Grrr grrr angst angst OOH FLASH AND AQUAMAN fight fight ooh WONDER WOMAN fight fight fight the end. There, that’s my Batman v Superman review.
Which is a shame, considering that, on paper at least, the movie has got so much going for it. It’s got a new Batman in Ben Affleck (who does a more than decent job, but is no match for Christian Bale), a long-awaited match up between two iconic characters and is the launchpad for the upcoming Justice League movie.
But Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice more or less follows the same arc as Man of Steel (2013): A great build up that starts to drag, before degenerating into DESTRUCTION PORN, with added Easter eggs and cameos. And while Affleck answers the critics (including us) who thought he was the wrong choice to play Bats, poor Henry Cavill is reduced to playing the most impotent big screen Superman we’ve ever seen.
Director Zack Snyder obviously paid attention to the criticism directed at MoS – why does Superman not seem to care about civilian casualties? – by addressing the human cost of Supes’ battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) in MoS, and also setting up the basis for Bats’ animosity towards him. We’re even told that the site of the climactic battle is EMPTY, so no civilians to get hurt, kay?
There’s even a touch of philosophising, as the question is asked: What happens when a god comes to Earth? Real thought has obviously gone into considering how the real world would actually receive Superman, with lovely touches such as real-life celebrity physicist Neil Degrasse Tyson and famed journalist Charlie Rose discussing Superman’s impact on humanity in the wider context of religion and culture.
And what does Superman (Henry Cavill, he of the broody, constipated emoting) do? Why, he broods, of course. There are lots of shots of him furrowing his brow and staring into the distance, while he whines to Lois Lane (Amy Adams) about his lot in life. Supes is supposed to inspire, not constantly question himself to the point of distraction.
Meanwhile, villain of the piece Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, a fine actor whom I felt was a great choice for the role) mugs shamelessly for the camera in the most OTT display since Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns (2006). But while Spacey at least projected menace, Eisenberg just comes off as trying too hard. A friend of mine called him the weakest link, but I think the movie just has too many weaknesses.
At least the supporting players like Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) are excellent, even if there are one too many flashback/dream sequences in aid of setting up Justice League.
The biggest disappointment here remains the portrayal of the Clark/Bruce relationship, which plumbs such depths in the comics and spans some 70 years. Beginning as adversaries, they grow into unshakable allies who trust each other implicitly because they each want the same thing: To protect people from the bad guys.
But in BvS, it’s all reduced to a simmering (albeit justified) vendetta that makes Bats look like a petulant child. It may take its lead from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but still feels ridiculously one-dimensional. The titular BvS confrontation goes on for far too long (why doesn’t Clark even attempt to reason with him??), while Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot, who is decent, I guess) entrance only livens things up momentarily.
Perhaps the real problem here lies in the fact that Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman and Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne – not to mention Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman – are just too big as personalities to fit into the same movie. You could argue that Iron Man, Captain America et al are the same, but Marvel still managed to fit them into The Avengers.
But with respect to fanboys everywhere, Iron Man and Cap are not Superman and Batman. The latter two are the very definition of iconic. They deserve a hell of a lot better than this.
Ah, well. At least we have the Wonder Woman movie to look forward to next year.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice open today. Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts on the movie!