Batman v Superman: Potential and a Dash of Hope

I’ve been apprehensive about Batman v Superman since the day it was announced. Director Zack Snyder’s last movie, Man of Steel, was a snooze fest and destruction porn at best. I didn’t have a lot of faith in his attempt at making an iconic rivalry/alliance work on the silver screen. While most of my fears did prove to be true, I was pleasantly surprised that there is a decent amount to love in this movie.
Now that’s not to say that this was a great movie. If anything, it was full of potential. Potential probably better realized by someone not named Zack Snyder. The film has this dark, brooding atmosphere hanging over it, especially during the Batman scenes. And the cinematography can’t be ignored. I do give credit where credit is due, and Snyder knows how to make some iconic imagery. One of the scenes that stuck out to me was Superman floating about the Capital. Seeing him floating there, a cloudy sky behind him, his cape billowing behind him, and the citizens on the ground watching in awe. There were plenty of great moments like this, but they just couldn’t make up for the incredibly lazy writing and weak story.
Honestly, if Batman and Superman had sat down and had an intelligent discussion, their fight never would have needed to happen. I just expected some sturdier, more thought out reasoning behind their feud. But nope; it’s all because of a big misunderstanding. It’s even more frustrating here than it’s more common home, romantic comedies.
Maybe it was due to the absolutely atrocious editing, or perhaps the story was so bad that the pacing was off from the start, or maybe it was a combination of both. But the film suffered as a result. It starts off fairly strong, before splitting up into about 7 different plot lines. Each scene ends and begins abruptly, with no thought to how they could lead into each other or bounce off of each other or something. It’s like Snyder filmed a bunch of scenes and just mashed them into some kind of order that sort of makes sense.
One of my chief complaints with Man of Steel was how incredibly tedious it was. To be honest, that was sort of fixed here, but the entire middle hour or so of the movie reminded me too much of that feeling. I found myself beginning to nod off quite a few times before the pace picked up again and the movie drew me back in. If Snyder is going to tackle the Justice League movies, he’s going to need to find a way to make sure they don’t drag. I can’t even really blame the run time because I love long movies. Marvel doesn’t shy away from longer movies and they manage to keep the entire film fresh and engaging.
I also have to give credit for some of the character work in this movie. Affleck’s Batman was everything I hoped and dreamed for. It’s something straight out of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, one of my favorite comics ever. He is brutal and unhinged. It’s a Batman that the common audience member won’t be used to, but one that I hope they come to love.
However just like in Man of Steel, there was way too much Lois Lane and she always seemed to be right in the thick of things. There just isn’t any reason for her to always be wherever an event is going to take place. And its not that Amy Adams is bad at portraying her, in fact I think she does a terrific job. I just don’t think Lois is that important of a character to be at every single pivotal scene. Especially the fight with Doomsday.
Superman wasn’t anything special, and they tried to give him some sort of inner conflict that just doesn’t really feel authentic. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a fan of the character at all, but I just couldn’t connect at all and kept waiting for the movie to cut back to Batman.
One character that I can see causing a lot of divisive opinions however, is Lex Luthor. Personally, I thought Jesse Eisenberg did a fantastic job and gave a fresh take to a classic villain. I really enjoyed the whole insanity route they took here, and I have a feeling that he will become more reigned in as the movies progress, maybe eventually becoming the cold, calculating Lex Luthor from the comics. But for now, it was an interesting character and I loved every scene with him. The way the soundtrack complimented his craziness made for some intense, enjoyable scenes.
At the surface, this movie offers everything people hated about Man of Steel; a dull story, janky editing, run-of-the-mill CGI destruction porn, Lois Lane, etc. But beneath that, I found some hope for future DC movies. Affleck will make a fantastic Batman in future films, and I hope we get to see some sort of prequel (I want to see the story behind Jason Todd and the Joker for example because I have strong feeling it directly causes Batman to be as unhinged as he is in this film). There’s plenty of teases for future films, from the Justice League members to Darkseid references. The overall tone is something that I enjoyed and it contrasts well with Marvel’s bright and funny comic book movies. This wasn’t a great movie by any means, but it was alright. And that’s better than whatever the hell Man of Steel was.

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