Alright, here is October's take on this movie. Let me say a couple things before we really get into my review on this movie. Shoutout to @redapple615 for her awesome reviews and her blessings on me going forth: check her stuff out if you haven't. I am terrified to talk about this movie sometimes. The fans both praising and hating this movie are rabid and I have simultaneously been called a purist, hipster, comic fanboy who is absolutely against any change; and a bandwagoner, comic movie lover, who does not know <your favorite explicative here> about DC comics...the comics I grew up reading and continue to read. I will include a lot of detail in this review some spoiler free and some of it not (but he will clearly mark what is spoiler and they will be separate). I would like to keep the comments spoiler free but I can't guarantee that will be feasible. I'll gladly spoiler talk to anyone through messages. I posted another card talking about my beliefs on changes in movie adaptations but I will readdress as necessary and for points of clarification. Now let's get into it shall we?
This is it. The starting point for DC's extended cinematic universe. The building block all future movie will be based around. Yet another movie that have critics bashing it, fans divided, and comment boards flooded with arguments. Was this the worst comic book film of all time as many of the critics and haters would like you to believe? No. Not at all. So that means that I was worthy of the hype and praise that the fans are pushing then? No. Not at all. This movie is an absolute train wreck from beginning to end. I hate to say, but I called what the major problems of this movie were going to be from just the very first trailer. I wanted this movie to succeed and it let me down.
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman I will be perfectly honest here. I was one of the biggest anti-Affleck people when this casting was first announced. I saw Daredevil and not much else of Ben's but I claimed "suck" from the get go. I was wrong. Ben Affleck did a good job in his role. Another point of honesty, I didn't think Christian Bale was as good as people say. Keaton is the best live action Batman for me and Kevin Conroy is the standard for Batman in my eyes. Bale was not bad but it was the rest of the cast and the movies themselves that elevated Bale up. Affleck felt more natural to me than Bale and maybe it is because he didn't try to overly forced a lame voice. Affleck was believable as the character. It want to see him continue in the cape and cowl but I want him to have a chance to work with writers and directors who understand who Batman is and truly honor the character. It was not Ben's fault that he had to act out poor writing. On that note: Batman, the character, in this movie is absolute garbage. I have read The Dark Knight Returns, I am familiar with Batman's looser moral code in the Golden Age of comics (an age that has been rebooted out of canon twice and the comics since have tried really hard to remove from collective memory). I am familiar with times that Batman has been more aggressive, more violent, and more brutal. This movie takes all of those times and makes him mush more like the Punisher or as redapple also pointed out, the Red Hood. That is not Batman and that goes against the core of his character which is my number rule in adaptions. As long as the core of a character remains in tact, I can work with you but here it not only is broken but proudly beaten and thrown onto the street to die. The movie has no explanation for the more brutal Batman, no acknowledgment that it is extreme, and takes no effort to show that it even affects him. The movie states he has been acting as Batman for 20 years at this point. There will be a more in depth discussion of this character in my Spoiler Section but if you wanted a darker themed Batman to really work then you needed your Superman to be the upmost symbol of hope and good in this universe.
Henry Cavill as Superman Superman is not the upmost symbol of hope and good in this universe. It is the exact same Superman from Man of Steel so if you didn't like him then, you won't like him now. If you did like him then, well now he reluctantly saves people simply because Lois happened to be in danger at the same time. This Superman seems to go through the same identity crisis ever poor Superman writer sends him through. How to balance being the god with being the human. That story arc could be very compelling if told correctly, and if it didn't already have a movie devoted to it. As Clark Kent, Cavill is used almost exclusively as eye candy with nice pointless shirtless/boxers scene. The rest of the time he is Superman. An easily fooled and manipulated Superman that uses he super hearing and super speed only when the writing allows and completely forgets about them otherwise. It doesn't feel like he has grown since Man of Steel and only cares about Lois, not the city, nor the world. This movie was supposed to bring to light the ultimate contrast of dark and light with Superman and Batman. However, Superman is just as broody as Batman. He also leaves a certain fight to save Lois and then proceeds to make out with her before returning to the threat...twice...
Amy Adams as Lois Lane This movie tried really hard to convince us that Lois Lane is more than a tool for Superman to save. It doesn't convince us, but it does try. There are points where the character tries to accomplish anything but it always results in either outright failure or someone else having to do it for her. Factor in the need to be saved twice (usually as a result of her own selfishness and stupidity. One time a character even flat out says she is just the way to get Superman's attention) and a pointless naked bath scene, and you have Lois Lane of Snyder's universe.
Jesse Eisenberg as Alexander Luthor Jr. There see that? Before anyone says it, I know he is supposed to be the son of the more well known Lex Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg is an absolute delight to watch as a major villain. You get the feeling that he enjoys every single moment of his over the top ham performance; and boy does he get a lot of it here. Eisenberg is enjoyable to watch but every single time he is called Luthor I cringe. Even saying it's the son of Lex doesn't work because there is no precedent for that character outside of comics and in the comics he most certainty did not start off as a quirky villain. Plus, the line telling you that he wasn't the original Lex Luthor is so quickly delivered and glanced over that it is quite easily missed. For the rest of the movie after that, he is referred to as only Luthor or Lex, and even a name tage for his reserved chair says "Lex Luthor". If the movie doesn't care enough to properly establish its villain as a separate character why should the audience care enough to notice? This Luthor was obvious Joker back wash because the Joker is popular and the Joker sells. His dialogue could have totally worked for a traditional Lex if it was casted properly and delivered in the sophisticated, classy, and businessman manner. Before people point out that Lex used to be a cartoony villain, that was in the same rebooted no longer canon comics as the old Batman and a Superman that could create a tiny version of himself from his finger tips, so let it die. Luthor's motives were rarely ever made clear between his stammering, rambling, and quirkiness. He has a beef with Superman but was never established that he had an reason to want Batman to fight him. His end goal wasn't even properly explained other than just spreading chaos again like the Joker this movie wanted him to be. It tries to sell that Luthor orchestrated events leading up to fights but really it just comes off like he got lucky that Batman and Superman already were mid dick measuring contest and he just stepped in to be the guest judge. There was a politician he was working with too that disappeared as quickly he was introduced and all of the things Lex was able to do was only viable under the "government is corrupt" view. Luthor did not need to even be used in this movie. We didn't need a villain to have Superman and Batman not see eye-to-eye. And as far as Lex's role is the actual final fight of the movie, that fight didn't need to happen either and will be explained in the Spoiler Section. Lex has long hair in this one because Alexander did, but it doesn't matter because they shave his head at the end because this movie thinks that just looking like beloved characters makes them beloved characters. I actually don't care that he has hair even if he were the traditional Lex, his performance was enjoyably ham but not proper for this movie, not proper for his character, and a transparent attempt to give us more Joker instead of letting an equally intimidating and impressive villain get the spotlight.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman Thank you!! Seriously no joke, THE best thing about this entire movie was Wonder Woman. She showed up and jumped right in on the action, drew the best line of the movie, and even SMILED after being hit during the final fight! This was amazing and the only character that I felt was not terribly butchered through this movie. It is no surprise to me that she is the front and center character the first time the DC Trinity is shown together. Probably, because she doesn't get enough screen time to be butchered. As much as I love Wonder Woman and as much as I gushed over her during my viewing, she has no reason to even be in this movie much less the end fight. You could completely remove her and nothing would change. She is little more than a glorified trailer for her own solo movie (which Snyder isn't directing so there is hope!) and the Justice League movie.
Jeremy Irons as Alfred How come no one talks about the only other good character beside Gadot's Wonder Woman. Irons is one sassy Alfred that is not above giving lip to Bruce and letting his opinions be heard. A great refreshing departure from other live action portrayals of the blindly loyal butler, this Alfred is still supportive and helpful, but also will point out the absurdity with his master. He does seem to have a particular hang up in the "next generations of Waynes" but he is fantastic.
Plot What plot? I'm sure there was originally suppose to be one but it didn't make the final cut apparently. Instead we have several different comic sources cuts and pasted together without anything to tie them into a single coherent narrative. Instead we get an over abundance of dream sequences with no set up or establishment that also don't factor into any form of resolution. Just as we reach a point where this movie starts to hold attention and develop something, we are instantly shoved into an unrelated scene to showcase more explosions, more fights, and more of the same issues already identified in the last dream sequence. The writing is terrible in that nothing connects, nothing advances, and nothing resolves what came before it. A major incident during a government hearing involving Superman goes down and zero repercussions are shown for it other than more moping from Superman and more questioning if he should leave Earth. Action I love action movies. I despise actions movies with zero plot or story. This movie was the latter. Constant fight scenes with destruction and explosion galore. If that is what you wanted to see out of this movie, then you will be pleased. Furthermore I don't judge you for it. If you wanted to see Superman and Batman fight each other like the trailers and title suggest would happen; you will be right disappointed. Oh yeah people dressed as Batman and Superman fight, but put that with the flaws in their core characters making them not seem like our heroes, the fact that that titular fight is after two hours of slugging through nonsensical story, the fact that the fight barely has any actual effect on the overall story, and throw in how the fight drags on into the tedious level while somehow still being too short to merit its hype; and you will have a sour taste in your mouth as the characters move onto the actual climax of the movie that would have been better saved for a later film. Final Evaluation This movie is bad. I still say it isn't the worst comic movie of all time, it's not even the worst thing to have Batman in it (I haven't forgiven you Shumacher). However, this movie is horrendous. It does not deserve the praise it gets and we do need to really address the flaws if we hope any future DC movies to succeed. We also need to stop accusing Marvel of bribing critics to give this movie a poor rating (yes that is a thing people are stating as fact). This movie being dark and gritty does not make it more adult and Marvel is not more childish for being lighter and fun. There is nothing wrong with using a dark and gritty style but it needs to have substance to match. Critics are not people that want DC to be Marvel or people that don't "get" the dark style. They are people and fans that see this movie as a poorly written, poorly delivered, rushed product that exists solely to build up future films. If you're a comic fan chances are you despise the massive changes in this movie. If you liked it, that's fine I'm not saying you cant' or shouldn't. I'm saying this movie is a mess and it is obvious that DC wants to have a cinematic universe like Marvel without doing the planning and ground work they did first. This movie does not get a pass for being the set up for future movies because it cannot stand on its own. It requires the viewing of movies not yet released for elements to already presented to make sense and that is a huge problem; not helped by the fact that we have no guarantee that the future movies will explain anything anyway. If you went into Marvel's The Avengers without seeing the solo movies before, you knew there would be pieces you missed or characters you wouldn't understand, but the movies story was still self contained and fully told. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice not. It is impossible to go into this movie knowing the backstories or the reasons for the dramatic (and ruining) changes to characters and will have to rely on prequels and sequels for this story to make sense. It is the main flaw with leading with a team up movie first.
SPOILER SECTION!!! (I COULDN'T RESIST)
Doomsday Doomsday had no reason to be brought in on this movie. He was the big bad final boss fight in the end of the movie. People complain about his looks but other than the CGI looking crappy, I liked his design and it did change into more the comic look. The problem? He got X-men Origins Deadpool's treatment and Spider-man 3 Venom's treatment. This movie made him the a creature born from Kryptonian technology from the corpse of Zod and Lex Luthor's blood. Why? What purpose does changing his origin serve? It lets us tie in the Kryptonite spear Batman made for his fight with Superman so when can lazily connect the Death of Superman storyline to the Dark Knight Returns and Batman versus Superman storyline. He needed to be Kryptonian only so he could be killed be the spear in very few minutes he was given screen time. His fight was also laughably short for The Ultimate. Also, no less than three times during this fight did the movie specifically say "that area is abandoned". This was due to multiple complaints about civilian deaths in Man of Steel and was said just so we could have a fight scene in the city to watch it get destroyed by explosions again. Doomsday does kill Superman but how did Superman successfully fly that entire distance holding the Kryptonite Spear that made it so he couldn't swim a few feat or even stand while Batman had it near him? Yet suddenly he gets "climax strength" and can hold onto the spear long enough to pierce it all the way through Doomsday after being impaled through the chest. This movie made zero indication of his ability to regenerate and then be unable to be killed in the same manner so there is not even a promise of him returning in future films. I will be incredibly surprised if he does, but there is potential growth to let him become the villain he truly is, I just seriously doubt that we will get that growth because Darkseid is already in the picture. But why must we change the origin just to make him fit into a movie that had no reason to include him?
Useless Cameos I did not mention Aquaman in my character list despite him being huge on multiple posters for this movie. That is because he is not in this movie. There is a video clip on Lex's computer that Batman hacks into showing Aquaman and that's it. Zero interaction with anyone else and no lines. There was even a set up in the docks with the Kryptonite Spear underwater and he didn't pop up. Why should he? Wouldn't that be pointless to have him be there briefly just to hand someone a spear? Tell that to the Flash. Flash also gets a computer video clip. But he also gets a semi-dream sequence where he is mid dimensional running and delivers a cryptic prophetic message to Bruce about "You were right not to trust him. She is the key." It is never referenced, never resolved, and does not tie into the events of this movie at all. Yet another piece that will only make sense (hopefully) after being required to watch a movie that is not yet released. This was big enough to seem important and big enough to be a huge let down when you realize it wasn't. It also isn't TV Flash. I get that it was said TV Flash doesn't fit the darker tone of these movies but that is ridiculous for two reasons. First, Flash is a lighter character specifically to break up the harsher tones of Batman and Superman. The TV show can be complex and deep because just because you're dark doesn't make you mature and just because you're not doesn't mean you can't tackle heavy issues. Second, TV Flash is already established and already has a devoted fanbase. That's one less movie you need to worry about, one less hero you need to develop, and one less character you need to try and sell to fans. I am firmly a bigger fan of DC than Marvel but this is why Marvel wins. They planned this all out and their TV series interweave with their cinematic series. Cyborg also gets a computer video clip.
Batman Uses Guns and Brands Criminals Here we go... my big one. The fight with Superman, a post apocalyptic style dream sequence, guns on vehicles blowing up people in cars on the docks, a gun to blow up a flamethrower on a man's back. All times when Batman not only brandished a gun, but willingly used it without hesitation. This is a Robin costume obviously tagged by the Joker. This indicates Robin has died. Multiple people have said that this is what caused Batman to break and why he now uses guns. This makes him a grizzled and worn out man who has been the Bat for too long and reached his breaking point. He uses guns because he is at his worst. No. Batman is a superhero like Superman and the rest of the Justice League. What makes them heroes is that they can do what normal people can't. Batman can be beaten and broken. He can be pushed to his absolute limits and lose everything, and he will still stand by his moral code. The moral code is Batman. This movie states Batman has been doing this for 20 years. That means he would have fully developed that moral code by this time. The next argument is that he had the code but lost it. This Batman would be roughly 40 years old and that agrees with his age in the timeline of the comics this movie is "based" off. In that time, Batman has seen Barbara Gordon crippled, Jason Todd murdered, and has faced off against Darkseid. When all of creation was on the line, Batman still refused to kill Darkseid because of this one principle moral code. You will never convince me that he got so tired that he gave up the one thing that he himself has admitted sets him apart from his own criminal because life got hard. Batman doesn't just not kill. He saves. He wants to cure his enemies and cares about them and everyone else because Batman sees everyone as worth it. Yes, I had this problem with Nolanverse Batman not saving Ra's al Ghul too. Batman does not waste lives. Batman has weapons on his vehicles and he usually does in many current representations. These are used to disable vehicles and often revealed to have non lethal ammunition within them. Batman does not mindlessly cause explosions killing who knows how many people through collateral damage because he cares. Batman has multiple weapons that resemble guns but do not fire bullets. That is because Batman does not kill and does not use guns. This is an uncompromising aspect of his character that cannot be ignored. This movie didn't have a character based off Batman, it was supposed to be Batman. Yet his constant gunslinging made him the Punisher or Red Hood. No remorse, no care, this Batman somehow believes that he is the exception to his own rules. That actively killing is ok if he does it. I was told a fan theory for a solo movie showcasing the death of Robin. They said that if handled with the raw emotion and weight that the comic had, it could show why Batman cracked and started using guns. The problem is that the comic he talks about is Under the Red Hood and the Death of Jason Todd. A series that did show a more aggressive, a more brutal, and a less caring Batman. He was more violent and at one point he did let a henchman die at a damn but he did try to save that henchman first. When confronted by Jason Todd about how could he not kill Joker for what he had done Batman specifically said that it would be too easy. That is he goes down that road he could never return from it and that it makes me no better than Joker and all the criminals of Gotham. This is not me complaining that the movie and comics are different. This is me saying that they broke my biggest rule of adaptations. You do no change a core element, a defining characteristic of a character. This movie did it. Whether it was because that was just their vision, a writer's ego thinking they could do better, or just the sign of bad writing because you can't write compelling stories without changing who the character is; it is wrong. It is by far the absolute biggest flaw in the movie. It is not explained why, it is not shown what happened that could push Batman to this point (even though I've stated why nothing could), and it is not shown that it even has an affect on Batman. Breaking Zod's neck in Man of Steel was the end for most people. I can see why but it at least handled it with amazing weight. Superman showed the pain and betrayal he felt having done it. It doesn't make it ok (and ignoring the people killed in the city and rushing to the lame jokes in the following scenes didn't help either), but it does allow for growth of that version of Superman to never kill again. But Superman should not have killed in the first place. That is not Superman. That is not Batman. This movie did not show any weight for Batman using guns. Batman is more subtle and hides emotions more than Superman but there wasn't even hints that it bothered him. The fact that he did not brand Lex Luthor at the end of the film does not show growth. He should not have branded criminals to begin with and even the movie tells us it is the equivalent of a death sentence. Nothing truly happened to trigger the change either as just before this, Batman fired automatic weapons at Superman, used guns in the room with the henchmen while trying to save Martha Kent, and used another gun to blow up the henchman with the flamethrower without even hesitating to do any of that. This isn't Batman and it can't be Batman if they are willing to just ignore his main trait. The very thing that sets him apart from the criminals of Gotham. And this movie tells anyone not familiar with Batman and how absolute his morals are that its fine that he kills. That is a terrible shame because it cheapens the character beyond saving. Sure, future movies can have him abandon this practice and grow to not use lethal weapons and embrace the standard a real Batman should have. But it is not seeing Batman grow from his lowest to his highest. I like the idea of the already more brutal Batman being introduced and us seeing how he got that way and how we will get out of that habit. But a Batman that ruthlessly and violently kills is not Batman.