This review may contain some spoilers, do not keep reading if you haven’t seen it yet. Only warning you’ll get.
Did I like it? Yes. Did it live up to the hype? No. Let’s begin.
The movie began well. Beginning with the climax to Man of Steel with Bruce Wayne as the man on the ground watching the destruction literally rain down from the sky. There were glimmers of character growth but then it was yanked away from us. We have storylines with Lois Lane, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Diana Prince, a glimmer of a possible future with Superman as a dictator, Flash time travelling to tell Bruce he was right, Luthor keeping tabs on other Meta Humans, and the senate hearing with Superman having to answer for the Zod battle. That’s a several movies worth of story that DC could have spread out and told better than trying to cram it all in 2.5 hours. Holly Hunter was great in her limited time. Laurence Fishburn is always great but had less time than before. Jimmy Olsen was shot dead in the desert?? What!? The KGBeast appears, which was cool. Hopefully he’ll reappear in the Batman film. I kept hoping that Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash would help out against Doomsday at the end. Instead we get a brief glimpse of them and then they’re gone. Negan and Maggie are Bruce’s parents? Sweet! The best brief telling of the death of the Wayne’s. Amy Adams in a bathtub! Nice! The “Granny’s Peach Tea” bit was great. Diane Lane was the damsel in distress. Bruce Wayne does crossfit to prepare for battle. Anyways.
There was a lot of plot they were trying to fit into this movie. There was no reason they couldn’t have spread the themes in BVS over 2 or 3 movies. None. They could have done a true sequel to Man of Steel with Batman in it. Supes and Bats could have fought then realized they were on the same side and joined together to take down Luthor and his Bizarro clone, made from the remains of Zod and Luthor’s DNA. This then could have then led to Batman and Wonder Woman solo films with themes coming out of Dawn of Justice. Then all would have culminated in a Justice League movie with them all coming together.
As for the characterizations…The versions of these characters in the movie are not even close to being what they are and have been for decades.
No. Lex Luthor is not a manic, rambling, caricature of a villain. He is an egotist, a brilliant, rich, well-dressed, bad guy who thinks he should be the saviour of mankind not an alien. He is a man with a hurt ego because he’s not Superman. He would’ve been best played that way by Bryan Cranston. He is, however, Alexander Luthor Jr., so that gives me hope that Papa Lex will show up and show his son how it’s done. *cough*Cranston*cough*. Jesse Eisenberg was not a great choice. He just played an version of every character he’s played so far but with a slight bad guy tinge. He would have made a better Riddler, Scarecrow, Toyman, or Parasite (the S.T.A.R. Labs janitor who becomes the energy sucking villain).
Wonder Woman was the best part of the whole movie. Gal Gadot did great with the little time she was given. She looked awesome while kicking some major ass. She out thought and out maneuvered Batman, something not many can do. The use of the sword and lasso were fantastic. Wonder Woman is an Amazonian warrior who will do what is necessary to stop the bad guy. This got me excited for her solo film.
Ben Affleck was a great Batman/Bruce Wayne. This showed me he’s much improved since Daredevil. However, Batman does not kill and certainly does not use guns. The was no need for it. Batman finds a way because he’s Batman. Snapping bones and disabling villains? Yes. Killing them with guns? No. Batman not killing is one of his defining characteristics that set him apart from the bad guys. For those who want to say “But Batman used guns and killed people a lot before.” Yes, he did the golden age when he first debuted. That version of him has been gone since Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 80’s. His refusal to kill is why when the Azrael Batman killed a villain while Bruce was recovering from his broken back was such a big deal. It prompted Bruce to come back sooner than expected to retake the mantle of the Bat. In the instances when modern Batman (meaning Batman from the biggest reboot DC had had until recently, Crisis) killed it was a huge deal. Batman used a gun (something he adamantly refused to do) to shoot Darkseid and critically wound him in Final Crisis and he once fought two criminals in a dump and had kicked one into the other causing them to both be crushed in a garbage truck (as evidenced by his reaction, this was an accident). That’s really it, so Batman does not have a track record of killing bad guys to get the job done. DC just gave up and decided to make Batman Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. This is not Batman from the comics. This is a character that the comic Batman would bring to justice for what he’s doing. This is what Jason Todd/Red Hood does.
Doomsday is not 15 feet tall and certainly not crazily powered up. He was created on Krypton and ended up buried on Earth where he broke free and fought Superman to the death. He gained powers and later on after each subsequent defeat. He did not have all of them at once. He single handedly defeated a version of the Justice League before killing Superman. The character they gave us in the movie had more in common with Bizarro than Doomsday. Hopefully Bizarro won’t be too far removed from who he is when he debuts eventually.
Superman was dour. Henry Cavill is still the best Superman we’ve gotten besides Christopher Reeve. But Superman is not a dark character. He’s happy. Full of life and respects it. He avoids killing. He’s has killed before but only when the planet was in danger. This version of Supes is depressing. They even wrote a whole storyline of why he avoids political issues. He’s not call the The Big Blue Boyscout for no reason. Let’s make him a little lighter next time, but if they’re going in the direction I think they are, there’s no turning back.
This movie was unnecessarily dark. There’s a difference between having dark moments or themes in a movie and having a completely dark movie. Zack Snyder can deliver in the action scenes, as seen in his movies, but when the pace slows he’s a hack. He’s Michael Bay with less explosions, flags, and color. Everything was dreary, wet, muted, grey hued, and their costumes were deprived of the color that makes them so iconic. A Superman or Wonder Woman movie should not be dark. Batman, yes. And for those wanting to say it took from Dark Knight Returns, no it did not. The only thing it pulled from that story is the suit of armour Bats wore and maybe one or two more items. The only saving grace for me with this movie is that after looking back, this is closely tied to Injustice: Gods Among Us more so than DKR. Injustice shows a world where the Joker tricks Superman into accidentally causing the death of Lois Lane and their unborn child, then blows up Metropolis, causing Superman to snap. Supes kills Joker and becomes a dictator who believes he knows what’s best for the world. Batman gathers heroes to take up arms against him and bring an end to his tyranny. This is shown in the movie with the Super Soldiers taking down Batman and bowing to Superman as well as when the Flash appears to bruce telling him he was right about him and that she (Lois we assume) was the key.
All that being said, I did enjoy it overall. It wasn’t near the hype that surrounded it, and had there not been Star Wars level hype I think I may have enjoyed it more. It was good, not great. This is not going to help them on a path to competing with Marvel in movies, not yet. I still believe that had they made this into a few movies then they would be on the right track, right now though it feels as if they’re rushing to catch up and that’s never good. TV is where DC dominates and Marvel doesn’t.
If DC will keep making their world so bleak, dark, and depressing I won’t be around much longer to watch. I get enough of that in the real world and what we see on the news, that I don’t need it in my superhero movies.