Remember back in 2007 when you saw “I Am Legend” and saw this and snickered?
Well now that throwaway image is now a reality. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second film in the DC Extended Universe is here. This movie has certainly been talked about ever since it was announced. Mostly it was all skepticism that was a result of the mixed reception on th initial film in the DCEU, 2013’s Man of Steel. That film raised a lot of questions and concerns about how Zack Snyder, who returns as director would handle the meeting of arguably the 2 greatest superheroes in popular culture. Did I find it a hit or miss? The critics have not been nice to it. At the time of this writing it is at 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience reception has been just as mixed.
Well first things first. I enjoyed Batman v Superman. I honestly did. It is by no means a perfect movie, but it presented me with something I don’t usually see in current superhero movies and that included the recently released Deadpool. I was presented with a dark interpretation that certainly will be divisive but I actually accept those changes because I do not have an ideal image of these characters. I have favorite interpretations sure, but do I have a certain way that I have built up Batman or Superman to be? I don’t. Therefore I was able to enjoy how they were presented here. I’m not going to go too in depth on that matter in this review.
The film is set in the aftermath of Superman’s battle with Zod and the Kryptonians during the climax of Man of Steel. After an opening scene which recounts the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, we see the battle of Metropolis from Bruce’s point of view. Here he sees the power that Kal-El possesses and wonders what happens if he is not on the side of the people of Earth. In he meantime Lex Luthor has been doing some things in the background involving the Kryptonians technology that may have grave repercussions for all.
As far as casting goes we all know the reactions when Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg were cast as Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor respectively. I thought Affleck was well cast. He brings a world weariness to the Dark Knight as he ponders what a Superman in the world can mean for humanity. Gadot is perfectly cast as Wonder Woman. During the film she is on her own mission separate from the main story that ties into future events for the DCEU. And she has a badass theme! Eisenberg for me just came across as Jesse Eisenberg just a little more manic. I didn’t hate his performance, nor love it. As far as th returning Man of Steel cast, Henry Cavill still impresses me as a basically reluctant Superman and his reaction during one particular scene sums that up. Amy Adams is still great as Lois Lane and Diane and Laurence Fishburn are solid as well. I also give a thumbs up for Jeremy Irons as Alfred who I so wished there was more of. Especially following Michael Caine in the Dark Knight Trilogy..
Another element I enjoyed was Hans Zimmer’s score. I loved the music to Man of Steel and the same goes here. I did not find it as bombastic as the previous film, but it has some great callbacks. I felt that the themes for Batman and Superman were on point. The best piece of music however, is Wonder Woman’s theme, Is She With You? As a comic book fan, it perfectly encapsulates the aura of the Amazonian and immediately got me excited for her film to be released in 2017.
I earlier stated what I enjoyed about the film was its presentation of a version of Superman and Batman not really seen before. The problem however is how the film is constructed to show us this. This isn’t the Man of Steel and Dark Knight your are accustomed to. I took no issue with that, but the film’s editing sort of doesn’t give us much context at times. Hopefully once the announced Ultimate Cut restores the speculated 30 minutes of footage this may help with that context. The editing also causes some odd pacing issues as well, where I felt engaged most of the time, but it would feel like a sudden speed bump in other places. The darkend visual asthetic was a bit more strong than in Snyder’s previous work, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of what was on screen.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is certainly just as divisive if not more than Man of Steel, but as an alternate way to look at superheroes, I appreciate the story and the differing ideals it tried to present. The editing causes it to suffer in places and the context can get lost due to this. I thought the action scenes were great and the score matched the tone of film well. I did enjoy the nods that are setting up the larger DC Universe as I felt they were pretty organic. Is this a film for general audiences? Is it a film for comic book fans? I can’t answer that question for anyone. I can say that for me, this movie worked. Possibly in ways I hadn’t really thought of before with this genre. Whatever DC and WB decide going forward in the wake of BvS, I can say I am now more interested than ever to see.
Final Rating (3.5/5) Batman v Superman presents a challenging interpretation of its 2 main characters that I appreciate. Some of the motivations can be lost due to some issues with editing, but I enjoyed the action and look forward to how these 2 Titans carry on in the wake of the events of the film and future DC Extended Universe films. Hurry up Wonder Woman!
Check out these awesome character posters!