You know how little kids are always playing the “who would win” game? Gandalf V Dumbledore. Darth Maul V Darth Vader. Smaug V the Balrog. Well, this year, a bunch of big shots got together and decided what it would look like if it was Batman V Superman.
Lots of people were excited. And lots of people couldn’t care less. And then the movie came out and lots of people liked it and lots of people really, really didn’t.
So what’s the deal? Is it worth seeing or isn’t it?
Well, let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:
I’ll critique three different categories for your skimming pleasure: Plot, Characters, and Feel (filming, music, etc). Then I’ll jump into the best parts and the worst parts. It will be spoiler free, since I know a lot of people are still on the fence as to whether or not they want to see this one. You're welcome. Here we go:
For those of you who don’t know, here’s the basic premise of the plot (
stolen borrowed from the IMDB website):
Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It's up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.
Interesting plot? Yes. Well-executed? Not so much. The entire premise of the storyline is that Batman and Superman (having never met), decide that the other person is out of control and needs to be stopped, though Batman (being Batman) is slightly more inclined to take matters into his own hands.
The movie tried to explain this mutual animosity by showing that Lex Luthor was playing each against the other, which makes sense, but only to a certain extent. I mean, these are both extremely intelligent men. If they had decided to talk it out over a cup of coffee they both would have seen that neither one of them is evil. It all felt a bit contrived.
In all fairness, the brunt of the anger did come from Batman’s camp. Remember, this is post-“my friend Robin was brutally murdered” Batman, so of course he had a lot of pent up emotions that probably blinded him to what was truly going on.
The shakiness of the main plot aside, there were a lot of subplots going on that felt kind of shoehorned in. Wonder Woman’s appearance didn’t make too much sense, there was an excess of dream sequences that could have been pared down a bit, and the political scenes were very forgettable.
Now, that slightly negative take on the plot might scare you off, but please hang on a second. The more questionable parts of the storyline were made up for by the epic characters:
Batman: After this movie, a lot of people have been asking: So which was better: Christian Bale’s Batman or Ben Affleck’s Batman? My answer to this: Shut up.
Trying to compare the two is nonsensical. Christian Bale had three movies to show his version of Batman and Ben Affleck has only had one movie, and he had to share it with Superman and Luthor. Also, Affleck’s Batman is older, and thus a bit angrier and has lost a lot more, so his character is very different.
So, comparisons aside: Affleck’s Batman rocks. Here’s a Batman who has lost a lot of his friends. He has been fighting crime for a long time. He’s angry. He’s experienced. He’s very slightly unhinged. And he’ll stop at nothing to bring down any threat he sees (AKA: Superman). All of this works to portray a terrifyingly powerful yet very human Batman. Affleck does not disappoint.
Superman: What can I say? He’s Superman. The entire movie he’s working hard to protect a world he’s come to call home, even though this world has begun to doubt him. His character hasn’t changed much since Man of Steel, though he’s perhaps slightly more aggressive.
Lex Luthor: He’s great. Seriously. Eisenberg did an amazing acting job here. Luthor is smart, power-hungry, and very properly psychotic. He is a worthy villain, as his particular brand of psychotic is very calculating, which makes for a brilliant and unsettling character.
Wonder Woman: Despite the fact that her addition to the plot felt like a weird add on, Wonder Woman was actually pretty awesome. We didn’t get too much on her, but I’m excited to see what DC has in store for her.
Like all DC movies, Batman V Superman had a very heavy feel. There were a lot of muted colors and shadows, giving the film a brooding, serious feel. The filming itself was quite good, featuring some impressive long shots and good uses of slow motion.
The filmscore was Hans Zimmer on steroids: very fast and very electric. Zimmer’s teamed up with Junkie XL to compose the score, so it came out as extremely ominous sounding. I love Zimmer and thus loved the score, so I’m not going to complain. However, I know that a lot of people found the filmscore difficult because it’s not what you’d expect for a superhero movie.
Snyder also chose to make use of several different dream sequences. Which is fine, except that Snyder doesn’t seem to understand that a little bit of symbolism can go a long, long way. Sure, some of the sequences were great, but some were unnecessary and felt like they were just put there in an attempt to give the movie an illusion of having more depth than it really did. Sorry. Nice try, though.
Anyway, the dark colors, electric filmscore, and dream scenes all worked to give the film a serious, intense feel. I think that aspect turned out fairly well.
The Worst Parts:
This movie was far from perfect. There were a few issues that made it a bit hard to get behind:
Plot holes: As mentioned above, Batman and Superman’s argument felt off. C’mon guys. I know they have to fight. It’s in the title. And I’m fine with that. But these guys are smart, so they should be fighting for good reasons, not: “Oh, look, Superman’s killed some people. I’ve killed some people, but he’s killed more, soooo, yeah. He needs to go.”
Too much going on: We had politics, we had brief glimpses of Aquaman and some other superheroes I won’t name because of spoilers, a look at Wonder Woman, an introduction to future conflicts, and a set up for the next DC movie (Read Johnny’s post on that here). It was a lot. And some of it felt a bit forced, leading to a movie that was probably longer than it needed to be.
The Best Parts:
There were a lot of good things going on here. As mentioned before, Affleck’s Batman was outstanding and the acting was good all around. There were some impressive pieces of dialogue, and some of Luthor’s monologues were epic.
The fight scenes were also great: Batman V Superman, Batman fighting some bad guys I won’t name, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman taking on Doomsday, and a few others.
There was also a lot of good imagery. I can’t get into them because of spoilers, but you’ll just have to trust me on it. Yes, some dream sequences fell short, but others didn’t. And there was some rather brilliant imagery surrounding a painting Luthor had in his house, along with a pearl necklace that Batman’s mother wore. Good stuff.
No, this movie was not perfect. The storyline is not seamless and the pacing was a bit off. It would seem that DC still hasn’t found its footing when it comes to moviemaking.
But, that being said, Batman V Superman had a lot of upside. I genuinely enjoyed it while I was in the theater and I would definitely watch it again. I loved the characters, especially Batman and Luthor. I liked the soundtrack, the filming style, and was able to appreciate where Snyder is trying to move these films.
Don’t let all of the negative reviews fool you: by no means is Batman V Superman a lousy movie. It’s enjoyable and far better than a lot of other movies floating around out there. If you are a fan of the DC universe, then yes, you should see this. If you like superhero or action movies, then yes, I think you’ll enjoy it.
I give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Thumbs up.
Have you seen Batman V Superman or are you still on the fence? Please leave your thoughts below! I’d love to hear them.