Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): A Beautiful Mess

For years, many people were looking forward to the day where the two highest profile heroes would finally be in the same film together.  That hope came to fruition with Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in March of 2016.  However, the film was divisive to say the least, with critics blasting the film.  Thoughts are still heated on the film, but how does it stand up over a year after its release?  The following review will be spoiler free.

Background

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader and Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman along with Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, and Jesse Eisenberg.  The film handles the aftermath of the destruction in Man of Steel which fuels Bruce Wayne to take action against Superman as he considers him a threat.  Tension between the two heroes continues to increase until a showdown ensues.  All the while, Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) is pulling the necessary strings to make the conflict become realized along with other nefarious plans.

batman v superman

image via ScreenCrush

For many, Batman V Superman was their most anticipated film of all-time.  Who couldn’t get excited for a film with both Batman and Superman?

Warner Bros. felt the pressure from fans everywhere, micromanaging the film to the point where serious studio interference occurred.  Initially, Zack Snyder wished for the film to be a three-hour long epic that was R-rated (this version would later be seen in the Ultimate Edition of the film).  Panicked that the studio would lose out on a large sum of money that would be used to fund other projects, Warner Bros. quickly forced edits to the film.  The end result was a two and a half hour film that was rated PG-13.

Unfortunately, these alterations didn’t appear to improve the film as Batman V Superman plummeted to a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes while putting the future of the DCEU into question.

What I Liked

For all its issues, there’s some quality moments in BvS.

Ben Affleck is the obvious standout as Batman.  Although his character makes some questionable decisions regarding his code of ethics that stray from the basic understanding of Batman, that is more of a writing problem and less of an Affleck problem.  Visually speaking, Affleck’s Batman is easily the most intimidated we’ve had.  Not only is his physicality responsible for easily the best action sequence of the film (a sequence that Batman V Superman‘s toughest critics even admit that they enjoy), but it adds another layer to Batman that we have yet to see.  Affleck makes a beloved, well-known character completely his own.

batman v superman

image via YouTube

When BvS works, it’s because Ben Affleck is so convincing.  He has three distinct characters that he utilizes: Bruce Wayne in public, Bruce Wayne in private, and Batman.  Whether he’s snooping for intel or beating up baddies, it’s obvious that Affleck came to play.

What I Didn’t Like

Before we go any further, yes, Jesse Eisenberg is atrocious as Lex Luthor, maybe one of the worst villains ever.  We all know this, so let’s move on to other details.

batman v superman

image via CinemaBlend

I like Zack Snyder.  When given the right material, he can make a quality film.  Just make sure that that film doesn’t have a somewhat complex story.  His sentimentality lacks a certain subtlety that makes heady themes come off as incredibly pompous and hollow.  While the severe edits and deletions for the theatrical cut certainly didn’t help Snyder’s vision, the ideas behind the lackluster execution are flawed.  There’s certainly some deserved praise somewhere in this review for Zack for trying to make an incredibly ambitious film (especially in a time full of safe blockbusters), but the issues are too noticeable.

A large portion of this film is long diatribes about what is good and the purpose of gods in sermon-like speeches between characters.  Not only is this discussion flimsy and depressing, it shouldn’t be the focal point of a movie containing both Batman and Superman.  In a film trying to introduce a new Batman, the foundation of the Justice League, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Darkseid, and parademons, there isn’t enough space to have a full length discussion of these topics.  So when they take place, they have no payoff and only slow the pace of an already long movie.

I understand why someone would paint Superman as a Christ-like figure, but it’s way too heavy-handed to be praised.

batman v superman

image via The Young Folks

What I Didn’t Like…Continued

Batman V Superman makes the cardinal sin of relinquishing its main character to practically nothing of importance.  From what through-lines BvS contains, it’s clear that the film is actually Superman’s movie.  In fact, BvS was came from an idea for a sequel to Man of Steel.  It’s the story of Supes coming to terms with his mistakes, ill feelings, and his acceptance of Earth as his new home.  With the way the arcs of the characters are setup, Superman should be the main character.  The problem is that Snyder and Co. want Batman to take center stage.

I think Henry Cavill is fine as Superman.  However, this is frustrating since he has hardly been given any material to work with so far as the character.  We’ve seen him give very charismatic performances in films such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E, so it’s obvious that he’s capable of more than what he showed.  He’s left to mope around and look angry without conveying any pathos.  How am I suppose to care about a character if he’s given nothing of substance?

This leaves the film to have a horribly contrived motivation for Superman to fight Batman whereas Batman had plenty of solid motivation from ample screen time.

batman v superman

image via Comic Book Movie

Every character, for that matter, other than Batman has pretty lousy motivations.  Lex Luthor wants to destroy our two heroes because…reasons.

What I Didn’t Like…Continued…Continued

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, BvS, for all its length, is void of a lot of substance.  Within its already apparent pacing problem, is a more serious issue.  Events occur onscreen but fail to move the plot forward in any fashion.  There are some very neat, beautiful looking scenes in this film that almost act as a non-sequitur to the story that Snyder and David S. Goyer are trying to tell.  A screenwriter should be concerned with the idea of how a scene adds to the story and the themes that the film is trying to convey.  If it doesn’t improve upon these concepts, then why is it in the script in the first place?

batman v superman

image via Inverse

Conclusion

BvS isn’t an absolute atrocity to film.  The issues presented are just more compelling to discuss then saying “Ohh, that looks neat.”  But, it is an incredibly underwhelming feature that fails to do justice to its esteemed characters.  A film with Batman and Superman should be more than that.  It gets a C-.  There are some great moments in this film that include great action and a thrilling score, but they don’t overcome the serious issues within the plot, performances, and character expression.

For the curious ones out there, I would urge you to watch the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman.  It certainly doesn’t fix all the issues of the film, but it certainly fleshes out Superman’s part of the story while clearing up crucial plot points.

Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice?  Comment down below with your thoughts.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to subscribe to MovieBabble via email below:

What movie topic should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to grow his own movie knowledge as well as share his own thoughts with others in a streamlined fashion. As MovieBabble continues to grow, Nick hopes to one day become a reputable critic that many turn to first for a quality movie review.

You may also like...

17 Responses

  1. As I’m writing this, I still haven’t seen the “Ultimate Edition” cut. However, I agree that Ben Affleck was the best aspect of the film. Also, Jeremy Irons was suitable as Alfred. Unfortunately, Henry Cavill is still trapped within Snyder’s depressing color palette (and is forced to be depressing as well), Wonder Woman hardly does anything before the climax so there was almost no reason for her to be here and Jesse Eisenberg (though I like him as an actor) was absolutely deserving of his Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor. Lex Luthor’s supposed to be a cold and calculating man who’s able to manipulate factors into his favor. The only times he should express an extreme emotion is when he’s smirking or when he’s enraged. Here, he’s far too goofy and eccentric for what the role should have been. Also, tell me if one of his plans sounds familiar: Lex combines his DNA with a Kryptonian in order to create a being who can take on Superman. Replace Zod’s DNA with Superman’s hair strand and you have Nuclear Man replaced by not-Doomsday. That’s right! BvS had to rip off “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” for ideas. How sad is that feeling!

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Honestly I am one of the few people on this planet that quite liked this movie. Yes it had it’s flaws certainly, but for some reason it just worked for me. Ben Affleck was certainly the biggest surprise of the movie, when I first heard that he had been cast as Batman, I had my doubts if he was the right actor for this role. But he really did an outstanding job. And Gal Gadot, even though her role was way too brief, did leave an impression behind, which is truly amazing. All in all I enjoyed it enough to give it a 7 out of 10 score. But I know I am in the minority for this 😊 Great review as always 😀

    • Nick Kush says:

      I remember when I first saw the film on thursday night of the opening weekend and thought “THIS IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER” lol. If you love these characters, there’s totally some enjoyment to be had!

  3. After I saw this movie I had to convince myself I liked it but really I didn’t. I got excited for the Ulitmate Cut and whilst it fills in the gaps for the theatre audience I found it gave away major plot points earlier. I don’t think the ultimate cut really fixes anything. Loved Ben Affleck though I was excited from the start that he would play Batman. Very nervous for Justice League but excited for Wonder Woman

    • Nick Kush says:

      I think JL will be a fun movie with some flaws. Before they started filming they rewrote a lot of the dialogue to make it lighter but obviously had to keep the intrinsic story together due to time constraints

      • I feel from what I have seen of Justice League similar mistakes will be made regarding how long it will take for anything to actually happen in the story and they we get an overload of action. I will be intrigued to see how Joss Whedon goes editing it though.

      • Nick Kush says:

        I think he’ll certainly help, but I can’t imagine he can completely fix any issues with it since it’s already completely filmed.

      • I dunno editing can play a massive part in filming. I guess we’ll find out in November

      • Nick Kush says:

        That’s very true as well. We’ll see!

  4. Chris Scott says:

    I like the film as a nonsensical super hero ride. Affleck is great as Bruce/Bats and since I dislike Superman, I found it to be enjoyable enough. Would have much preferred a film with just Batman but I’ll take it whatever way I can get it. Except when it is George Clooney with Bat-nipples.

  5. Jason says:

    The main problem with this movie was that it was trying to serve too many masters. It was trying to be a sequel to Man of Steel, a origin story for Batman, and laying the ground work for its extended universe.

  1. June 1, 2017

    […] the disappointment that was Batman V Superman, many DC fans then turned to Suicide Squad as the possible savior of the DCEU.  Many cited its […]

Make Your Thoughts Heard!

Donate to MovieBabbleSee Our GoFundMe
+ +
%d bloggers like this: