With Marvel’s success in the last eight years, is it any real surprise that DC has attempted to recreate that success? The first film in the new DC Universe was Man of Steel, which received mixed reviews. Many questioned if the film’s grittiness and overdone special effects was a good path for future films to follow. Three years later, we have Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, done by the same director as Man of Steel. On paper, the concept of Batman fighting Superman sounds like it would be foolproof. How could you take a conflict between two of America’s most well-known superheroes and have it not be awesome? Right?
There is some wonderfully entertaining effects-driven action to be found in this film. Just like you would expect from a superhero movie, the CGI is stellar, and the on-screen fights are great fun to watch. Even the acting is very well done. Ben Affleck is a surprisingly good Batman, and Henry Cavill does another great job as Superman. Even Jesse Eisenberg gives his best effort, despite what writing flaws there are in Lex Luthor as a character.
However, the biggest flaw of Batman v Superman is the story. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the film had a weak story from the beginning, and was aware of it. If the filmmakers had embraced a weaker and generic story, it still could have been saved by the entertaining and well-made action sequences. The unfortunate reality though is that Batman v Superman tries so hard to have a complex and layered story and the film begs you to take it seriously, but it doesn’t take long for the story to collapse under its own weight. It becomes so muddled that by the time Batman and Superman have their much-anticipated fight, you realize that there’s really no reason for them to be fighting in the first place. The motives that the filmmakers give each superhero are laughable, and by the time the two heroes are done fighting, you’ve stopped caring. And maybe, just maybe, that could have worked if the film ended there. But because the filmmakers want the two heroes to fight together, Doomsday is thrown into the mix for the last half hour or so.
Does it make sense? Of course not.
Is it cool? I suppose.
Will you even care at that point? Not really.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a big disappointment. It’s good for mindless entertainment, but overtime we’ve come to expect more than that. Rather than giving us a captivating, tense, and awesome conflict between Batman and Superman, we have a two and a half hour movie that feels overstuffed and overlong with an exhausting story. Hopefully the upcoming movies in the DC universe get better from here.