Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has easily been my most anticipated movie of the past 3 years. From the moment it was surprisingly announced at Comic Con in 2013 to the moment I sat down in the theater last Thursday night, I was eagerly anticipating this clash of titans like a young child. After finally viewing the film (twice I might add), my reaction is...interesting, to say the least. On one hand, it fails as a film in itself. An incoherent plot combined with some of the worst editing I have seen and simply bizarre, cringe-inducing creative decisions paint the unfortunate reality that this is frankly not a very good film. It's certainly not the worst, and is not the atrocity critics are making it out to be by any means, but as one who was lauding this film to all my family and peers as "the movie of the decade," I was certainly disappointed as a critic.
However, as a comic book fan, this movie satisfied my expectations and much, much more. DC fans, myself included, can rejoice from the stellar action and visuals, fantastic characters, and subtle yet enticing references to beloved DC comics and storylines. With all this in mind, particularly the latter aspect, it is easy to see why a non-DC fan will be majorly disappointed with this film.
The film had a lot of great moments-and several not so great ones. We're here to review, analyze, and discuss the Top 5 WORST moments and aspects of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and we'll follow up with another list composed of the Top 10 BEST Moments. Perhaps in the end we may have a clearer picture as to why this film both succeeded and failed in different departments.
WARNING: Massive SPOILERS for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are to follow.
Let us begin with the worst moments, saving the best for last.
#5: The Justice League Cameos
After the initial excitement of Batman v Superman's announcement, the world was asking one thing: "Where was this going to?" Given the success of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, fans and general audiences alike were wondering if Warner Bros. would opt for a similar route and eventually unite DC's most iconic heroes in their own superhero team, the Justice League. As it turns out, Justice League: Part 1 is set for release on November 17, 2017. Given that Batman v Superman was eventually added the subtitle "Dawn of Justice," it became apparent that Zack Snyder would have to tease the formation of this group in his next film. Rumors ran wild over how the members of the JL would be in introduced in BvS, and this was certainly something I as highly anticipating in the film. Would they actually show up? Would they simply tentatively tease their coming? Would it be part of Lex's plan?
They gave us an email.
As Chris Stuckman so eloquently put it, "You are a screenwriter in Hollywood being paid millions of dollars to write a screenplay. Your screenplay is Batman v Superman. And you have [Wonder Woman] open a [explicit] email!?"
To recap, Bruce Wayne infiltrates Lex Luthor's party and retrieves some classified information related to Kryptonite. Among the files, he finds research related to meta-humans that Lex has been investigating, including a picture of Diane Prince as Wonder Woman from 1918. As he has already met her alter-ego, Diane Prince, he forwards the information to her demanding answers. The audience watches as she opens each individual file, represented by each iconic hero's respective logo, and we see our first glimpses of the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg through surveillance footage (let us take a moment to appreciate that some LexCorp employee took the time to design logos for each individual character).
I was extremely disappointed that this was the way they introduced us to the members of the Justice League. I cannot say definitely what I was expecting, but it was not an email. Adding to the fact that the scene was oddly out of place right before Batman and Superman fight and you can see that this was hastily shoehorned into the third act of the film just to satisfy the "Dawn of Justice" portion of the title. To be fair, Flash has a very interesting cameo earlier in the film, but it once again feels out of place. A missed opportunity for Warner Bros. to introduce us to these characters in a creative fashion.
I already wrote an entire article over why Doomsday should not be in this movie, so I'll be brief. Bottom line, not only did he looks atrocious, but seemed very hastily added on to the final act of the movie as an excuse to have cool action sequences and a cliffhanger ending (more on that later). To be fair, some of his action is actually pretty cool involving the Trinity, but it switches from breathtaking visuals to horrible CGI, and at the end of the big fight, you're left feeling that this character was wasted in only the DCEU's second movie.
The set-up for the Batman/Superman fight was actually rather weak; while Batman is taking the fight to Superman, the latter does not really even think about heading to brawl until Lex Luthor kidnaps his mother-Martha Kent. He is then blackmailed into killing Batman or Martha dies. Superman heads to Gotham to reason with the Bat, but Bruce is having none of it. At the end of the battle, Batman is ready to end Superman with a Kryptonite spear, when Superman exclaims, "You're letting them kill Martha. Save Martha!"
Hearing the name "Martha" come out of Superman's mouth causes Bruce to remember his mother's death-and what do you know, her name was Martha too! Realizing that Martha needs to be saved, Batman forgets the angry vengeance that has been brooding for nearly two years and suddenly regards Superman as a close friend.
My sister and I have always joked about what a coincidence it was that both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent's mothers were named Martha. However, neither of us ever dreamed that it would actually be used as a dramatic and emotional plot device. This cop-out reason for teaming up Bats and Supes when they (the former at least) hated each other is such lazy writing. Instead of making it cause for some more conversation about their ideals and their trust for each other, it makes them best friends right off the bat (pun definitely intended). In addition, it makes for the opening shot of Bruce Wayne witnessing his parents' murder, otherwise a fantastic scene, less emotional as it just becomes a way for the film to tie in the names of these two's mothers. I don't buy it, not one bit.
#2: Lex Luthor
This has been one of the most polarizing aspects of this film-Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of the Superman's infamous nemesis, Lex Luthor. You either love it or you hate it, and I'm with the latter here. To be fair, Eisenberg actually acts really well in this film. However, the character himself and how the film chose to portray him was nails on chalkboard for me. This Lex is spastic, over the top, and mentally unstable, sporting some cheap screenwriting daddy issues and emulating Nicholas Cage from, well, all his movies.
In addition to the annoyance of the role, it adds to an unfortunate reality: we have yet to see a truly comic-book accurate portrayal of Lex Luthor in film. Lex is supposed to calm, charming, and carry an air of success, while secretly being cold, calculative, sinister, and a massive megalomaniac with a god-complex. It's truly depressing that in 38 years of live-action Superman movies, that has yet to appear on-screen. To be fair, this Lex is much more menacing and evil than what we have seen on the silver screen; but given that his previous incarnations were reduced to real-estate obsessed caricatures, that's not saying much.
#1: The Plot/Writing/Editing/Pacing
A major criticism of Man of Steel was it's poor editing and pacing throughout the first half. I personally think it holds up, but whether you agree or not, that film deserves an Oscar for editing compared to this. These were the downright worst aspects of the film, and I grouped them together because they each snowball off each other; the film's plot is incoherent, with indicates poor writing, which both lead to some of the worst editing I've seen, which results in rushed pacing. I mean, this is horrendous. The first half presents many different plot threads for the audience to follow, and each arrives at its own relatively satisfying conclusion, but there is absolutely nothing but vagueness tying them together. With Chris Terrio, who also wrote Academy Award-winning Argo, fixing up the script by David S. Goyer, I am truly baffled by how they reached these levels.
In addition, the editing is truly something to behold. In one shot Bruce Wayne wakes up in his lakehouse and goes to the window. It then cuts to Lois Lane talking to General Swanwick. Okay, you think, we were done with Bruce for the moment. But as soon as Lois talks to the general, it cuts BACK to Bruce and Alfred but a few hours later in the lakehouse-the same morning! The issue is, this occurs the entire film. Snyder and the editors cut from scene to scene to scene, never giving the audience time to rest and giving the impression that even they have no idea where this plot is going. Luckily, it calms down for the second half, but even then there are awkward editing decisions being made. No, the structure of this movie is a failure, and if this is what caused you to dislike the film, I totally understand.
So now that we have bashed on this movie so much, let's venture over to our next list for the Top 10 BEST Moments in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments (respectfully), and we can discuss the ins and outs of this movie to our hearts' content.