Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Written by: Don Cabuhat

Film | Mar 29, 2016

Batman Batman v Superman DC DC Extended Universe Superhero Superman WB Entertainment

The Good

Ben Affleck as Batman was the best thing in the movie. His portrayal of a grizzled, old, damaged Batman was an aspect of the character movie-goers have never seen on the big screen and Affleck delivered. I would even go as far as saying that he's probably the best Bruce Wayne I've ever seen (Sorry Keaton fans). Together with Jeremy Irons playing the perfect Alfred, and high expectations on JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, (I'm still on the fence about Jared Leto's Joker) I am very excited to see another standalone Batman movie.

The first time I heard that Gal Gadot was going to be Wonder Woman, I wasn't convinced. I thought she was too skinny and I haven't seen her in any movie that would make me think she could play the part of an Amazon princess. Well, time for me to eat crows because Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was impressive. She had this mystique about her that radiated an aura of mystery and strength. Her little time playing the physically most powerful in the DC universe on the big screen had me convinced that she was worthy of the part. Kudos to the production team for creating a very good Wonder Woman suit that helped her look like the Amazon royalty she is. The way she spoke, the way she handled herself as Diana Prince and the way she fought in the last act, (you can feel the power she was wielding every moment she was on the screen) has me very optimistic with her team-up with Jenkins for the solo Wonder Woman movie. 2017 can't get here soon enough.

Now, a film dubbed as Batman V Superman would automatically mean that you're going to the cinemas for one hell of a fight extravaganza, and this movie delivers. There's this one scene where the trinity of the DC Universe comes together for the first time ever and it was glorious! That scene gave me goosebumps. Accompanied by Hans Zimmer's amazing score, it produced one of the greatest sequences in superhero and comic book movie history. My brain just can't stop thinking - OH GOD THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!

The Bad

Batman V Superman should be great; it shouldn't be just good (I'm not even convinced that it's even that) and it shouldn't have been the muddled mess that it was.

The story should have been pretty straight forward. You have two individuals with very different ideologies and very different perspectives of the world. A clash was imminent and the audiences should've been forced to choose a side they really weren't sure was the right one. It's what happens when two heroes fight!!!

On one side, you have an all powerful god who's trying to do what he believes is right, yet is struggling to grasp what it means to be Superman. Does the world need a Superman? - is a legitimate question and the movie would've been more than welcome to explore it. Yet the movie stops there and leaves the audiences trying to pick up the pieces of this thought instead of letting it be the driving force of this movie.

On the flip side, you have a vigilante who has lost almost everything, bearing the weight of protecting his city from all threats, including alien god-like beings that could destroy the world if they wanted to. But, everyone knows Batman is a criminal right? Does one man have the right to be above the law even if he was doing it for a greater cause? Does the end justify the means? And does Superman, an all-powerful being, not have the responsibility to stop Batman, as he represents justice and the American way of life?

There you have it, two different points of views that would have made the clash of these titans matter. Yet, the movie throws these ideas out to the audiences and never really gets into the meat of why they really should be fighting. It chose to drag what could have been a unique take on these heroes into an overstuffed hodgepodge of intertwining plotlines without never really giving the audience a hook to anchor themselves on. Batman V Superman chose to make the world's greatest detective look dumb and irrational. (SPOILER ALERT: that scene where Lex orchestrates a plan for a bomb to go off in the senate and pin it on Superman just to get Batman angry is really, really hard to believe. Not to mention dumb.). On the other hand, they made the Man of Steel, who literally is supposed to be UNSTOPPABLE, a very, very ineffective superhero (Like letting people die, yet saving Lois Lane when he was fully capable of saving EVERYONE).

"Batman V Superman had too many things going on." - would be a big understatement.

The movie had basically three movies in it, (plus a couple more ideas that could've been very good movies by themselves) the Batman versus Superman movie, the Man of Steel 2 movie that included Doomsday and Lex Luthor and the shoehorned Dawn of Justice movie. These three movies combined for the mess that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Now, having more than one plot in a movie doesn't automatically make it bad. The way to justify that is to have them all be connected and sent to a path towards one satisfying conclusion. Does the movie do that? Well, generously speaking, it does, but poorly.

The introduction to the audiences of what would eventually become the Justice League was, well, lazy.
I wouldn't go into the details of it but, having Hans Zimmer score this sequence with epic music doesn't make it better. It just feels like cheating. The circumstances of the reveal and the reveal itself was annoying and felt disrespectful to what the Justice League would and should eventually stand for.

Then there was the Man of Steel sequel. 

First of all, Jesse Eisenberg was a horrible Lex Luthor. His version of the character completely missed the mark as he overacts and exaggerates every line he utters in this movie. Lex Luthor shouldn't be awkward. He shouldn't be giddy. And he sure as hell shouldn't be a whiny little baby. Lex Luthor oozes charisma and an evil, diabolical presence unrivaled in the DC Universe.

Secondly, that Doomsday sequence and its "repercussion" felt like it was supposed to be in a different movie. Maybe in that movie, the audiences might have actually cared, maybe in that movie the "repercussion" might have actually been earned, just as it was earned when Doomsday first appeared in the comics 20 years ago. Yet, we have a shoehorned appearance of an iconic villain arriving on a pretty thin premise all for the sake of getting a plot to an endpoint that the studio obviously wanted to go to by whatever way that meant.

With all these problems intertwining together to produce the mess that is Batman v Superman, we arrive at the movie's biggest flaw -

The writing of this movie was terrible.

The dialogues were terrible. The pace was terrible and the execution even more so. Audiences have no emotional attachment to these characters, resulting to what feels like a fight with no stakes. I never felt that I was in any way invested in what any of these heroes have to say or do. Sure, I was engaged when the fight happened but if any of the characters in the movie died (except maybe Batman) would I have cared? No. Not really. The motivations of these characters were so thin, that in my mind, the spectacle was nothing but a mask to shove us to the end of a sloppily created mishmash of events (not to mention unbelievable) that by the time you get to the end you'll be saying to yourself - Huh? That doesn't make any sense!

The Ugly

Look, I never wanted to thrash this movie. I wanted this movie to be good. I wanted a DC Cinematic Universe that I would love. I've been reading comics for the past 20 or so years. I do know the canon. I've read tons and tons of material on Batman and Superman. These characters deserved better.

Zack Snyder shouldn't be directing these movies. He doesn't understand any of the characters and what they mean and represent. He just pretends he does, just like any of the fake nerds on the internet who never actually read any Batman comic in their life, except for googling synopses of them on the internet. It doesn't help that in all of his interviews, he always comes off as a condescending ass who thinks he knows better than anyone else. But, the problem with that is that he has to back it up. He keeps on saying in interviews that Batman fights Superman because of a difference in their morals, that it's ideological. Well, you don't get to say that and never actually confront it in the film. You don't sell a movie one way and leave the audiences with crumbs of a half-baked plot.

Superman is a symbol of hope and Batman is a symbol of fear. They really are day and night. They represent something more than what they are, not in just the DC Universe but in pop culture itself. Batman would never be so easily lured into any scheme by anybody much less by something as thin as the movie showed. The world's greatest detective would check who the f*** sent him creepy ass letters and not jump to stupid conclusions. (Does it really look like Superman had anything to do with those stupid messages? Really? Does it look like it was the Man of Steel's style?) The supporting characters and the introduction of the Justice League should have been given more respect, by not having lengthy shoehorned sequences that, if you think about it, never really had any purpose in the film. Canon shows that more than anything else, Batman isn't the character who would want a league formed. Not this way; never on the premise of these events. Superman is not an incompetent hero. He symbolizes the best sides of humanity. Given an hour, he can save ANYONE. He exudes hope; he shouldn't lose it every time we see him. That is why he is Superman. He is the manifestation of everything that's good in the world. The clash of these titans should have been fascinating to see, not just aesthetically but it should've captured the essence of humanity and mirror society now more than ever. The answer to the question of "what is good?" should've been a fundamental question the movie should have been able to answer.

The movie gave us two heroes (two grown adults for that matter) acting like snotty kids who were uncharacteristically bullied into a fight because of their mommy and daddy issues. The studios once again belittled the public's ability to take in ideas that matter and opt out to serve flashy spectacles as a mirage to cover lazy and uninspired storytelling.

The Justice League is often alluded to as the WORLD'S FINEST. Are these guys really the best of what the world has to offer?

About the author: Don Cabuhat

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