Last Saturday, I went to go see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice with a few friends. One friend, Malcolm, was particularly excited for it, a feeling that I did not share. We argued back and forth on the way to the theater; our thoughts on prequel Man of Steel, how DC’s films compare to Marvel’s, and so on. Then we settled into our seats, both eager to prove the other wrong.
Two and a half hours later, the movie was over. We all shared our initial reactions. Even Malcolm had to admit: “There were some parts that were… ‘Ehhh…’” I believe the phrase I used was “That was hot wet garbage”.
Seriously, folks. It’s terrible. Nowhere near Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, a comparison that can’t be avoided. It even misses the mark of a “bad-but-fun” movie, like Pacific Rim or the first Transformers. Batman V Superman absolutely deserves it’s 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, no matter how sad that makes Ben Affleck. Being the overly opinionated media consumer that I am, I decided to put together a list of problems with this movie.
Keep in mind: there WILL be spoilers in this article. I debated keeping it spoiler-free, but I wouldn’t be able to get my points across as well if I did. Not that it matters; you shouldn’t see this movie anyways. Let’s get started.
What the Hell is Going on?
I really don’t know how so many big movies end up like this. The entire first 90 minutes of BvS was utter nonsense, jumping from one scene to the next with no sense of rhyme or reason. It almost seems like director Zack Snyder had a list titled “Stuff That Should Happen in BvS,” and then he just strung the contents together at random. And then the last hour is just CGI explosions and punches and one-liners. Not that I have a problem with any of those things. But come on, dude.
I’m a stickler for good dialogue in movies. I realize this isn’t a big issue for a lot of people, especially when it comes to action films. But if the characters are saying things that no person would ever say in any situation, it kind of takes me out of the movie (think Star Wars: Attack of the Clones). Man of Steel had the same issue. I wish I remembered some of the lines from BvS, so I could give some examples. But honestly, I think I repressed the memories.
The Story (or lack thereof)
There were a lot of plot points in this movie that were just… look, they’re just really dumb. There are two moments that really stood out to me (and this is where we get spoilery).
The first: The fight between Batman and Superman could have been completely avoided if the two just had a quick conversation beforehand (referring to who blew up the Supreme Court building). Seriously, it would have been a sixty-second conversation. “You blew up the building!” “No I didn’t, that was a misunderstanding.” “Oh. I guess we don’t need to fight, then.” End of movie.
The second: Near the end of their fight, when Batman is holding the kryptonite spear, Superman whispers, “Martha,” alluding to the fact that Luthor has his mother in captivity. Batman completely freaks out, because his mother (murdered years before) was also named Martha. If Superman’s mom had any other name, or if Superman had said anything else, Batman would have just killed him right there. So it’s like I said: just really dumb.
This is less of an issue with the movie itself, but more of one with how it was marketed. One of the trailers for BvS showed way too many important plot points: the introduction of Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor creating Doomsday, Batman and Superman fighting on the same side, etc. All of these could have been surprises in the theater – and not terribly predictable ones, too. But hey, that trailer got 15 million hits on YouTube, so maybe I’m an idiot.
One of the biggest issues I had with BvS was that most of the characters weren’t established well enough. Yes, Superman and Lois Lane and Martha Kent were all introduced in Man of Steel, and that’s great. But that leaves Batman, Alfred, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, Doomsday and a few others – all massively important characters in this movie and in the DC universe in general.
Let’s take Batman for example. Here’s what we can assume going into the movie: he’s a rich, angry guy whose parents are dead and who dresses up like a big bat and punches bad guys really hard. And BvS gets all of those things right. What they don’t explain is who this version of the character is. In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, entire scenes are dedicated to demonstrating how and why Bruce Wayne is depressed, or angry, or why he feels whatever he does. But BvS’s interpretation is just an empty shell of a character dressed as a bat.
Because of this, there’s no emotional attachment to these characters. What was intended to be a very dramatic movie is reduced to a genuine bore, solely because it’s so hard to care about these characters.
Just Too Much
I feel this is the reason for most of this movie’s problems. There’s just too much going on here. I have my qualms with Man of Steel, but at least the story was simple enough. With BvS, there was so much shoehorned in. You don’t need to weirdly introduce the rest of the Justice League, or show off Doomsday. 90% of audiences are there for two reasons: Batman and Superman. All we needed was a relatively simple story about the two of them fighting for a good reason. And having Lex Luthor pulling the strings is fine, but we don’t need all that weird stuff about him creating Doomsday. Just have Batman and Superman fight, realize Luthor is behind it, punch Luthor for a bit, and then end the movie.
Please note: I didn’t mention anything about Wonder Woman. She’s honestly pretty great, a clear contrast to everything else going on here. The same goes for most of the acting, and the soundtrack, if you’re into that sort of thing. But don’t get me wrong – this just isn’t a good movie. I really wish it were. The saddest part is this: because of its financial success, Warner Bros are going to be completely comfortable releasing more movies of this caliber. But I guess it’s hard to argue with almost $200 million in three days. Oh well. At least we’re getting Captain America: Civil War soon. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Did you agree or disagree with any of this? Think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!