Batman V Superman: My Thoughts and Ponderances

A little less than 3 years ago, I walked out of the local IMAX theatre after watching Man of Steel. My brother and I were quickly engaged in friendly discussion over the merits of the film. If you listened to any number of our podcasts, you would already know: He hates Man of Steel, but I defend it. I don’t think it’s perfect by any means, but it isn’t a terrible movie. Batman V Superman came out yesterday, and I came out feeling very much the same way.

Tone

We get it. Grim and gritty became a success for Batman in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. But, just like in the 80s, it is not the only thing we want to see out of our comic book movies. Superman should be a ray of hope. This movie tries to point that out, but as apparent in the trailers, it is more of a question of “Should we?”.

Length and Pacing

At about two and a half hours, the movie moves at a leisurely pace taking time to marvel at its own symbolism and imagery. I love an aesthetically pleasing film, and there are some beautiful imagery in this movie. But the time taken to portray these comic panels on screen draw out the run time.

There are also plenty of redundant scenes that could have been cut, and the viewer will still have been able to keep up with the story being totally lost. One obvious example is the opening dream sequence which once again showed us the Wayne murder.

The Director

I don’t hate Zack Snyder, but he’s falling into the category of M. Night Shyamalan. I’m not saying that there is a steep decline in quality of film even thought there are some that would argue that this is the case. I’m referring more to the fact that you know exactly what you’re getting into: Plenty of slow motion, sepia tones, and climax filled heavily with CGI effects.

Sense of Been There Done That

Simply put: there are more stories to homage and turn to than The Dark Knight Returns and the Death of Superman.

The DC Extended Universe

While Wonder Woman is introduced organically in the story, the tease of additional Justice League members Cyborg and Aquaman was not. The scene is almost laughable as the score rises implying the scene’s importance which will leave the unknowing wondering why these characters were suddenly introduced. It felt like a moment where Snyder and Warner Bros started screaming, “Look! We can do teases! They’re happening!”

But when it worked, it worked. As many nerds are already aware, there is a scene called the Knightmare. This scene teases Apokolips, Darkseid, Parademons, the Crisis, and the Flash. All of this without feeling too heavy handed. Also, I believe there may have been a Suicide Squad spoiler layered into a throwaway line.

Characters

Ben Affleck as Batman is amazing. While he plays the man with a mission that we are accustomed to, he also shows that he is a man with conflicting beliefs. Jeremy Irons as Alfred also works double duty as Bruce Wayne’s sounding board and skeptical assistant. This is a brutal aged Batman a la The Dark Knight Returns. If you don’t like it, keep in mind that this is allowing him an opportunity to grow as a character.

Gal Gadot is phenomenal as Wonder Woman. She is one of the small redeeming qualities of the climax. I’m curious about her upcoming solo title and how it will build the universe further.

Jesse Eisenberg will definitely be divisive as Lex Luthor. He’s the somewhat goofy film version of Luthor. But there are glimpses of a very nuanced character. He sees power in knowledge and questions Superman’s near-godly power. He can be a bit over the top, but until the closing moments, I found him acceptable.

The Elephants in the Room

Now maybe if you’re reading this, you are still trying to decide whether you want to watch the movie or not.

If you are going in expecting a Marvel movie, you will be disappointed. DC Entertaiment and its Extended Universe will likely never be able to escape the comparison to Marvel and its Cinematic Universe. Batman V Superman does not live up to that comparison but to be fair, it’s apples to oranges. DC’s Extended Universe is in its infancy. On a business level, they have to play catch up to remain competitive. Batman V Superman does a fine job establishing the larger world that we will see moving forward.

If you want to base your decision on the much referenced Rotten Tomatoes score (Currently sitting at 30%), then I only want to remind you that regular viewers and critics don’t always agree on these things. After a brief tour of Rotten Tomatoes movies scored below 30%, some of my personal favorites appear on that list including Don’t Be a Menace, Hook, and Smokin’ Aces. Also, as of writing on Saturday March 25th, Batman V Superman has a user rating of 73% out of over 150,000 reviews.

All in all, check it out. The biggest restraint would be time, but it is a film that should be experienced. It won’t be the best movie you see this year, but there’s at least a little bit of something for everyone.

 

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