Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has divided critics and fans alike, much like the films predecessor, Man of Steel. But the criticism for Batman V Superman seems to be much more harsh, since this time around there are a lot more characters and plot points to digest — which means there’s a greater possibility for failure if it’s not all handled well. Not only does Superman return, but we also get to see Ben Affleck giving us a new Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot giving Wonder Woman/Diana Prince her cinematic debut, along with some other key Justice League members.
Batman V Superman is certainly overstuffed and has a long list of problems, however it is not the abysmal trainwreck some are making it out to be. Dawn of Justice has some great moments, really beautiful cinematography and the action sequences are entertaining. Affleck’s Batman appears to be a standout as one of the highlights for most audiences, and I would agree wholeheartedly. The movie’s biggest problems are its mischaracterization of its two main characters, and the fact that there is so much excess: scenes, sequences, and plot points that just do not need to be in the film.
In “Batman v Superman,” two superheroes square off in a battle that evokes America’s political scene: https://t.co/njjGQwc6Ti
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) April 2, 2016
This is not the World’s Greatest Detective.
Batman has earned the title of “world’s greatest detective,” along with Sherlock Holmes, for his relentless intelligence and amazing detective skills. In the beginning of the film, we learn that Bruce Wayne was present in Metropolis when Superman was battling Zod, 18 months ago. In this scene, with all of the destruction, it’s clear why Bruce hates Superman. However, during those 18 months, it seems as if Batman hasn’t done very much detective work. The movie does not do a very good job at illustrating just how much Bruce/Batman knows about Superman.
Bruce is able to figure out that Lex is somehow involved with the “White Portuguese” — which we will later find out is simply kryptonite. This doesn’t seem to cause Bruce to question Lex’s intentions, which is quite odd. Bruce is invited to Luthor’s home and obtains the data he was looking for, while coming across other data files on meta-humans: The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. The fact that Bruce is never suspicious of why Lex has all of this information is not in character and he doesn’t seem to have the slightest hint that Lex might be up to trouble.
Batman is never able to figure out that Luthor is playing him, until the third act. Furthermore, Lex learns that Superman is actually Clark Kent before Batman does. This is not a very smart Bruce Wayne, in all honesty, Batman V Superman has made Lex Luthor smarter than Batman. Which should never happen, and certainly not to this extent. Batman is too blinded by his own emotions and hatred towards Superman, that he rarely ever acts with any serious logic or reason.
— Superhero Feed (@SuperheroFeed) April 2, 2016
Superman is hope? No, not really.
It’s not an “S.” On his world it means “hope.” Zack Snyder presented a Superman that was a bit more hopeful in Man of Steel, than he is in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. While speaking with Stefan Pape from HeyUGuys, Snyder had this to say about Henry Cavill’s Superman.
“That’s the knock always against Superman, is that he’s boring, right? Because he can do anything. I felt like the way to kind of combat that is to sort of show, really, the result of being a boy scout, in some ways. Trying to do the right thing can also be, like, a disaster.”
Cavill’s Superman is nothing like Christopher Reeve’s Superman. The Superman in BvS is dealing with the ramifications of what happened in Man of Steel, and yet he is never really given time to defend himself. Humanity fears him, many hate him, some even worship him, and Superman is certainly dealing with guilt and a bit of frustration with his relationship to human beings. But most of that is illustrated with slow-motion montages of Superman being a Christ-like figure to people in need, while talking heads discuss the geo-political and existential questions that Superman’s presence on Earth has created.
But the Capitol bombing sequence presents a big problem for the story, in that the scene does not allow Superman to state his case. The audience never really gets to see Superman talking about his actions and his place in the world with other people. And we’re left to fill in the blanks for ourselves, which is not a satisfying continuation of the events in Man of Steel. It also continues to show Superman as cold and depressed, constantly feeling down on himself. When the bomb goes off, Superman can’t even be bothered to look horrified at all of the innocent lives that have died, or, immediately try and figure out who was behind the bombing. Instead, he just sulks on Lois’ balcony and flies away.
— SuperHeroHype (@SuperHeroHype) April 2, 2016
It really feels like he just doesn’t care. He says so himself in the beginning of the film, when he arrives at Lois’ apartment, greeting her in the bathtub. How, as an audience member, can I feel hopeful? How does that symbol on his chest mean anything if this is how he acts throughout the whole film? What’s even more upsetting is something that didn’t occur to me until someone else pointed it out, after I had seen the movie twice.
Lex Luthor is a monster. He pretty much reveals everything that he has done while talking with Superman on that rooftop, not to mention the fact that he just kidnapped his mother. Lex then finally creates Doomsday and presents his Frankenstein creation to the Man of Tomorrow, and right when Doomsday throws a punch — Superman puts himself in front of Lex and saves him from being killed. It happens incredibly quickly and only lasts for one second, maybe two. And in that one moment, the goodness of Superman is revealed. Even with all of the horrible things Lex has done, without hesitating, Superman is ready to defend his life. That is a powerful moment that should have been treated as such, but Snyder completely ignored it and did not emphasize it. Because that’s not the kind of Superman he’s interested in depicting on screen.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is simply too long and has too much going on. The subplot with Lois in Nairomi, Africa, and Scoot McNairy could have been cut entirely. It only helps in pulling the attention away from Batman and Superman, which is what we came to see. In a two-and-a-half hour movie, Clark and Bruce only meet once (briefly) and Batman and Superman have one very brief interaction before they start fighting. There’s not enough of a rivalry or relationship built between these two powerhouse characters. Again, most of it requires the audience to fill in the blanks for themselves.
Bruce’s nightmares, one involving what may have been Man-Bat, but in reality was more than likely the manifestation of Bruce Wayne’s bat obsession, used in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One story, and the other being the Mad Max: Gotham Road sequence, are completely confusing when they pop up in the film. With the “Knightmare” sequence, it’s okay to hint at future films, setting up what’s to come, but it has to be done in a more subtle way. Throwing in Parademons and Batman point-blank shooting people in the face — it’s way too much to process at one time. Not to mention Flash’s cameo after that dream, which hints that Crisis on Infinite Earths will be getting adapted to some degree.
Warner Bros. continued to confuse when they started dropping deleted scenes after the film opened, and talking about several of the film’s plot points. An R-rated cut of the film will be made available at some point, with the running time being three hours. It’s easy to tell that there are plenty of things cut from the film.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) April 2, 2016
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice saw a pretty massive drop-off in its audience this weekend, which is not very promising. Could this be because of all of the negative criticism? It seems possible.
[Image via Warner Bros.]