“Hey, I tried to teach you how to handle comics in the sixth grade, but oh no. You wanted to play little league instead.”
There comes with the anticipation of any movie a certain amount of joy and skepticism. If I am honest, I wasn’t expecting to love Batman v Superman, but I was expecting to enjoy it. Man of Steel wasn’t very good, but I at least enjoyed the journey. Batman v Superman had a few things going for it. First, it added Batman, and second, it added Lex Luthor. The addition of the Caped Crusader and Superman’s best villain made the idea of this film intriguing. The results were about as fulfilling as fast food.
Zack Snyder is not an auteur. I understand that he likes to make visually satisfying films and often leaves the character development to the writers. But to say Batman v Superman is only void of character development would be an understatement. This film is void of almost everything that makes a film coherent. Zack Snyder loves using visuals to make a statement, and that is evident in this film. The first 20 minutes of B v S is all about Bruce Wayne seeing the destruction of Metropolis first hand. We get absolutely no contextually relevant dialogue. The audience is left guessing as to why he is there or what he presumes he will be able to accomplish. The only reason we have for the character to be here is to explain his hatred for Superman. This is only one example of the level of ineptitude that Snyder shows as a filmmaker.
The film is very much two movies that are on a collision course. The story of Bruce Wayne/Batman is very intriguing. This section of the story is perhaps a nugget of greatness. Ben Affleck is a terrific Batman, and his performance is everything we’ve come to expect our Batman to be. He is powerful, smart, and brooding. Batman’s quest to outsmart Lex Luthor and destroy Superman is a great start to the story. Superman’s film, on the other hand, is trite. Much like Man of Steel, his storyline is flimsy and confusing. Clark Kent/Superman never seems to understand why he is feared or revered by the masses, and this just rings absolutely hollow. The forced love story between Clark and Lois seems shoehorned in, and we are given no reason to care. The additions of Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg, however, are a reprieve.
Gal Gadot’s entrance as Wonder Woman was Zack Snyder at his best. The sweeping score and reverence given to a female superhero were refreshing. Not only does she outsmart Bruce Wayne throughout the film, but in the climax it feels as though she arrives to save the men. Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luthor was also a breath of fresh air. His Luthor is maniacal as well as intriguing. He feels like one of the young billionaires who live in our own world. The one side character who is completely left out to dry is Alfred. Jeremy Irons plays Batman’s butler extraordinaire and is completely wasted. What made Alfred so beloved in the comics as well as on film was his grounded advice. It seems like Irons’s character was an afterthought.
I don’t usually go this far into spoilers, but I feel it’s absolutely necessary. So be warned from this point on there are spoilers. The film started off strong, and I was even somewhat satisfied until the end. The addition of Doomsday to the end of this film is baffling. Ending the film with Lois saving Superman would have been a perfectly fine place to finish the film. Instead, what we get is a series of CGI tsunamis that hit us in the face until we want to cry. We get several side characters telling us not to worry because the buildings being destroyed are empty. This just angered me more. Zack Snyder, do you need to destroy buildings in order to make a film?
In a lot of ways, this film feels like Spider-Man 3. The addition of multiple villains feels like overkill. Batman v Superman is overstuffed and at times silly. For a franchise that is supposed to be dark and gritty, why do its side characters act as though they are in a Monty Python sketch (Perry White continually yelling!)? Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg are wonderful, and I look forward to their future with D.C. I am more than willing to see what Ben Affleck can do with a future Batman series, but I am done with Zack Snyder. From Batman murdering several villains to the virtual destruction of every building in the film, Snyder feels completely out of touch with these characters and their stories. Zack Snyder, congratulations, you killed Superman.