Lex Luthor does in the entire film.
Plus I actually found his kind of jumpy, OCD-like, psychotic chaos driven adaptation of Lex Luthor, as opposed to the character we’re used to, someone who’s older, calmer, and more calculated. In this film, a young and deranged Lex Luthor for 1) decides he hates Superman for some reason, 2) inherits LexCorp as a little pretentious twerp (right up Eisenberg’s wheelhouse), 3) blows up the fucking Capitol building, murdering hundreds of people just to failingly try to blame Superman for it as well as that previous bit in Africa, 4) Thinks he’s manipulating Batman into fighting Superman somehow, and 5) creates Doomsday because he somewhere in the movie goes from “I hate Superman” to “fuck the world let’s let Doomsday destroy it all.”
As to why the Kryptonian ship with Zod’s dead body in it wasn’t blown up by Superman in the first place is beyond me, but as to how Luthor just gets clearance for it by simply asking for it is beyond me. Also an even dumber thing is how he cuts off Zod’s figertips so that he can open the door to the ship which is immediately followed by him bringing Zod onto the ship with him. If you were going to bring Zod on board the whole time, why didn’t you just hold his hand up to the scanner and not spend the time cutting off little slivers of Zod’s finger tips? And then the robot inside the dormant ship is awakened and comes to the front and sees this little pathetic Lex Luther guy with dead skin fingertips on his hand and just leads him to the chamber where the ship’s computer says something like “we’re at 37%, would you like to take command?” and Lex is even like, “is this a joke? Yes I’d like to take command,” and the ship responds like, “okay, no problem stranger. Here’s complete and utter control of the ship. Now I’ll tell you about all of the secrets of the universe” and none of that makes any sense whatsoever. T
hen, to make it even more confusing, Lex lowers Zod’s dead body into some pool of water, cuts his own hand and bleeds onto Zod’s dead face, and then the ship is like, “this is forbidden by Kryptonian law” and Lex responds with a “oh yeah, well where’s the Kryptonian’s?” like the smart ass Lex Luthor he is, and the ship just succumbs to that hateful comment and begins transforming Zod into this Doomsday monster, which it can apparently do in this mixture of liquid pool in the ship, Zod’s body, and like hardly any of Lex Luthor’s blood. Thus, the whole Doonsday creation bit is completely nonsensical.
This event of course, corresponds directly after the Batman/Superman fight, which is horribly started not because they just wanted to fight each other, because in fact Superman had no real reason to hate Batman other than for existing and not liking him, like the popular kid at school not understanding why some kid in the class doesn’t care for them, and instead only fights Batman because Lex Luthor tells him that if he doesn’t bring him Batman’s head that he’d kill Superman’s mom: the one person other than Lois that you don’t fuck with, and Lex kidnaps and tries to murder both in the span of five minutes. And sure, the fight between Batman and Superman was awesome, but the way it’s brought about is so lame and anticlimactic for a movie literally titled Batman v Superman.
The fight itself was straight out of The Dark Knight Returns, but it doesn’t end the same way as it did in the comics. In this version, they had to figure out how to do a quick turnaround from “I’m going to murder you” to “let’s team up to fight Doomsday / Justice League prequel.” The only thing that stops Batman from driving the kryptonite spear through Superman’s heart this time around isn’t a faked heart attack, but instead Superman screaming “save Martha,” which I never actually realized until then that both their parents were named Martha. It was honestly a really good move by the writers to show to Batman that Superman wasn’t an alien to be exterminated and that he was a man who also had a mother, who was also apparently named Martha, just like Batman. I really liked it as a way to end the fight and bring humanity back to Batman, but they went from murder to best friends a little too quickly after that – making jokes about where Wonder Woman came from almost 10 minutes later.
The fight against Doomsday is pretty well done as well, with Batman doing more of the distractions / evasive tactical gadget type stuff and Wonder Woman really doing damage, cutting off his hand and even having a great smile after Doomsday sends her flying, but Wonder Woman generally throughout the film isn’t explained really at all. Sure, it’s going to happen in her future stand alone film, but that probably should have happened before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Another bit of info that they just kind of throw in there is basically all of the other members of the Justice League. Shown in maybe the worst way, they’re introduced by an email that Batman sends Wonder Woman of like 30-second clips of each hero that LexCorp had on file, and the only more ridiculous element than the actual clips is that each hero file is labeled with their actual logo, as if the graphic designers at LexCorp designed logo’s for all of the Justice League members already, instead of just naming the files, which I think is hilariously idiotic. It’s as if they were more concerned with setting up the Justice League back stories than they were figuring out exactly how to do it the right way.
This part of Wonder Woman essentially just clicking and watching little videos of the future Justice League members also occurs right before the big Batman vs Superman fight, pausing all the rising action for about 5 minutes just to slip in a little “oh yeah and these guys” moment. Plus, the video clips weren’t even good origins for each hero. The Flash stopping a gas station robbery was fine. There’s oddly no mention of Hal Jordan or the Green Lantern Corps. Aquaman, a character that looked awesome on poster, especially since he’s played by Jason Mamoa, the actor who played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, appears in the movie like some scared merman / Pantene shampoo commercial model that pokes his head out of a ship before somehow breaking the sound barrier as he flies away under water, and Cyborg is put together by some unexplained mystical cube that just kind of attaches to him and just makes Cyborg parts somehow. It’s just really all a mess, and I couldn’t really believe that video clips sent through an email to Wonder Woman were how they were going to unveil the future members of the Justice League.
Plus, the movie had barely any actual use of Wonder Woman other than a replacement for Selina Kyle/Catwoman as the woman who gets in the way of Bruce Wayne’s plans and steals things from him while also flirting with him, and then her fight scene with Doomsday at the end where she doesn’t even have dialogue. Also, she was really kicking ass against Doomsday, so why did Superman have to drive to Kryptonite spear through Doomsday’s heart? Wonder Woman could totally have done that part while Superman held Doomsday down, and it would have been easier for her because Kryptonite is not one of her weaknesses. This fault also leads to maybe the biggest spoiler/controversy of the whole entire film: that Doomsday kills Superman at the same time as Superman kills Doomsday with the Kryptonite spear by stabbing Superman in the heart with his own spear hand, since he becomes vulnerable by holding the Kryptonite spear, his one weakness. It was just poor planning more than it was sacrifice on Superman’s part.
Nonetheless, Superman dies, and this is something that is highly critical towards the future of the DCEU’s potential failure right from the start. For one positive story element, Batman wanting to start the Justice League with Wonder Woman makes more sense with Superman out of the picture. He fears that without Superman, it’ll be harder to stop whatever’s next if they don’t group up and fight together, which honestly would have been a harder conversation had Superman been there as well. The motives might not have even existed to form a Justice League passed the three of them, if even that. But Superman’s death this early in the franchise points at two big problems that the DCEU now has to face.
The first big problem is that “The Justice League Part One” movie is a year away and the next film to be released after Suicide Squad in August. Not only will uniting the different heroes together to fight some new greater evil have to happen, but they’ll also have to deal with either bringing Superman back to life, or fighting an evil worse than Doomsday without him for at least Part One, and I have no idea where the writers will take that. The second main problem is that killing Superman this early and pulling that trump card means that the threat of him dying from here on out will be meaningless because he would have already died and been brought back to life already. It’s not like we don’t know if they’ll bring him back or not because we know that the Justice League movies are imminent. Superman is going to come back, and the threat of him dying again is just going to be met with “well you brought him back to life before, you can do it again,” which also undermines the threat of any of the villains from here on out. You can’t raise the threat or danger level higher than the potential death of Superman.
Therefore, as it seems to be heading towards in Justice League movies to come, we turn to Batman’s Mad Max inspired nightmare scene that, if you know the comics, explains where the franchise is going. Lex Luthor tells Batman there’s a greater evil coming at the end and Batman’s nightmare turns out to be a vision from the future when The Flash time-travels and worries that he’s gone too far back and Bruce won’t understand the message. What’s coming next for the Justice League is a dictator from another planet named Darkseid who is relentlessly conquering worlds looking for the “Anti-Life Equation,” which he believes can rob beings of their free will.
His symbol is Omega, which was carved into the ground in Batman’s nightmare, and his minions, known as Parademons, were those black winged creatures that apprehended Superman. The interesting part of this nightmare-dystopian future glimpse though isn’t Darkseid and the Parademons however, it’s the fact that Superman’s involved and he’s not on Batman’s side. He’s on Darkseid’s side. In fact, when he comes down to talk to the apprehended Batman, he lazer eye murders Batman’s two companions and then tells Batman that he’s going to pay for the death of Lois Lane, which also apparently had happened earlier, and then Superman like force crushes Batman’s body or something. Bruce wakes up and The Flash tells him that he has to save Lois from dying because she’s the key to Superman’s humanity and that Bruce was “right about him,” who I perceive the “he” to be about Superman, whether the “right” meant his belief that he was good or bad is yet to be revealed, except for the “fear him” comment from Flash that might lean more towards Superman should be feared. Bruce then wakes up again Inception style, confused about the whole thing, and it’s never brought up again.
Turning Superman into one of Darseid minions would take a lot of convincing for the audience, especially one that has to take his coming back from the dead with good reception first, it’d be weird to then turn him immediately evil if Lois was murdered somewhere in-between or before his resurrection. “Justice League” didn’t have the time or number of movies that Marvel had to really drive in that rift between Captain America and Iron Man that leads to Civil War, and the sudden drama between Batman and Superman turned friendship turned Superman’s death that might becomes Superman’s resurrection and then Superman’s evil possession or side-decision with Darkseid sounds like way too many character relationship changes and too fast, especially since the first three were hard enough in this one movie alone.
Plot elements aside, I also want to talk about editing and more film creating aspects of the movie. The editing was incredibly fast paced, as movies biting off more than they can chew often tend to do, and there’s little time even in the “quieter” scenes for room to breathe and even let people move around a space. There’s also the grey coloring of the film that Snyder did with Man of Steel, that I liked way more in this film than I liked in Man of Steel, and offered no glimmer of hope to these joyless superhero’s, so on that area I actually enjoyed the lack of color.
I think it complemented the grim and dark themes of the film very well. Something that usually compliments the film but actually didn’t in this film was, and I hate to have to say it, the music. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s score was disjointed and completely unmemorable. In fact, the character themes always enter the film quite abruptly and it even ruins what I believe was one of my favorite scores for Man of Steel by just sticking the most memorable parts in as Superman appears and that’s about it. It wasn’t tasteful, and even a bit corny, something you can’t have in a movie as dark and gritty as Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Also, the Wilhelm scream is about one hour into the film when Batman sends a guy flying as he tries to steal the kryptonite – so, found it guys.
I don’t know how the DCEU will handle their future movies, but it seems that in their struggle to make Marvel movie money, they’ve sacrificed what could have been a good movie for “how many stories can we fit in one movie to ensure that people go see it in theaters and we make a lot of money off of it and set up all of our future movies at the same time.” Snyder & Goyer’s directing/writing also produced the most dark and joyless heroes we’ve had to date in superhero movies and maybe even Batman/Superman comics. I might have just heavily criticized the movie, but I can’t stress enough how mixed this movie is when it comes to final rating. I will honestly always be wrestling between a like it or hate it feeling when someone asks me what I thought.
Yes, there were a lot of plot holes, lack of motivation for some characters, and even some scenes and dialogue that just made zero sense whatsoever, but this movie version of Batman might be the one thing that keeps this film alive. For someone who loves Batman as much as I do, I can’t stress how intrigued I was by Snyder/Goyer’s new direction of the unhinged murderer that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s depiction of Batman. This is honestly one of the most mixed feeling movies that I’ve ever seen. I’ve never wanted to change so much about a movie’s plot structure while simultaneously enjoying a film that still went beyond my expectations, even as insanely “I’m probably going to hate this movie”-level of low as they were.
Would I have changed a lot of the movie: yes, but did I enjoy it nonetheless: for the most part, also yes. I have no idea if the DCEU will be able to produce films that make more sense as we add even more plot and characters to this already confusing world, but like seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s nothing I wouldn’t at least try.