Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jessie Eisenberg, Gal Gadot and Jeremy Irons
Those who know me well know for the last two years or so there’s been a certain not so “Amazing” movie, centered around a certain web-slinging super hero that I’ve loved to hate.
While that movie certainly holds as one of the shittiest movies I have ever seen, I have new center of nerd rage now and that comes in the form of Zach Snyder’s latest black stool “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
Now I may not have been the biggest fan of Snyder’s first film “Man of Steel,” but admittedly there were parts I liked and even saw potential in what a sequel may bring.
But this? I didn’t sign up for a three-hour explosion of poorly edited scenes, moody acting, dour scenery, 9/11 imagery, Jesus metaphors and action schlock.
(Visual representation of what it was like to sit through this film.)
This is one of the most painful films I’ve had sit through in a long time and the most frustrating thing about is that there are things to like in it but it is buried underneath the many layers of awful going on in the movie.
I basically went through three phases in my attempt to enjoy this movie. 1) I decided to drop everything I knew previously about the characters because it became increasingly clear that we were seeing Snyder’s “darker” version of the characters and we just had to accept it. 2) Turning my brain off because nothing was making sense and the plot became murkier and murkier as it progressed. And finally 3) total acceptance that this monstrosity had made it to theaters.
Now for those who have read this far I must warn that this review will be long and contain SPOILERS so no complaining.
Also if you like this movie, more power to you but for me personally this was shit. So this not indictment of your tastes but rather just how I personally felt about the film.
Anyways, let’s begin this autopsy….
Darker doesn’t mean better…er…
The obvious reason Snyder was hired to helm the DC Cinematic Universe was to appeal to the fan boys of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight films (I happen to be one of them admittedly) and to a smaller extent differentiate themselves from the more light-hearted Marvel Cinematic Universe approach.
They were presenting themselves as the “edgy,” “dark,” and “moody” alternative to what they saw as mostly the campiness of the MCU (which is not entirely off base in my opinion).
(See? Darker because it’s uhhh…dark…)
The problem is making a story darker for the sake of being dark feels less organic and more try-hard than anything.
For example, the biggest complaint coming out of this movie for most fans is the fact that Batman basically murders people now. It goes against his “no kill” policy that most fans have come to know him by. Now, I’m actually okay with Batman killing people; in the context of the story this Batman is more grizzled, more wore down so it’s very likely he just doesn’t give a shit anymore.
But what makes it insulting is the level of not even cold-bloodness, just more emotionless, in the way he kills. He just casually guns down a SUV he’s chasing with a gatling gun and proceeds to use another car he smashed like a pseudo car mace with a metal rope rig. It’s so breathlessly casual how much he just kills people and it feels like there’s no weight behind it.
(Video feed of Ben Affleck talking to his agent after the first reviews came in)
Now this is going to probably upset the DC fan boys out there but the MCU actually did dark tones and crazy murder the right way and that came in the form of the latest season of “Daredevil.” In the second season we get The Punisher who of course has never had a “no kill” policy in his character’s history and he goes around killing people left and right throughout the season. But here’s the difference, each time The Punisher mercs someone the director makes sure we see what the toll is having on Frank Castle. It’s not regret necessarily but it’s definitely pain. He’s mentally sick and feels burdened that this is the only way he can seemingly live with himself anymore. Even when the character Karen tries to help he just pushes her away because he knows he’s lost.
(10 minutes into “Daredevil” and chill and he gives you this look…)
What’s upsetting about Snyder’s Batman (among many things) is not that he’s a killer, it’s that he’s an emotionless one. Saying he kills in cold blood would be saying too much of him because the movie barely shows how, why and what this does to him. He just casually kills bad guys about as easily as breathing and I know for a fact that even the darkest Dark Knight still has more compassion going on in his head than the fucking Punisher!
It’s not even character what’s going on there; it’s just dark for the sake of darkness.
But Batman isn’t the only character who is unabashedly murderous for no reason; let’s go into the film’s secondary character (yeah you heard me) Superman who once again is just filled with angst, petty anger and a violence streak almost as bad as Batman’s.
Superman is supposed to be a beacon of hope in the darkness of the world, but Snyder has devolved this once compassionate character into a mopey and more violent version of Dr. Manhattan.
(”…and of fanboys pretending they don’t care about critic reviews…”)
Superman straight threatens Batman toward the beginning of this film to stop being a vigilante even though he’s kind of a hypocrite himself with the way he takes the law into his own hands. In fact he actually stops Batman in this scene from stopping real bad guys! Now, you might say “well Superman tried talking to him first, he wasn’t being violent.” Maybe not with his fists but a threat is a threat. “Consider this mercy” is not giving Bats any options, it’s saying “Stop being a vigilante or I’ll hurt you or worse.”
(”I will LITERALLY murder everyone you love if you don’t comply with me. #beaconofhope.”)
This is one of many moments that are just so out of character for what is supposed to be one of the most benevolent characters in the history of comic books.
If you’re trying to sell the whole “Night vs Day” crap that Lex spouts in one of his “Gods” diatribes in the film, you can’t write the supposed “Day” guy as more or less “Dusk.” The pull of this movie should be the conflicting ideologies. Superman’s softer approach vs Batman’s more hardcore side.
But nope, what we get is more like Dark vs Gray, Porter vs Stout or Murderman vs Less Murderman. The result is a film that feels un-organic and over-compensating for lack of character. It’s basically the Lego Batman “Darkness” song if it was presented to be un-ironic.
(Zach Snyder in a nutshell…)
I could get into why “The Dark Knight’s” greatness goes beyond just being dark in comparison to this but I’ve already rambled too long. There is still so much awful to get through…
Convoluted doesn’t mean smart…
One of the most common defenses I see for this film is “Well, it’s just too complex for general audiences, they won’t understand it especially if they haven’t read the comics.”
Oh trust me, I noticed the graphic novels alluded to in this shitfest between “Flashpoint,” “The Dark Knight Returns” (which Snyder has an obvious hard-on for) and of course “The Death of Superman.”
The problem is while on their own these stories are all great and classics in their own right, mashing them all into one three-hour story is like if you took all of the MCU’s phase 2 films and just shoved them into one Avengers movie. There’s a reason the MCU has taken their time with this.
(”lols, DC totally thought they would beat us.”)
This mash-up of stories muddies everything that’s going on in the movie. We barely have time to really understand Superman’s main anger toward Batman (They did manage Batman’s own angst toward him well though, I’ll give Snyder that), why in the blue hell Lois Lane was in the desert and what the point of it was other than to discover magic bullets (why you would be using specific bullets from Lexcorp if normal bullets work just fine is beyond me. Pretty easy way to find out about who the perpetrator is and also a really dumb way to make the movie look like a complex mysetery) and of course what the fuck was Jessie Eisenberg aka Lex Luthor babbling on about??
Which leads me to my next point…
SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE FUCK WAS GOING ON WITH LEX LUTHOR?!
I guess the most I can say about Batman and Superman in this is at least we kind of knew what was going on with them: “Mrah! Batman bad!” “Mrah! No Superman bad!”
Lex Luthor, played spazmatically by Jessie Eisenberg, has no clear motivation for what he does other than a very vague need for world domination and killing Superman.
(How a lot of fans feel about Jesse Eisenberg right now.)
He’s just crazy and there’s really no reason behind it other than vague monologues about “Gods and devils” and other lofty crap about “power” and “Granny’s peach tea.” He’s just evil which may or may not have harkened back to classic iterations of the character but if you’re making a clear Frank Miller version of the character, he should have more going on that just “Mwhahaha! I’m going to get you, Superman!”
In fact, he may have made a better Joker for all we know because of this but instead he is clearly miscast as the weirdest most confusing version of Lex we have ever seen on the big screen.
Nothing makes sense about his manipulation of both characters either and the creation of Doomsday (more on that later). He initially gets the kryptomanite to fight Superman with only to just drop the whole thing and make a Frankenstein Zod turn into Doomsday and also wants Batman to kill Superman at the same time. A couple things are confusing here.
1) If he was going to have Batman kill Superman, why didn’t he just let him have the kryptomanite?
2) What was the point of the congressional bombing scene? If it’s to make the world hate Superman, they already do. And also why are you making Doomsday to kill him anyways in the end?
3) Throwing that aside if he was going to have Batman kill Superman later in the story, why make Doomsday? If Doomsday is backup plan it’s overkill, it’s like keeping a loaded gun in your pocket in case you can’t avoid eye contact with a Green Peace member.
4) If the point of having the two fight is actually to have Superman kill Batman then once again why make Doomsday when he can just kill both anyways?
(”This does not make sense!”)
This film makes me more irritated the more I think about it and the truth is I’m just getting started here.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of what the hell is going on??
As mentioned before, the circumstances leading up to the fight between Batman and Superman make little to no sense but, tossing that aside here, let’s talk about the fight itself.
So we have Batman in his Iron Man suit (which reminds me of Lego Batman every time I see it) ready to kick Superman’s ass with an arsenal of guns, traps and kryptomanite weapons but how exactly was he planning to kill Supes here?
Well, he makes a cartoonishly Conan the Barbarian like spear with a solid chunk of krytomanite to stab Superman with while making gas grenades with the rest. Before the battle begins he leaves his spear behind in an abandoned building to presumably end up there at some point in the battle.
A few dumb things about this:
1) Since Bats seems to understand how to weaponize kryptomanite why in the blue hell would you make a spear? He clearly understands how to make it in projectile form with his gas grenades, why not bullets, Batdude?
2) If you’re going to go the pointy route, why not a knife or embedding them in your Bat gauntlet spines, bro? Both would be a sneakier and easier way to kill Supes when saaaay you stun him with the gas?? Seem like an easy way to get in a few easy stab wounds there, Bats. Which brings me to the next point…
3) Why the hell does the gas have only a temporary effect on Superman? It weakens him for what seems like a minute when in actuality if something that deadly is breathed through the lungs wouldn’t that be even more deadly than a spear wound? It’s fictional science I know but it’s pushing it a little here.
(World’s greatest detective also world’s worst assassin.)
All this still doesn’t exactly explain how Batman was going to have Supes end up in the abandoned building at the end. I think this was Snyder’s very convoluted idea to make Batman look like he had a plan but really the whole thing just makes him look like a moron by not weaponizing the kyrptomanite properly which to me is a more blasphemous interpretation of the Dark Knight than him killing people mindlessly.
Superman doesn’t make much sense in this situation either. He comes to the scene to ask Batman for his help to save his mom (OH MY GOD! More on this later) but there’s several problems with this:
1) Lex’s ultimatum that he kill Batman or else he’ll kill his mom is fairly hollow since a) he’s essentially a God with super human strength, speed and hearing (which he has demonstrated to hear over long distances, so he could probably find his mom easily)
2) What could Batman do better in this sequence than Superman other than have a really cool action scene (which admittedly was pretty cool)? Superman could’ve used his super hearing which he has demonstrated can travel long distances and just swooped in, killed everyone (because face it that’s what Snyder’s version of Superman does) and saved his mom faster that she could say “traumatized.”
(”Fuck this critic! And Fuck this critic! I acted the shit out of this movie!”)
But nope, Supes runs in to try to reason with Batman first which of course doesn’t go well and instead of continuing to try to talk to him as Batman tries to kill him Superman sends him through walls, concrete and all matter of destructible environments. I’m not sure if he was really trying not to kill him here or if he was holding back but in either case the way it plays out is so violent and out of character for Superman that it makes no sense. You can call it artistic licensing all you want but I can’t remember a single Superman comic where he was this violent toward someone he was supposedly trying not to kill.
So we get to the end of this long dumb fight and at one point we even see Batman comically pickup a bathroom sink and break it over Superman’s head, even though he has iron gauntlets on? I almost wish Jim Ross could make a cameo just so he could’ve called the play-by-play here.
(”BAW GAWD! Snyder just threw in another side story! Someone stop the dang movie!”)
So Batman has Supes pinned and is about to kill the shit out of him with his Conan spear and the dumbest scene in the film happens when Superman mutters “Don’t let them kill Martha.”
First off why are you referring to your mom by her first name? Kind of weird.
This triggers the shit out of Batman as conveniently his own mother is also named Martha and before he can stab Superman in the face, Lois Lane (who the script dictates needs to be in every important moment of these movies) stops him and basically goes “that’s Clark’s mommy’s name.”
Look I get that Batman is driven by vengeance for his parents and this is supposed to be a moment of clarity for him because he supposed to realize he’s kind of being a dick and the two of them aren’t so different but it’s sooo cheesy and only moments before Batman actually talks about Superman and his parents anyways so it’s not like he doesn’t think Supes doesn’t have anyone he cares about.
The scene more or less plays off as “Bro, your mom’s name is Martha? Bro, that’s my mom’s name! Did we just become best friends.” Yes DC’s greatest characters are now totally friends in the DC Cinematic Universe because their mom’s share the same first name.
Sure would have been awkward if she was named literally anybody else in that scene…
But the absurdity doesn’t stop here; we haven’t even gotten to the grand finale yet…
Doomsday and the weightless death of Superman
Before this movie came out I felt shoehorning in Doomsday was dumb for a multitude of reasons. For starters, revealing him in the trailer basically spoils the entire plot of the movie, as incoherent as it is, and now you have no surprises left to see. Second rehashing Doomsday as a weird Frankenstein Zod and Lex Luthor blood hybrid was just silly on all levels.
But here comes Doomsday regardless of if you wanted him or not. Batman is more or less rendered useless for this fight showing him mostly just dodging Doomsday’s attacks rather than contributing anything until the very end. We do get a nice reveal of Wonder Woman here who admittedly is pretty cool in this sequence but really the movie didn’t need her.
(Fun fact though, Wonder Woman is never referred to by name in the movie…)
So this battle commences and it plays out with about as much coherency as a Michael Bay directed Transformers fight scene with explosions, quick cuts and generally no sense of scale or stakes for the viewer to pin their eyes and emotions to.
The movie does go out of its way to tell you that the fight is taking place on an abandoned warehouse site, probably to lessen the amount of collateral damage that pissed people off about the first film, but you still see huge amounts of destruction take place right near Gotham who Batman deliberately leads Doomsday to to get his Conan Spear. Why not somewhere on the outskirts of the city if you’ve established that the monster will follow you anywhere, Bats? Have Lois Lane (who for some reason knows that they need the spear to kill the monster with without someone telling her they to) pick it up then Alfred could probably autopilot the Batwing to go pick it up once they have Doomsday a safe distance away from Gotham.
But back to Lois Lane here, earlier after she stops Batman from killing the shit out of Superman by reminding him that people have moms, she grabs the spear and just tosses the damn thing into a pool of water. It’s not yours, bitch! What are you doing?!
But after (telepathically) knowing that there is a Kyrptonian monster thing fighting Batman and Superman, she goes “Oh shit, they might need this” and goes back to get it. Of course she gets into trouble which leads to Superman using his Lois Lane Senses in the middle of the battle to go save her ass for the umpteenth millionth time (seems to never get triggered for anyone else who might die in these scenes).
This whole series of events really speaks to how useless this character is. Snyder and his crack pot team of writers don’t know how to give her any depth so they give her two important moments to be a part of in scenes that didn’t really need her, just so she could end up being a damsel in distress for Superman.
(Hello, movie? This is 2016 calling. We’re waaay past useless female love interests like this. Can we move on now?)
So Superman saves Lois again, then goes to retrieve the spear even though he should have probably asked Wonder Woman or Batman to get it since you know he’s Superman and that’s kryptomanite and he nearly dies in the process. So Superman decides to go kill Doomsday himself with the spear even though the damn thing is killing him and while this feels like a heroic sacrifice kind of moment a couple things wrong with this (I say this a lot in this review huh?).
1) While Batman certainly would get murdered if he tried to stab Doomsday himself with the spear. We’ve established already that Wonder Woman, at worst, is not much less stronger than Superman physically and since she’s not Kryptonian why not send her to stab Doomsday with the spear since she wouldn’t be affected by its radiation?
2) Superman ends up stabbing Doomsday right? So why doesn’t Wonder Woman swoop in to help him, maybe twist the spear or saaaay hold back the giant spike fist from stabbing the shit out of Superman?
Nope, Wonder Woman and Batman just kind of sit there and let Superman get murdered…
(”What the hell, guys!?”)
So we’re now at the ending, the whole world is grieving for the death of Superman, even though he’s once again left a trail of destruction in his wake. Not sure if there’ll be a Metropolis or a Gotham to save in the next movie at this rate unless they gather the Dragon Balls to wish it all back to normal.
The problem with all this is shoving the Death of Superman in to the early stages of your comic book franchise sets up for all the BS that accompanied the original death of Superman arc. By having him die so early and inevitably having him come back to life later you’re nerfing death just like the comic books and giving no weight or stakes to the danger his character might face in future movies since we have now established that in this cinematic universe Supes can cheat death.
The whole Doomsday and death of Superman arc should’ve been waaay later in the series. You might say “well, that’s Snyder’s idea. Let him write the story he wants” but it sets a weird precedent for future films that Superman is basically immortal. Also the film shows that Clark Kent dies in the Doomsday attack according to The Daily Planet so while explaining Superman’s return to life in the next film should be easy (relatively), how are they going to do that for his alter ego? My guess is they won’t so say good bye to all those dry newsroom talks where Lawrence Fishburne tells Clark that a high school basketball championship is more front page worthy material than a vigilante who dresses like a Bat and brands bad guys for their crimes.
(Least believable journalist ever…)
So that’s it then, there’s honestly more I could get into here but this whole article was exhausting to write. I admittedly like SOME of the things about this movie and I actually have hope for the non-Snyder directed DC cinematic universe films coming up but if this is the first movie to kick-off your new franchise, WB Studios, I worry if its future will have an uphill task to undo the damage done by this film.
In any case, if you liked the film, cool, I’m not trying to tell you what not to like but all these things bothered the shit out of me when I watched this self-destructing mess. So debate me if you want but I’m not sure how you can defend this film because while the MCU is not perfect by any stretch, at least the worst you can say about their worst movies is that they are underwhelming.
This though? This is just shit…
“Let’s show these idiots how it’s done…”