This review contains spoilers:
Ever since DC’s Man of Steel came to theaters in 2013, many fans searched for Easter Eggs to see if this film was a part of a larger universe. After all, Marvel has spent years building a universe full of interconnectivity for all their characters, why can’t DC do the same? Sure, we had the “Nolan trilogy,” which gave use a very earnest viewpoint of Batman set in the real world: he was a detective who just happened to wear a costume. Those films were considered “masterpieces,” could DC strike lightning twice? And we did get some Easter Eggs in Man of Steel. Superman and Zod fought each other and in the background we saw Lexcorp logos, as well as a Wayne satellite fall out of the sky, so yes we knew eventually we were going to get more than Superman.
However, Man of Steel also was a divisive film. Everything from Pa Kent’s nonchalant protective attitude for Superman’s powers, to the non-stop carnage (and unseen collateral damage) from the climactic battle in the third act, it made many people very angry with director Zack Snyder for “ruining their childhoods.” Little did we know that this would factor in towards future DC film? In fact, it would serve as a main plotline for the next film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Now let’s get a few things out of the way: Let’s take back all our hate tweets against “Battfleck.” Ben Affleck IS Batman! The one constant throughout this film is that he owns the role of Batman. Any fan of The Dark Knight Returns comic book and the Arkham Knight video games, will be very appreciative of Ben Affleck’s role as Batman. He has the look, the anger, and the weariness of an aged Bruce Wayne/Batman that works so well in this film.
Now on to the film (and there will be spoilers):
The film opens in the much debated finale of Man of Steel but shows the events from Bruce Wayne’s point of view. There is a strong 9/11 feel to the carnage of Superman fighting General Zod from the previous film. It makes you reflect on the previous films battle and have a different perspective of the fallout from the film. Batman has spent the next 2 years in anger and trying to find a way to defeat Superman to protect humanity.
Enter Lex Luthor. One fan gripe that remains is the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as “criminal mastermind” Lex Luthor. We are too comfortable with Gene Hackman’s take on the character and also from the many DC animated iterations of Lex, to really like this version of Lex. He truly comes across as if Mark Zuckerberg decided he wanted to rule the world with all the snarkiness attached to him. He’s just not all that threatening. However his diabolical plot to stop Batman and Superman does in fact make sense, and as the audience watches it, it makes sense.
We are also introduced to Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. She first comes across as a “mysterious woman,” who along with Bruce is spying on Lex Luthor, but for a different reason. She and Bruce have some chemistry during their encounters, and they even help each other get more information that Lex has hidden. It turns out that Lex has been keeping tabs on Meta-Humans in the DC universe. We are treated to a quick look at the characters who will eventually be members of the Justice League, but they don’t play a big role in this film other than a quick cameo
For a movie built around a big battle between Batman and Superman, they don’t fight much. The film operates more like a “cold war” between the two of them. When they finally do battle, it is very fun. Both Batman and Superman have their times to shine in the battle, but unfortunately it is over too quickly. Superman displays his God-like strength while Batman fights with his brains. Click on the spoiler if you want to know who wins...
Batman defeats Superman. He takes him down with the cunning and precision we can only expect from Batman.
Thanks to the trailer, we have been prepared for the final climax of the film. However, the trailer that everyone complained “gave away everything” really didn’t give away much for the third act. The climax between Doomsday, Batman, and Superman is great. Wonder Woman has the best intro to the battle. The three need to depend on each other and use teamwork for the battle against an unbeatable foe. Click on the spoiler if you would like to know the outcome of the fight (heavy spoiler warning!!)
The three defeat Doomsday, but at a cost. Let's just say the entire Doomsday scenario borrows heavily from the 'Death of Superman' arc from the comics.
The film takes itself way too seriously. There are not many light moments in the film. We may just be spoiled by the banters of all other superhero movies to have more fun than these films, but the film has way too much of a serious tone.
The film feels more like a trailer for the next Justice League film. Now this is a problem with any film that is opening a franchise, but this one feels a little forced to let you know they are setting up a universe. From the quick cameos of other Justice League members, to the sudden ending, it feels like some things didn’t need to be shoved in.
Doomsday should not have been the villain, and they shouldn’t have messed with his origin story! Many aspects of the film are lifted straight out of the comics, but others not. Doomsday being an incarnation of General Zod’s corpse didn’t make much sense, and if they are sticking to canon, really didn’t make much sense. His fight felt like Man of Steel 2.0 complete with explosions, building being damaged, etc. However they made sure to mention that it was in an area where there was no collateral damage. Another villain for the end might have been better.
Many of the Man of Steel characters were reduced to background characters. There simply was only so much time, and they reduced the characters roles as a result.
Batman’s “Knightmare” visions don’t really pay off. Why is he fighting Parademons that are in service to Superman in the dream? Why in this nightmare where Superman rules is there an Omega symbol? Those are two distinct items that are associated with DC comics villain Darkseid and not Superman. If Darkseid turns up in a future movie, this will be confusing for the casual moviegoer.
It wasn’t all bad: the score was great! Each character has their own theme music so expect the score to maintain for further DC individual movies as they come out. Batman and Superman's fight is quite epic! Unlike the Doomsday battle (too much CGI), this blended the right about of CGI and practical effects. Jeremy Irons also is a great Alfred. He's much more hands on with Bruce's activities than previous iterations of his character was.
Pony up the extra money and see the film in Imax, it’s so worth it!
All said, this is the first film for the DC Cinematic Universe. It’s not perfect, but you will definitely be entertained. Henry Cavill is great as Superman, Ben Affleck is great as Batman. Gal Gadot steals the show as Wonder Woman! It remains to see if her lasso is in fact the lasso of truth yet, but we'll see in the upcoming Wonder Woman film. One can hope that in the next film, they can iron out all the kinks in this film and have a better product,remember this is their first film. Overall this is worth seeing in the theaters.