‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ may leave audiences underwhelmed

Joseph Cardenas/Staff Writer

We all know the name Zack Snyder tacked onto a film nearly makes the chances of a quality movie incredibly slim, but in the case of the DC Extended Universe we’re more than willing to ignore that sentiment. Especially in favor of two superheroes hashing it out in the name of comic fanboy dreams coming true.

Last month saw the release of the long awaited showdown between the two biggest names in superhero history: “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

It also brought us the first ever film to include Wonder Woman in a theatrical release ever, a very blatant presence in the film. The release of the movie brought us our first real introduction into the DC Extended Universe’s direction to combat the Marvel Cinematic Universe – teasing us with Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg.

But this isn’t about the upcoming Justice League movie. This isn’t even about Wonder Woman’s upcoming first solo gig on the big screen – noting it’s also the first ever solo film for a female superhero. This is about the general consensus that Batman and Superman’s brawl left people underwhelmed.

The truth? The movie is trash. Does that mean it wasn’t enjoyable? Heck no.

In all honesty, its bleak, dark, and edgy overtone and atmosphere – while it does set up a more realistic approach to superheroes in a modern-day setting becomes overbearing after a while. Coupled with the fact that while writing Clark Kent/Superman as a superhero who still feels lost in a world that fears him is a great idea, undercutting his more optimistic personality leaves so much more of his character to desire. It does make him a bit flat. But it doesn’t mean his character is poorly written, just missing an essence of the Superman we’re all familiar with.

The pacing was also glaringly slow and felt as though it dragged at certain parts. It includes dream sequences designed to set up the internal conflicts within both titular roles that come off as too long and unnecessary to the core narrative.

In the case of Bruce Wayne/Batman, we only needed the flashback to “Man of Steel” at the beginning of the movie and we already get the picture: he doesn’t like nor trust Superman. What should’ve been more screentime devoted to developing Superman as more interpersonally a rational and open person is given to emphasize over and over that Batman is a skeptic – i.e. information we already had going in.

All this being said, entering this movie knowing you’re only going in anticipating each superhero clobbering the other half to death for amusement (and maybe for Wonder Woman showing up and dragging them both by the ear to time out) is really the only way to watch this movie.

At least, to watch it and walk out impressed. What you’d expect as just a superhero deathmatch, provides you with something actually worth engaging in.

The movie sets itself two years after the events of “Man of Steel,” in the wake of the destruction caused by Superman’s battle with General Zod and his Kryptonian army. In this destruction, a Metropolis location of Wayne Enterprises is brought down and Bruce Wayne carries this weight with him, as well as the weight of his now 20-year vigilante career.

The Batman is a little different than we’d expect him to be – hardened, his faith in himself wavering, but more importantly he is excessively violent. His methods, including branding his targets and being lenient on his no-gun rule, catches Superman’s attention. Eventually, the Man of Steel crosses paths with the Dark Knight in a not-so-friendly warning to stop being a vigilante, which doesn’t blow over well for Batman.

Eventually Batman does the one thing he can think of: find out exactly how invincible Superman really is. The first place he looks  to is, not so shockingly, Lex Luthor, who’s found a mineral left behind by Zodd’s ship that causes Kryptonian cells to degenerate and die out.

Meanwhile, a woman named Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) is also looking into Luthor for her own reasons grabs Wayne’s attention once she interferes with his covert, vigilante detective operations. It becomes clear that Luthor has something big planned with this mysterious mineral – but the real question is what happens when Batman gets his hands on it?

Contrary to what many would say, the acting was wonderful. The best players vying for their scenes were Jesse Eisenberg’s truly psychotic Lex Luthor, Ben Affleck in his rendition of both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Gal Gadot bringing Wonder Woman to life on the big screen. It also had amazing cinematography and art direction, especially for a superhero flick.

One of the most consistent, negative comments is its “poor structure.” Many reviews that defend the movie comment that it is structured similarly to how a comic book would be, which is actually consistent.

It displays itself, formally, as a revitalized comic book adaptation of several Batman and Superman graphic novels. In respect to keeping this spoiler-free I won’t say which ones, but it’s apparent all the way through that this movie wasn’t designed to present itself as a Hollywood remake, but a superhero movie made out of pure fun and personal direction.

As a film that wanted to be a superhero movie that, sure took itself a tad too seriously, but at least wanted to dip its toes into comic book lore for a fun ride, “Batman v Superman” is a great experience.

If you go in expecting a divine, awe-inspiring cinematic experience, you will be disappointed. Even expecting it to mirror Marvel’s endeavors – even partially, will leave you underwhelmed. Enjoy it for what it is, not what it could be. Dislike it because you just don’t like Zack Snyder’s direction with the story. But don’t go in with high expectations; It’s a disservice to the movie itself to place so much make-or-break blind faith onto it.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is now playing in theaters.


Lifestyle Points is a column covering films and pop culture by Joseph Cardenas. For suggestions and comments email joseph.cardenas@fiusm.com

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