I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice last night. Before seeing the movie, I heard all the poor reviews, and was annoyed. This was Batman vs. Superman! Perhaps the two most iconic comic book characters in existence fighting each other. How the hell do you mess that up? If you ask most American moviegoers: “Would you watch a movie where Batman fights Superman?” most of them would say, “Shut up and take my money NOW!”
The movie wasn’t as bad as some critics would have you believe. Batman does in fact fight Superman, and the fight is pretty awesome. Later on, the two heroes team up (along with Wonder Woman) to take on a common enemy, and that fight is impressive too.
But there’s a lot of movie besides these fight scenes, and while it wasn’t excruciating to sit through, upon the slightest bit of scrutiny, the plot doesn’t make any sense.
Here are the main problems with the movie:
It was three movies in one
At times, it felt like BvS was trying to be three different movies.
First, it was Man of Steel – Part Two. They continued the theme from MoS of questioning Superman’s place in the world, and whether or not a being of such power should be able to act independently. Much of this debate was based around an incident in Africa where Superman intervened to save Lois Lane.
For some reason, a conflict between terrorists and CIA operatives was proof that maybe Superman shouldn’t be able to operate without government control. There was some controversy about top secret high-tech bullets that didn’t make much sense. Honestly, it mostly seemed like an excuse to give Lois Lane something to do.
By the way, if you were hoping for some resolution to this debate about Superman, it never happens. They just kind of forget about it at the end.
The movie also wants to be the prologue to the forthcoming Justice League movie. Wonder Woman is introduced (as all the reviews say, she should have been featured much more prominently), and there are teases of other future Justice Leaguers like The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. At the end of the movie, Batman talks about uniting them, although it is unclear why he wants to do so.
Perhaps most importantly (since it’s the title and all), the movie also wants to be Batman vs. Superman. They have to set up the fight and subsequent team up between them.
If the movie had been any one of those things, it would have been good. It probably could have gotten away with being two of those things. Three of those things? It didn’t work.
The conflict – and resolution – was a bit forced
In comic books, any time superheroes team up, it generally follows this basic pattern: First, there is some sort of misunderstanding between the heroes that cause them to fight. Then, a common enemy causes them to put aside their differences and team up. This movie follows that pattern, although it feels rather forced.
Batman doesn’t trust Superman, because he witnessed the destruction caused by the climactic battle in Man of Steel. Batman knows that because Superman is so powerful, he needs to be prepared in case it turns out that Superman isn’t really on humanity’s side. Batman also has some nightmares in which Superman is evil.
Likewise, Superman doesn’t trust Batman, but it’s tough to understand why. Supposedly he thinks Batman is too violent, but it’s not like Superman is out there solving problems non-violently.
The conflict is brought to a head by Lex Luthor. Luthor hates Superman, although (like a lot of things in this movie) we’re never told why. I guess they just assumed that people are so familiar with the character of Lex Luthor being evil and hating Superman, that it doesn’t need to be explicitly explained.
Luthor is able to get the two to fight because he somehow knows their secret identities. (They don’t tell us how he knows them, but whatever) He kidnaps Superman’s mother and tells him he’ll kill her unless he fights Batman. He also fuels the conflict by setting off a bomb in Congress, an act for which Batman apparently holds Superman responsible, even though it was clearly Luthor’s doing. I guess they thought we wouldn’t question is, because HOLY CRAP, BATMAN IS ABOUT TO FIGHT SUPERMAN!
The two finally fight, and Batman gets the upper hand thanks to Superman’s reluctance to kill and the use of Kryptonite weapons. Batman was about to kill Superman, but then he learns that their mothers have the same first name, so they become friends. I’d say this was a stupid thing to finally bond over, but I think that’s what brought Mrs. Cutter and I together, so why not?
This movie should have been more fun
Just about every review has mentioned that this movie isn’t “fun.” Those reviews are correct. You’d think that a comic book movie featuring two popular heroes would feel exciting and uplifting. You’d be wrong, and apparently, that was done on purpose.
In order to differentiate themselves from the Marvel movies, the DC comics movies are deliberately attempting to be darker in tone. Which means at some point, somebody said, “Hey, even though those Marvel movies all make a ton of money, we should do something different!”
It should be an awesome moment when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman team up and defeat the villain. And it might have been if Superman didn’t f***ing die during the fight. (Maybe they should have let either Batman or Wonder Woman use the Kryptonite weapon since, you know, it wouldn’t have killed them?) So instead of ending the movie with the three heroes triumphantly celebrating, we end with Superman’s funeral.
That’s not exactly the type of thing that brings customers back for a second viewing. It’s not surprising that I saw this on a Friday night only a week after it was released, and the theater wasn’t even half full.
To sum, this wasn’t an awful movie. In the future, if I ever see this movie on TV, I’ll probably tune in just to watch the action scenes at the end. But would I ever want to watch the entire thing again? I doubt it.
This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was B and the topic was “Batman vs. Superman”