Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★½

This is the first adventure film I've seen that seems appropriately serious about exploring the implications of post-9/11 terrorism imagery.

Before we see the well-trod Batman origin story at the beginning of the film, Affleck intones a line about a time of "diamond-clad certainty". And then there is chaos. Pearls are scattered and the ground falls out from beneath him, literally. Throughout the film we are treated to the vivid nightmares of someone chronically suffering from PTSD. Every crazy, superhuman catastrophe that befalls Metropolis and Gotham all leads back to those pearls and that ground hurtling him down into the black abyss in his shell-shocked psyche. It's a convincing metaphor for Batman as war veteran.

On the other hand Superman is learning the price of being perceived as the savior. Despite his best efforts, people still die even when he saves the planet. The film does an admirable job of taking the very thing I disliked the most about Man of Steel (wanton destruction of city-scape without proper focus on human toll) and turns it into one of the most harrowing aspects of the story at hand. Viewed from a distance, Superman's exploits seem terrifying.

The struggle and duality of both heroes is fleshed out in their interactions with a world that seems to increasingly see them as a threat. No longer is this comic book world seen in black and white. Everyone seems to have a different opinion of Bats and Supes that range from hatred to undying love, this includes the heroes opinions of one another.

There is still a very obvious blackhat in Lex Luthor of course. Nothing he does seems motivated by anything but insanity, and indeed, it certainly isn't ever really clear why he wants to kill Superman or Batman. One could posit that fear of the existence of someone more powerful than himself was a factor, but it's never expressed in any overt way. Eisenberg seems content to prance around like a coked up Martin Shkreli.

And of course, even when Lois Lane has a simple task to do like pulling a spear out of a pond, she ends up the damsel. So that's not ideal.

However, Wonder Woman does show up and save the day which is pretty awesome.

For all it's faults (not nearly as numerous or as glaring as the critics would have you believe) I really got into this film and enjoyed that it explored a space I genuinely have not seen another superhero film explore in regards to the relationship of modern American culture with Superheroes and our collective idea of justice.

I guess that's a way of saying, where as the Marvel films feel like they are, for the most part trying to recapture the thrills of the past, this film feels like it's trying to examine the landscape of the present. IMO, that's a much more interesting way to use $250 million dollars.

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