So, last night I saw the highly anticipated superhero face off of the two titans that are Batman and Superman.
WARNING: There's gonna be a few spoilers. I’ll try not to ruin everything but be warned.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this movie; the only real reference we had was Zack Snyder's first venture into the DC Universe, 2013's Man of Steel. The Superman reboot received very mixed responses from critics and fans alike. It presented us with a much darker Superman than we've seen before and one that we ultimately weren't used to. Now, 2 years on and Henry Cavill has won the hearts of many but a lot of others still feel the same. Personally, I'm okay with the new direction for the character; one thing that I never have too much of a problem with is the alteration of characters. Comics as we know them today have been around for nearly 100 years and their characters have evolved constantly to reflect the ever-changing times and tastes of fans of every new generation.
These days, people are more interested in darker, more anti-hero like characters than clean cut good guys. People want to see characters, I suppose, that we can relate to more; characters that make mistakes, can be selfish and rebellious, characters that are ultimately more human. This would of course, explain the darker turns of the superhero genre in recent years and the success of characters like Deadpool and the movie adaptation of the hugely popular villain- team, the Suicide Squad.
Now, as for Batman V Superman, which I'll be referring to not as Batman V Superman, but as Dawn of Justice (I'll explain further on- It’s actually what I thought it should’ve been called in the first place anyway). I enjoyed this movie. I did. I expected it to be huge, epic, entertaining and to please the superhero fan in me. It accomplished all of this but somehow I felt underwhelmed by the end of the experience. For starters, for a movie titled BATMAN V SUPERMAN, you'd expect a gigantic, epic face off, right? ... Right? Well that gigantic, epic face off lasted all of about 8 minutes of the 2 and a half hour flick. Don't get me wrong, it was huge and it was epic. Just the fact that we got to see these two titans go at each other on the big screen, even if it only was for a short time, was awesome enough. I found the reason that they would ultimately stop fighting a little silly. This whole 3 year build up had led to this moment. The two were tearing each other apart, Batman believing that Superman had to be destroyed and Supes standing his ground to save his mother, Martha, who had been kidnapped by Lex Luthor... Wait a second, Martha? That rings a bell, right? Oh yeah- Bruce Wayne's mother was also called Martha. Boom, they agree to disagree. Okay, now maybe there is some logic here. Batman has always been a very human character in that he feels emotions and understands them more than probably any other hero. One must only refer to Justice League: Unlimited to you-know-what scene to realize that. Lex Luthor had Clarke's mother and threatened to kill her, obviously this is something that is very close to Bruce and it makes sense that he would be sympathetic. It just felt a little too quick and dismissive of their situation, is all. Speaking of their situation, Bruce Wayne's motive to destroy Superman was the amount of destruction he and Zod caused at the end of Man of Steel, right? Well, I can't imagine that worse damage wasn't done this time around. Like, what?
Onto things that I liked about the movie. I liked Ben Affleck, I liked Henry Cavill, I liked Jesse Eisenberg and I liked Gal Gadot. I liked the Justice League set up; I enjoyed the glimpses we got of the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. We got a better look at the Flash when he appears, travelling back from the future to Bruce Wayne in a dream; telling him that Lois Lane is the key to everything and saying that "You have to find us!" Anybody else get chills during that scene? This left us with a lot of questions and eager to see where the Justice League movie takes us. The action sequences were great, I liked the Doomsday reveal- even though it wasn’t so much a reveal as it was spoiled in the trailer a number of months ago, but it was an epic battle and I’m glad he was there, though I think they really wasted an opportunity by killing him off so quickly. It reminded me of Two-Face in The Dark Knight; they brought him on, used him for a moral and when his part in moving along the story was done, he saw his demise. I also loved the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.
In more depth, Ben Affleck, I thought was a damn good Batman. I was actually quite surprised by the initial negative response to Affleck’s casting. I honestly was neither here nor there. Affleck is a great actor and is very accomplished in Hollywood, as both an actor and director. His superhero reputation was not so good thanks to 2003’s Daredevil, which was I think the main reason for the backlash. Daredevil’s live action reputation has been redeemed in Netflix’s original series starring Charlie Cox, and I believe that now, Ben Affleck has definitely silenced the critics and redeemed his superhero reputation. This Batman is the truest to the comics that we’ve ever seen. Ben Affleck is the most Batman- looking Batman and Bruce Wayne and the suit is straight from the pages of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight returns. They sorted his voice out from Christopher Nolan’s version and the action sequences were like something straight from Rocksteady’s Arkham video game series. I really liked that they portrayed Batman more like a presence than a ‘superhero’. The very first time we see Batman in the movie, a small glimpse in the desert; he appears and then disappears in a blink. Also standing out was the scene where all of those people are behind the gates underground and are discovered by the GCPD, where they are told that ‘a devil saved us’. All he was for the first part half of the film was a presence- almost myth-like. This is somewhat how I feel the character should be when roaming the dark streets of Gotham. This may just be my favourite live-action Batman, up there with Michael Keaton, who also was met with a negative response when first cast.
Jesse Eisenberg was not the Lex Luthor that we know, but he played the brilliant minded mad man character very well. He gave off more a Joker vibe than a Luthor vibe; a little Jim Carrey Riddler too. I enjoyed his performance very much and always gave my full attention when he was on screen. He was a good villain and I liked the reveal that he was behind the public turning on Superman. Jesse Eisenberg’s casting was also a controversial choice. People thinking that he didn’t look the part and wouldn’t have the presence of the evil mastermind that is Superman’s arch nemesis. These worries were, for the most part, correct. He didn’t have that presence that we’d expect from Lex Luthor. He did, however, have the presence of an unpredictable psychopath. I mean, he pushed Lois Lane off of a building! So yeah, I liked him; he was a highlight for me.
Gal Gadot... Gadot got a lot of criticism when she was announced as Wonder Woman. Gadot’s movie career is just into the double digits and she’s most known for her role as Gisele Yashar in 3 Fast and Furious movies. Now, Gal Gadot’s casting even made me go “Hmmm....” Her lack of action roles or even big movie roles was a factor in everybody’s anxiousness. Also the fact that physically, she did not have the physical appearance of the Amazonian warrior. Gal Gadot doesn’t have the Wonder Woman build and her breasts are apparently too small, according to many. Nobody said that Wonder Woman HAD to have a large bust; in fact, it would be a lot more practical in the real world not to. I was anxious about it. When her outfit was revealed, she was met with even more criticism. The decision was made to not use the traditional stars and stripes outfit and use what strongly resembles the outfit worn by Lucy Lawless in the television hit, Xena: Warrior Princess. Somehow I don’t think the classic outfit would have fit into this movie and the look and tone that they were going for. The criticism was quietened down after she appeared in the second official trailer, and as we got a glimpse into the solo movie on CW’s Dawn of the Justice League. Similarly with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, people warmed to the idea of Gadot in the role. Having now seen the movie, I am absolutely behind Gal Gadot as our Wonder Woman. Her scenes as both Wonder Woman and Diana Prince were great. She felt right in the role and when she entered as Wonder Woman during the final fight, the audience erupted! I have to give a special mention to the theme created by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. Wonder Woman’s theme was one of my favourite things about this movie; it just made WW’s already awesome entrance just THAT much more epic! Same with Lex Luthor’s music- loved it! It reflected his character perfectly. Oh and Wonder Woman’s battle cry was awesome, too. Like seriously, when she leapt up and let that cry out, you knew shit was about to go down! One thing that I found interesting was that Gadot kept her natural Israeli accent rather than putting on an American one. I actually like this decision. I mean, think about it. Diana is an Amazon and is heavily based around Greek mythology; an accented character perhaps makes more sense in that respect. However, the classic red white and blue outfit would have us assume that she is American; none the less, I like the decision to keep the accent.
The only thing that really stands out to me as a negative in this movie is how packed it is. DC obviously has some catching up to do when it comes to superhero cinema. Marvel has been building their cinematic universe for 8 years now, since 2008’s Iron Man. They have since had several successful solo movies for their 3 main Avengers and two Team up movies; and now with Disney’s agreement with Sony to have Spider-Man appear in Marvel’s latest blockbuster, the MCU is about to get a whole lot more exciting. So yes, DC has some serious catching up to do, and they appear to be attempting to do so very quickly; with two movies a year scheduled for release through to 2020. For Dawn of Justice, they tried to get in as much as possible to set up the Justice League, which it did so nicely. It was just a lot to take in initially; we had a Batman solo story, a Superman solo story, and then a Batman/Superman story, as well as a Lex Luthor solo story and then a Superman/Luthor story with a smaller Lois Lane solo story as well as a Wonder Woman solo movie set up and a Justice League movie set up. Phew! I also didn’t expect the first half of the movie to be as slow as it was, it did allow for some decent character building and that’s fine, I just wasn’t expecting to not really see Batman or Superman until about mid-way through the movie.
Let me just talk about the ending for a second, I didn’t expect that! I don’t think anybody did, but one thing that sort of annoyed me was the cop out at the last millisecond of the movie. That thing happens and then in the very last shot of the movie, the entire worry and cliff hanger that they should’ve left it on, went away. I thought that just maybe, they’d have the balls to end it like that; but they didn’t. Obviously, it wouldn't stay that way but it still would have been interesting to have that little bit of uncertainty going into Justice League. Still, it was well done and I look forward to the Justice League movie.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It had its ups and downs as any movie does, but for a movie with 3 years of hype and anticipation, it falls short. It’s enjoyable, it’s entertaining and it’ll please us comic book fans as we finally get to see the two big dogs share the screen for the first time. If I had to give it a score, it’d be an 8/10. Great performances, great cinematography, great music and an ultimately enjoyable and hugely ambitious flick but with a jam packed and confused story that can be difficult to consume the first time around. I feel that this is something I’d enjoy more a second time. I will be seeing to that!