Batman V Superman
UK Release: 25/03/2016
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons
It’s one of the biggest superhero movies of all time… and for good reason.
After all, it’s not every day we see iconic superhero such as Batman and Superman face off against each other on the big screen. Lex Luthor claims it’s the “greatest gladiator match in the history of the world.”
But does Batman V Superman deliver on that promise?
Well… not quite.
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For one thing, those who were expecting an hour-long superhuman brawl are going to be disappointed. The actual fight between Batman and Superman clocks in at around ten or so minutes.
But the film’s problems run far deeper than that.
Introducing the Dark Knight. Not that Ben Affleck’s version of Batman is problematic in itself – he’s actually rather good. But the way Batman is introduced instantly gives us an idea of why he hates Superman, setting up the conflict nicely… but it comes at a price.
After an exceptional introductory montage, we flashback to the events of Man of Steel – the climactic battle between Superman and General Zod which caused so many headaches due to its gratuitous destruction of Metropolis.
But this time, we see it all from Bruce Wayne’s point of view.
That’s right – Bruce was there, in the middle of all the death and destruction. He watched the alien titans destroying half the city… including the offices of Wayne International, where he saved as many as he could. And this is where his hatred of Superman begins.
The problem? It’s all manufactured to give Batman a reason to hate Superman.
All the problems in Man of Steel were seemingly created simply to set up Batman V Superman… and I can’t help thinking that there’s probably a better way to do that than selling out the integrity of one of comic books greatest heroes.
On top of that, Batman V Superman suffers from a lack of originality.
It really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. In fact, the film plods along rather nicely from A to B with little else going on at all… and that’s the big problem with the movie.
Essentially, it isn’t a terrible film. But it’s not great, either.
Visually, Batman V Superman is stunning. The fight sequences are excellently choreographed and the special effects are often mind-boggling. Ben Affleck’s Batman is rather good, too… and it certainly leaves us hopeful for his eventual solo movie.
But there’s just not much substance beneath the flashy visuals.
Batman V Superman is a good movie. But that’s its problem – it should have been a great one. This is the first time Batman and Superman have shared the big screen… and while it ticks all the boxes, it really isn’t anything special. But it really should have been.
That said, it also does a lot of things right.
The first half-an-hour or so introduces Ben Affleck’s Batman… and if we’re honest, the opening montage is a thing of beauty. It clearly pays homage to Snyder’s earlier Watchmen intro sequence… if not quite so violent. And it’s the superhero origin story we’ve seen time and time again, but this time director Zack Snyder has chosen to give us a just glimpse of Bruce Wayne’s troubled past rather than exploring it in any great depth.
This is a good call – after all, it’s not a Batman solo film.
And while we’re on the subject of introducing our heroes, Wonder Woman is simply marvellous. Hopefully, Gal Gadot’s appearance as Diana Prince (and later in costume as Wonder Woman) will silence the haters. She’s simply brilliant and really looks the part.
But the other cameos aren’t quite so great.
As expected, Batman V Superman introduces Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman… but their cameos feel rather forced. They’re practically shoehorned into the movie, and it feels like it would have been better suited as a post-credits offering.
But perhaps DC don’t want to follow in Marvel’s footsteps.
And then there’s Lex Luthor…
Jesse Eisenberg’s casting as the iconic Superman villain was always considered to be a little out there… and his scenes in Batman V Superman only prove that we were all right. Jesse Eisenberg just doesn’t feel at all like Lex Luthor.
And that’s an understatement.
Batman V Superman takes the legendary Lex Luthor and reduces the character to a bumbling, stuttering, spoiled little rich kid. Gone is the terrifying business magnate, and instead we find a Lex who’s more like Mark Zuckerberg with self-confidence issues.
Some might argue that Snyder has decided to give us something unexpected – taking Lex Luthor into uncharted waters to create a new, different experience. But it just doesn’t stack up against the likes of Gene Hackman, or even Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum.
But all these issues are nothing compared to the completely unoriginal plot.
Sadly, Batman V Superman is a spectacular visual experience, but nothing else. It doesn’t do anything particularly original or clever, and the entire film devolves into a standard comic book action movie. There are so great set pieces, some brilliant moments, but it’s lost in the midst of a mediocre, average blockbuster.
And that’s such a real shame.
Batman V Superman is a good film. But it should have been much more.