Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Laurence Fishburn, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter
As a movie buff, I’ve never liked it when people hate a movie intensely before it is released. Sure, a film can show signs of being a stinker just by looking at the trailer, but it is my belief that every movie should be given a chance (well, almost every movie) before you decide to pour every ounce of hatred upon it. A recent example of this is the new Ghostbusters movie set to be released this summer 2016. As the trailer played before Batman vs. Superman, I heard actual audience members boo at the screen. Sure these aren’t the original Ghostbusters, but what’s with the immediate hatred without having seen the film? They can’t base their hatred on a three second trailer! Is it because they are women? Is it because it’s not the original cast? I don’t exactly know, but there they were, booing at the screen to a movie they have not seen yet. Case in point, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) a film that audiences came in hating from day one. Again, I decided to give the film a fighting chance, to prove itself to me. How was it?
The premise for Batman vs. Superman is that the world now sees Superman as more of a threat than a protector. His fight with general Zod in Man of Steel (2013) caused many deaths, and so now people don’t trust him, in fact, they’re thinking that if something should push him off the deep end someday, he might actually make the entire planet disappear! Lex Luthor is one of these people who sees Superman as a threat, so he orchestrates a way to get Batman and Superman to fight, so that Batman can kill Superman and therefore wipe the threat from Luthor’s mind. Will Batman have what it takes to go up against the Son of Krypton?
Now if you ask me, all the hatred comes simply because its cool to hate a big budget movie that stars Ben Affleck, an actor whose career seemed to be in an inevitable downward spiral after he starred in a string of bad movies like Daredevil (2003) and Gigli (2003). But that was all left behind when he vindicated himself by directing and winning a couple of Oscars for Argo (2012), suddenly he was on the proverbial comeback. Gigli was finally left behind in the dust like some long lost fuzzy memory. But apparently, people still associate Affleck with failure, because his casting as Batman is one of the many things that people immediately draw upon to bad mouth Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Good thing about Affleck is that he’s resilient, he hasn’t given up. He figures it’s all about making good movies, good scripts and good solid performances, which is exactly what he’s been sticking to lately, and its worked. To me he has more than demonstrated he’s a good writer/director/actor, a multi talented individual. And he’s awesome as Batman in my book, in fact, I personally dig his Batman more than Christian Bales, who always seemed kind of like a half crazed Batman. Affleck’s plays him more like a cool, calculated businessman.
The film itself is a bit unbalanced, because it doesn't stick to one story line, it leaves some threads hanging, and starts others up. I don't mind seeing hints at future plot lines, because Marvel movies have been doing the exact same thing in their movies for years and nobody seemed to complaint then. DC/Warner Brothers is simply applying that successful cliffhanger formula to their movies, what’s the big deal? Is there a double standard with using this formula? Its okay for Marvel to do it, but not for DC? I frown upon that and say that it’s cool that DC movies are giving us small glimpses of things to come within their cinematic universe, which in my book is vast and unexplored. But I do agree the film needed a bit more focus. Follow through with what you propose with your plot lines. What happened to the whole story line about the world feeling Superman is a threat? What are the governments of the world gonna do about it and why aren't they taking action? This story line wasn't followed through, and then they introduce Doomsday and Flash and Cyborg and Aquaman. Still, even with these flaws, fan boys were eating up this movie. I know it, because I felt the wave of awe when the geeks (myself included) got a glimpse of these visages of the future. People actually cheered and clapped when Wonder Woman first appears! So naysayers, don’t hate this movie for hates sake. Sure it's got flaws, but I had a blast with this movie anyways!
It’s both a Superman film and a Batman film, both get equal screen time, both get explored. I mention this because I read complaints that the film is more about Batman than Superman, but I do not agree with these comments either, in my book both characters get the exposition they deserve. Superman is seen as more of a threat than a savior! When had we seen that story line played out in a Superman movie? Never! Superman is seen as a god like figure, who can either be our benefactor or totally annihilate us if he chose to, a concept explored by Alan Moore and Zack Snyder through the character of Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen (2009). So in a way, this is Zack Snyder revisiting some concepts he’d explored before. Actually, this whole idea of the superhero suddenly turning into a threat to humanity rather than a savior seems to be the hot ticket in Hollywood, Captain America: Civil War (2016) will apparently explore the same themes, with Captain American being seen as a threat to humanity, because of all the destruction he’s caused. Suddenly, Captain America: Civil War doesn’t seem so original. But whatever, something tells me that will be an awesome movie anyways. I just wish Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice had explored this plot further, to its full measure, instead this idea is only half explored.
Just so you know, what the writers behind Batman vs. Superman did was they took parts of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and mashed it up with parts of The Death of Superman story line, primarily issue #75 of Superman. I kept seeing elements and images from both of these story lines popping up, so you might want to give those two story lines a look. Finally, I even liked Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, he was a formidable villain. He has no super powers, but he knew exactly what buttons to push in order to get the ball rolling. Sure he’s maybe a bit to jokey, but that’s Eisenberg's own personal take on the character. I have a feeling we’ll see this villain evolve into a serious threat in the upcoming films. Finally, I’m looking forward to the growth of the DC cinematic universe. I had a blast with Batman vs. Superman, loved how it mixed its serious tone with the exaggerated antics we’ve come to expect from a comic book movie. Naysayers are hating for hates sake, pay no mind to them and go see this fun slice of comic book cinema, warts and all.
Rating: 4 out of 5