Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
This one was definitely an interesting one. Leading up to this movie, it was a lot of mixed feelings. First of all, I am a big comic book fan and an even bigger Superman fan. But, at the same time, I usually agree with critics. So when I saw this start at 40% on Rotten Tomatoes and then trickle down from there, I was worried. A similar thing happened when Man of Steel came out too. But the question remains…is this movie as bad as the reviews make it seem?
So let’s get started. I won’t spoil anything in this review so it’ll just be some basic descriptions here. Batman v Superman takes place after the events of Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is mad as hell because while Superman and Zod were destroying half of Metropolis, one of his buildings came crashing down, killing numerous employees in the process. So he’s already pissed off. Superman (Henry Cavill), on the other hand, has become a controversial figure in the media as he is blamed for the mass casualties in Metropolis. There is widespread debate over whether he is here for good or evil and all that fun stuff. On his own time, Clark Kent is trying to expose the Batman because he doesn’t agree with his vigilante methods. Add Alexander “Lex” Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to the mix pitting these two heroes against each other, and that’s the basic premise.
Pretty simple stuff there, am I right? The story isn’t anything new or fresh; it’s just what we all thought it would be. But there is a lot going on in this movie. Maybe too much. The movie goes back and forth between the two heroes and the villain quite a bit and it can be a little sporadic at time, which disrupts the pace a bit. You get settled in with following Superman’s story, then Batman comes in, then they switch to Luthor, and the pattern continues. The editing, as a whole in that aspect, is a little jumpy.
“Tell me….do you bleed? You will!”
Let’s start with the controversy. Ben Affleck being cast as Batman definitely wasn’t a popular choice in the eyes of the fans. I will admit that even I wasn’t a huge fan at the time. But then I really thought about it and all of the work he had done recently. So I decided to just wait and see what he does with the role. And he killed it. Ben Affleck was the best part of this movie. He nailed the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman. That is something that is new to me. While I love Christian Bale and Michael Keaton as Batman, I feel like they could never get both roles right. Bale was a good Batman, but an average Bruce Wayne. Keaton was similar in that aspect, just the other way around. Affleck gets the aged billionaire playboy down, but he also is an awesome Batman. He’s dark and bitter and plays the role perfectly.
Cavill, on the other hand, is very average. He is given more lines in here than Man of Steel which I appreciate, but at the same time, he’s not Superman because of his acting talent. He looks the part for sure. He is a good Superman because he looks good in the costume, but he is an AWFUL Clark Kent. Where is the alter ego? The reason why it was at least semi-believable in previous film iterations for no one to notice that Clark was Superman was because he was awkward and clumsy and a nerd. Not just Superman in glasses. Cavill either doesn’t know how to play that part, or director Zack Snyder doesn’t care enough to establish that. He has little to no chemistry with his on-screen love interest, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who is just fine here.
Jesse Eisenberg as evil Mark Zuckerberg a.k.a. Lex Luthor
Now, I have to discuss Jesse Eisenberg. He was not a popular choice by any means. Everyone wanted someone older or who had the gravitas to handle a business mogul like Lex Luthor. I was not thrilled by the choice, because I wanted a different kind of actor entirely. Now, go through this movie imagining someone like Kevin Spacey, Bryan Cranston, or even the CW version of Lex Luthor from Smallville, Michael Rosenbaum, saying the same lines. It will give you perspective. Now, I did not hate Eisenberg as much as I wanted to. He was a little too jittery at times and a little too eccentric to the point where it seemed like he was trying to mimic The Joker. But there are a few scenes where he was just so menacing and played evil so well, that it worked for me. Look at a particular helipad rooftop scene for one example. The reason he worked is because Lex was actually clever in this movie. He isn’t working some weird real estate scam, he actually has motivations. Now, the motivations are fine but his ideas for the end result are a little wishy washy. But overall, I was impressed. He is a good mix of Gene Hackman’s comedic Luthor and Spacey’s menacing one.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Okay, one more controversy to go over. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She received a lot of backlash too because she was hard to understand in the Fast and Furious movies and because fans didn’t think she looked or acted the part. Now, in my viewing, when Wonder Woman shows up, there was mass applause. When she shows up, she is one bad ass woman. But the issue is that she wasn’t needed. Again, I reiterated that I am a huge comic book fan so I absolutely LOVED seeing the Trinity on screen here. But it wasn’t necessary. They sprinkled her randomly in the plot and she didn’t do anything. She was just kind of…there. This is in no way bashing Gal Gadot because she was actually pretty fantastic at life as Wonder Woman. But it definitely feels like they created the final villain just to make sure the three of them would be on screen together. It all felt shoehorned in. But her action scenes were great too. When she actually fights, I got goosebumps. Maybe it was because I was seeing Wonder Woman on screen with these heroes, but just the way she carried herself and her “war cry”, along with everything else about her was great. I’m definitely looking forward to her standalone movie.
Batman v Superman could have been a lot shorter too. You watch the movie and know that some of the stuff was just unnecessary. The film runs over two and a half hours and it could have been much shorter if they left some stuff out. Yes, they do throw in some Justice League stuff in there. As a comic book fan, I love it. But from a move standpoint, it wasn’t needed. Plus Marvel and DC fans have been arguing over it for what seems like ages now. Marvel took several movies to plant the seeds for The Avengers and DC is trying to force-feed us in one. So yes, it will feel a little forced. It also raises questions that it doesn’t choose to answer.
The action looks great. The buildup to the titled fight makes it all seem worth it and the fight between these iconic heroes doesn’t disappoint. Everyone thinks because Superman is super powered that he just pummels Batman. Not so much; Batman is a beast in here. He’s also smart. They are a great match for each other. The other fight scenes with Batman was really good as well. It seems like it comes straight out of one of the Arkham video games, and that is in no way a bad thing. Now, the CGI monster at the end…not so good. Man of Steel got a lot of complaints because of the amount of destruction that was caused at the end of it, and I certainly was not a fan of it. The good thing is that this movie deals with those consequences. The not-so-good thing is that after they deal with those consequences, they go right back to that destruction. The destruction and collateral damage is even worse this time. But it still doesn’t seem as bad because of what is causing it. It gives you mixed feelings. You love seeing these three banding together to fight something bigger but the thing they are fighting looks terrible. There are things about it that I liked but overall, the monster just looked like garbage.
To wrap this up, I will say that if you are a legitimate comic book fan, you will probably love this movie. If not, you may not care for it. It plays up the comic book elements (with a few visions) and all the set-up. The supporting cast do their jobs well too (Jeremy Irons is a terrific Alfred) but are outshined by Affleck. I will say that I was hoping for some more humor and a lot less dark and broody elements, but I did chuckle a couple times. Batman v Superman is a success to me because it manages to jam-pack everything it does and doesn’t give us a meltdown like Spider-Man 3 did. The acting is mostly good, the action looks great, and it leaves questions to be answered in future films. If you’re looking for a good comic book movie, this is your jam. If you’re expecting Oscar worthy anything, you’ll be disappointed. According to Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is worse than Batman Forever. And that is a travesty. This movie is a lot better than that. To answer my previously posed question…this movie is a lot better than what the reviews make it look like. It is far from perfect but for me, the good definitely outweighed the bad and I would recommend it.
THINGS I LIKED
- Ben Affleck as Batman
- The fight was worth the buildup
- Lex Luthor’s evil antics are a breath of fresh air
- Seeing the Trinity
- Great supporting cast
- The action scenes were well done
- When Wonder Woman showed up in her gear
- Jesse Eisenberg at times
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
- Jesse Eisenberg at times
- Still think Rosenbaum would’ve been the better Lex
- The final monster looked awful
- Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent is still really frustrating
- More destruction
- Justice League elements were not needed
- Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman felt shoehorned in and had nothing to do until the big fight