A Positive(ish) Review of Batman v. Superman

bat-main
If any movie has a quick scene in Mexico, it must be Day of the Dead. It’s the law.

I didn’t hate it.

Minor spoilers, by the way.

Okay, first off, I don’t usually do film reviews in the traditional sense, as I normally try to tie adaptations to their source material or inspirations in some meaningful (or more likely, trivial) way. There isn’t much call to do that in this case as, while there are nods to the source material, most of the nods boil down to throw away references, like showing fan favorite characters like Jimmy or Mercy as bad asses in the Man of Steel universe, then promptly killing them off in the most meaningless ways possible, or making random references to “the Lang farm” (which was apparently flooded) or putting items in the background that only comic or cartoon geeks could possibly get – this is a far cry from Marvel’s early Cinematic Universe building as having Samuel L. Jackson (a known actor) reference “the Avengers Initiative” (a team name at least peripherally known outside the comic-reading world) enticed general audiences, while having Agent Coulson say “just call us SHIELD” (after repeatedly spelling it out) was a big high five to comic book fans.

No, Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice is nothing like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s by design.

It’s certainly better than Man of Steel. That film was boring, frustrating, and nonsensical, but not the worst Superman ever made. No, the worst Superman movie was Superman Returns. Still, it helped to think of Man of Steel as a Christopher Nolan Batman movie that just happened to have a main character that could fly and who called himself “Superman” for some unrevealed reason.

The same applies to Batman v. Superman. It’s not a bad movie by any means. It’s a thousand times better than Fantastic Four (any of them), it’s better than most of the X-Men films (Deadpool exempted, of course), and it might even rank as better than Incredible Hulk, the weakest link in the otherwise impressive Marvel megafranchise.

It’s just not a film that features Superman or Batman.

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This was an actual published comic, and not as good as you’d imagine.

The Superman of this film is much more like the Superman moviegoers want to see than the Debbie Downer of Man of Steel, though his moody self-loathing and willingness to threaten or brutalize his enemies still has him more like the traditional Batman than like any earnest interpretation of Superman (excepting alternate realities in which Superman is “bad” or has “snapped“). So accepting that he’s Superman trying to be Batman, we can move on. (And this is a thing that has happened.)

The real problem comes with Batman.

bat-pun
An understandable confusion.

As some predicted, Ben Affleck does an amazing job as Batman. If you took out all of the CGI fight scenes and car chases – and the silly ending to the eponymous battle – he would have been an astounding Batman. Unfortunately, for some Rao-forsaken reason, the film has Batman using numerous guns (something against everything he’s stood for since the 1950s), randomly fire heavy artillery and destroy property needlessly. At one point he pointlessly murders numerous people in one car, then uses their car (in which they might still have been clinging to life) as a playful weapon to murder people in another vehicle. Now, the argument could be made that these were all bad guys and probably murderers, but at this point in the movie, they were all doing their jobs as paid contractors legally importing and protecting merchandise for their employer. There were even numerous scenes before this explaining why everything they were doing was so legal their boss went to congress to get official permission to do it! Batman killed security guards doing their job. Solution: This is not Batman. This is the Punisher cosplaying as Batman.

Though, even that falls apart, because the Punisher would rather surrender than risk killing innocent people. And again, at this point in the movie, they were on the up-and-up.

So, even with all these issues, how can I say the movie wasn’t that bad? Well, Wonder Woman is pure gold in every scene she’s in, and her theme song is so perfect, it brought chills whenever it started. Too bad the song completely clashed with all other music in this film, but whatever.

And, despite my reservations, I didn’t find it boring. Stupid at times? Sure, but a lot of movies do that. Filled with completely out of character characters? Yeah, totally. Has an uncomfortable amount of implied nudity and explicit violence (and urine) for a Superman film? Okay, there’s that. But it wasn’t as boring as I’d been led to believe.

Again, it was better than Man of Steel.

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3 comments

    • Flash was… what was the point of that? Sure, when (if?) the Justice League movie comes out a few years from now, people can look back at that scene and say “Wow! They were planning this that far back!” But for now, what should have been a scene enticing audiences with the idea of a Flash movie became a scene of a dream within a dream that confused most casual movie watchers and infuriated comics fans.

      I liked 90s Aquaman. It’s the only version of Aquaman I find palatable as I much prefer the Sub-Mariner.

      This wasn’t 90s Aquaman, this was Aquaman trying to be the Sub-Mariner.

      All that said, the bit in the convenience store was cool.

  1. This movie just sounds resoundingly inessential. If you’re really into Batman or Superman, BvS doesn’t like those characters. If you don’t care at all about the comics, the movie is just a slowly-paced, oddly plotted action movie that takes itself too seriously. I guess it’s aimed at… people who are aware of superheroes in a vague way but who think the idea is kind of stupid? But why would you want to go see this movie at all, then? I mean, the best you can say here is that it wasn’t as boring as you expected, which, uh, isn’t exactly a RINGING endorsement.

    I think they’d do better if they couldn’t use Batman OR Superman to build the DCCU, the way Marvel couldn’t use their heavy hitters when they first started making movies. Without the ridiculous “these are our modern gods!” conceit to lean on, they’d have to figure out how to actually do something interesting with the characters — that’s kind of been the secret to the TV universe’s success.

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