The apex of all super hero movies has finally come to the big screen, and the comic book cinematic universe just got that much better. Yes, I said it. Batman V Superman is by far one of the greatest superhero films of all time. Even with an overwhelming number of negative reviews from the critics during opening week, it still managed to topple the international box office, crushing all previous superhero films ever released. Although many have given the film a bad rep, I’m here to shed some light on the controversial reviews – DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! This movie is well worth the hype.
(Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers)
What makes it so good?
The answer is simple; the film remains loyal to its true identity and doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. BVS is not another Marvel movie; it walks on a different path and takes a serious-tone-approach on heroism. The elements of chaos and destruction are showcased for the audience to see what would happen if these beings actually existed. The drama isn’t covered up by comedic relief; it sustained its relevancy and added to the construction of emotional feelers that made the film original.
Why did people give it bad reviews?
At first my opinion was jaded and matched the lot of people who said they left the theatre feeling “empty handed,” my only comparison to the feeling was that one time I opened a fresh bag of Starburst and realized there weren’t any reds – It was terrible, a situation no human should ever have to go through – the Starburst thing that is.
So finally, after giving the film some time and allowing the details to digest I came to a realization, the movie was good, no, it was amazing. That feeling of emptiness came about because I (like many others) have been fed Marvel’s movie formula (Drama, Humor, Action) consistently throughout the past 4 years. Within that time frame DC had only released one film, Man of Steel, in an attempt to upset the tides and break the vicious cycle but unfortunately I had already been pre-conditioned to not respond well to the tone BVS brought to the table. However when I finally saw the light and my cells were enriched by earths yellow sun *ahem* I grew to fully love and appreciate the film and its efforts to deliver to the fans.
In retrospec, I don’t think people were quite ready for this film, and I don’t say that with the connotation that it came before its time, I say it from the perspective that if people were regularly exposed to this kind of tone early on before Marvel had their chance to capitalize, their responses would have been different and less based on emotion. Every movie has its flaws, and Dawn of justice had its fair share but the studio did a tremendous job and nothing can take that away from them. I actually enjoyed having a “darker” hero film; it’s pleasantly serious and demands attention.
4 Things the movie got right:
- Batman’s Character:
This is the real Dark Knight Gotham’s always needed. A well-seasoned and grittier Batman who makes little mistakes, holds villains fully accountable, and isn’t afraid to put them down for good. We’re shown his display of excessive force in the warehouse scene when Bruce goes to rescue Martha Kent. This is the first time in the entire film where we see Batman fully showing off his martial arts skills, which I may add are still quite superb in his later years. Batman is shown being over powered by three henchmen and brought to the ground, when one manages to stab him he quickly out maneuvers them all and returns the favor by impaling the stabber through the shoulder and onto a wall; mind you this was the very knife he just pulled out of himself – pure awesomeness.
Some Fans of the cape crusader have a split opinion on whether Batman should be this dark, but in all reality it’s a Necessary Evil. He’s not Superman, he’s a man whose seen a lot in his day and one wrong calculation could lead to the death of many. At this stage Batman doesn’t bother to express qualities like compassion or mercy, we’re passed that, and I love it! Ben Affleck played a great Bruce Wayne, but delivered the BEST Batman performance ever shown on film.It felt like something straight out of an animated TV series.
With that said I’m sure many of you are already thinking that I must be crazy for claiming he’s even a better Batman than Christian Bale, but in actuality he is. After careful thought, Bales Batman was only great because of his Villains. Bens Batman was great all by himself. Dark Knight Returns and Dark Knight Rises were amazing films that I can quote all day for you, and were highly memorable because the villains were so iconic. Batman Begins? I can’t tell you a thing that happened in that movie besides the fact that Batman faced the guy from Taken (Liam Neeson) on a speeding train at the end of the movie. I digress.
- Superman’s Internal Struggle:
Nothing makes the Man of Steel more human than his internal battle in the film. We’re not shown an almighty being with a god-like complex, no; we’re shown something better, a man from Kansas whose just trying to do some good in the world. Clark’s inner struggles are portrayed perfectly by actor Henry Cavil. His performance is so compelling and organic that it makes you actually feel for a being that is capable of bringing the world to its knees.Yet, with all his power Superman chooses to help Earth strive, and live on it as one of its normal inhabitants. Although, even with the millions of lives he saves, there are still some people who resent his existence.
Clark finds this dynamic hard to comprehend which ultimately makes him completely second guess all of his actions. Was his father (Johnathon Kent) right in telling him to not interfere in the outside world? Who knows, but Martha, Clark’s mother, had something important to say that resonated well with the character and the audience – “You don’t owe this world anything.” A statement that holds weight because he really isn’t from Earth, yet he’s ready to lay down his life for a world he now calls his home. It’s this separation of “super being” and human attributes that also opened Batman’s eyes to Clark’s true self. In the scene when the word “Martha” is uttered from a dying Superman, Batman has a change of heart. Not because they both have a mother named Martha, more so because it showed Bruce Superman’s true bravery; in a moment of powerlessness and death he plead Batman to save his mother instead of begging for his own life. That’s why this scene worked so well in the movie.
- Snyder doesn’t hold your hand:
Director Zack Snyder made the movie so it would move forward from scene to scene without too many introductions. There is an expectation from the audience to either know what is happening or for you to figure it out. I personally loved this form of storytelling because Batman and Superman are not characters who need a red carpet to be rolled out; we know exactly who they are. This type of creative direction would never work for a Marvel film because their approach is bringing a lot of unlikely heroes to the big screen and giving them a feature film; like Antman, what does he do again?
- Intertwined Story Arcs:
Dawn of Justice had a collection of DC events and stand-alone stories that were merged into one epic movie. Of course there was the immediate speculation that Snyder tried to do too much here but all in all the fusion of stories worked out great because Dawn of Justice is something new. The movie combined several worlds into one and it works! New Superman meets an older Batman, what did you think was gunna happen? Also, let’s add the most famous female super hero known to man into the mix – Wonder Woman – and you’ve got a balanced story that leads us right into Justice League.
To name a few, this movie had elements from the following:
- Dark Knight Returns
- Injustice League
- Superman Dooms Day
- Death of Superman
- Justice League Vol 1 – Origins(New 52)
- Batman (New 52)
- Darkseid (New 52)
- Final Crisis
4 things I didn’t like about the film
- Reveal of Justice League members:
In the scene where Wonderman receives an email from Bruce containing the hacked files from Lex Corp we get a sneak peak at all the heroes to come – This should have been shown as an after credits scene. I feel like this didn’t create the emotional teaser it could have if Snyder waited to show this at the end of the movie. I was too focused on Superman and Batman’s battle, and evident release of the killing machine, Doomsday, that I could care less for more Meta humans being introduced/confirmed. A minor flaw in stopping the action rather than moving it forward, and one that I’m sure will be fixed in movies to come.
- Batman’s dreams:
Bruce had way too many dreams and premonitions in this film. I felt like the level of foreshadowing could have been improved. Don’t blatantly tell me there is a possible Injustice future where Superman becomes Darkseids lapdog! However, I did like the “Flash coming into the past to warn Bruce” scene. Again, it’s something that could have been shown in the after credits.
- Metropolis and Gotham:
This is something that even remains to be very ambiguous in the comics; how far exactly are all these cities from each other? I had no idea that if I threw a rock hard enough from Gotham I’d hit some runner in Metropolis. This was a minor upset but still something that should have been laid out years ago.
- Superman’s death:
The only thing I really don’t like about the death of Superman means that it’s also the death of Clark Kent. Bringing back a super powered alien is fine, not much explaining needs to go into that one, just use Monster Reborn.
But how will you bring back a human? How will they tell all those people who thought Clark was dead who also attended his funeral, “Just Kidding guys! He’s actually alive, we had the wrong body.” Also not having a Clark Kent will change the pace of the rest of the films, unless good ole Flash goes back in time to prevent it all from happening – The obvious reset button.
Over all to wrap up the review, for me, BVS was emotionally impactful, action packed, and the right type of serious for a hero film.
Those of you who still feel sour about Dawn of Justice after only watching it once, I highly recommend you watch it a second time around with a clean mental Palate so you are able to truly absorb the film for what it is; and that’s the world’s first Batman and Superman film. Be happy this even happened!
I honestly believe Dawn of Justice is just the beginning of many amazing movies to come from the DC Comics Cinematic Universe.