Batman v. Superman is not as bad as everyone is saying it is. I know it’s become a bit of a trend this past week for critics to completely shit on Zack Snyder’s latest entry to the DCCU, and come up a clever snarky headline to suitably bring in the clicks, but clearly by my own headline, I’m not trying anything fancy, and clearly by the introduction, I’m not going to go ultra snarky either. This is the Average Joe’s opinion on the movie we’ve all been anticipating as comic book fans, the clash between Batman and Superman.
So let’s unpack this because there’s a fuckton to talk about.
Batman v. Superman probably would’ve benefited from the Netflix 13-episode treatment but seeing as this is Batman v. Superman, and a 200M dollar budget film, obviously that was never ever going to happen. Chris Terrio and David Goyer unfortunately don’t adjust accordingly to their 2-3 hour limit. There is way too much going on here and it feels more over-stuffed than Age of Ultron’s own forward-looking subplots. We’ve got Wonder Woman, we’ve got a flashpoint paradox allusion to an Injustice: Gods Among Us timeline, Lex Luthor’s own plot, the coming evil he foresees, the other metahumans that will be leading into Justice League (Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg all shown in tiny clips), Superman and Lois Lane’s relationship, the allusion to a Death in the Family past, oh and the Senator’s tale against Lex Luthor – look, there’s a fuckton of shit going on here and I know DC was trying to jumpstart everything instead of the slow pace the MCU’s going for but it just does not work here. We end up with stories that feel ultimately underdeveloped and characters that feel ultimately underdeveloped.
Lois Lane Damsel-In-Distress Part Two.
Across the 2 1/2 hour span of Batman v. Superman, Lois Lane gets saved no less than three times, perhaps more but evidently the movie is fading fast in memory. At the outset of the film, near the final act and at the very end of the final act, all courtesy of Superman, it goes without being said. Lois Lane isn’t the smart reporter we know from the comics, she’s not on the Karen Page level of independence we see out of Daredevil. Her sole reason for being in this film is to be the damsel-in-distress, the same goes for Superman’s mother who could’ve easily just not been in this film.
Batman & Superman Are Pretty Much Both Punishers.
Remember last movie where we debated Superman murdering Zod and also all the destruction Superman reaped on Metropolis. Hell, remember back in Batman Begins when Batman let Ra’s Al-Ghul die and again, there was a debate on whether he was killer or not. There is absolutely no fucking debate here. Batman kills with no remorse. He blows people up. He shoots them. He burns them alive. He stabs them in the chest. He is the Punisher. He is not the Batman. And you can already guess that Superman pretty much destroys the city like ten times over, Gotham isn’t spared either.
And Lex Luthor Is Pretty Much The Joker.
I read that Zack Snyder wanted to use The Riddler or The Joker in this one, I suppose he chosen neither and decided to merely transform Lex Luthor into the Joker. He’s maniacal. He has no sense of morale. He’s quirky and queer. He likes to play games and manipulate people. He’s uncomfortable. The only thing he retains from Lex Luthor’s character in the comics or whatever other interpretation there has been is being rich… and getting his hair shaved off at the very end of it. I’m not saying re-inventing a character is bad. It’s not. This isn’t even a genuine criticism but more of an observation. I neither liked nor disliked his performance. It was pretty over the top nonetheless and I’m sure it’ll be divisive.
Batman Is A Man Among Gods.
That becomes relatively clear whenever Batman is in front of any ‘metahuman’. Yes, you can counter that Batman was on the verge of beating Superman, but let’s be real, the only reason Batman even reached that point is due to Superman’s refusal to kill and knowledge that he was being manipulated whereas Batman was hellbent on killing Superman. Otherwise, as Superman attested, it would’ve been done relatively quickly. Case-in-point, Batman does more or less nothing once Doomsday comes into play. He gets saved by Wonder Woman. He batarangs out of reach. He doesn’t even get to use his Kryptonite spear (Superman gets to) and when Superman is indisposed (saving Lois), it pretty much becomes Wonder Woman versus Doomsday and Batman staring.
Wonder Woman Is Kinda Cool. She’s Not Bad.
To be clear, I still don’t think Gal Gadot was the right casting for Wonder Woman. I like Daisy Ridley and even she would not have been the right pick. But look, what’s done is done. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed in her performance. Until her true introduction as Wonder Woman near the end, Diana Prince isn’t all that interesting. She psychologically spars with Batman but doesn’t come into her own when she dons the Wonder Woman costume for real. They allow Wonder Woman to stand her ground with Doomsday in all her glory, and we get to see the sword, lasso and shield all used in this one. What made me satisfied with both Gadot’s casting and her writing? The little grin she has when she was sent flying by Doomsday, pleased to find a worthy opponent. That is Wonder Woman at her finest.
Ugh. Doomsday. Ugh.
First off… WHY THE FUCK DID THEY REVEAL DOOMSDAY IN THE TRAILER? Silly, silly decision, especially since he looks like a Lord of the Rings orc. Trailers ruined most of the last act. We’d already seen Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman stand strong together so why even bother with the pointless “is Doomsday dead, did Superman die too” occurance halfway through the fight when, in a Death of Superman-type moment, he lifts Doomsday to the sky, the difference in this case is akin to Dark Knight Returns where Superman is struck with a nuke. I love Doomsday. He’s one of my favorite brute villains and c’mon, he kills Superman. In this one, he kills him too but it’s all a bit messy. Superman decides to kill him with the Kryptonite spear instead of, I don’t know, asking Wonder Woman to do it (I thought they might make Batman useful and have him do it). Lois Lane asking Superman not to do it was all the more pointless, considering this was Superman’s second sacrifice attempt after the nuke.
Martha. Martha. Martha.
A short one. With Superman on the brink of death, a Kryptonite about to stab him through his heart, what saves him… the sheer coincidence that Superman and Batman’s mothers have the same name. A bit too ridiculous. And why the hell is Superman identifying his mother as Martha instead of Mom? Or was he doing that since Man of Steel. In either case, the name of Martha being what saves Superman is a tad disappointing.
So Many Comic Book Event References.
This can be a positive if you’re a comic book fan, otherwise, it probably goes over you. The Dark Knight Returns references are everywhere. The armor. The brawl. The near-death by nuke. We had a bit of a Death in the Family reference with the Robin costume . Death of Superman with the Doomsday fight and subsequent funeral and probably revival. Injustice: Gods Among Us with the allusion to a universe where Lois Lane is dead and Superman is a stone cold killer. Perhaps a Flashpoint Paradox of some sort when we see Flash reach out to Batman. And Cyborg’s creation seems to derive from New 52’s early Justice League.
Unfortunately, Batman v. Superman is another stain on the DCCU record. Man of Steel wasn’t that good. Green Lantern was a disaster. And Dark Knight Rises itself wasn’t as good as its two predecessors (though still notably better than everything that followed). I don’t want to blame Zack Snyder here because he’s mostly inoffensive in this one but David Goyer and Chris Terrio aren’t able to handle this tale and I can but hope that David Ayer on Suicide Squad and Jason Fuchs and Wonder Woman can right the DC ship because this ship is sinking fast. It’s not that Batman v. Superman is bad. It’s that it’s not good enough. It doesn’t give its source material justice, and that’s a shame.