I finally saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is not as bad as the critics and fans say, however it is not a masterpiece. There are many issues with this film, however the most jarring ones will be addressed.
As always, Snyder brings his “A” game to the visuals. But the film suffers from the “everything but the kitchen sink” syndrome. They stuffed the film with some of the most popular touchstones for comic book fans. But if they had focused solely on the conflict between Batman and Superman, this would have been a far more cohesive film and allow better character and plot development.
This film was set up as a backdoor to the Justice League. But they revealed way too much about everyone including showing the origin story of at least one character. By shoving as much cool stuff in this film, they popped their wad way too early. The final battle deserved its own movie and it should have taken place at least five movies later in order to have the resonance it had in the comic.
The film is weighed down by too many unnecessary scenes. There is one sequence where Bruce Wayne is pulling a tarp off his sports car, focuses on the insignia on the car and cuts to him driving the car. That scene should have been left on the cutting room floor because other than Bruce driving past what is implied to be his childhood home, it has absolutely no significance other than filler.
What was the point of retelling Batman’s origin? We already know that from Tim Burton’s 1989 film “Batman” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”. We also have the TV series “Gotham” to remind us every week that Bruce Wayne became Batman because he witnessed the death of his parents. Other than being a tribute to Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” this retelling does not really serve the film.
Which brings me to the dream sequences. Mind you, they are really cool, especially with the parademons. But other than demonstrating Bruce Wayne’s paranoia it serves no other purpose. Perhaps it was a way to foreshadow the future of the DCU, however, there are easier, quicker and far more effective ways to do that.
The pacing of the film is a bit off. For example, there is a character who was injured during “Man of Steel” who plays a critical role in the film. But he pops up for a couple of scenes, then he disappears and then shows up for his moment. The timing of the whole sequence feels off. If the movie was more streamlined, it would have been far more coherent.
In terms of the cast, the standout is Wonder Woman. The rest of the cast do the best they can with what they are given. However, if Wonder Woman’s appearance is a sample of what it is come in her feature film debut, we all have a lot to look forward to.
Probably the most controversial aspect of this film is the revelation that Lex Luthor has a specific advantage over all three of them, particularly against Batman and Superman,
and what Luthor does with this advantage was not just against cannon but it was against his character. One of the traits of Lex Luthor is that he is extremely ruthless. The perfect example of this ruthlessness occurs in the episode Question Authority from the DCAU series Justice League Unlimited
Lex Luthor: [laughing] President? Foolish faceless man. My campaign is a farce. A small part of a much grander scheme. President ?
[grabs Question by the throat and slaps him twice]
Lex Luthor: Do you know how much power I’d have to give up to be president?
[throws The Question across the room]
Lex Luthor: That’s right, conspiracy buff. I spent $75 million on a fake presidential campaign all just to tick Superman off.
That is how Lex Luthor rolls.
In the minds of the critics and the fans this is what they expected but Luthor falls short, which is probably why many of them turned against this film.
This advantage is such a radical game changer that is actually akin to having Luthor being a Kryptonian, which was part of a proposed Superman film that fortunately never made past development hell.
This does not bode well for the DCU because this development will draw the ire of all the critics and fans since it has huge implications for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other characters that need to be addressed in future films.
Fortunately all Warner Brothers needs to do is to improve future films is very simple. First of all they have to reign in Zack Snyder. They need a producer or producers who are able to keep him in check so he does not wander off the reservation looking to do something cool.
They need to get a new development team to ensure the quality of the films. It would actually be to their advantage to hire people who are not known as comic book specialists.
Marvel has been accused of developing cookie cutter films. But what they have actually done is develop a “house style” just like they did in their comics. The formula is simple and can be predictable, however audiences are able to follow it. And with movies like “The Winter Soldier” they have no problem subverting it and improving upon that formula. The funny thing about “The Winter Soldier” is that it is has become more relevant since the events of “Age of Ultron” and with the upcoming “Captain America:Civil War”.
If reports are true that the executives over at WB/DC think that adding a couple of jokes during reshoots of “The Suicide Squad” will enable them to compete with Marvel then they are not examining Marvel closely enough in order to learn from them. It is not a comedic issue, it is an organizational issue. They need to emulate, not imitate.