Zack Snyder is one of the most polarising directors working in Hollywood right now, and his ventures into the iconic characters are no exception. Man of Steel split the critics and the fans and Batman v Superman is likely to do the same.
There is an awful lot to like about Batman v Superman, but it is hampered by disjointed storytelling (not in the same way as time jumping Man of Steel) but constantly switching between Lex Luthor, Batman and Superman’s points of views, making the film exceptionally difficult to follow in the first act.
When the main event – the big fight – comes, it does not disappoint. Zack Snyder sets up a situation where Batman could fight Superman in a believable way. Batman utilizes his strengths with gadgetry and strategy to combat Superman’s god-like power, and the result is highly entertaining, delivering on all the impressive imagery that you would expect from a fight of this scale.
This is Batman vs Superman. Two of the most iconic comic book characters of all time on screen fighting and there were moments during the fight that the soundtrack felt a little too indulgent of that fact, just a little too dramatic at times. The mark of a good soundtrack is one that either isn’t noticed or one that heightens the emotion of what you are seeing on screen. At times BvS’s soundtrack becomes noticeable and not for a good reason. For two typically “good guy” characters to fight each other, the actual fight, of course, has to be good and entertaining, and it is. But for it to mean more (and to reach the depth that we expect from modern comic book movies) they have to be fighting for a good reason. Batman’s motivations are completely believable, but Superman’s motivations could be resolved with a simple conversation.
It is a massive missed opportunity to clash their ideologies that would encourage audiences to pick a side, creating far more investment in the fight. The film does begin to present their conflicting views on vigilantism, with Superman focused on saving people regardless of the political consequences and Batman administering his own form of justice in the most brutal ways. But the final direction of the film just fails to deliver on this potential to have the audience at odds as well as the heroes on screen.
On top of this failure to meet potential, the fight seems very one sided, swayed towards Batman. He does get more screen time just to set up his back story, but his belief that Superman is a threat is echoed by Lex Luthor, the Government and other characters. There were very few characters that were pro-Superman and so that side didn’t come across very well, presenting Superman almost as a misunderstood villain rather than a different side of the debate.
Within a very jumbled structure, lie some knock-out performances from most of the cast. Even Jesse Eisenberg’s somewhat eccentric rendition of Lex Luthor is certainly interesting to watch, but the clear stand out is Ben Affleck as Batman. He perfectly captures the charm and charisma of Bruce Wayne, and the ruthless anger of the Batman.
The other big character (and big casting controversies) was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. When Zack Snyder said in an interview that Wonder Woman is the ‘gateway drug’ to the Justice League, he was not wrong. She brings the ‘Dawn of Justice’ element to the film, and is actually one of the surprising positives. Her role is overly important to the main plot, but for the short amount of time she appears, plus an excellent battle sequence showing her to be one of the best fighters in the DC Universe, she is very good. Her appearance here should certainly raise excitement for the Wonder Woman film coming next year.
The film is constantly interrupted by hallucinations, bad dreams, and premonitions. These are fascinating to watch and contain some interesting elements that potentially point towards the future of the DC Extended Universe. There is one in particular that points towards possible future events that for any comic book fan will be very exciting to watch. The majority of hallucinations are Batman’s and do a lot to set up his character as this troubled and haunted individual in a way that we have not seen before. However, when Superman gets in on the hallucinating action, it starts to feel like an overused storytelling mechanism.
MoS split critics and fans alike, there were those that enjoyed and those that did not but what every fan seemed to agree on was the destruction of Metropolis was a bit much. In BvS, Zack Snyder has half learnt his lesson. There is still an awful lot of destruction present, not as much nor as violent, but it is still present. However, inserted in the script were constant references to there being no people around in the battle zones. It was good that this was addressed given that high levels of destruction were still present, but the amount of times this kept on being referenced was jarring, seemingly only existing to please fans.
For those that just wants to see Batman and Superman fight, the battle is worth the cost of admission alone. In the past few years, many comic book films have suffered from using their film to set up a universe against telling a self-contained story. Batman v Superman does suffer from this but the individual moments are so good, it is worth seeing. They just don’t necessarily all fit together.
Batman v Superman is like a pearl necklace, held together with string. Sure there are pearls to see but what connects it all is very weak.
Images sourced from ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, Warner Bros. Pictures
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