Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

This was a disappointment. The movie made me was sad on many levels.

I’m going to break this down in a few ways. First, I’m going to talk about what my friend, the comic book nerd, said; then our wives; then me; along with why it is important to get their take on it.

What my nerd friend said:

The nerdy friend is that guy who knows the comic books by their smell alone. He can quote every obscure reference and which page it appeared on. That said, these guys are demanding. If you aren’t true to the fan base and the following, the nerdy friend will tear you apart.

That sort of happened here. The problem was that the whole event was rushed. Everyone felt the need to compete with Marvel’s Avengers and that is what they were trying to do. The problem with that is that the Avengers have been in the works for literally over a decade. We are just too far behind to make a “Justice League” movie in time to compete with it.

Beyond that, many of the characters were not in keeping with their comic book traditions. Some were not congruent with in any retelling. People acted out of known character to fit the plot, backstories made no sense, if there was one at all, and others were just dreamed up out of nowhere, destroying the vital and awesome stories that were originally invented for these characters. While I wasn’t really impressed, my friend, the guy who knows all this backstory considers the movie an utter travesty. If that is you, you know you are going to see it, but don’t expect to enjoy it.

Look, if Deadpool taught us anything, it is that if a character is good enough to rate a movie then nobody cares about your stinking creative vision. These people became famous because people loved the character they were and grew to be. The movies should capture that, not try to reinvent them. That’s what Man of Steel did, and people liked it. A lot. When you have 70+ years of collective vision on beloved heroes, you don’t just go screwing with something millions of people already know and love… because your ego demands it.

What my wife said:

The wife’s opinion can be thought of like this. “I am so freaking tired of Superhero movies. I am only here because of my profound love of this nerd, but I just need something different to give a single crap about this movie.”

Mrs. Davis didn’t get that. Mrs. Davis was bored. The words, “Somewhere at the beginning I was thinking, ‘Oh man. This going to be such a horribly long movie.'” actually came out of her mouth tonight and that should just make the creators feel bad. They’ve created a story that can’t hold the attention of the people who may not be interested in comic book movies. You think that is impossible? Think again.

Jennie loved Deadpool. It was funny, it was fresh, it was hot. It kept her awake. Superman just didn’t. It was a snore to her, and if you snore the wives, you have lost the interest of millions of people who will do anything to avoid seeing the sequel… if there is one. Deadpool 2? Yeah, she’ll go see that even if I am not there, because it was legitimately entertaining to people who aren’t there to see their childhood fantasy realized on the big screen… which they are so freaking tired of.

What I think:

This one let me down because, from what I know of the comics, there was so much to draw from here that was just left so completely unused that the story came out horrible. Without spoilers, there were many very, very important characters to the DC Comics universe that were just thrown in here to add spectacle. Each and everyone of these people had so many legendary stories to draw from, that they could have made a movie, or several, all on their own.

Let’s take Wonder Woman for example. We have known she would be a part of this for a while. I’m not spoiling anything right now, because the movie tells us literally nothing about her. We have no idea where she came from, why she doesn’t age, what her powers are, anything, anything about her secret identity. She just sort of shows up. Out of the blue, there she is. It feels extremely forced to tie in so many of these characters for a big finale, but when the finale comes, you don’t care anything about them.

And that’s the problem, you just don’t love these people. You haven’t put in the time investment into seeing them grow and understanding them in this continuity. Just so that we remember, in my lifetime there have at least nine different people Batman in a major way. They all do it different and you have to ask, “Who did it best?” With characters like Wonder Woman , Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and even Aquaman, and the Flash you need a build up. You need to really love them, or really hate them. That takes time.

Instead you had a lot of characters who we got the impression the writing staff thought, “You know people know Batman. Let’s just skim over the whole ‘trauma’ thing. No one really cares anymore. Batman is Batman” and so they skimmed over that to fit in more plot. Wonder Woman? They never even said her name besides “Miss Prishhhh…”, I’m sorry I didn’t really hear that. What did you say? Prince? Fish? I mean, at the end of the movie we know literally nothing about her. It makes you feel like she was added for no other reason than to appeal to female audiences, which was fine… except to do that you have to actually make her an important character, as in a history, a motivation, a damn name for Pete’s sake! I mean, she is one of the big three. Give her some freaking screen time before the very end of the stinking movie. Honestly, feminists are going to pick up on this and it won’t be pretty. Then there was Flash, Aquaman, and the other barely mentions. I just want to say, I was really wanting to see more of these guys. I was excited when I found out that Jason Momoa was going to be playing that guy. I’ve loved him Stargate Atlantis. We see him for literally about six seconds in the film. It was just a massive letdown, though he does look cool.

Add to this that all the characters are acting in ways that are completely against their way for plot sake, which there is way too much of in not enough time and you just end up breaking what should have been the most awesome movie of the year. I can’t really fault too many of the actors. This really felt like direction without vision, but most of all, absolutely terrible writing.

As for the individual portrayals.

Supes…

Look, anyone who has ever read anything of mine on Superman knows that I think Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman is quite possibly the most beautiful thing ever put to film. I simply loved the first film. It makes me sad that it took a limey Brit to portray the ultimate American Superhero, but he did it. I mean look at him. That is a beautiful human being. I can’t say enough for how right his performance was, not only in Man of Steel, but also in Batman vs Superman. That said, even the strongest man in the universe is only so strong, and carrying a whole damn movie is just too much to ask.

Lex Luthor

Robert Frost really captured it pretty well a while back in What are your thoughts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer 2?

In January 2014, I answered What are people’s views on casting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman-Superman movie? and in my answer included the following diagram.

After watching the latest trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I feel obligated to revise the diagram as such:

In that earlier answer I wrote:

Eisenberg is also too young. He’s done the young cocky genius in The Social Network and Now You See Me. He came across as a petulant child in both. Lex Luthor is not a petulant child.

All I saw in the new trailer was petulant child.

Here’s the thing about Luthor, he’s crazy, but not “Joker” crazy, more Hannibal Lector Crazy. Calculating, sociopathic, cool even. Sometimes he gets too cocky when he starts to monologue his diabolical plans, but that is really the “craziest” he ever gets. Eisenberg comes off as just twitchy and weird. I don’t know if they picked him for his twitchy socially dysfunctional depiction of Mark Zuckerberg in the Social Network, but this was just not the Lex Luthor you know and fear.

There was one good scene, where you see his plan coming to fruition in a beautifully diabolical manner, one which negates all of Superman’s power with just cold hard manipulation. That was a really good scene for him. Everything else, no. It was just terrible. He honestly did come of as more deranged like the Joker than like the criminal mastermind we all know and hate.

What’s more, his backstory was terrible too. All we know about him in this continuity is that his father was was from Eastern Europe when Eastern Europe sucked, he made a big business for little Lexi and that he beat him. Is that it? You want to break the world because your dad hit you? Have some perspective.

Look, a villain is only great when it helps you bring out the beauty of the main character. He didn’t. He was written horribly. He was acted badly, or at least wrongly. And he was even directly terribly. There were actually times you can hear actors refer to him as “Luther”. That’s an issue. It’s LuthOR”, with an “O”. For the director not to have caught that tells me he really didn’t get it when directing for this character, or this role.

The other villain

Look, I am just going to spoil this a little, this is Doomsday. He’s freaking important and a walking spoiler if you know how important he is. That said, for all the significance of the character, he is visually underwhelming (kind of reminded me of the new Ninja Turtles) and his plot line was reduced to just being weird. I mean, he has the coolest background, but they nerfed it to fit into the story.

So fans of the old Doomsday as a force of pure destruction, prepare to be underwhelmed, all the way from ripping off the placenta to the somehow underwhelming defeat, and in spite of thing you already know is going to happen which is implied by his existence.

The Bat…

As I said before, wow. This was just terrible. Possibly the worst part of the movie was Batman. Yeah, Christopher Nolan sort of reset the standard, but this was bad. I won’t say Batnipples bad, but ungood. I wanted to say that, “Hey, nobody expected anything from Heath Ledger’s Joker, but damn.” In reality though, Affleck’s Batsy was just terrible. You didn’t really connect with the Batman, or Bruce Wayne, at all. There was no personality, just sneaking around, and being angsty with Alfred. Oh, and there was a girl in his bed. And he scowled a lot and looked sleepy all the time. There was nothing inspiring about him. He was just the bad guy. Batman is not a bad guy. He is the Dark Knight, the good guy who just operates in the shadows. Why are you trying to retconning this into a “bad guy who catches worse guys”? I mean, it was a completely forgettable performance. All I could think of was that joke from the Family Guy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xy5C-0P0zs

I can’t really blame it all on Affleck though. This one too, came down to writing. Look, this story moved too fast. You have Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, as well a host of other characters that were just forced to do stuff that doesn’t make sense for their characters just so that they can all be squeezed into the same place.

Spoiler:

Batman doesn’t kill people. He has this rule. We don’t kill people. He is also the smart one. Of all the Justice League, Bats is able to hang with people with actual superpowers because he has the overwhelming superpower of planning and intelligence. He also has tons of money, but mostly he wins because of his incredible intelligence, intuition, and foresight. He is never surprised. There was even an episode of the animated series where Bats is poisoned, only to come back in the end with the rational that he had been secretly taking small doses of it for years and was now immune. What luck, huh? No. He was just that prepared. Honestly, nothing stopped him because he carried every conceivable method for solving any possible problem in his cargo belt. If preparedness were a legit superpower, well… it’s Batman. He was also the undisputed champion of putting two and two together. With far, far less information than should be necessary to discover who done it, Batsy had the perp tracked to a warehouse on the docks and all mysteries solved. It was actually sad sometimes to see these demigods and masters of the universe all look to Batman every time and see him hold their hands like little kids watching Blues Clues. “Hmmm… do you see a clue?”, “Ooh! Ooh! It’s the moon!”, “That’s right Diana! Good for you.”

So what’s the story behind Batman.

  • Angsty
  • Doesn’t kill
  • Super smart

The new Batman? He’s not angsty, just grumpy. That’s all, just grumpy and looks like he recently took a melatonin. He just looks tired. Not sad or brooding. Just like he needs a nap. He also kills. He killed a lot of people. He even killed them with guns. What the? No guns. We don’t kill. We don’t use guns. We don’t kill with guns. I mean, this is crazy because Affleck is actually a really devout liberal, so to play a character who doesn’t use guns, but now uses guns because reasons just seems… I don’t know. I don’t understand the universe anymore. Then there is his real super power, smarts. He has none here. Seriously, he is played throughout the whole movie by people smarter than him. It’s embarrassing how stupid he is and how slow he is to figure out he has been manipulated throughout the whole movie into fighting Superman.

Oh, and back to don’t kill. I want to make it clear, he put a lot of effort, planning and detailed preparation into the act of murdering Superman. I mean when you watch it, it isn’t some sort of self defense thing. He is trying harder than anyone in the history of ever to murder Superman. But then what? It takes exactly 12 seconds of, “But wait! There is something else!” and just like that, he has completely abandoned his desire to murder the Man of Steel. I mean, you were wrong, but where is your guts? Honestly, I can’t think of a more unBatman than this Batman. This video sort of explains it all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwXfv25xJUw


Overall, it was pretty terrible, but it could have been awesome. They had a great cast that should have been able to pull this off, but writing destroyed the piece from the bottom up. Frankly, it was obvious that they tried to jump the gun on Captain America:Civil War, and it was a terrible idea. The pacing was all wrong. We just don’t love these people. We don’t connect them. We don’t understand what their motivations are in this movie. We don’t even know them. I mean seriously. Wonder Woman is an anomaly in this movie, just showing up in the end with both the other two like, “Who is this chick?” That’s really, really crappy setup.

Some of us love the characters from when we were kids, but the rest of the world was just lost and confused as the plot moved so fast from one person to the next with no real clue why anyone is doing anything. The background was there, there just needed to be more lead into it. Frankly, most of these people needed their own movies. We needed a standalone Batman movie to buy into this idea of Affleck as such an iconic role. We also could use a Wonder Woman movie. Why hasn’t that freaking happened yet. Look, the nerd world has girls now. Heck, even Lex could have rated his own film. Do all that and we get the movie this movie was meant to be, a real competition for Avengers, which it seriously could have been. Instead what does Warner Brothers do?

The suicide of Will Smith’s career.

Look, if Harley Quinn doesn’t carry the Suicide Squad, I don’t know what DC is going to do, because we are all a bit concerned about Leto and the Joker.

That said, there is so much that could have been done if Warner Brothers took the time to invest in the characters of Superman vs Batman (the correct order). Instead, it is diverting assets to films that shouldn’t be in existence, at least not until after the previously mentioned ones come around to bring the story up to the point where all this action has meaning and the relationships are established. The movie rushed it and that showed through. It was a terrible piece built on a foundation of so much good. The characters seemed forced. The plot is predictable. The ending was anticlimactic, and in the end, you are just mad that they would do this to the beautiful masterpiece that is Henry Cavill. Don’t worry you beautiful man. You’ll do fine. The rest of this franchise… I just don’t know after this.


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