After Man Of Steel first introduced the idea of a DC cinematic universe, much in the same vein as Marvel’s, Batman v Superman was the film the really tried to set it up. Much like Man of Steel this film has proven to be extremely divisive, however unlike Man of Steel I don’t find myself at either extreme, but somewhere in the middle. Whilst I was a huge fan of Man of Steel, I instead found Batman v Superman a film that had some great ideas behind it and some incredible moments, but I also found it to have some big problems.
But let’s start with the positives. First and foremost the performances in Batman v Superman are superb. Newcomer Ben Affleck is sensational as both Bruce Wayne and Batman, whilst some actors often only excel as one. His performance, coupled with his recent Directorial work, has made me hugely excited for the prospect of an Affleck directed Batman stand-alone film. He is also very well supported by Jeremy Irons as Alfred, who plays a very different Alfred than what we have previously seen on screen, but one that plays off Affleck well. The returning Henry Cavill is still a great Superman for me. Amy Adams also returns, once again she is very good, but I found her storyline very redundant, something that I will come back to shortly. Two other newcomers are Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman and Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. These were probably two of the most talked about choices leading into the film, but Gal Gadot has me completely convinced by her casting, and once again has me very excited to see her stand-alone film. Jessie Eisenberg has divided viewers, but much like the film I found him fine, but not as strong as the rest of the cast.
As well as the performances another standout part of the film was the confrontation between the two titular characters. The actual fight between the two is epic and like something right off the pages of a comic book. It tops anything from the ending of a Marvel movie, which all seem to involve things falling from the sky. And seeing the trinity unite on screen certainly made the film feel special, even if that was slightly spoiled by the second trailer. It’s not surprising that Zack Snyder nails the look of the film, visuals are what we all think of when we see a Zack Snyder, however this often comes at the cost of the story.
Which brings us to the not so good. Pretty much all the problems with Batman v Superman for me come down to the script and story. There is so much thrown at this film, it becomes cluttered and does not flow that well. We have separate stories for Batman, Superman (both as Superman and Clark Kent), Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. It leads to a first half that jumps around so much that you struggle to truly get invested in many of the storylines. It’s also edited in a very weird way, it chops around which I found slightly off putting.
The film could certainly have done with losing the some of the storylines, the Lois Lane one, and probably most of the Lex Luthor storyline. This would have allowed them to focus on what was interesting; the ideological differences between Batman and Superman in the first half. Instead something happens just before the clash between the two that really hurt the motivation for it. I also thought Superman’s questioning of himself and from other people had so much more potential, but it never really goes anywhere. The film sets up this question of does the world need a Superman? But then does not follow through.
Did all of this detract from my enjoyment of the film? Absolutely. Batman and Superman are quite possibly my two favourite fictional characters ever, let alone Comic characters, so this should have been one of my favourite films ever. Instead I found it enjoyable, but not exceptional. They made the now all too common mistake of using the film to attempt to force the set up of future films, rather than allowing the film to succeed on its own merits first. The strange thing is that I am excited for the future stand-alone films, however the Zack Snyder Justice League films have me worried. We still won’t have a clear handle on who some of the Justice League members will be going into that, so we could end up with a similarly cluttered film.
Overall Batman v Superman is a film that is worth seeing, it’s so divisive that you have to see it to make up your own mind. For me it wasn’t as good as Man of Steel, which I loved, but Batman v Superman still has some fantastic moments and wonderful performances.