Right upfront, I want to say two things: (1) I am a huge, HUGE fan of DC Comics and they make up about 65% of my comic book collection. Not only that, but Batman is, hands-down, my favorite superhero. Ever. (2) I was not terribly thrilled about the prospects of this movie. The reason being that I felt that ‘Man of Steel‘ was not just lackluster as far as comic book movies go, it was way over the top as far as the level of destruction it shows. It almost felt like it went out of its way to say “Look how cool it is that we are destroying an entire city! It’s because these guys are so powerful.” That latter part I attribute to Zack Snyder as the director. I’m also in the camp that was really turned off by Superman snapping Zod’s neck at the end of the film. BUT…. I digress. This isn’t a review of ‘Meh of Steel’ (as my friend Ben is fond of calling it). However, these points will help you to better understand my review.
I will say that my biggest complaint about this film is that, once again, DC and Warner Bros try cramming too much into one movie. I feel that this started with ‘Batman Forever‘ where they felt the need to give every film at least 2 villains while also over doing it on the supporting cast members. The Nolan trilogy was guilty of the other problematic aspect of DC / WB movies as seen in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ One of that films biggest criticisms is being a mishmash of ‘No Man’s Land‘, ‘Knightfall‘ and ‘Dark Knight Returns‘. Likewise, in ‘Batman v Superman’ they try to do just a little too much with the story lines resulting in a feeling of not having any of them competently executed. The running time of 2hrs and 40 minutes could have easily been trimmed down and not made to feel as heavy had some unnecessary plot points been abandoned. Also, the sheer scale of the destruction was waaaay too much. But that’s just Zack Snyder’s take on comic book movies. I don’t expect there to be much of the planet left if he directs the actual ‘Justice League‘ movie. In the comics, destruction of an entire city is usually reserved for milestone events like ‘Action Comics’ #700 or the Batman ‘Cataclysm’ story arc. With Zach Snyder, it’s just par for the course and a typical day in Metropolis.
There were several things to enjoy about the movie: Everything to do with Batman was very smartly executed. Ben Affleck IS Batman. He owned the role in a way no one really has since Michael Keaton, in my opinion. His Batman would kick the @$$ of Christian Bale‘s Batman any day of the week. Jeremy Irons was an excellent Alfred as well. I have great love and respect for Michael Caine, but Jeremy Irons shines in the role of Batman’s trusted confidant. Seeing this makes me giddy with anticipation of the Batman solo film that Affleck is going to star in and (possibly) direct. Henry Cavill proved in ‘Man of Steel’ that he is someone who can easily carry the mantle of Superman and he continues to do so in this follow up film. The brief glimpses of Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman and Ray Fisher‘s Cyborg have me excited for those two films. Ezra Miller‘s appearance as The Flash only reinforced my belief that he is not the right person for that part. I hope that I will be proven wrong. However, I was NOT proven wrong in my initial reaction to the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. This is no fault to him as an actor – Eisenberg played a perfect psychopath. And if Lex Luthor was a psychopath, then it would have been perfect. Lex Luthor is brilliant, cunning, scheming and dark. I don’t understand why the only time DC has nailed this has been in their animated movies and TV series such as ‘Justice League Unlimited.’ Even ‘Smallville‘ provided a better look at what Lex Luthor should be than was shown to us in the course of this film. Jesse Eisenberg seemed more like The Riddler than Lex Luthor. Very disappointing, that.
Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was flawlessly executed in this movie and Gal Gadot knocked it out of the park with her portrayal leaving me champing at the bit to see her solo film when it comes out next year! She was utilized in just the right measure for this film without being too involved and also not left entirely in the periphery. If this is any indication of what the ‘Wonder Woman‘ stand alone film has to offer us, then we are all in for a major treat!
Now onto the main event. Literally. The actual showdown between Batman vs Superman was epic. The opening of the movie did a fantastic job of setting the tone and also helping us to understand exactly why Bruce Wayne is willing to take Superman down right out of the gate. The battle is perfectly nuanced and will make all of those Batman naysayers recognize exactly why Batman CAN take down Superman. Not to say who wins, but I will say that it is a good, evenly matched fight just because of who Batman is. Even with all of the movie’s other flaws, the big battle between DC’s anchor characters is worth the price of admission.
The last thing that I will tell you is that there is no need to sit through the closing credits. I was disappointed to find that there is no teaser or stinger at the end of this movie. It almost feels like a staple of films these days but perhaps that was too “Marvel” of a move for them to do. Overall, I would give the movie a solid B+. If you’re comic book fan, you may be a little less than thrilled with the overall product, but the tone is dark and gritty and it’s certainly a spectacle worth seeing at in theaters. IMAX viewing is also worth it, in my opinion, since the effects and visuals, while often egregious, were cool to see in this format. Check it out and be sure to let me know what YOU think once you’ve seen it!