Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Review

After so many years the big clash of two giants is finally here - Batman v Superman.
Hot on the heels of the success of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros. set out to reach for the same with a planned DC-Cinematic-Universe. Intended to kickstart this huge plan is the sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman.
Considering the ridiculous hype and expectations for this movie, it wouldn't be exaggerated to say that much of the future of the DCU depends on the success and reception of Batman v Superman.
Yet seeing how a new Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and several other appearances by DC characters are all crammed into one movie, there rightfully arises the question whether Batman v Superman arrived a bit too early in the DCU-chronology, or whether Warner Bros. can nevertheless pull it off?...

The plot:
Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman's wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!.
Source: IMDb

Batman v Superman (BvS) starts off quite competently and promisingly as a sequel to Man of Steel. Starting off by showcasing the destruction during the finale of Man of Steel from the viewpoint of the scared citizens as well as Bruce Wayne himself, it's a great and dramatic start to an ultimately very disappointing movie.
With that said, many viewers expecting a huge movie ala DC's version of the The Avengers from BvS will be left surprised to ultimately find a movie that turns out to be more a grim and dumber DC version of Watchmen than anything else.
Along with a big focus on Batman rather than a balanced back and forth between him and Superman, BvS overall feels less like a solid blockbuster and promising build-up to something bigger, than rather a huge cluttered and very all-over-the-place mess of a superhero movie that simply bit off more than it could chew.

"What have we done?"

However, BvS still utilizes many interesting themes and topics to fuel its story that are definitely worth exploring and seeing. Taking multiple inspirations from Frank Miller's famous comic The Dark Knight Returns, the conflict between Batman and Superman definitely takes center stage across most of the movie, and alone is somewhat worth seeing the movie for. Yet there's no denying that it also definitely feels very undercooked.
While the weight of the conflict and epic feel of the rivarly between Batman and Superman is constantly noticable through the movie's consistently very dark atmosphere, one cannot shake off the feel that BvS only lingers on the bare surface of its themes and the heroes' conflict. Thus, the themes are not presented in deep enough or different enough facettes and ways to make each protagonists' motivations seem reasonable and interesting to truely invest the viewer. Instead viewers will simply wait for the two to finally swing their fists at each other like brutes without good enough reasons.
For example, seeing that Batman's and the people's biggest problem with Superman is the uncertainty whether they can trust him or not, we never actually see how Superman's direct and own actions cause any inteded harm to innocent people. Aside from the destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel, that has been aknowledged as collateral damage, the entire rivalry between Batman and Superman feels quite shallow grounded and never fully convincing.

"Can't we at least talk about this first?" - "Round 1. FIGHT!"

As already said, BvS's storyline as a whole might start off quite promisingly but quickly turns out to be incredibly scattershot with multiple very disjointed feeling storyarchs that simply don't weave together nearly as nicely as the movie wants to. Thus, there are several times where the movie's storyline features numerous huge plot holes, confusing motivations and many coincidental plot devices.
And while some might easily put this off as nit-picky, it is truely not when one can easily tell that huge chunks and crucial scenes of BvS have been cut out and feel missing. In that sense, for example, the big fight between Batman vs Superman never has a deserved "foreplay" in the way that we never see Batman truely prepare for the battle or work on his traps, weapons and armor for the fight against Superman - instead he just stands there all geared up and prepared from one scene to the next.

"Damn, I forgot my training montage."

Yet by far the biggest example of the constant sense of disjointedness of BvS comes from the feel that the movie is actually less concerned about telling a good Batman and Superman story, but rather interested in setting up future movies of the Justice League to rival Marvel's Avengers.
In a painstakingly shoehorned in fashion, especially the likes of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg have very lazily done cameos in the movie that don't fit into the pace of the storyline at all. It really feels like the editor simply put an end-credits scene accidently into the middle of the movie.
Furthermore, there are other multiple moments throughout BvS that won't make any sense whatsoever to the unknowing movie-goer who isn't a complete comic geek or DC-fan. Most notably during the movie's several dream sequences the hints at planned future events for the DC-Cinematic-Universe will absolutely confuse more viewers than they will excite them.
Hinting at a bigger universe is fine and all but it has to feel like it has been earned, which is not the case here. Instead it feels rushed and forced beyond belief. It's a prime example of what bad effects it has when Warner Bros. is trying to catch up with Marvel's 20+ movie franchise with just this one movie.

Unless you are a comic geek, you will have no idea what's going on.

But aside from all that, is BvS actually just fun? - Sometimes.
BvS isn't an all out bad movie but sure enough you shouldn't expect a big action blockbuster powerhouse ala Avengers. Actually about 80% of the entire 2,5 hour long movie consist out of conversations. And while that doesn't necessarily have to be something bad, the movie rarely manages to tell or show us something insightful or truely investing during those many dialogue scenes. Instead we are fed with informations that we either already know or, during the worst parts, conversations that just display the movie's tendency for plot holes with motivations uttered that don't make sense or plans that rely more on lucky coincidences than actual clever planning (here's looking at you, Lex).
Long story short, BvS action scenes are of course the big highlights in the movie albeit that there actually are only quite few action scenes in the movie overall with barely any surprises thanks to that horrendously revealing second trailer that caused a justified uproar when it got released.

Hey, who is surprised by Doomsday's appearance? Right...Nobody.

Looking at the action in BvS itself, the movie does deliver quite well though.
While the big showdown with the absolutely not surprising Doomsday more or less boils down to a huge effects- and laserbeam orgy, the actually quite brutal fight between Batman and Superman is well done and exciting. With just enough nods to the Dark Knight Returns, the hyped up fight should keep fans happy, while one could argue that it indeed often feels a bit one-sided.
However, it's still hands down the Batman action scenes though that steal the entire show in the movie. Pretty much every scene that shows the new Ben Affleck-Batman (Batfleck) in action absolutely nails the character. With Batman know feeling incredibly more intimidating, violent and yet also frequently making use of his several gadgets, it's finally the relentless "Batman action" that fans waited for.

Batman in action is hands down THE highlight of the movie.

Taking a closer look at the characters, Batman is undoubtedly the big focus in the movie. Although BvS has been marketed as a movie about both parties, it's definitely Batman/Bruce Wayne who gets the most screentime and care here (making you really think that director Zack Snyder just rather wanted to make a standalone Batman movie).
With that said, all naysayers of Ben Affleck as Batman can peacefully shut up, because Affleck rightfully proved everyone doubtful about his performance wrong. Affleck is not only a great Bruce Wayne but also a spot-on Batman both in terms of physique, looks and performance. While his suave persona as Bruce Wayne does need some more DCU-movies to get a chance to truely shine, he absolutely nails Batman. This is really the first time that you can truely feel and understand how criminals can actually be very afraid of this extremely intimidating Batman. This is a Batman that is build like a bulldog, armed to the teeth, and who is actually killing criminals...yes you read that right.
In what will undoubtedly heavily polarize fans of the caped crusader is the fact that in BvS, Batman is actually killing criminals in surprisingly brutal fashion. While there is no word of actual acts of killing or any blood shown, you can definitely see that the criminals Batman deals with here are definitely killed off and not just beat up or "neutralized".
Sure enough, this way more brutal Batman definitely clashes with the established motives and code of the Batman from the comics, yet since Batman's drastic actions here might well be explained in later DCU movies or even change in future movies, viewers are better off just enjoying this "new take" on Batman than criticizing it right away as unfaitful. 

Batman goes Punisher.

Regarding Superman, there is actually not that much to tell.
Whereas the movie definitely doesn't develop his character nearly as much as in Man of Steel, Superman is more of a one note character in BvS. Even though he finds himself caught up in the middle of the big center conflict, considering whether mankind can trust him or not, Superman himself doesn't really seem to show that much of an opinion or standpoint in that debate. Rather he just lingers along like most of the rest of the movie and is simply...there. Superman surely isn't annoying and definitely feels like he has a lot going on in his head throughout the happenings during the movie, yet we never get the chance to truely dive into his thoughts aside from one useless dream sequence with Kevin Costner.
Superman definitely gets the short end of the stick between him and Batman and oftentimes comes over more like a device for the movie's plot to keep going and for him to serve in some neat action scenes but little else. A shame and big wasted opportunity.

I guess there's an obvious reason it's not called "Man of Steel 2".

But hands down the worst and cringeworthiest performance in the entire movie goes to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
Most viewers of the movie's trailers already expected this Lex Luthor portrayal to be just awful, cheesy and annoying...and they were absolutely right.
While Jesse Eisenberg is definitely capable of some great acting work, it's absolutely absent in BvS. Even though it's completely acceptable for this new Lex to now be a young billionaire genius, neither Jesse Eisenberg nor the movie make a good job in making us believe any of it. Instead Eisenberg's Lex comes over as a pure rip-off of Heath Ledger's Joker. With the same quibs, tweaks and gestures of Ledger's Joker being utilized by Eisenberg in his performance, it just comes across as unfitting, annoying and pathetic.
On top of that, Lex here is supposed to be the great evil mastermind pulling the strings throughout the entire movie, yet we never actually get his motivations along with his stupidly developed plan that's built more on luck and the heroes' being too dumb to instantly join forces against him than any clever calculation. It surely does not take long to figure out that this Lex is honestly very much more of an idiot instead of that giant evil genius that he is made out to be.
In all honesty, without the character of Lex in the movie, the entirety of BvS would have at least 50% less plot holes overall.

Yes, Lex is sadly just as annoying and cringeworthy as you expected.

Last but not least, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is alright.
Her involvement in the movie's storyline as well as her appearances (aside from the final action scene) are actually so brief that it's hard to make out a clear picture of her as of now. Here's hoping that we get to see more of her personality and who she actually is and how she acts in specific situations in the Wonder Woman standalone movie (which would've been better off having come out before BvS).

Amazons of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Overall, the hugely hyped up "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" unfortunately turns out to be a visually appealing and epic looking movie that nevertheless feels ultimately disappointing and like it bit off more than it could chew. A movie that puts frantic quantity over quality and ends up delivering a very shaky foundation for future DCU-movies in the process.
With a sadly quite underdeveloped storyline with numerous plot holes, many unclear character motivations, obviously deleted crucial scenes, a laughably unconvincing main villain, several shoehorned in hints at future Justice League movies and an arguably unbalanced focus on too much aimless talk and not enough action, Batman v Superman simply is far not as much fun as it should've been.
Even though Ben Affleck as Batman as a whole along with the movie's few yet great action scenes are easily the movie's big highlights, Batman v Superman fails to even come close to earning the same great story and action balance pioneered by the Marvel movies. And while it also doesn't have to be a carbon copy of what Marvel did, BvS just makes it painstakingly clear that Warner Bros.' main focus here was to quickly catch up and rival Marvel's 20+ movie universe with just one movie instead of making a great movie on its own. The result: a barely okay to mixed movie at best that clearly puts style over substance and that even makes the lackluster Man of Steel feel superior in comparison.

Just for the sake of finally seeing Batman and Superman in one movie, every superhero fan already owes it to himself to see Batman v Superman in one way or another. Yet people hoping for a great start for a large future DC Cinematic Universe should definitely crank down their excitement and hopes considerably. Batman v Superman indeed has some great moments in it, yet they are just easily overshadowed by the movie's several narrative problems and instances of wasted potential that will heavily drag down the overall experience. 

Final Verdict: 4 out of 10


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