A Thoroughly Enjoyable Experience, Minus Some Major Flaws.
I realize that I’m a bit late to the party with this review seeing as how the theatrical version came out in February, but to be completely honest, I wasn’t interested in shelling out $30+ on tickets, popcorn, and drinks for a film that received a 27% Rotten Tomatoes score and even more mixed reviews from comic book fans I know both online and in my personal life.
When it was announced that an extended cut of the film would be released over the summer on Blu-Ray and Digital HD formats, I decided to save my money to purchase the Blu-Ray edition once it dropped in price a bit.
Overall, I actually really enjoyed this movie and I’m not really sure why so many people are complaining about it. I’m sure this is due to the fact that I’ve watched the extended cut instead of the theatrical release, but even so, it’s quite clear to me that some were jumping the gun a bit by comparing this to the train wreck known as Batman & Robin because let’s face it, no superhero film made since has been that bad!
In all seriousness though, Batman v. Superman (BvS) has several aspects of the film that work in surprising ways and I’ll be analyzing them in detail so this is a friendly reminder that spoilers are ahead.
As with most Zack Snyder films, BvS had incredible cinematography and visuals. This is the first time that I feel like we’ve seen a truly comic book accurate Batman and Superman film that wasn’t fan made. Everything from the visuals of Gotham City and Metropolis, to the costumes and everything in between, felt like it was a mix of Frank Miller and Jim Lee styles ripped from the comics and put on the big screen. This is how comic books are supposed to look when adapted to the big screen!
Batman (or Batfleck as we all call him)
I remember all of the Internet memes going around about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. Like everyone else at the time, I was skeptical as to whether or not he could pull off playing The Dark Knight. When the first trailer with him as both Bruce Wayne and Batman dropped, I knew he was the one for the role and was glad to be proven right when I watched this film.
He absolutely nailed the fractured psyche of Bruce Wayne/Batman and it was quite clear that he’s passionate about this role. As mentioned when talking about cinematography, I was beyond happy to finally see the comic book black and gray batman costume as well as the best on-screen Batmobile ever! The decision to make batman a figure shrouded in mystery and urban legend was a great homage to the character’s original creator Bob Kane and it really worked for this storyline too.
Now, I’d like to address the people who are freaking out about “Batman The Murderer”. I get that a lot of people grew up in the modern era where Batman has a no kill rule. However, this was not always the case, as Batman would actually either kill or let criminals die in the early comics of the 30s and 40s. Also, Bruce Wayne explains multiple times in this film that he feels jaded from fighting crime in Gotham for almost 20 years. This Batman has seen some major crap at this point in his life, and realistically, I’d think that Batman would in fact throw out his no kill rule later on in life.
Superman As A Christ Figure.
This is another aspect of the film that I feel people misunderstand. Everyone who lives in our reality knows Superman as a comic book hero and a symbol of Truth, Justice, And The American Way. However, we often forget to look at the “reality” of the movie itself. In DC’s cinematic universe, Superman is a being that can fly, shoot laser beams from his eyes, and is invincible against practically everything except for Kryptonite (which I’m guessing the average person in that world wouldn’t even know). Therefore, it’s completely plausible that many would in fact see Superman as a god due to these factors.
The “Martha” Scene.
This is perhaps the biggest subject of debate among fans and movie viewers alike. Many viewed the fact that Batman sparing Superman’s life due to the fact that their mothers share the same name as a cop-out. In reality, it’s secretly genius and here’s why:
Bruce Wayne/Batman is a man with clear psychological issues. This is someone who was traumatized by seeing his parents gunned down before him as a child, and ends up dressing like a giant bat while beating up criminals and even killing some as an adult. This isn’t exactly a normal response from a psychologically sound adult and this is further compounded by his fear of Superman’s rule over humanity.
At the moment when he realizes that Superman also has a mother and is more “human” than alien, It’s a moment of clarity and perhaps even healing for Bruce as he realizes there’s no need to keep wandering down a dark path by himself.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor / Nerotic Lex
When I think of Lex Luthor, I think of the ruthless business mogul who is pretending to be a philanthropist by day and secretly selling arms and financing terrorism instead. This is the version of Lex that many of us grew up with. He’s always plotting some evil scheme while pretending to do good. This is supposedly the world’s smartest man, and subsequently the most dangerous as well.
That’s what Lex Luthor should be, but BvS gave us a bizarre cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and a super neurotic and almost schizophrenic Mark Zuckerberg because some casting director probably said “Hey, we can get Jesse Eisenberg to play Zuckerberg again, only this time, he’ll be even more crazy with a streak of The Joker”! Seriously, this character is so over-the-top insane that it’s actually laughable. Now I’m wondering who signed off on him becoming CEO of Lexcorp, because no one I know of in business would let someone that obviously deranged run a company.
The only thing that’s worse than his character traits, are his motives for wanting to kill Superman and thereby killing God. This made absolutely no sense and it seems like they barely cover any of his motives or reasoning at all. To be fair, Eisenberg did a great job with what he had, but it wasn’t much. I was honestly hoping that they would’ve cast Bryan Cranston to play Lex like some of the rumors said, but sadly this wasn’t the case.
Doomsday And The Death of Superman.
There’s not much to say about this part other than “No. Just no”. What should have been an emotionally intense fight just seemed like another cinematic monster battle with the unkillable cliché attached. Even more upsetting was the fact that they only waited 2 films to kill Superman.
The original comic book storyline in the 90s titled The Death of Superman was profound because of Superman’s iconic status and multi generational influence on Pop-Culture. It was significant because the character with this much popularity had never been killed off before. DC comics had even made national news when they made this decision. It was monumental. In the film, it just seems like a convenient plot point to set up the Justice League movie with little thought or care as to what the filmmakers are doing.
While I thought it was cool to see Wonder Woman on-screen, she didn’t need to be in this movie. She didn’t have a clear motive or purpose other than promoting her own solo film, and seeing her just took me out of the main storyline.
BvS definitely deserves more than a 27% Rotten Tomatoes score and extended cut is definitely is the version everyone should see. It’s very obvious what they put effort into and what they didn’t. It’s not the best superhero film I’ve seen but I’ll definitely watch it again.
I give this film a B.