Like many comic fans, I was initially disappointed with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was a movie I was looking forward to ever since it was announced. Although the first trailer won me over instantly, the second trailer made me more cautious. I wasn’t a fan of how Doomsday looked like a Ninja Turtle mixed with Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and I felt like the second trailer was like a summary of the movie, telling us everything that was to happen. I was also worried about Jesse Eisenberg’s impression of Max Landis masquerading as Lex Luthor.
So when I actually saw the film I mostly enjoyed it… until I began to think about it. The more I thought about it the less I liked it. I began to think about how unnecessarily long it was, how almost all of Lois Lane’s arc could have been cut, how shoddy some of the score was. I was asking myself questions like, “what is Lex’s motivation?,” ‘why is Batman straight up murdering folks?,” and “why is Superman almost as dark and gritty as Batman?”. I was not disappointed by Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor because my expectations were so low, I have no idea where Snyder wanted his character to go. I believe Eisenberg is a good actor, and maybe he was just acting as he was directed to but unfortunately he played a weak villain. None of the traits of Lex Luthor are present here. He doesn’t seem like a young genius capable of running a huge company or a ruthless egotistical villain. He reminds me too much of Mark Zuckerberg to be menacing or evil.
I also thought that, just like Man of Steel, the movie was great up until a point. I love Man of Steel’s first half – I was not a fan of Superman before that movie. But I am now. I loved the take on Superman as a character. I felt that it was telling his origin in an interesting way in a grittier and more ‘realistic’ world than we’ve seen before, but it was still full of hope. My favourite shot of that film is when Clark is a young boy and he’s outside with a makeshift cape around his shoulders. That’s great – it foreshadows how Clark is destined for great things on our world. However, somewhere along the way the movie loses itself (I’m looking at you, Goyer). All of a sudden Superman’s character takes a nosedive, and he’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Metropolis, and no doubt millions of dollars in damage. Like it or not this is the basis for Dawn of Justice’s conflict between the two heroes(?). So after critics and fans were divided on the fact that Superman almost destroyed an entire city, DC have not learned from their mistakes.
Dawn of Justice loses the run of itself towards the final act and has another sequence where an incredible amount of damage is caused, probably worse than in Man of Steel. When Doomsday is unleashed all hell breaks loose and the movie goes off the rails a little bit. When the film brings out a Doomsday with the powers of an absorbed nuke it gets crazier. The huge circles of energy that Doomsday emits are ugly to look at on screen when they’re shown so frequently, and the flashing lights had me almost looking away from the screen. For some reason DC love pulling this crap at the end of their movies and it’s unnecessary.
The problem I just outlined is still a big problem for me personally, but upon a second viewing of the film my opinion on other parts of the film changed. I had more of an appreciation for what the cast and crew were trying to do during my second viewing. I still see faults in the overall film but it has its redeemable qualities. For instance, Ben Affleck’s Batman is phenomenal and probably the best we’ve ever seen on screen. Wonder Woman is great for the small amount of screen time she has. I liked Superman less in this film than in Man of Steel; there’s no doubt that Henry Cavill is great in the role but I think Terrio and Goyer are writing him too dark as to the point where he’s not that far off from Batman, and as a result of this their ideals don’t clash in a way they should.
As I mentioned earlier, I had beef with this film for making Batman a killer, especially in such a casual manner, but upon a second viewing I came around to it. It’s still very uncharacteristic of him but it makes sense – or rather, it can. I’m afraid that DC have done this for the wrong reasons but there is potential to tell an amazing Batman story with his current state. This Batman is hardened and brutal with no remorse, which is why I think DC should fast track a solo Batman movie adapting Under The Red Hood. It just makes sense, and it gives DC a chance to rewrite their wrongs of this film just like they have tried to do after Man of Steel. We already know there’s a dead Robin in this universe, and we’re getting our new Joker this summer in Suicide Squad, so telling the story of Jason Todd’s resurgence is the way to go. It’s obvious that this Batman hasn’t always been this vicious. As Alfred says in the movie, he’s changed and it has hasn’t always been this way. So now we bring in Red Hood; just like the book and movie he wants to kill the Joker, and he kills criminals with no doubt. When Batman sees how Red Hood kills so many criminals constantly this can trigger his guilt, and he can see the error of his ways. This could be a really interesting and emotional story to tell and I think it would see a massive shift of development in Batman’s character.
Lex Luthor’s portrayal as a socially awkward millennial just doesn’t work. I feel that in an effort to be different, they’ve made him a completely different character, which is kind of what they’re going for when they say he’s Lex Jr. but it doesn’t matter. We need a real imagining of Lex in this universe. Maybe Lex Jr. is left in prison for a reason. Maybe the screenwriters wanted the opportunity to bring in the real Lex as we know him if the reception to Eisenberg’s wasn’t good. Bringing in the real Lex can’t hurt this universe. It’s hard to tell if he could even fit in soon because of Superman possibly being under Darkseid’s command when he comes back from the dead, there might not be room or a reason to have him in there. But it could be a way to make something good out of this miscasting – which is ultimately what I feel it is.
As for Superman, if he returns under Darkseid’s rule as the dream sequences suggest and eventually comes back to being the kinda-good-but-kinda-a-dick-too character he is in these movies, it would be a good time to try and change him into more of the boy scout he is in the comics.
Although the DC Extended Universe has a little bit to go yet to successfully bring the world of the comics to the screen, it’s clear that Zack Snyder and everyone involved wanted to make a good movie. Visually speaking the film is great, the screenwriters just keep making little mistakes. It’s a difficult task to bring these two complex characters together the way they have, make them fight, establish a villain, and to set up Justice League and future films. Even with the two-and-a-half-hour run time. Considering they chose to do all of this to try and catch up with Marvel they did a good job, but the film would have been better if they stood their ground and took their time establishing this world. When a studio has so many films laid out on a slate like this they should have a sense of confidence and patience. As flawed as this film is, a more grounded and adult franchise can be salvaged from their mistakes.
What did you think of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Do you agree with this article? Let us know in the comments!