SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN – DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING GIVEN AWAY
It appears in his latest feature, my learned friend and colleague Mr Hughes, has nothing but disdain for the new DC film, so Ross, here’s what I think! Personally, I thought it was great. It wasn’t an amazing film by any standards, but as a superhero film, it was very entertaining. However, let’s get what I agree on out of the way, and also another bugbear of the way the whole thing was marketed. The only trailer for this film (which has been pretty much unavoidable for the last year) which didn’t give anything away, was the very last one released. Prior to that, it pretty much walked you through the whole bloody film. The reveal of Doomsday would have made an excellent twist, (and in fact, keeping Wonder Woman under wraps would have made a nice surprise), but there are no surprises left come the final dust up between Man and God. It also seems that it was necessary to pander to everyone moaning about civilian casualties in the first film, by having it explained that every area that was being fought in was either almost empty or deserted, which did get a tad silly after the third time of it being mentioned. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And also, as Ross rightly points out, Martha.
There have been a lot of complaints directed at how dark the film is, but it’s no worse than literally every other Batman movie since Keaton took on the mantle. Even Schumacher’s day glow vomit nightmare of Batman Forever/& Robin was like it. It seems baffling that people are ripping into a film featuring Batman (he is fear. HE IS THE NIGHT!) for being dark! I mean come on, do people want Batman sliding down the back of a dinosaur like Fred fucking Flintstone again (Batman and Robin, I watched it recently and it’s even worse than I remember)? I don’t!
As a fan of the Arkham video games I’ve noticed a lot of similarities, and it’d come as no surprise that Snyder was likely influenced as much by these as anything else when it comes to the bat. The Batmobile is very similar to the one in the most recent game, and when we finally see Bats go up against a room full of thugs, you could be watching a scene from any of those games, and it was extremely satisfying. Even the subtle things, like the way Batman uses the grapnel gun seem spot on. The dynamic between Bruce Wayne and Alfred, as well as the role Alfred plays in assisting Batman is near enough a carbon copy and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is possibly the most entertaining incarnation yet. Afflek and Irons work very well together and are utterly convincing in the fact that they’ve been doing this for far too long. And you can’t tell me you didn’t get confusing feelings when Bruce Wayne was doing those pull-ups, which almost put Oliver Queen to shame. Yes we are once again treated to another Batman film showing the Wayne’s being murdered, however this is dealt with in the opening credits, and is the motivation behind Batman after all, but it ends up being one of several looks into Bruce Wayne’s dreams/nightmares. It is a recurring theme throughout the film, to the annoyance of some, it would seem. It may be a cliché method of showing Bruce Wayne’s fears, but it certainly isn’t the only time we’ve seen it on screen, or in the comics.
Some have issues with the amount of time the film takes to establish characters, motivations and the titular ruck between the superheroes, but the majority of it all slots together as it transpires that Lex Luthor has been gathering information on everything he can about the Man of Steel (and to a lesser extent, the Bat), including his personal life, which he eventually uses as leverage as he persuades Superman to take on Batman. Granted it could’ve probably been established quicker than it is, but when the journey is just as interesting as the destination, why should it matter? It’s not just about these two leathering the shit out of each other, it’s about the purpose behind it and the fact that Luthor and Batman have the same intentions but not the same reasons. It’s been argued that Batman’s change of heart, when he has him right where he wants him, is a bit rushed and while I agree it was a bit of an odd one, it’s Superman’s humanity that wins him over. He realises that he’s just trying to do the same thing he is. Protect the ones he loves and try and make the world a better, safer place. That’s why he goes from trying to stop him to helping him. Once he realised his intentions were entirely sincere, he makes a better ally than he does a foe. And the fact he gives his life to stop Doomsday spoke volumes. Also Ross pointed out that Luthor could have stopped Superman with his Kryptonite. Lex left it down to Batman to take on Superman because he stole the Kryptonite from him, and even left a calling card. Without it, there was no way he could’ve taken on the Man of Steel. And to address the spear thing, Lois threw it away as she knew it was harmful to the man she loves. Going back to retrieve it again, on the other hand is a different story. Unless I’m mistaken, she has no idea of Doomsday’s origin, therefore wouldn’t know that he would have the same weakness. I know she’s an investigative journalist, but deducting that from everything that was going was extremely clever!
Superman/Clark Kent does seem somewhat understated, with Luthor’s schemes causing him to doubt himself at almost every turn, causing him to probably try a little too hard, and I do agree that the ‘professional’ Clark Kent persona resembles Superman too much in terms of personality, but as Lois is pretty much the only one to have encountered both alter ego’s, she’s the only one that would get close enough to notice, perhaps. Jesse Eisenberg has a great turn as Lex Luthor, cold, calculating and delightfully unhinged, providing a few darkly amusing moments. Gal Gadot also makes a great appearance as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, which although not around for too long, is very promising as to what may come in future cinematic appearances.
It’s interesting to see people losing their shit over this film, considering the amount of misfires there have been over the years. The Nolan Batman films were brilliant, The Dark Knight a masterpiece, but again none without their flaws and they definitely wouldn’t fit in to the extended DC universe given how grounded the films were. Superman has had bit of a rougher ride, with the only decent attempts being Christopher Reeve’s first outing and the previous Snyder film, Man of Steel. The former being a fun and silly Superman story, which worked well as an origin story but its subsequent sequels diminished each time in quality. And MoS isn’t without its critics, but it’s a damn sight better than anything that’s come prior to it.
Of course we can’t forget the impressive, immersive score from JXL and Hans Zimmer. Man of Steel gave us a superb synth filled score (a far cry from John Williams’ fanfare) which was filled with subtlety and conveyed the message of hope Superman brings. BvS has a similar motif, with a darker edge, and although there can be some similarities to the previous Batman films, it’s extremely rousing and I came out the cinema with it being an earworm for days.
Overall, in terms of crossovers and a Justice League set up, this couldn’t have gone much better, bar the heavy handed introduction to the rest of the heroes that will be joining them, but do we need another 3 or 4 origin story films before we finally get to what really want? In all the animated adaptations I’ve seen and all the comics I’ve read and pretty much any other medium in which I’ve enjoyed these heroes, what we’ve seen so far has been very enjoyable and pretty much what you can expect from a movie called Batman Vs Superman. It seems the critics were expecting more than a comic book adaptation, which in my own experience, happens to be one of the most faithful. Whatever is coming next, cannot come soon enough, I was left wanting more.