Since Marvel knocked it out of the park back in 2012 with Avengers, DC fans have been eagerly anticipating a DC comic book universe, and whilst 2013’s Man of Steel was technically its first movie, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is the movie that is really designed to kick start the franchise.
Which means one of the big pressures on the movie was to establish a believable universe with strong characters to rival their opposition. Marvel gave themselves four years before releasing their Avengers movie, DC are giving themselves one. Marvel gave each character their own individual movie before their Avengers movie, DC is giving one to Wonder-Woman, and allowing Batman and Superman to share screen time here, which means that when the Justice League movie roles around we still won’t have met The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. However these are problems they need to address for the future- for now they have to deal with their two most iconic heroes squaring off in a battle of ‘god vs man.’
Man of Steel was a divisive picture, partly because of Zak Snyder’s direction and partly because the script challenged the whole mythology of Superman, turning him into a killer and having a final battle which destroyed half of Metropolis. Snyder had a trick up his sleeve though, and Batman V Superman begins with said final battle being witnessed from the point of view of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. Infuriated by the events of that day Wayne promises to bring down Superman and prevent him from causing any more destruction.
There are plenty more reasons as to why these behemoths square off but that is the most basic and spoiler free. But there in lies one of the many problems with Batman V Superman, even an attempt on my part as to explain the reasons why they do battle would likely confuse you. Lex Luthor is running around speaking in riddles, a survivor of the metropolis event isn’t too happy with the aftermath, Batman has some dreams, Superman speaks to his dead dad, Wonder Woman is, well, she’s around and then there is Batman just being a bit of a grump as well. And that is just the first hour.
See Batman V Superman may just be the most incoherent blockbuster of our times.A film so intent on building a universe to rival Marvel’s that it has no clear focus of its own. Where Marvel allowed its characters time to breathe Batman V Superman just shoe horns in whoever it can get its hands on and the frantic editing of the film means you often have zero idea as to what is happening and why. Events feel as though they have no real ramifications and the film just kind of plods along, crashing and banging its way through a rather lengthy 2 and a half hour run time.
So does this mean that the DC universe has no hope? Of course not- one can’t help but shake the feeling that there is a good film in Batman V Superman somewhere. Ben Affleck, whose casting caused uproar among the DC faithful is solid enough as Bruce Wayne, doing the best he can with some rather stuffy material and Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman, who is the star of their next movie (excluding Suicide Squad) sparkles whenever she is on screen. Jeremy Irons is giving very little to do but impresses as Alfred when given the chance and Lawrence Fishbourne provides the movie with a few laughs as Perry White. Unfortunately though, especially for someone who was a huge defender of Man of Steel Henry Cavill is just flat out boring here and Jesse Eisenberg is just bizarre as Lex Luthor. Lois Lane has also just become a helpless female in a world dominated by machismo. So in short, the future of Batman and Wonder Woman has some promise, the future of Superman, less so.
A final word on the actual fight itself- many of us have dreamed of seeing Batman and Superman square off all our lives, if not to just settle a playground argument, but there really is little to see here. The fight’s big moments have all been seen in the trailers and the ending is about as predictable as the result of England facing Portugal in a penalty shoot out. What follows the fight is equally as underwhelming though the film does chuck in a few surprises to its credit.
My advice here- if you want to see superheroes lock horns on the big screen, I’d wait until Captain American: Civil War. DC, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.