It’s the greatest gladiatorial match in the history of the world; God v Man, Day vs. Night, Son of Krypton v Bat of Gotham, Critics vs. Audiences , Todd James v every DC fanboy, v versus vs. , who will win?
For the handful of you left out there who don’t know, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the sequel to Man of Steel and the first step by Warner Bros. and DC Comics in creating their own cinematic universe that will bring their various characters together in 2017’s The Justice League Part One (hence the subtitle Dawn of Justice).
BvS begins roughly where Man of Steel ended, with Superman and General Zod fighting in the ruins of Metropolis, only this time it’s seen from the ground as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) rushes in to try to help. It’s this devastation that convinces him that Superman (Henry Cavill) has to be stopped and the remainder of the film then takes place 18 months later, with Batman plotting a way to make this happen.
Now I like this idea, it carries a certain kind of logic and addresses the chief complaint about MoS, which is the almost careless loss of life in that final fight scene. And if this was the focus of BvS, then I think we’d be in for a much better, more focused film than the one we got, because BvS has an awful lot happening in it.
Not only do we get the introduction of a new Batman, and a much more brutal one than we’ve seen on-screen before (remember the no killing rule? yeah, not so much now) but we’re also getting the introduction of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), a plotline introducing the Justice League, the introduction of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), his poorly thought out plan, the Doomsday storyline, Lois Lane following a story for the Daily Planet, the effects of the relationship between Superman and Lois, Government hearings on how to deal with Superman, hints of villains in future movies etc. etc. I’d say DC threw in everything but the kitchen sink, only Batman smashes a criminal over the head with it. Literally.
I think the full title is indicative of the main problem here, Batman v Superman could have been a decent two-hour film on its own, with Dawn of Justice being a sequel to it. Instead, we get something that reminds me of The Amazing Spiderman 2 (although nowhere near as bad) – a film so determined to set up other films and get plot points covered that it neglects its own quality. There’s just so much going on that BvS often doesn’t have time to do more than hint at what’s happening or why. As a kid, I read mostly Marvel comics, I have read some DC stuff just not as much. I assume this leaves me slightly above average on DC knowledge when it comes to your average cinema goer and while I was able to fill in a lot of the blanks, I was sometimes left guessing. Less nerdy friends that saw BvS with me found a lot of things baffling.
I’m not going to say that this is a bad film, as there was a lot in BvS that I enjoyed, it’s just that they feel like unconnected scenes within the movie. While I can agree with much of the criticism aimed at the film, I disagree with its scope. Visually, while the chosen tone is quite dour and grey, it still looks very good, the score is pretty good and when used with Wonder Woman’s first appearance was downright electric. The new Batman and Bruce Wayne are played well by Affleck, even if the more grounded, brutal approach is going to upset some of the die-hard fans, just like the broodier Superman did in Man of Steel. Wonder Woman/Diana Prince were played well by Gadot and made me excited for her solo film next year.
The recent release of a cut scene featuring Lex Luthor and one of the hinted at villains from BvS does make me wonder if the alleged half hour plus of material cut from the film might make BvS a much better, more connected film and if so how much of the blame lies in director Zack Snyder’s hands and how much was studio meddling.
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