I'm sure by now you've heard of all the negative press that one of the most anticipated films of the year has received since it's debut on Friday. From receiving an abysmal 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, to the spawn of a new meme, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is considered to be a great failure. Critics have talked about the gaping plot holes, the mishandled characters (especially the women), exaggerated CGI action, lengthy run time, and more. There are so many issues that people like pointing out and picking at. But before you dismiss the film entirely as a major flop, here are five things that I thought might help put things into perspective because, unlike truly terrible superhero movies (i.e. Fant4stic), this film does have admirable traits. Disclaimer: I'm not dismissing what critics have said thus far nor am I insinuating that this movie is perfect. This isn't an argument against any of those criticisms. I'm just trying to highlight some of the better parts to balance out the surge of negative reviews this movie has gotten.
1. Affleck is an amazing Batman:
In this film, Ben Affleck is tasked with portraying a character that is rich in history. Portraying a character as beloved as Batman is always a challenge, but portraying the character at the end of his prime without having previously been the character is a new challenge in and of itself. Gone are the years of Bruce Wayne trying to figure out how exactly he should be Batman, the best ways he could protect Gotham, or even the uncertainty he may have in facing insane villains like the Joker or Two-Face. Instead of a gradual buildup, we are presented with a Batman who is living in a time where all of the worst things that could happen have happened. He's a more desperate Batman with years and years of backstory that can't possibly be shown in the movie, and Affleck portrays this character amazingly. Here is a character who has seen the worst he could see -- the movie even references the death of one of his beloved Robins -- and Affleck masterfully portrays all of this emotional baggage not just as Batman but also as Bruce Wayne. This experienced, weary Batman is a great foil to Cavill's somewhat young Superman. Affleck convincingly brings out the terrifying, brutal, and deadly side of Batman, making him a foe you really wouldn't want to face. (You can read more about Affleck's Batman here).
2. Amazing visuals:
Sometimes it's hard for directors to balance a substantial backstory without devoting a huge chunk of time to just dialogue and set up when the audience just wants to see some action. But Dawn of Justice brings some truly enthralling sequences that both enthrall audiences and tell a story. We all know Snyder is a fan of slow motion sequences (Sucker Punch, The 300, Watchmen, etc.) so it's no surprise that he should include more of that hypnotic hyperrealism in this blockbuster. There were some amazing sequences that were shot masterfully with a keen eye for details that add to character depth and backstory. Yes it's true that beautiful shots and great movies don't always come hand in hand, but Snyder went above and beyond with some of the amazing scenes he brought to life. Granted, some of these scenes even caused some confusion and anger amongst viewers because the transitions between what's real and what's 'fake' isn't as well executed as it could have been. But the attention to details and the care that were put into a lot of crucial scenes that make the movie memorable. There were shots that were expertly pulled straight out of the comic books themselves, others that brought forth incredibly imaginative shots. If anything, at least the movie can look aesthetically pleasing in the way that only Snyder's films can.
3. Amazing action:
In addition to the surrealistic aspects of the movie, the actual action sequences themselves were astounding. When you come to a movie that's advertised like a superpowered UFC Match you'd expect to get some really intense action sequences in there and Dawn of Justice does not disappoint. You could really feel the punches in this film and there were times where you could genuinely experience the battles in ways that most superhero films fail. A lot of fight sequences in superhero films are kind of like two hammers hitting each other or, if there are henchmen, watching ants trying to take on an elephant where the heroes would take literal hoards of enemies down with one swing of the arm and it really just eliminates any urgency to the action by making the fights seem unrealistic (looking at you, Age of Ultron). It may seem insane to care about realism considering the fact that we're talking about an alien with laser eyes and a 40+ year old billionaire battling it out, but if you want a great example of how superhero fight scenes can feel 'real' I suggest you watch Netflix's Daredevil. (You should also just watch it because it's an amazing show). There are scenes within Dawn of Justice ( especially with Batman) where you could understand why these characters are so formidable in the first place. You could really see characters struggling to hold their own against their opponents and you could feel the difference in abilities between characters. Each one brought their own strengths and weaknesses to the table and they played these traits masterfully.
4. It is a great sequel to Man of Steel
Similar to Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel also faced a slew of negative reviews and criticisms regarding plot points and other elements I won't get into. But Dawn of Justice works with these criticisms and picks up where Man of Steel left off, trying to make sense of the events that occurred in that movie instead of moving past them and dismissing them. Dawn of Justice really brings Superman down to earth a bit more in the sense that he's paying for his actions, bringing front a lot of interesting ideas and discussions. A lot of people had an issue with the fact that this series isn't portraying Superman as the idol we all know and love, but it is instead emphasizing the simple fact that Superman is honestly just a man who is trying to do the best he can with what he has. He never set out to become a god or a savior for all of mankind and his actions in the films (like the destruction of a city) really show just how much of a rookie he is because he is still just a rookie. Dawn of Justice really drives that fact home, that he's made his mistakes and needs to atone for them, that he's not entirely perfect, and that he himself isn't as aware of the issues he's causing. In short, Superman has a long way to go before he's the somewhat infallible hero we're used to seeing in comics or cartoons.
5. It's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, what more did you expect?
The title says it all. You're coming to this movie to see two of the greatest heroes in existence battle it out and also get a quasi introduction to the Justice League. You don't go to this movie to get a philosophical in depth analysis of the world as we know it, you go to it to see the two title characters battle it out and maybe get a lead in to future films. That's exactly what the film does. A lot of people complain about the rather blunt way future members of the Justice League were introduced in the film, or about how but I'm honestly fine with it because it's better than what I expected. The movie accomplishes what the movie set out to do and gosh darn if it isn't entertaining too. The movie shouldn't have to be an in-depth analysis of characters and motivations past those that we need for this film alone (that's why we have some of the standalone films coming). It's no secret that the Justice League is going to be a direct competitor to The Avengers and it'll have to bring in characters that haven't been in the limelight outside of successful cartoon series but it doesn't have a plethora of movies leading up to it each with their own cryptic post-credit scenes. In some ways the film itself is analogous to Superman himself, not a god but a man just trying to do the best he can with what he's got.
I'd just like to restate that I still recognize the movie has an immense amount of flaws that are definitely still valid and people may have disagreements with a lot of things that I said. I'm not saying that Dawn of Justice is a perfect movie, nor that it's even a good movie, I'm just saying it's not as bad as critics are making it seem. Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below.