BATMAN V SUPERMAN:
DAWN OF JUSTICE
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Produced By: Charles Roven & Deborah Snyder
Written By: Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer
Premiered On: March 19, 2016
Distribution By: Warner Bros. Pictures
As usual with any currently playing film, this review will contain MINOR SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice… The question for this review is not where I should begin but rather where have others with far greater expertise and experience than I? I suppose I shall begin with those whose thoughts and opinions actually mattered most to me, those whom I call friend and family. Most of my friends who saw the film before I all had one common complaint amongst them, that this film took the term “hit the ground running” to the utmost extreme.
I can’t say that I disagree with them though perhaps not entirely in the same way. This film comes off as being more of a literal comic book adaptation than most other such films before it in the sense that a lot of events occur quickly and we, the audience, are transitioned further along in the story at a far faster pace than what one would normally see in such a film. Where most films have a steep but steady climb, this one takes near superhuman leaps ahead and there were many times where I felt like someone had been hitting the skip forward button on the remote though none of the overall plot or minor ones were lost to me.
I say that this makes the film a more literal comic adaptation because such things are not only common in most comic books nowadays it is oftentimes completely necessary in order to keep readers interested. An over-arcing plot that takes a few issues to go through is one thing but there are many times where the whole of a story, or even a chapter of one, has to be told in thirty pages or less, and that’s how this film felt to me with its pacing. It was a story trying to be condensed down into a singular chapter.
Seeing as plenty has been said and done with how Superman had been portrayed in the previous film Man of Steel, I’ll move on to the titular Batman. The chief complaint I’ve heard was the choice of Ben Affleck prior to the film’s release but in the days following it, that issue has all been buried under a multitude of others, chief amongst them being Batman’s willingness to use guns, something many a die-hard fan is all but foaming at the mouth over.
Never mind that Batman used a gun ALL THE TIME during the Golden Age of Comics and was even okay with killing people too. More to the point though, in the Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman used guns on his “batpod” and the original Tim Burton films, Batman outright tried to gun down the Joker via the Batwing.
More to the point though, at least pertaining with my family’s view on the Dark Knight, Batman is portrayed as being excessively violent to a point where he has begun to outright brand certain villainous scum with his mark, despite knowing full well that those who bear his mark are nearly always killed in prison as a result. At first, I too was extremely unhappy about this despite how marvelous a job Ben Affleck does at portraying both Bruce Wayne and the Batman in and out the costume, when I noticed something in particular.
There’s a moment, a very short moment, in the film where Batman walks past a uniform, one that has been defiled with the words: “Hahah jokes on you BATMAN,” clearly the work of the Joker with the uniform itself belonging to a former Robin. It has been a longstanding piece of Batman history that he has taken more than one Robin under his metaphorical wing but that one Robin in particular was killed, rather brutally, by the Joker and said Robin’s uniform put up in an honorable display in the Batcave.
However, each and every incarnation I’ve ever seen of this tribute to the fallen Robin has had the costume in pristine condition so why would Batman keep the costume in such a state with the words of Robin’s own murderer there in sickly yellow paint for him to see on a daily basis? Until the release of the upcoming Suicide Squad, it’s all pure conjecture and guesswork at this point but I have a strong feeling that whatever the Joker had done to Robin in this cinematic universe is vastly different than what had occurred in the comics.
Another element in the film that I have heard disfavor towards was the strange dream sequences we see Batman have, particularly one wherein we see an alternate future wherein Batman is the last of a line of defense against Superman and those whom stand with him. Following this dream sequence is a close encounter of the speedster kind with whom I can rightly guess to be the Flash coming back to warn Batman of the final straw that broke Superman’s back.
This, combined with a few minor details of the “dream” has me with a very strong assumption that the “dream” was not so much a dream but an actual future that Batman has somehow remembered thanks, in part, to the Flash’s interference with time. It has been shown time and time again in a vast multitude of media that changes in the time can affect those involved in a multitude of ways.
Heck, in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, there was a episode wherein only Green Lantern and Batman remembered all of the events that transpired despite making it so that the time-travelling villain in question never succeeded in traversing through time and thus making it so that the whole sequence of events never occurred in the first place. Even Wonder Woman, who was there for a majority of the adventure, did not recall anything that had occurred.
In Batman’s vision of the possible future, we see things that frankly Batman would otherwise have had no way of knowing about let alone actually dreaming. Fire erupting from the core of the Earth in great massive pits was coincidence I’ll admit, the symbol of Omega the Greek letter that represents “the end” in Christianity was happenstance perhaps given the plentitude of godly allusions already made towards Superman, but the parademons the literal cannon fodder of Apokolips and its literal New God and Master, the dreaded Darkseid who is without equal in the entirety of the DC Comics universe?
No. No way, something strange is afoot here and is made all the more apparent with an apparently insane out of his bald little head Luthor’s mad ravings towards Batman at the end of the film. Somehow, someway, Luthor is not only aware of the New God’s existence but is in some fashion in communication with him or his forces. It would be too much of a stretch either considering the man’s access to information that he frankly couldn’t possibly have known to look for in the first place without some aid.
The addition of Wonder Woman, and the minor cameos of the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman, were… mixed I’ll admit. Personally, I loved Wonder Woman in this film, as her presence served to not only emphasize that there was more of these so-called “metahumans” out there beyond just Superman and, arguably, Batman, but she was in it just enough to get us wanting for more of her story in her own upcoming film.
Many have called this the precursor to the Justice League film and while I cannot argue this, especially with the final conversation between Bruce and Diana, I honestly felt that this film was more about building up the other heroes, Wonder Woman most of all because of a few lines.
I will go on the record though by saying that for as much as they showed off that Aquaman is also in this film he really isn’t. Cyborg’s segment was done far better and Flash, for as quickly as he was in and out of his scenes, had a longer screen time.
Then there is the inclusion of Doomsday in the film… Doomsday, the one and only being in all of the DC Universe with the claim of having killed Superman and is, arguably, one of the deadliest creatures in the entirety of comic books, bar a few extremely powerful exceptions. I shan’t spoil how the film’s Doomsday came to be, but I will give a brief overview of his powers. Much like his comic book counterpart, Doomsday is a literal immortal biological weapon of mass destruction that not only immediately regenerates from whatever killed him but increases in strength and fortitude to such a degree that the same method cannot be used again.
For example, shoot him the head with a gun and bullets won’t be able to pierce his skin. Cut him open with a mystical sword and no sharpened edge will slice his now impenetrable skin. Worse yet, Doomsday starts off as nothing more than a savage animal. He doesn’t think, he doesn’t plan he simply reacts.
What would happen if such a creature were to gain sapience, a will, of its own?
Lastly, there was one review in particular I read that frankly has me scratching my head in utter befuddlement, namely a complaint that this film was humorless and that there was nothing funny going on. I’m sorry but… we are talking about Batman right? The hero who is oftentimes joked as being physically incapable of smiling? The same Batman who, in the animated series, freaked Harley Quinn to the point of chills when he actually laughed? More to the point though, neither Batman nor Superman are known for being humorous in any way, at least not in their more recent incarnations in DC Comics.
Batman comes from a city that is almost literally bursting with all manner of criminal activity and insane lunatics while Superman faces against foes who might not be fully capable of killing him but can still dish out an obscene amount of damage to his city.
Overall, I give this film… eh, 7 out of 10 and that’s with a whole lot of generosity on my part. It is certainly not the greatest of superhero films, only barely squeezing into my top ten strictly for Ben’s performance as Batman and us actually seeing Batman fighting regular people in costume for once. Is it the best DC Comics film though? I’d say in parts but not entirely. I’ll always like Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker despite how much I loathed Christian Bale’s bronchitis ridden performance of Batman. Seriously, I can’t watch any of those films without the subtitles on that is how hard it is for me to understand a darn thing Batman is saying, never mind freaking Bane.
Is it the absolute worst film ever made to feature comic book heroes? Oh HECK no! If we’re talking about the modern adaptations, there’s Catwoman where the star actress herself was there to accept the Golden Raspberry with an Oscar for another film in hand and had this to say: “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.”
Heck, Marvel Comics’ first attempts at making Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and the Punisher were all box office flops of the utmost degree that one would be extremely (un)lucky to find them to watch for themselves. While I haven’t seen the original 1989 Punisher, I will say that the 1990’s attempt at Captain America and 1994’s The Fantastic Four were together a hundred and eighty-odd minutes of my life that I’ll never, ever be able to get back no matter how hard I try.
So while this film may not be the best, it’s far from the worst and I sincerely recommend giving it a watch on the big screen. Take my and others’ opinions as being strictly that, our own opinions, but do not let them make your own without even experiencing the film for yourself. Any film, good or bad, deserves that much.