Before we dive into the actual movie review, I need to state this: I was worried about this movie. Marvel has done such a fantastic job with their Cinematic Universe, I felt that DC may be doing too little too late to match them. Would this bloated DC movie really deliver? Here were my three main concerns of this movie:
- Solving the Superman Sequel Problem — “Man of Steel” was good, but it had its flaws and it wasn’t a home run for the comic book audience. Would Superman finally sustain its own franchise for the first time since the days of Christopher Reeve? Remember, this movie was originally slated to be the second Superman movie in DC’s movie franchise. Would audiences really enjoy a Superman sequel?
- Pumping Up The Tension With Batman — With Batman being my favorite superhero, I found it hilarious that DC felt they needed to beef up the drama in the second Superman film with a reboot of Batman. We’re practically admitting that a solo Superman movie can’t survive on its own. Now, who would play Batman after Christian Bale’s great performance in Nolan’s Bat-trilogy? Ben Affleck? I mean he’s a good actor, but really? Batman? Batfleck?
- Firing Back At Marvel’s Avengers — Wonder Woman becomes a third main superhero character, teased in the trailer heading into the release of the movie. And we’re going to throw the Justice League into this maze of a movie? Is this too much in one movie? And Marvel’s blueprint to creating their Cinematic Universe may not work well for DC’s Extended Universe. Can DC really have Marvel-like success with the Justice League this late in the game?
Each of these three key points concerned me heading in to see this movie. This movie has to be good, it must be strong enough to make audiences enjoy DC’s superheroes and foot the foundation of the beginning of DC’s new movie universe they want to create. So, now, let’s launch into the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Ben Affleck — Many people criticized the choice of Ben Affleck to be Batman, but he delivered for this movie. The character of an older, more wiser Bruce Wayne / Batman is written perfectly for 43-year-old Affleck to act on. We don’t need the backstory, we all know it by now. Instead, the movie focuses on legacy. How will Batman be remembered after Bruce is gone? How can Batman keep Superman (or how some of the world views him, an alien with unlimited power) in check as he becomes older? There’s also a return to a classic theme of Bruce Wayne being the mask of Batman when he attends Lex Luthor’s party to learn more information about his activities. If you’re worried about Batfleck, don’t be. He is Batman.
- Jeremy Irons — I loved this casting choice. Irons is an accomplished actor, so it’s fitting for him to take over a role that was previously Michael Caine’s. Irons plays the role of Alfred with the correct combination of seriousness (i.e., warning Batman he can’t win in a straight up fight against Superman) and playfulness (in a few, but effective one-liners that serve a small bit of comedy to break up the action and drama).
- Batman VS Superman — Of course, this is what the audience comes to see. It’s in the damn title. You want to see Batman slugging it out against Superman. The tease in the beginning of the film at Lex’s party featuring Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne talking about justice is the perfect appetizer. The main course/fight lives up to the height. A dramatic plot twist (sorry guys, no spoilers!) increases the stakes to make the fight more personal. This isn’t just a test to see who’s stronger; this main battle between Batman and Superman features two men who think they’re on the right side of justice and there’s no compromise between them. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this fight.
- Destruction Porn — Am I the only one getting fatigued by all the destruction porn that’s happening in superhero movies nowadays? Every superhero fight ends in 50 buildings getting demolished by the participants. I was hoping that this movie wouldn’t have so much of it, since the whole reason Batman first dislikes Superman is the time he destroyed his Wayne Financial Tower fighting General Zod in “Man of Steel.” Even Marvel is guilty of it too in The Avengers movies. You would think to save more innocent lives the superheroes would try to lure villains away from crowded urban areas to prevent so much collateral damage from happening.
- Lois Lane Does Stuff! — Look, she’s out in the desert, reporting on terrorism! Now she’s confronting corrupt government security generals and politicians behind the scenes! Now she’s grabbing a weapon Batman dropped in a confrontation with Superman! I seriously don’t remember Lois Lane being this active in previous Superman stories. I don’t mean to say that she always has to be a “damsel in distress” stereotype, but if Lois doesn’t want to put her superhero boyfriend in an awkward spot between saving her life and another goal, wouldn’t she sit back on the sidelines? Get out of the line of fire and play it safe?
- Doomsday’s Last-Minute Appearance — Doomsday, the super-monster that Lex Luthor creates, just sort of… happens. There’s a little background when they show Lex meddling around with the leftovers of Zod’s invasion from “Man of Steel” but you practically forget that he’s supposed to be in this movie when you’re anticipating the Batman versus Superman showdown to happen. In addition, with the movie being two and a half hours long, it seems like Doomsday was just squeezed into this film at the latter half; I would have almost preferred Doomsday to be featured in a secondary movie following this one than just shoved into the last 45 minutes of the film.
- Jesse Eisenberg — Casting Jesse Eisenberg was an interesting choice. I can sort of see the rationale behind the decision: Eisenberg is actually good at acting the part of a diabolical lunatic. As an intelligent madman who can’t stand being outclassed or outsmarted by superheroes, the actual villainous Lex Luthor, Eisenberg is not too shabby in the role. On the other hand, I have a problem with the beginning of the movie when Eisenberg has to actually appear to be the CEO of LexCorp. It’s way too much like The Social Network (look, guys, he’s actually playing basketball with co-workers when we first see this version of Lex, come on). However, in the grand scheme of the DC cinematic universe, if Eisenberg keeps up with the lunatic persona he created for evil Lex in the latter half of the film, he will be a fantastic villain for future DC movies.
- God & Religion — There’s an interesting tidbit where Eisenberg as Lex Luthor describes his evil plan as being more than just discovering power, he wants to become Nietzsche Jr. and prove that God is dead by pitting Superman against Batman. Either God, represented by Superman, will defeat Batman (proves God/Superman isn’t morally good) or will be killed by Batman (proves God/Superman isn’t all-powerful). I enjoyed the philosophical references, but I could tell the more religious portions of the audience didn’t with some audible sighs at this point in the film. Religion is a very volatile subject, and I was surprised to see it come up in this movie. Be warned if you’re taking the more religious members of your family to see this movie.