Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Zack Snyder is the current face of the DC Extended Universe, which began with Man of Steel and continues with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s a realization that has me worried because while Snyder has an amazing eye for flashy visuals, his storytelling is messy at best and downright horrific at some moments. Dawn of Justice brings together two of comic’s greatest superheroes but confines them to a dull and confusing story that tries to force way too much content into a single film.


There’s a reason the film is Batman v Superman and not the other way around. Batman takes center stage as the opening credits quickly run through the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and how he fell down a well and first discovered the bats living under his estate. It’s nothing fans haven’t seen before, but Snyder’s stylistic interpretation of the material does make it fresh and interesting to watch. That unfortunately wears off quickly as we see an older Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) in the heart of Metropolis during the events of Man of Steel. He quickly realizes that even as Batman he’s helpless against the far superior Superman (Henry Cavill).


Flash forward 18 months and the world’s view on the Kryptonian is split with some viewing him as a savior while others see him as a potential threat. Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) happens to be in the latter camp and decides that it’s better to have weapon readily available than to just put absolute trust in someone who has the potential to destroy the world in an instant. He believes that the secret to defeating Superman lies in the green-glowing element they’ve found in a Kryptonian wreckage. Meanwhile, Batman too has his doubts about Superman and devises his own plan to take him down, culminating in the battle of the ages.


Like the opening scene, there are moments of Batman v Superman that I absolutely enjoy watching. Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne in particular is one of the highlights of the film. This is the darkest and most brutal portrayal of the Dark Knight on screen yet. His introduction is like a scene out of a horror film. Batman has no difficulties in torturing and branding his enemies so that they fear him. He even goes a far as killing some of them too, albeit mostly indirectly through explosions and gunfire from the batmobile and batwing. As Bruce tells Alfred in the batcave, “we’re criminals.” Speaking of Alfred, I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy Irons as Wayne’s right hand man. His dialogue is some of the best in the film, and he brings a rationality to Batman’s eagerness to stop Superman.


Where the film falls apart is its story. I’m a fan of DC and am relatively knowledgeable about the numerous characters and storylines involved, but even I had difficulty in following what was happening on screen. There is too much going on so you have these quick scenes that don’t really go anywhere or fit all that well into the bigger picture. The desert scene you might recognize from the trailers in particular left me absolutely clueless and with a puzzled expression on my face. Characters make illogical decisions that I honestly don’t care about. Everything just feels disjointed as the film moves from one set piece to another.


And these set pieces are great. I loved the battle between Batman and Superman. I loved Wonder Woman’s introduction to the team. I loved seeing Batman take out an entire room of criminals. On their own these scenes look fantastic. It’s when things start to slow down and they become a part of the overarching storyline that you realize they feel out of place.


Batman v Superman is subtitled Dawn of Justice because it’s supposed to be setting up for Justice League but it’s a lackluster attempt that introduces too much too early. The way the other meta humans make their debut doesn’t have much of an impact and feels tacked on. Most of the film itself feels the same. I was excited to see what the DC Extended Universe has in store for the next few years. Now not so much. I’m still looking forward with what’s ahead, only I’m just a little more reserved.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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