Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
I can’t feel angry about Batman v Superman, because it was exactly what I expected. The story makes no sense and only a few actors are any good. A series of nonsensical events happening in rapid succession, not concerned with telling a coherent story as in advertising action sequences. The result is a movie in the same vein as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: the Winter Soldier, where the story and characters are all an afterthought in favor of pretty visuals, leaving confusion in its wake.
Normally I would give a spoiler warning, but the second trailer revealed 95% of the plot, and if you’re a hardcore comic fan, you’ve already figured out the rest. I’m giving a “Dissection” notification until the ending, then I will say “Spoilers”.
The movie opens with ten pointless minutes: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan respectively), Bruce Wayne/Batman’s parents. (Young Bruce is played by Brandon Spink.) This is an event so well-known not only to us comic fans, but to most people on earth. It’s to DC what the murder of Ben Parker is to Marvel. Though if we didn’t have it we wouldn’t have a shot of Bruce falling into what will become the Batcave and being lifted into the air by bats like an angel. Glad to see Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch) hasn’t lost his obsession with obvious religious symbolism.
Cut to Man of Steel where we see Bruce (Ben Affleck) flying into Metropolis during Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman’s (Henry Cavill) fight, and Bruce orders an evacuation of the Wayne Enterprises building. No one looks like they were trying to leave before so I can’t decide if Bruce is smart or if his employees are dumb. Bruce rushes towards the collapsed building and helps an employee, Wallace Keefe (Scoot McNairy) out of rubble, but is paralyzed from the waist down. Remember his name.
This is a great sequence, as it sets up Bruce’s motivation perfectly. At the same time I know fanboys will say “that was their intention all along” when it’s clearly a response to the negative feedback Man of Steel received for using pointless destruction.
Ben Affleck is the best part of the movie. This is my favorite live-action portrayal of Batman, my all-time favorite superhero. Until he starts murdering people indiscriminately. Granted, Jason Todd, the second Robin, has been murdered by The Joker so if Batman has snapped and lost faith in humanity, I can plausibly see Batman killing. However, if Batman is fine with killing and allows The Joker to live, I will be furious! You can’t blame Affleck though. It’s the script. Still I can’t wait to see Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie!
Now we cut to “18 months later” and I’m having flashbacks to Fant4stic. Nothing important happened in that time? We cut to an African village where Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and her photographer are conducting an interview. She literally asks “Are you a terrorist general?” To which I groan. Who asks that?! We only know through Snyder himself that the photographer is Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy), because his name is never said in the movie. Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) checks Olsen’s camera, finds a tracker because Olsen is a CIA agent, and kills him. Lois is held prisoner, Mulvey and his mercs kill the terrorists, and then leave literally seconds before Superman arrives and saves Lois. Where was he before?!
Going back to Olsen, that’s a problem throughout the movie: it wants me to care about prominent characters in DC lore getting killed off unexpectedly but these characters have no character to them because they die 5 minutes after being introduced. If the filmmakers don’t care, why should I? To quote The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) in Pulp Fiction, “Because you are a character, doesn’t mean that you have character”.
At a US Senate hearing, Democratic US Senator of Kentucky (I’m not going to begin explaining why that is laughably impossible) June Finch (Holly Hunter) holds Superman accountable for the deaths in the village, conveniently ignoring the question of why a man who can crush anything with his fists would use bullets to kill. Lois later acquires an experimental bullet from the scene that is prototype LexCorp tech. Why would Luthor allow something so easily traceable to him when he’s trying to frame Superman?
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) studies kryptonite to kill Superman. He shows Finch video footage using kryptonite to cut Zod’s body open because he loaned the piece to the government. He then asks for full access to Zod’s body to conduct further tests and to explore the wrecked ship in the Indian Ocean from the last movie. For some reason the obviously anti-Superman Finch refuses Luthor’s request. I guess she’s never heard of deterrence. Then Luthor bribes a government official for access to Zod’s body, the crashed Kryptonian ship, and kryptonite with, not kidding, a Jolly Rancher! And he specifically goes out of his way to say “It’s cherry”! Even a cynic like me knows bribing government officials is not that easy!
Why does Luthor want to kill Superman? I don’t know. I thought the motivations of Doctor Doom from Fant4stic were vague. Luthor has absolutely no motivation. He’s just crazy and loves mindless destruction and chaos. He constantly gives philosophical speeches about God and Man and deities and how evil or good they are but never says why he hates Superman so much! He is a terrible Lex Luthor!
The sad part is his lines are almost perfect for Luthor! One in particular I like is “devils don’t come from hell beneath us. They come from the sky”. With a different actor this Luthor might be great to watch! Also even though he is the craziest character in the movie, he is also the most sane. He argues we need a plan in case this insane alien who can destroy whole civilizations and continents goes rogue and I’m screaming in my head, “Yes! Yes we do!”, considering Superman’s actions in both this movie and the last.
Batman is tracking something called the “White Portuguese”, is invited to a gala by Luthor, and star reporter Clark Kent is there. Bruce hacks Luthor’s systems and Clark super-hears Bruce talking to Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), and approaches him to ask his “opinion on the Bat-vigilante”, how “Civil liberties are being trampled on in your city. People are living in fear.” The same Superman who has no problem with himself killing anyone and imposing his will on the world like in the last movie where he threatened destruction if he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted is against Batman for being too brutal, even though Superman does the same things! Do I need to explain how hypocritical this is?!
Next is a depressing montage of Superman saving people. These should be exciting action sequences but it’s portrayed like a tedious burden for Superman and he hates it. He acts like a cold, emotionless god figure and never once does his blank face move a single muscle. I guess Snyder thinks emotion is a bad thing. During the montage people are debating Superman. I know what they’re trying to do. It’s “What if Superman existed in modern times?” And I know Christopher Reeve (The Bostonians, Village of the Damned) Superman can’t exist in 2016. No one would be saying “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” They would be arguing on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC about whether he is hero or threat. I didn’t come to a Superman movie to be depressed though! If I wanted CNN, Fox, and MSNBC to remind me of how miserable real life is I would go watch CNN, Fox, or MSNBC!
Bruce meets Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who is looking for a photo from her days in WWI, which will be portrayed in the upcoming Wonder Woman solo movie. Batman finds it after hacking Luthor’s tech, emails the photo to Prince, and also finds files on Prince, The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Batman also finds out the “White Portuguese” is a cargo ship with kryptonite. Also Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone (Joe Huston) is Miles Dyson in Terminator 2. I hope Cyborg isn’t infected with Skynet.
Before that, we get the “Knightmare” sequence where Batman is leading a rebellion against Superman on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road. Then what I thought was a ghost comes out of Batman’s computer and tells him “IT’S LOIS! SHE’S THE KEY! YOU WERE RIGHT ABOUT HIM! FEAR HIM! FIND US BRUCE!” Then Bruce wakes up. The “ghost” wore discount Iron Man armor so I didn’t realize until looking it up online after that it was Flash. I’d say this was clever if not for the fact that the the writers forgot that Flash, who can run faster than the speed of light, travels through time, not dreams.
Clark Kent wants to cover stories on Batman so he can expose him but Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) wants him to cover a local high school sports team instead of the vigilante in Gotham capturing headlines around the world and sell millions of Daily Planet papers in a world craving Batman-related news! I guess White was absent from “how to sell your product” class in media school.
Keefe from earlier is at the memorial in Metropolis for the dead and there’s a statue to Superman even though not once in the entire movie do we see anyone praising him. Who made the statue? That’s not important as it’s there for Keefe to vandalize, spray painting “FALSE GOD” onto the statue. Clark sees this and finds it shocking that, in a world where he is partially responsible for destroying a major city and killing thousands of people, he is hated.
Action sequence where Batman uses the batmobile to kill several mercs to try and steal kryptonite from Luthor. Superman arrives and threatens Batman, telling him to stop his activities and “consider this mercy”. Our symbol of hope ladies and gentleman! Three scenes later Batman, off-screen, steals the kryptonite. What was the point of the bat-mobile chase?! Why not show us the action scene of him actually stealing the kryptonite?!
Keefe meets Finch and they demand to meet Superman. Superman visits his mother, Martha Kent (Diane Lane), and tells Clark “You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did.” This conflicts directly with the idea of Superman! Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel were both children of Dutch, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. At the time, Jews and immigrants were not well-regarded in the West and they created “Superman”, an alien from another planet who wanted to fit into society and become an American, while at the same time using his abilities to protect the world he felt he had a duty to protect for sheltering him after the destruction of his native world, Krypton. The idea was to show that immigrants can be beneficial to society while at the same time telling immigrants that if they want to be accepted, they have to contribute to society. As someone whose first-generation Italian-American father’s side of the family consists mostly of immigrants who came to America for opportunity, and whose mother’s side includes Russian and Lithuanian Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in the Soviet Union and Nazi occupation, I can attest the validity of this.
Superman arrives at Capitol Hill and a bomb planted in Keefe’s wheelchair by Luthor destroys the Capitol, killing all inside. Superman just stands there, staring at the destruction with a blank face, and doesn’t even try to see if anyone survived. I thought this was going to lead to people wondering “Did Superman destroy the Capitol?” Nope. FBI finds out about the bomb and Superman is exonerated. That wasn’t pointless.
Luthor kidnaps Martha and Lois, throws Lois off a building, and Superman catches Lois. Luthor threatens to kill Martha if he doesn’t kill Batman, and we see that, off-screen, Batman had time to make his own Iron Man armor. Superman arrives with the intention of asking Batman for help, but a fight happens because Superman is incapable of simply saying “Help me save Martha”, until Batman has him on the ground with a Kryptonite spear. Lois arrives and says Martha’s his mom’s name. Because Batman’s mother’s name is also Martha, the fight is over and now they’re instant best friends. No I am not kidding, and yes, this is exactly what happens.
I’m also dumbfounded as to why Batman made a spear instead of kryptonite brass knuckles and coated boots. He’s the greatest martial artist ever right? Those would allow him to beat up Superman as much as he wants. Batman didn’t do that though because he read the script that said they needed a spear for the Doomsday fight.
Batman puts down the spear, Lois throws it into a pool of water while Batman goes to fight Knyazev and save Martha. At one point, Batman holds a machine gun to Knyazev, who is pointing a flamethrower at Martha, Batman shoots the fuel tank, and then covers Martha with the fireproof cape from Batman Forever. She says she figured Batman was Superman’s friend from “the cape”. It’s weird because Snyder remembers that humor exists and it’s one of the five moments of levity in the entire movie but comes at the most inappropriate time. She’s not traumatized from being kidnapped, held hostage and watching two people get burned?
When Doomsday appears, Wonder Woman arrives and they have to lure Doomsday back to Gotham, because that’s where the spear is, and Batman looks directly at the camera and says “There’s no one in this area”. Way to troll the audience Snyder. Lois goes to get the spear back, but she never heard Batman say he needed it, so why does she think the spear will help?
Gal Gadot ranged from “meh” to “bad”. It’s also hard to care about her when we know nothing about her character. I really hope the Wonder Woman solo movie is good, but I am not optimistic with Gadot as a lead. She has the same problems that plague Chris Evans (The Iceman, Snowpiercer) as Captain America, looking and sounding more like a fashion model than soldier/warrior. At least Evans can act. I can’t tell if Gadot is even trying. She reminds me of a wrestler or athlete getting a role in a movie or TV show and trying but failing desperately to act. I don’t want to watch a movie where the main star cannot act. I am worried now about the Wonder Woman movie with her in the role.
In fact I’m not even sure why Wonder Woman is even in the movie. She contributes absolutely nothing and is a pointless as Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. At least Qui-Gon was a genuinely good character and Neeson is capable of acting. Wonder Woman is a pointless addition to a movie already filled to the brim with confusion who could have been easily removed and absolutely nothing would change.
Superman uses the kryptonite spear, for some reason not thinking that the woman who is using a sword and shield would be a better option to wield a weapon like a spear, strikes Doomsday with it, and then is killed by Doomsday. The next day we see alter-ego Clark Kent is reported dead. For some reason a military procession is held for Superman and people hold candles for him even though all we’ve seen is people hating him. Why are they mourning? This isn’t the “Death of Superman” from the comics where the character stood for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. This Superman brought death, destruction, and fear to all.
And of course before the credits a heartbeat is heard in the coffin. Am I supposed to be shocked that they would resurrect a big money attraction like Superman, especially when he’s been killed this early? I can only feel sorry for whoever has to work on future Superman movies because Snyder and Warner Brothers have effectively made all future movies with this Superman boring. He’s already been killed and will be brought back to life. Why should I be concerned when he’s up against some new big baddie?
What a mess. I was always more optimistic for Suicide Squad thanks to David Ayer (Sabotage, Fury), and I sincerely hope my excitement for Suicide Squad is not regretted. It’s clear that WB is trying desperately to catch up to the money machine Disney has made with Marvel. The problem is WB doesn’t understand the importance of establishing characters and building them up over years ahead of time to make us care about what happens to them. I know next to nothing about most of the people in this universe and I can’t say I care about any of them. Marvel movies are far from perfect, I’m only a fan of about half of the MCU’s movie list, but they build up the characters and previously establish them in solo movies before the big team up events. The characters are have their own personality and characteristics rather than being a carbon copy of one character, like how everyone seems to be a copy of Batman in the DC movies right now. This way I do care about what happens to them and am invested rather than bored. Again, to quote The Wolf, “Because you are a character, doesn’t mean that you have character”. I can only hope the upcoming solo movies for DC make me care about the characters by developing them not making everyone discount Batman.
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