Review: Love it? Hate it? The Maelstrom of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

SPOILER WARNING:  The following post contains minor spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, and don’t wish to be denied the thrill of discovering any of the plot points, please click away to another one of my thought-provoking posts.  Still here?  Alright, let’s do this…

Let me begin by saying that I’m a lifelong Superman and Batman fan.  Along with Marvel’s owned Spider-Man, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and Daredevil, they ignited my passion for comics and superheroes.  I greatly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be potentially the greatest superhero movie ever made.  After I went in to the theater initially prepared to be blown away by what I will witness, I didn’t quite get the feeling that I expected.  I badly wanted this film to surpass Marvel’s Avengers.  I wanted this film to instill in me that sense of wonder and fill my brain with a number of visual “holy sh** moments” that I will forever remember for the rest of my geek-filled life.

What about those memorable quotes and speeches that the Dark Knight Trilogy gave us?  That’s where film director Christopher Nolan would’ve elevated this film into the upper echelons of superhero movie lore.  Sadly, the most quintessential quote from the film was emitted by living legend, Jeremy Irons, who was cast as Alfred; “the fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.”  That line channeled the brilliance of Nolan and I wanted more of that in the film.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Official Warner Bros. Photo

Maybe because of my underdog mentality, I wanted Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be nothing short of incredibly awesome.  Marvel got the jump on the DC Cinematic Universe by introducing a massive interconnected series of superhero movies in which Marvel has already put out several movies, with Captain America: Civil War next in line this coming May 2016.  For me, the movie didn’t quite lived up to it’s full potential, especially when you finally get together the holy trinity of DC Comic heroes in Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.  I hate to admit it, but I left the theater with mixed emotions. There was plenty to love, but there were some things that I didn’t like.  Here’s what I loved:

Ben Affleck made a solid Batman.  While watching the film, I tried to imagine Christian Bale’s version of the Dark Knight in this movie and I just couldn’t.  From a physical standpoint, Affleck’s turn undeniably works for the film.  Each Batman actor offered something new to the role, and Affleck, front and center in the face of death threats and a geek revolt on to the White House, he captured an aspect of the character we have never seen before on the big screen–just completely pissed off, brooding and burnt out.  As the film progressed towards the climax, Affleck began to let up on the anger and frustration that haunts him in his dreams… literally.

Perhaps the greatest success of the film was Gal Gadot in her role as Wonder Woman and she was absolutely terrific!  I was probably one of the only few people who believed Gadot can pull off portraying the Amazonian Princess Warrior–of course, with lots of prayers, training and vitamins.  I actual wanted my screen time for her in the film, but for the most part, she remained a mysterious figure, operating in the background.  But when she finally shows up as Wonder Woman… SHE SHOWS UP… guitar riff and all.  I can’t wait to see her solo film debut next year.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Official Warner Bros. Photo

It’s easy to forget that this is a sequel to the Man of Steel film, in which I truly loved and it’s one of my top five favorite comic book movies of all time.  Henry Cavill, again–makes an awesome Superman and Clark Kent.  My only gripe about his character is that I didn’t want to see him so internally-conflicted in accepting his powers and responsibilities as Earth’s hero.  I guess it kind of makes sense that he does.  In Man of Steel, as he struggled on his dilemma to whether or not to reveal himself to the world for what he truly is… an alien from another planet called Krypton.  In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, his latest challenge is to prove to the world that he stands for hope and he would never become a deadly threat to humanity.  Batman, along with some other government officials, thought otherwise.

As far as the supporting the cast, Laurence Fishburne had more material to work with and was the primary source of comic relief as Perry White.  Jeremy Irons as Alfred, sheds the butler role and serves more like an accomplice and a voice of reason to Batman.  Viewers also get a glimpse of how Batman’s wonderful toys are tweaked and maintained.  For the present moment, this will be the best rendition of the Batmobile you will ever have seen on film.  The weapons, the gadgets, the powerful construct of the vehicle… it’s really cool to see it in action and you won’t be disappointed.  Amy Adams remained likable as Lois Lane. Diane Lane as Martha Kent, didn’t have as much material to work with this time around.

What I primarily didn’t like about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as Lex Luthor.  His character as an unhinged tech billionaire hellbent on unleashing a destructive force on the heroes, just didn’t do it for me.  Eisenberg is a wonderful actor, but his character portrayal had me thinking about the DC comic book character, The Riddler.  For the record, Bryan Cranston of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, would’ve made an excellent Lex Luthor, in which he was almost considered for the role.  Can you imagine how different this film would’ve been?

The other glaring problem I had with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the reason Batman ceases his beat down on Superman, which basically comes across as because of their mothers having the same name.  I know that’s not what Zack Snyder was shooting for, but that’s how it was conveyed to me.  I knew it would be nearly impossible to incorporate all the chief elements from the Dark Knight Returns and the Death of Superman comic book storylines, and as a result, critics have nitpicked and trashed the film in too many ways that I can count.  Can someone explain to me why critics were so mean-spirited towards the film?  It wasn’t enough that they drag the movie through the gutter; but now that audiences overwhelmingly disagree with them and the film is breaking records and making a ton of money, now these same critics are coming out with more op-Ed articles to trash the film even further.

So was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a complete disaster as so many critics have claimed it to be?  If you can attest for the film’s current standing of $170.1 million domestic and $424.1 million worldwide earnings at the box office… I don’t think so.  The only thing left for me to say is that for sheer, unapologetic joy for superhero lore, aesthetically-pleasing visuals and the creative imagination of DC’s greatest comic book heroes captured in all cinematic glory, go see the film.  Give DC a chance to catch up, sort of speak, to make it’s mark in it’s own cinematic universe.  When it comes to comparisons with Marvel, it’s almost like comparing apples to oranges… they both have their benefits.  So screw what the critics are saying… the film is absolutely worth checking out and I’m actually pretty excited for what’s ahead for Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and the upcoming Justice League movie. If I was to rate the film on a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll give it a 7.5 or an 8.  So go see the film with an enthusiastic crowd and draw your own conclusions.

Do you think Zack Snyder’s move to adapt “The Death of Superman” comic book storyline was a wise decision to make from a film standpoint?  What impact do you think the Man of Steel’s death will have on the Justice League and other future DC Comics movies?  Were film critics too harsh with their reviews on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?  Let me read your comments and thought on the film.

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