“No one stays good in this world.”
So says Superman, just before flying away to kill (or try to kill) Batman – or see his mother burned to death at the hands of Lex Luthor. Is this a somewhat uncharacteristic stance for Superman? It is, but one thing this movie tries to do is show us – black and white are sometimes gray. Sacrifices must be made. Batman v Superman tries to accomplish many things within a three-hour window, and makes many sacrifices to squeeze them all in. It has a lot to say – or try to say, but whether it says it well…we’ll see.
This was a very different view of Batman and Superman than we usually get. We saw the struggle as they deal with their role in society – their responsibility to mete out justice, and the eternal question – who decides what justice really is? I think it was a good glimpse behind the curtains of Metropolis and Gotham; a glimpse into the daily battle taking place in the heroes’ heads.
WHAT I LIKED
•There’s a pivotal, lynchpin moment where Superman, struggling to breathe under the crushing weight of Batman’s near-victory, tells Batman that he needs to save Martha. “Why did you say that name?” Batman bellows, and not until Superman explains why he’s there, that he needs help, does Batman realize their mothers share a first name. It’s a key moment, where something as simple as their mothers sharing a name changes Batman’s course of action. He tells Superman he won’t let Martha die – something he’s been wishing he could say since he was a little boy, violently orphaned in an alley. It was a beautiful moment, and I loved it.
•Wonder Woman. Ahem. Also, fun little cameos from the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), teasing their upcoming movies. I’m also going to say that Jeremy Irons was a fun Alfred with A+ style.
•Superman really is trying to do the right thing, and whether he’s well-written or not, that’s always an admirable quality. He wants to save and protect the people on this planet, but he struggles with the chaos and the burden of responsibility; as well as whether his relationship with Lois Lane is actually going to work. He’s willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone, while being fully aware of the danger.
•I loved getting to see the grim(mer) side of Batman in this film; the world-weary, jaded man who has spent too many years plucking up one weed, only to watch more grow as soon as the roots pull free. We see Batman struggle with the carnage left behind in the wake of Superman’s battle with General Zod, and it’s obvious that the deaths of these people hit very close to home for Batman. In that sense, you can understand his hatred of Superman…even if it isn’t executed terribly well. (Bonus: The gravelly voice is the result of a microphone, not deep-seated throat cancer!)
•Jesse Eisenberg was a fantastic Lex Luthor…although his Luthor played much more like the Riddler than the Luthors we’re used to. Still, he was very convincing as Superman’s crazed nemesis; giving us a delicate balance of ‘wow, he’s going to kill everyone’ and ‘okay, maybe he just needs a sedative and a hug, in that order.’
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
•DC movies are frequently dark, grim, gritty, and humorless – not to mention heavy-handed with their storytelling. It’s the reason why I would always pick Marvel over DC, and why I’m a staunch Marvel Girl (and everyone who knows me was shocked when I actually wanted to see Batman v Superman). I always find this ‘style’ to be fairly unenjoyable, but I’d say that’s more of a personal ‘con.’
•This movie tried to be a sweeping, broad, meta story raising questions of ‘God v Man.’ It raises questions like, ‘Is any power innocent?’ and ‘If God is absolutely good, can he be absolutely powerful?’ The only thing is…it never really tries to answer these questions. Or does it? It’s hard to tell with this movie – it feels like it wants to focus on eight different subjects, and the result is a disjointed film that looks promising and deep, but feels hollow and disappointing.
•Lex Luthor splices his dna with that of General Zod and apparently that creates an alien monster who…well, honestly, I think they just stole a mountain troll from the Lord of the Rings and gave it Superman powers.
•I said earlier that we see why Batman hates Superman, but the hatred was poorly written and badly executed. We feel like the Batman we know and love has a very sudden turnaround, going from hero to “WE’RE CRIMINALS ANYWAY IT DOESN’T MATTER I HATE HIM AND HE MUST DIE.” He’s supposed to be ‘set up’ and ‘pushed’ into feeling this way, but it really feels like Batman is easily manipulated and somewhat weak-minded, which we all know he isn’t.
I’m going to (once again, I’m sorry) compare DC to Marvel in order to explain why I feel the movie fell flat. Most of us are extremely excited terrified for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie. We’re attached to the characters. We care about Steve and Tony and Bucky and Wanda and Hawkeye and Nat. We’re emotionally invested. However, with Batman v Superman, they want us to be attached…and we aren’t, particularly. We aren’t given enough to go on. I thought maybe we actually would, when the movie began with Batman witnessing the wreckage of Superman’s battle, but this personal view into their personalities didn’t really last. We get a lot of smash-boom-pow and CGI battles without really caring about the heroes, and that’s a recipe for failure.
While Marvel movies tend to take us deep into the story on personal levels, DC movies don’t. They try, but they’re so focused on giving us huge explosions and trying to see through the dark cinematography that there’s really no room left for deep, convincing character development. (Also, there are two humorous lines in the whole movie. Two, in three hours of grim, battering violence and attempted existential questioning.)
In short, while there were things I liked about Batman v Superman, it was disjointed, unnecessarily grim, and fairly hollow. I want to give them a gold star for effort (and Ben Affleck a hug because buddy, I thought you were a great Batman) but while I’ll probably watch Captain America: Civil War two or three times in theaters, I don’t care to ever watch Batman v Superman again.
If you loved Man of Steel, you’ll probably like this movie. If you loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy…well, it’s a tossup.
Did I hate it? No. Did I like it? No. Will I still go see the Flash and Aquaman? Yes, because I’m ever-hopeful and I really do actually give DC movies a chance. Hopefully they’ll get all the kinks straightened out, because until then, there’s no threat to my Marvel loyalties.