Batman V Superman came out this weekend, and blasted into box office record history with a huge weekend take worldwide despite poor critical reviews. There seems to be a huge divide between fan opinion and critic opinion on this one. In this case, though, both sides seem to have good points. There’s a lot to like about the movie, but unfortunately, there are a lot of things not to like as well. We’ve reviewed the movie, and come up with the things we like best, hate most, and the biggest problems with it. Take a look and see if you agree. This film could have been a masterpiece, and showed glimmers of it, but missed it by THIIIIIIS much.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Hands down, the best casting job of a superhero since Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Gadot has that exotic look that makes her seem otherworldly to begin with. She’s got a great battle face and the willingness to commit to a combat scene in what seem to be too-skimpy-for-combat attire. That can-do attitude got Lucy Lawless a career as Xena, and if Gadot wants it, the world’s going to clamor for her to play Wonder Woman for a long, long time. Snyder did a great job updating Wonder Woman’s powers/skill-set, keeping her traditional weapons: the impervious bracelets and the lasso of power, and adding super-strength and speed and a magical sword and shield that looks to be as formidable as any weapon a Norse God might carry.
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne
Affleck steps in Batman’s shoes admirably: fortunately for him there’s not a whole lot to do here, because he’s under a ton of latex. More importantly, Affleck’s easy nature and goofball attitude plays into the playboy persona that Bruce Wayne assumes much better than it did for Christian Bale. We also get a sense for Gotham/Metropolis celebrity that the big players across America in this world know each other, just as they do in ours. When billionaire Bruce Wayne met star reporter Clark Kent it was probably not much different than the first time Donald Trump met Geraldo Rivera: they both had other things on their minds when it happened. They were both looking for a story with Elon Musk.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg is a terrific actor, but they cast him for Lex Luthor, not The Joker. The DC universe has its unhinged, warped villain and right now, that’s Jared Leto as the Joker. Lex Luthor is brilliant, cold, calculating, and the most dangerous tactician you could ever face. He doesn’t have weird daddy issues, or mental tics that make him forget the gist of his speech midway through it. Or if he does… you’ll never know it. They misstepped badly when they decided to make him “Autistic Joker” instead of Lex Luthor.
This is a tough one, but it needs to be called out. The only reason Diana Prince feels comfortable wearing a leather corset and Under Armor lady’s briefs into combat is because she wears even less than that when she’s out in public. For all her feminist glory — the ultimate damsel NOT in distress — Snyder still manages to heavily sexualize her look and demeanor. At one point all of the superheros in this movie are knocked to the ground, thrown around, and hurled across the screen. Guess which one gets up with a wide-legged, open-crotch shot. It sure as heck isn’t the guy from Krypton.
Every Woman Except for Wonder Woman
As long as we’re going all Gamergate and talking about feminism, let’s include this one. What is DC’s problem with strong women? In the Marvel universe, so far, almost every woman we’ve met can kick your average comic-book fan’s ass. Aunt May may be 800 years old, or Forrest Gump’s mother, depending on which Spider-Man you like, but she’s tough as nails. That SHIELD lady who backs up Nick Fury? She don’t take crap from anybody. Black Widow is a given, but what about Lady Sif, or Hawkeye’s wife? “Hey, I have to go save the world.” “Whatever. Bring me back some chicken and Charmin on the way home.” The women in Marvel are NAILS. Jessica Jones anybody? Gamora? Whatever.
In Batman V Superman, Ma Kent gets kidnapped by the bad guys. She sits there and cowers like an aging, scared old woman would, right?
Wrong. Old women — even regular ones! — are tougher than that. Consider this:
That’s regular old Jimmy Lovell’s mom saying her regular human son can fly the shit out of anything, and he’s human. I don’t know about you, but this movie would have been a ton better if Ma Kent had looked the bad guys right in the eye and said, “If you know who I am, then I know you know who my son is. And if you know who my son is, I’d be pissing my pants right about now.”
This is the DC universe. There’s no room for weak women — human or otherwise — in a world inhabited by gods.
The film’s too long. Why is it too long? Well, beside the obvious “it tried to do too much in one movie,” aspect, a big part of that are the bizarre dream sequences that permeate the film and continually disorient an audience who’s continually left wondering “WTF?” This one aspect of the film probably explain why 90% of the critics who hated this movie did so. The dream sequences are bizarre and unnecessary. Pa Kent building a lean-to in the arctic. A giant bat breaking out of Ma Wayne’s crypt and eating Batman. The Flash traveling back in time to tell Batman everything he needs to know since he’s apparently too stupid to figure it out without just the weirdest plot points in modern cinema. This is worse than Thor saying “I need to go hang out in the Asgard Hot Tub to figure out what the hell’s going on.”
Really? Doomsday? You’re going to take the second-ever Superman film in this iteration, and throw him against the most indestructible enemy his comic-book alterego has ever faced? The first one to honest-to-goodness kill him? I heard one commentator say, “the average mom and dad isn’t going to say, “Well, I know that Superman seems like he’s dead, but in fact, he’s going to come back. First as one of four different versions — a robot Superman, a kid Superman, a Black Superman and a really weird-but-cool Superman. Then the cool one will turn out to be evil, and a fifth Superman will show up and that will be the real Superman.”
No. The average mom and dad is going to say, “I don’t know why Superman died. That’s sad. Want to get a Happy Meal?”
There are LOTS of great bad guys in the DC rogue’s gallery that merit a team-up with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but you know who would have been a GREAT villain here?
There’s already a storyline where a villain steals BATMAN’S plans to destroy each member of the JLA. What if you just tweak that storyline, and boom… Here’s Eisenberg manipulating Superman into thinking Batman’s the guy who’s targeting every metahuman, and you’ve got Batman believing he’s an alien menace — simply because he is. And it’s not Superman screaming out his mother’s name that causes the two to put aside their differences. It’s Wonder Woman stepping between the two and forcing them to realize they’ve both been played. But with Luthor’s technology matching Wayne’s, and the weaponized kryptonite keeping Superman at bay, they need help from metahumans, and it’s a damned good thing Wonder Woman’s there. Maybe they’re going to one day need all the metahumans to help. Cue the last UGLY item of the night:
CRAPPY DAWN OF JUSTICE
The first Iron Man may have ended having some innuendo with Nick Fury saying, “Hey, we should get all you heroes together,” but it wasn’t called “Iron Man: It’s Almost Avenger Time.” Captain America: The First Avenger got away with it, because it truly felt like he was avenging US and European losses against Hitler (and Hydra)’s war machines. Don’t give us “Dawn of Justice” if the only 2 minutes of screen time any Justice League member without boobs gets is shoddy 7-11 security camera footage and a truly lame Finding Namor scene.
Yes, yes, I know it’s Aquaman and not Namor. But the pun works better that way.
If anything, this movie should have just introduced the metahumans in the way I mentioned above. I mean, seriously… Luthor had all this data on them, and had gone so far as to give their files logos? Unbelievable. Don’t tell me it’s the dawn of justice when it’s really like, 10 minutes before the dawn of justice. And don’t give us a truly stupid “I have a bad feeling about this” by Batman as to why the earth’s metahumans need to unite. Snyder should have introduced us to the metahumans… ONLY in the first movie (and don’t kill Supes). THEN, in the next movie, the earth is blind-sided by a terrible alien menace like Darkseid (or, and this would be awesome: Ron Perlman as Lobo), and the Justice League forms to save the world.
That’s why this movie is failing so many critics’ scorecards, and how it could have been better. The characters weren’t given enough depth. The story was trite and contrived. No time was spent brainstorming how each scene could have been better, or how to better integrate each image with the ones around it. It was majestic, loud, a perfect Snyder blockbuster, and it made bank, but it was lazy. Lazy won’t cut it when you’ve got an entire generation of comic book fans desperate to see their heroes remain on the big screen for as long as Hollywood will let them.