So I’m gonna change things up a bit here, this will be a spoiler review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice since at this point the people that might want to read this, well they probably already saw the movie so I might as well just cut straight to the chase, no gloves.
If on the off chance you’ve yet to watch Batman v Superman and are still reading, fine, I will tell you why you should watch or why you might want to skip it, without spoilers. When the spoilers do start, I’ll make it clear that’s the point of no return (unless you want the movie’s story ruined, in which case I can’t stop you).
If you’re into superhero movies or more specifically someone familiar with the DC Comics pantheon of heroes and villains, this is pretty much required watching, and who are we kidding, you already saw it or plan to see very soon. For anyone else Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a complete mess storywise with some very cool action sequences in the last half. Either you have someone sitting beside you that can explain certain things as the movie goes, or you will probably be lost. Even coming off of Man of Steel, which was much easier to digest by the average moviegoer, you’re gonna be lost here without some basic DC Comics knowledge. Not everyone might know who Wonder Woman is, and they really shouldn’t in order to enjoy Batman v Superman. What I’m saying is the movie doesn’t do a particularly great job setting up its world. Had they done another Man of Steel movie (as was initially planned) that slowly opened the gates, and then Wonder Woman, and only after those two Batman v Superman, we’d probably have a very different conversation right now. But I guess Warner really wanted its DC Cinematic Universe now. Imagine Avengers coming out three years after the original Iron Man, no Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger or Thor. Well to a certain degree that’s what’s happened here.
Before I move on to the spoilers, there are a few takeaways here, and they’re mostly things people were afraid of when casting for Batman v Superman was announced. The first takeaway, Ben Affleck makes for a great Bruce Wayne, unfortunately the movie doesn’t do a lot with him. His Batman is amazing too, but sadly probably half his action sequences are kind of in the trailers already. So the movie definitely leaves you wanting more, which is good I guess for a potential future standalone movie with Batman. Now I was expecting good things from Batffleck, but what I wasn’t expecting is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Let’s just say that after watching her in Batman v Superman, now I want to see her 2017 movie. You get enough of her to pique your interest but at the same time not as much as you’d want. There’s a fine balance here and they kind of nail it. Honestly, for the 20 minutes or so she has in it, for me at least she ended up being the best part of Batman v Superman.
Look, it’s Batman and Superman for the first time together in a live-action movie and when you have them and Wonder Woman fighting alongside at the end, it’s so cool that you’re almost ready to forgive everything else the movie did bad up to that point, almost. And this is where we’re about to start going into spoiler territory. Yes, from this point on it’s SPOILERS. If you really need a rating, let’s say two and a half bats out of five kryptonite rocks. Spoilers start NOW.
Again, this is where SPOILERS begin, so go watch the movie and then come back, or keep reading, your choice.
So the two main DC storylines they tried to fit in the 151 minute or so running time of Batman v Superman are The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman. Just based on the title and the way they first teased this project way back at San Diego ComicCon 2013, we knew they were mainly gonna take inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (not to be confused with Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, I’m talking about comics here). We knew it wasn’t a direct adaptation, and really after Man of Steel and the way that unfolded, just trying to do that story page by page wasn’t gonna work. But what me and probably many others were hoping for was that Zack Snyder and his team would at least capture the essence of that story arc, why Batman beating Superman was important. Now the actual fight is great, but the way the story pushes them into that battle and what ultimately resolves the conflict has got to be one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in a superhero movies.
What really kills me the most is Zack Snyder completely got Watchmen, which is on an entirely different narrative level, so to see him absolutely butcher and completely miss the point of the Batman and Superman confrontation, it’s incredibly disappointing. You have Batman going up against Superman, that’s at the very least the one thing they should have been 100% sure they got right. So how do they work things out in the movie? Martha, frigging Martha is the answer.
And then there’s The Death of Superman, which ends up being squeezed at the end of the movie in about 20-25 minutes or so. That’s another reason why people were so mad when they saw Doomsday spoiled in the second trailer for Batman v Superman. They might as well just show Superman’s casket at that point, because when you see Doomsday you know the only reason he’s in there is so they can do The Death of Superman. The actual fight was pretty cool, but honestly this movie did not need Doomsday. I get that you’re trying to setup Justice League, and I guess this is one way of doing it, by killing Superman so Batman is the one to get the gang together, but this movie was already juggling enough balls as it is, it didn’t need another.
With a tighter script and better editing (some of the transitions from one scene to another can be very jarring, feels rushed, like a lot of stuff was cut at the last moment) they could have made two pretty good superhero movies out of this. The first one would be Man of Steel 2 (pretty much the first half, up to the conflict between the two) while the second would be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which could have the actual fight between the two at the beginning and then slowly work in Doomsday for the eventual death of superman at the end, and what that means for the world.
I keep rambling and this is turning into less and less of a review and more of a rant. Look, I really wanted this to be good, and at the end of the day it’s really not and I’m not gonna be in denial about it or make excuses for it. On the flip side with Batman v Superman finally out of the way, there’s a lot of potential for the future of Warner’s DC Cinematic Universe. I’m really looking forward to Suicide Squad (August 5th) and Wonder Woman (June 23rd 2017), but I also think they should maybe take a step back and not rush Justice League Part One, really think hard about where they want to take it and maybe even think about a replacement for Zack Snyder, like say George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road).