Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The world has been so caught up with what he can do that no one has asked what he should do.
-Senator Finch

It's incredibly ironic that this is said in Batman v Superman because Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer are actually the ones that have been so caught up with what Superman can do that they've never bothered to put any thought into what he should do or any other character they are writing for that matter.

Publishing giants DC Comics and Marvel Comics have a staff of editors, but they're unlike the editors you'd find at other publishers. Comic book editors perform the same duties you'd expect from other publishers, but they are also the ones responsible for keeping comic book writers in check when it comes to characters. For example you'll have one editor in charge of all Superman comic books or one editor in charge of all X-Men comic books and so on. They're the ones that make sure a writer stays true to the characters and doesn't suddenly have Batman start kicking babies.

Now Marvel have the equivalent of comic book editors in producers Kevin Feige for films and Jeph Loeb for television. Warner Bros would have you believe they have the same thing for their films with producer Charles Roven actually stating that their better then Marvel (just one of several "we're better then Marvel" statements) because their "DC Films Brain Trust" consists of four people instead of just one.

Here is where the problem is. That "Brain Trust" consists of Charles Roven, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder and Geoff Johns. With the exception of Johns, none of these people give a shit about the DC characters they're making films about. They are Warner Bros employees, making Warner Bros movies and I can guarantee you that Johns has almost no pull in that "Brain Trust" when it comes to making films.

This needs to change and it needs to change soon before these DC films go beyond the point of no return. They need someone that is a "DC Guy" in charge of these films so that when people like Zack Snyder are making films about their characters they can say "Hey jackass! Superman wouldn't do that." as Snyder shouldn't even be making Superman films much less be in charge of the entire DC film slate.

Now Snyder is a visionary when it comes to visuals on film. Batman v Superman is filled with moments that are amazing and incredibly fun... yet also shallow and incredibly dumb barely linked together by any sort of plot. Snyder and Goyer proved in Man of Steel that they don't understand the character of Superman and here they prove they don't get Batman either.

Now this boggles the mind a bit because Goyer had a hand in writing the Christopher Nolan Batman films, so what the hell happened here? From the VERY OPENING of the film they get Batman's mythos wrong. First off there is no need to show Batman's origin AGAIN, but fuck it Snyder thinks he can do it better. We all know the origin... Bruce Wayne as a child witnesses his parents being killed by a mugger. It's tragic. He witnesses his father try to defuse the situation with his priority being the safety of his wife and child. Wayne seeing his father try to keep his loved ones safe by means of non violence is the catalyst for what he becomes as an adult. That's not the origin you see in this film.

The only thing Snyder and Goyer got out of that beautifully tragic, yet simple origin is that Bruce Wayne's parents get gunned down. In complete "Bro" logic, Snyder's version has Thomas Wayne take a swing at the mugger essentially escalating the situation causing the mugger to shoot him and then Martha Wayne. This is the perfect example of Snyder and Goyer not understanding anything except the surface action of characters and not anyone's motivation. They understand that Wayne's parents being gunned down resulted in him becoming Batman, but not the meaning behind any of it.

This leads right into the entire debate of Batman's moral code. "What's the big deal if Batman kills and uses guns?" Well, the comic books make a big deal out of his moral code, but what do they know right? The whole no killing, no guns thing ties in DIRECTLY with his parents murder and origins. It isn't just a little side note of the character, it's essential to his existence. Entire epic stories have been built around it.

Frank Miller and Alan Moore wrote the darkest and most influential Batman stories ever created, but not only did they not ignore the Dark Knight's code, they made it an integral part of the story. You want a psychotic Batman that's off his rocker? Miller's future version in The Dark Knight Returns, which is supposed to be the influence for this film's portrayal of the character, shows him as being a borderline fascist and yet, he still doesn't kill or use guns even though he's clearly crossing a line. Snyder and Goyer either don't understand this or simply don't have the talent to portray a character as being dark without him killing and using heavy artillery. Again though, they only understand surface action and not the psychology of characters.

But.. but... Batman kills in the 1989 Batman movie! Yeah, go ahead and try finding a post where I say I like that movie. Also Tim Burton's respect for comic books can be summed up in one quote from him: "Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book."

Now even though they are drawing obvious inspirations from the comic book The Dark Knight Returns, which includes what will stand as the greatest confrontation between Batman and Superman that will ever exist, AGAIN they only copy what they see on the surface and none of the complexities of WHY it exists. In the comic book Batman has no intention of killing Superman with the reasoning behind the actual fight too great to get into here, but in Batman v Superman, yes, the Bat's intention is to kill Superman. Despite the fact that they had a complete "how to book" at their disposal of a fight far more brutal then what you see in this film, they simply didn't use it because they didn't understand it.

Now, Batman's nightmares everyone has been raving about. Yes they looked fucking awesome.. and yet they were also idiotic. It's like Snyder's Sucker Punch seeped into a Batman film. On their own they are visually amazing and incredibly cool, from a plot perspective I can't help but ask why the hell Batman, of all characters, is having god damn visions of possible time lines and characters HE HASN'T MET YET. It's like the entire film, moments that are pure joy to watch that don't belong together with the rest.

Now what about Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman? He is friggin awesome. My only problems with Affleck in this film is when the script has him doing idiotic things that he shouldn't be. He looks the part. He has the attitude for the part. He looks phenomenal in the Batsuit and even better beating the crap out of criminals. He's probably the best part of the entire film. So again another conundrum, the actor in the part of Batman is possibly the greatest thing about the film while the way the same character is written is one of the worst parts of the film.

Onto Superman! This will be shorter because like Man of Steel there is no characterization done for Clark or Superman. Henry Cavill certainly looks the part though. The way the physical fight starts is even out of character while they had a "how to" already written for them! It's as if the only thing Snyder and Goyer understand about the character is his powers. Even at that I'm not sure they fully grasp his powers because Supes ends up being a little inconsistent in the film. We're constantly shown that when Lois Lane is in danger he can INSTANTLY find her. This happens at least 3 times in the film. Yet when Martha Kent is kidnapped by a dozen thugs and held captive in an old building with no security measures to speak of... Superman is suddenly powerless to find HER despite having roughly 40 minutes to do so... uh... what?

That brings me to Lex Luther. This character in the comic books is literally one of the most intelligent people on the planet. He's a ruthless megalomaniac that can crush a person's psyche in simple conversation through his intellect, but of course has grander plans then that. His schemes are usually works of art in complexity as his public persona is one of a philanthropist and one of Metropolis' greatest and most important citizens. Snyder and Goyer thought this would be best represented through Jesse Eisenberg portraying a spastic Max Landis.

No... I did not enjoy Eisenberg in this film on any level. His performance was annoying, there was nothing threatening about him and for possibly the smartest man on the planet, his plan was idiotic and childlike. How does he force Superman to fight Batman? He has his mom kidnapped and basically says kill Batman or your mom dies. Ugh.

His further brilliance is demonstrated when he uses Zod's finger prints to enter the Kryptonian ship because apparently Kryptonian spaceships have the same security system as laptops and iPhones. He then gets the ship to do what he wants by... oh yeah, just telling it to. He also figures out Superman's secret identity by... oh right were not shown that. My point isn't that he shouldn't have been able to do all that, my point is that Goyer has no idea how to write a character that is a genius villain. The story of Luther's entire plan is something a 13 year old would come up with.

Him framing Superman is also ridiculously stupid. The first killing spree he has mercenaries kill people using bullets that can ONLY be traced back to himself, and yet when we find out that the government already knows this we're told they're not going to do anything about it because it's "classified", Jesus Christ. Can't think of a reason why the government wouldn't intervene? Just say it's classified. Then the second incident is done with a bomb... because using guns and bombs to kill people is going to make it look like Superman did it? Is that seriously the logic in this film?

Ok so his plan was stupid, but his motivation is probably spot on right? He wants Superman dead because... uh... yeah why does he want Superman dead? I know why Luther has tried to kill him in the comics numerous times, but if Snyder and Goyer have proven anything it's that they don't give a shit about the motivations of any character from the comic books. So here it's because... Superman is a powerful alien that could destroy humanity? Is that it? Is that why Luther then mutates another Kryptonian into Doomsday so he ends up with an even more powerful alien, capable of even greater destruction? Yeah that must be it.

Ah Doomsday. I was called an idiot for saying that showing Doomsday in the trailer was a spoiler because OBVIOUSLY this wasn't from the final act of the film and OBVIOUSLY it wasn't going to lead to what every single comic book fan knows would happen. Yeah... so... it very much was a spoiler. From a story perspective Doomsday as a character exists for one reason and that's the death of Superman. The moment I saw him in the trailer, I knew how this movie was going to end and so did every other comic book fan.

It's not bad enough it was in the film, it was even poorly handled. The original story of Doomsday features Superman going in for one last ditch effort sacrificing himself because it has become apparent that no other hero on the planet is going to be able to stop this destruction and millions are going to die. It's a powerful moment in comics. Here in the film Supes sacrifices himself to kill Doomsday when Wonder Woman and Batman are actually holding their own against him and no one is in any immediate danger. Stuff like this piss me off because they took what could have been the basis of an entire film (yes the build up would call for it) and reduced it to a footnote in an overstuffed one instead.

I'm not really even talking about the character of Doomsday here, but rather the "event" of Superman sacrificing himself to kill him to protect mankind. It looked cool sure, but it had zero emotional impact. It's the god damn death of Superman, if you're going to do it, bring the fucking house down. Instead we get Batman kinda bummed that he's dead despite the fact he was trying to kill him just a few hours ago, convinced that it would be his greatest accomplishment but suddenly changed his mind because their moms have the same name...

Someone else was there too though... and damn it if her intro isn't one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a theater. Gal Gadot is awesome as Wonder Woman. When she showed up, with her theme music blaring, it gave me goosebumps. That smile she gives in the middle of the battle? Damn that was awesome! An actual character moment... probably her only real character moment.

Unfortunately Wonder Woman is also part of some of the dumbest moments of the film. Here, let's take a break from the plot and observe Gadot watch teasers for upcoming DC films on her laptop. Like a child, Charles Roven said in a few interviews that they're not going to do post-credit scenes like Marvel because they put everything in the actual film. No post-credit scene? Sorry but those are post-credit scenes shoved awkwardly in the middle of your damn film. Roven needs to stop taking pot shots at Marvel and put more focus on actually making a GOOD film.

Despite being damn amazing, the excuse for having Wonder Woman in the film is incredibly flimsy. She's looking for a photograph that Lex Luther has that belongs to her... which sounds ok I guess, until you realize that the pic is actually on his server, so... when she is sent the copy from Bruce Wayne... well... Lex Luther still has the picture. So... what the fuck is the point? Do Snyder and Goyer understand how digital pictures work? And why the hell is Lex Luther's servers just in a hallway of his house with no security? The fucking door isn't even locked. God damn it Snyder.

Gadot does what she can though with a character that is basically just "there" to keep around until the big entrance in the end battle, but that entrance is so damn bombastic that it almost makes you forget that she was a pointless character thus far in the movie. She fairs much better then Lois Lane as her last big sequence in the film (with that fucking spear) is some serious idiotic bullshit. That entire sequence with the spear is probably the biggest example of characters just doing shit because the plot needs them to.

That is the movie in a nutshell though. It's a bunch of characters just doing what the plot needs at any given moment with loosely connected scenes. Snyder and company want you to believe their film is the intelligent and mature offering of the comic book genre when it's approach to these iconic characters is completely juvenile in nature. There is no substance here. It presents itself as clashing ideologies, but it doesn't do anything with the question "Should Superman exist?" other then ask it over and over again while hoping you forgot it was ever brought up later on in the film.

It's a gorgeous experience of awesome moments that have no meaning behind them. If you ARE an honest to goodness DC fan, I don't understand how you could not be upset at how your favorite characters are being portrayed (or lack of portrayal). I don't think there's any damage done yet that DC films can't come back from, but it will happen if they keep their course. The solution is fairly simple, the "DC Film Brain Trust" needs to be "DC People" and not, well, Zack Snyder and his wife.

Not saying he shouldn't direct another DC film, just saying he needs someoene to hold his hand and explain the bigger ideas to him.

But yeah.. this film did look awesome though.

Mr. DuLac liked these reviews

All