Okay, first things first: sorry, I did not like Man of Steel. I think Zack Synder is an overrated director and following the very mixed bag of reviews for Man of Steel I was legitimately surprised that Warner Bros. elected to have him head up [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870). But like I've previously said, if it makes money Hollywood will continue to beat the dead Zod until it coughs up it's last dollar.
One of the biggest criticisms of Man of Steel was the poor characterisation, and I feared that Batman would receive the same treatment in Batman v Superman (and don't get me started on Wonder Woman - she needs a win right now). I know people will disagree with me on these points and that's fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
All that being said; I'm actually cautiously optimistic for Batman v Superman, mainly on the strength of the trailers. If the finished product is anything like what we've seen so far it wont change my opinion of Man of Steel, but it will renew my faith in the franchise. Ben Affleck's introduction to the mix of Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (with whom he worked alongside on Argo) likely has something to do with this.
Heavy On The Batman
I don't know about you guys, but it seems to me that the trailers are heavily weighed in Batman's favour. We don't even get to hear Superman (Henry Cavill) speak, which is odd but makes sense if the audience's sympathies are supposed to side with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).
There's been a lot of chat about the fact that Batman v Superman will feature more Batman than Supes, but again that kinda makes sense in that this is the first time we'll get to see our DC Cinematic Universe Batman so he'll be needing some introduction. In the trailer we even briefly see his origin story (and until now I didn't know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cameoing as Thomas Wayne, which could be pretty good).
"That's how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men... cruel."
Jeremy Irons as Alfred - I love this casting. And the few times we see him in the trailer he's there as the ever present voice of wisdom that Bruce needs, telling him that Superman is not the enemy and that his actions are just reactions to the other terrible things that have happened to him projected onto Superman.
Devils Don't Come From Hell Beneath Us...
The core of Batman v Superman is the nature and consequences of fear. And that makes perfect sense given that it's drawing heavily from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. This is a theme laced throughout the trailers, driven by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) stirring the pot of public opinion and the messages Bruce receives regarding his past failures (presumably from the Joker).
It is fear that causes public opinion to turn against Superman, and it is fear that drives Batman against him. Fear is important in the Batman canon, remember Batman Begins? The central message was about Bruce learning to use his own fear turned outwards to punish the guilty - that's why the bat is the symbol he chooses, as it's something he feared as a child.
"You traveled the world, now you must journey inwards to what you really fear... it's inside you... there is no turning back. Your parents' death was not your fault. Your training is nothing. The will is everything. If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely." - Ra's Al Ghul [Batman Begins]
And Here The Fear Stems From...
The Battle of Metropolis, the climactic battle of Man of Steel and perhaps one of the most heavily criticised scenes of the film.
Basically, during the battle Superman done fucked up - the resulting damage from his fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon) would've killed thousands of innocent people and yet it's not something that he appears to have any mortal quandary about, which is completely against the grain of the character. We see Bruce Wayne's reaction - looking up towards him in the sky in fear - in the Batman v Superman trailer as he holds a child amongst the destruction, a moment presumably reminiscent of his own childhood trauma.
Unlike in Man of Steel, Superman does take steps to answer for his actions in Batman v Superman - we see him appearing before a court as he is held responsible and later saving people in need around the world. However there's not been enough told from his point of view in the trailers yet to gauge just what his reaction will be and how he'll struggle with the repercussions of the battle. And that really needs addressing - Man of Steel proved that this is not the Superman we know in popular culture; this is the DCCU Superman and he is still developing as a character. Batman v Superman will be integral to that development.
The main issue with the representation of the Battle of Metropolis was the lack of consequences explored in Man of Steel. Batman v Superman looks to be a film dedicated to dealing with the fallout, and addressing the question of what happens when one super-powered being starts making waves in a world where others live in hiding or (as it looks to be with Batman) in retirement. And that's a pretty important road to be going down right now, the road which will inevitably lead to the founding of the Justice League in 2017.