Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★

55/100

Yes, I know, you think it's terrible. And I may very well be overweighting two sequences that thrilled me, simply because that's such a rarity when it comes to superhero movies (post-Raimi, anyway). There's admittedly a lot of the same dour bullshit that made Man of Steel such a trial. However:

• Restaging Man of Steel's climactic city-destroying battle from the ground, as witnessed by civilians (the most prominent of which is Bruce Wayne, but still), comes very close to realizing my platonic ideal of the genre at the moment. I give Snyder a lot of credit for turning the most roundly criticized aspect of his previous movie into the (at least ostensible) moral centerpiece of this one. Also for engineering a face-off in which there's no clear rooting interest, as both Batman and Superman seem like total dickwads. Admittedly that probably appeals more to those of us who are extremely weary of superheroes.

• At least I thought I was weary of superheroes, until Wonder Woman's belated entrance (in costume) gave me a full-body chill. Easily the most giddy, childlike response I've had watching a movie since Maximus' big reveal. I've watched that sequence over and over again, trying to figure out what makes it sing for me, and I think it's a combination of (a) the gender representation element (which apparently means something to me even though I'm a dude); (b) my having somehow totally forgotten by that point that Diana Prince had been wandering around the movie's edges (i.e., I was not at all waiting for Wonder Woman to show up; bear in mind that I generally don't watch trailers); (c) the magnificently rousing cue that Hans Zimmer and/or Junkie XL wrote for her, with its mix of sinuous guitar and martial percussion; and (d) Gadot not being afraid to express raw emotion while striking potentially silly superhero poses, which means that they don't look silly at all.

"But put together that's like 20 minutes out of a movie that goes on for 600 years," you may object. Honestly, though, nothing here actively annoyed me as much as almost everything in Man of Steel did. Not even Eisenberg, who I thought had moments—specifically, all of Luthor's weird little noises, which make him (Luthor, not Eisenberg; that's crucial; I totally understand why you'd hate this performance if you perceive it the other way) seem like he's nervously trying to imitate Heath Ledger's Joker. I had my usual okay time with most of it, and two instances of being legitimately excited = two more than most of these movies can manage.