In recent times movie studios have found a new way to make sure their tent pole blockbusters – especially those with huge fan bases – make even more money than they are supposed to with a seemingly simple strategy. Start hyping the movie 2-3 years in advance and keep doing it consistently till the movie comes out. It’s a strategy reserved mostly for comic book movies which have the strongest fan bases. Batman v Superman is the latest film to make full use of this strategy and is supposed to serve as the launching pad for Warner Brothers and DC Comics’s own cinematic universe.
Set shortly after the events of 2013’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman finds most people having indifferent feelings about the Man of Steel after the destruction caused by his battle with General Zod in the last movie. One of these people happens to be Bruce Wayne, who plays an older, far more jaded Batman. Someone who has apparently been fighting crime in Gotham for over twenty years. He fears that Superman is capable of destroying the planet if his powers go unchecked which puts which puts him on a direct collision course with the Man of Steel.
There’s not a lot going on when it comes to character motivations in what is supposed to be the biggest onscreen showdown between perhaps two of the most prominent characters in American pop-culture. There isn’t a lot going on when it comes to structuring a proper story either, but despite it’s many, many flaws, Batman v Superman is a largely enjoyable piece of escapist, popcorn entertainment that I had more than a decent time watching, even though it stretched the boundaries of stupidity on numerous occasions.
Like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman is directed by Zack Snyder, a director who always puts style over substance and Batman v Superman is no different. Visually, it’s very appealing and there are more than a few gorgeous shots in there, but unfortunately the script from David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio lacks structure which reflects on the film significantly. For one thing, it’s bloated. It feels like they tried to cram both Superman sequel and a Batman movie into one movie and as a result you have a bunch of necessary subplots that go absolutely nowhere. You have characters whose motivations and actions are both illogical and questionable while the editing is truly horrible with scenes having no real fluency which really fucks up the film’s structure as well.
But despite everything that’s wrong with this film it has a lot of positives which is why I could never really dislike this film. The biggest of which is undoubtedly Ben Affleck’s portrayal of both Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight. Affleck does more than a great job at silencing his critics as an older, hardened and far more brutal version of the Caped Crusader. It’s a fantastic performance and a portrayal that easily ranks among the best portrayals of the Dark Knight. I think Jeremy Irons is really great as Alfred even though he has a very limited time on-screen. Henry Cavill as Superman on the other hand is more of a mixed bag mainly because he isn’t given a lot to do but Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is not only miscast but gives a terribly cringe-worthy and over the top performance that just does not work at all. While Gal Gadot also does well as Wonder Woman in the few scenes she’s in.
I guess the reason a lot of the film succeeds is because it does have that feel of a spectacle that it is supposed to have. The action sequences have some genuine heft and I found the film’s dark and gritty tone to be quite interesting as well.
Altogether, Batman v Superman is a disappointing but fairly middling film that mostly succeeds as an entertaining popcorn blockbuster. Its flaws are many but are often overshadowed by some truly fantastic sequences, which in turn makes the movie pretty passable as well. If you’re looking for a movie that feels like it literally leapt off the comic book pages, you may not have a particularly bad time with this.