By now, you’ve probably read that the critics, for the most part, did not like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice very much. It’s “bloated,” “muddled,” “nothing super,” “dawn of disappointment” etc., which does, in some degree, describe the film. Let’s just say, as much as both Batman AND Superman have issues, so does their titular first movie together. However, there are actually some qualifying good moments in the film, and fans of these two superhero titans should know that they’ll be experiencing a cinematic feat in bringing them together on the big screen. So rather than just rant and blather on, I’m simply going to take a look at the movie’s pros and cons in simplistic chunks.
Step 1: Batman
Pro: Ben Affleck is really quite good as the Dark Knight, I have to admit. He’s even better as Bruce Wayne, though, and thankfully Bruce has more screen time than Batman in BvS. Affleck plays Wayne a little older, maybe a little wiser, with the graying at the temples and the weary “I’m too old for this shit” attitude at times. It would have been nice to see a little more lightheartedness, maybe a wink here or there, something Affleck is very good at doing. But alas, Bruce is just too pissed off to smile. Oh, and the Batmobile rocked!
Con: That being said, it’s hard to understand why he is SO angry at Superman. BvS starts off with a very familiar scene in which he sees his parents (The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan and her soon-to-be TWD co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gunned down in the streets, so we get how haunted Bruce is and why he became the winged Bat vigilante. But hating super sweet do-gooder Superman? Why? Sure, Superman’s omnipotent powers destroy buildings, harm innocents and could be used for evil, instead of good, and Batman feels like he is the only one who could keep Superman in check. But the animosity isn’t explored beyond that – besides maybe these out-of-nowhere futuristic “nightmares” Bruce has that lead him down a darker path. It’s all poorly explained and basically undercuts the whole point of the film. The biggest flaw, however, is what happens to make Batman finally see Superman as a friend, not a foe. You’ll probably yell at the screen, “Really?!” It’s sloppy and lazy writing, as if they were in a hurry to wrap it up.
Step 2: Superman
Pro: Henry Cavill certainly looks the part, always has, but still has the unenviable task of trying to instill some personality into the superhero. Superman can be quite boring, but Cavill manages to humanize him, much like his predecessor Christopher Reeve did. And Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) are sweet together, even though they’ve got these giant black clouds hanging over their relationship, including the fact Superman is being blamed for things out of his control. Now, on the flip side, his feelings for Batman are better understood because Superman/Clark Kent mistrusts the Caped Crusader as someone who takes the law into their own hands. That makes sense.
Con: Superman still doesn’t have much oomph. He’s just bland. Period. And no matter what amount of touches Cavill attempts, it doesn’t really work. I’m just curious to see if they give him more levity in the films to come now that we’ve gotten all the expository stuff out of the way.
Step 3: Lex Luthor
Pro: This is definitely a different kind of Lex Luthor than we’ve seen before, and it is quite refreshing. Jesse Eisenberg portrays the master villain as an arrogant, spoiled rich brat with daddy issues but with a very brilliant mind. He knows how to orchestrate what he wants and some of his nefarious actions will make you gasp (at least it did me).
Con: Problem is, Lex goes from somewhat sane to completely insane in nano seconds, and this is where Eisenberg takes the character a little too over the top, with the rapid-fire dialogue and the nervous little laugh. He becomes a caricature of himself.
Step 4: Wonder Woman
Pro: Quite simply, Gal Gadot’s brief appearances as Wonder Woman are the film’s highlights, especially in BvS‘s final climactic battle. When she throws up wrists to ward off a blast, or uses her lasso and sword, you definitely cheer out loud. Let’s hope they keep that fierceness alive in Wonder Woman’s stand alone movie.
Con: The Wonder Woman moments are too brief. As for the other women in the cast, most are terribly underutilized. Adams continues to be one of the better Lois Lanes, but her plucky journalist stills turns into a damsel in distress, and Diane Lane as Clark’s mom adds absolutely nothing. Holly Hunter’s fiery Southern senator is displayed in one solid moment, basically taking down Lex down a peg, but that’s about it. Gadot had to represent.
Step 5: Director Zack Snyder
Pro: As a visionary, Snyder is ambitious and gives BvS a grand scope. The film looks pretty amazing, especially in some of the quieter moments when either Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent/Superman are being contemplative. The action sequences are fairly standard as far as those big, metal-crushing, bone-crunching scenes can be, but you have to appreciate those kinds of sequences when they are not all in your face and confusing. Snyder delivers on that end.
Con: Snyder has a tough time telling the story through his lens. He doesn’t know when and where to cut, and this leaves the film feeling convoluted and overdrawn. It’s almost like when Zack sees it, and all the out-of-place scenes he has throw in, it totally makes sense to him– but to him only. The rest of us are scratching our heads.
Step 6: Conclude. So, yes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t in any way a perfect comic book movie, but it has enough going for it that will make fans happy. Plus, it does give a glimpse of how the upcoming Justice League is shaping up, and it’s kind of exciting. Judging from the major critical backlash Snyder is receiving over BvS, however, it may end up he doesn’t direct Justice League — and that’s probably a good thing.