Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman V Superman

A few years ago, I discovered a webcomic called Axe Cop, which is a series of stories told from the mind of a child, but illustrated by said child’s adult brother. As you might expect, the series is pretty random and hilarious, as it is told simply through the spontaneity of a child’s mind. Logic is thrown out the window and a parade of crazy characters are humorously crammed together with very little consistency.

Imagine taking a similarly non sequitur method of storytelling, but removing the charm and humor, as well as the innocence of knowing it stemmed from a child’s mind. Now take that empty shell and stretch it to nearly three hours of brooding and explosions, and you have something of an idea of what Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is like.

Perhaps I’m just a tad bit biased, since I’ve always been more of a Batman fan than a fan of DC itself, so I’ve always hated to see DC’s heroes crossover with one another (if I made a Batman vs. Superman movie, it would consist of Batman wearing a suit of pure Kryptonite, thus weakening Superman and allowing Batman to beat the Man of Steel into a pulp within the first five minutes, and then proceed to being strictly a Batman movie). But I did try to go into Batman V Superman with an open mind.

Now, I will admit the movie did have some good points: I feel the concerns over Ben Affleck being the new Batman can be set aside, since his performance was one of the film’s highlights, and it gives promise for the upcoming standalone Batman reboot. There were a few entertaining moments, and the fact that such things exist at all in the movie automatically makes it better than 2013’s Man of Steel. And I must say I did actually enjoy the titular battle between the two superheroes.

The problem is that it’s all too obvious that the movie is trying to replicate what Marvel has achieved with their shared cinematic universe, and it does way too much way too soon. The reason why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is working is because they built up to it. Marvel had five standalone movies released before they packaged the established heroes together for The Avengers, with each of those standalone films giving hints at what was to come. Here, we simply had Man of Steel, which was strictly a Superman movie, and now we’re diving head-first into the bigger DC universe in one go. The end results make Batman V Superman play more like bits and pieces of many different movies, as opposed to one big one.

Batman V SupermanWe are given snippets of Batman’s origin story in the film’s first scene (which is probably the way to go with it, we all know Batman’s origin story so well that we don’t need to spend too much time with it). And we fast forward to the events of Man of Steel, where the reckless lummox known as Superman carelessly creates insurmountable collateral damage during his grudge match with General Zod, as a more heroic Bruce Wayne looks on.

This gives Bruce Wayne a reasonable fear of Superman. If ol’ Supes can cause that much destruction when trying to save people, what can he do if he turns against mankind? So Bruce Wayne/Batman makes it a priority to discover a means of taking down Superman, should the need come to pass.

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (who for some reason isn’t portrayed by Bryan Cranston) is hatching a scheme to take down Superman by framing him for various acts of violence and slowly turning mankind against him (adding fuel to Batman’s fire in the process), and discovers the powers of Kryptonite, and the effects it has on the otherwise invincible Superman, setting a bigger plot in motion.

The setup is decent enough, but once the movie starts to drop obvious hints and glimpses at future movies, it starts becoming a bit of a mess. Wonder Woman also plays a part in the movie, without ever having a real reason to be a part of it. Other DC heroes are also given cameos, because fan service. We even get a few mentions of the Joker, which only end up making us wish we were watching The Dark Knight instead. Also, Doomsday squeezes his way into this movie.

It’s not just the amount of characters and goings-on that are the problem with Batman V Superman, but its way of going about them as well. So many elements feel rushed, so many scenes feel episodic and clunky, and so much of what could have been a compelling story is drown in way too many sub-plots. One scene even depicts Bruce Wayne having a dream/vision of a potential future should his fears of Superman come to fruition. But instead of intrigue, the scene in question only ends up creating confusion, as it begins so abruptly and cascades so rapidly it may even produce an unintentional chuckle or two.

Another big problem with the movie is Superman himself, who comes across as an entirely unlikable hypocrite. He criticizes Batman for his vigilante ways, and as Clark Kent he makes it his mission to smear Batman’s name in the papers. Superman, who takes the law into his own hands on countless occasions, judges and condemns someone else for doing the exact same thing. At least Batman doesn’t have countless innocent lives on his hands due to recklessness.

I suppose being the Batman supporter that I am, I should be happy that Batman is inarguably in the right in this movie. The problem is that it still tries to depict Superman as a heroic savior-like figure, when his actions make him come off as a self-aggrandizing, hypocritical jackass.

Between the movie’s insistence on cramming in as many elements from the DC universe as possible, it’s plodding pacing and clunky editing, and one half of the titular combatants being downright unlikable, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is just a loud mess of a movie. There are a few diamonds in the rough (again, a Ben Affleck Batman movie actually has promise), but the film’s desire to compete with what Marvel has accomplished in a dozen films in one single movie makes it incoherent.

Simply put, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a very good super hero movie. It’s especially not a good Batman movie. The fact that it lacks humor and charm also makes it a pretty bad Axe Cop movie.

 

3.0

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7 thoughts on “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

  1. Red Metal

    Judging by your review, it sounds like this movie was the result of people working in several different directions at once. Such a process never seems to produce anything other than a complete mess, huh? It just seems like trying to emulate The Avengers from the onset was a bad idea. It’s exactly as you say, the reason that movie was so good was because it was a satisfying payoff set up by several movies. Successfully pulling such a feat off with a single film is an impossible task. I think you touched upon it as well, but from what I heard, the reason they are even at odds with each other is pretty convoluted. To me, it kind of sounds like something a bad fanfic writer would have drummed up.

    Also, I noticed you didn’t give it a score or is this just a first impressions deal?

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. themancalledscott Post author

      You know, I wrote this as simply a first impression kind of thing, as you said. But I think I kind of gave a full-on review instead. I think I may add a score to this (as well as the word “review” in the title). I have also been meaning to write a full review on The Force Awakens.

      Much of the movie is convoluted, but at least Batman has some kind of reasoning for disliking Superman. Superman instead just seems to think it’s bad that someone other than himself if fighting crime on their own time.

      I’m hoping at least some of these DC movies can be salvaged. At least the future Batman ones. I’d hate to see the series go from great movies like The Dark Knight trilogy into more of BVS type flicks.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Red Metal

        I’ve done that too. I remember a few times when I realized my comment was getting long (even by my standards), so I just made it into an editorial. Then again, I often find myself incorporating conversations with fellow bloggers into my reviews when the right context presents itself.

        Even as someone who is not too familiar with Superman, I can tell that’s a really bad choice of characterization. I haven’t seen either, but would you say his characterization in this is better or worse than in Man of Steel?

        Yeah, going on the way that they are, DC is going to have a pretty awful time in cinema. Sure, they’ll make money, but it seems like it would only end up being a series of short-term victories in lieu of anything sustainable.

        Ah, so you ended up giving it a lackluster 4/10 score, I see. A 4/10 from me would mean it’s difficult to recommend it, yet there’s something about it that makes me unable to dismiss it outright (i.e. solid concepts, historical significance, etc.).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. themancalledscott Post author

        For me, the 4/10 basically says its mostly bad, but that either in concept or in small pieces, there are some highlights (in this case, Ben Affleck’s Batman and the promise it could have).

        I only saw Man of Steel once, and that was nearly three years ago now (yikes! Time flies). But I think his characterization may have been worse in Batman V Superman, due to his hypocritical nature. Either that or I was too busy hating his Earth-father Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel .

        I can see that short-term success happening for the DC films, but I do hope they manage to produce at least a couple of good films here and there. I don’t want bad movies, after all.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. AfterStory

    The best part of the film was simply Batman, Ben affleck’s portrayal was definitely something new to the cinematic universe and I simply love is desperate and brutal nature. Whether he was beating the snot out of Superman or the army of thugs when trying to save Martha Kent, he was absolutely relentless and it was so damn satisfying! And I also enjoyed the last fight scene (for the catastrophic action of course) but besides that I’d say my praise would end there. Specific character motivations are incredibly stupid, the pacing is so sluggish and inconsistent, it tries to build a foundation way too quickly and it thinks it deserves is it in the same manner of the avengers, and batman and superman’ moment of clarity and reason to join forces is mind-numbingly stupid. And I honestly wished batman and superman would fight more like the trailers indicated, but nope, they only fight once. DC really needs to rethink their strategy, honestly please remove Zack Snyder from the project, he is awful. The only decent movie he’s ever directed was watchmen, everything else was mediocrely subpar :/ Christopher Nolan couldn’t even save man of steel!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      Its really telling about how much people prefer Batman over all other DC characters that we’re far from the only people I’ve seen who basically point out Batman as being this movie’s only saving grace.

      Zack Snyder just can’t keep any kind of focus on his movies. They’re all over the place, and he doesn’t know how to give characters motivation (Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel could be summed up as a monster, considering he basically teaches his son to hide his powers and prevent saving people because people might think he’s weird).

      Liked by 1 person

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