Ever since Batman v Superman was announced, I was a little sceptical about it because Man of Steel wasn’t all that great and I just couldn’t see Ben Affleck as Batman. I thought the casting was wrong, the director was wrong, but more importantly, the direction the DC Cinematic Universe was headed in was wrong. I watched this movie with two buddies of mine today and all of us went in with low expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie because of how true to the comic books it is in certain aspects which I’ll touch upon later.
First of all, let me just say that I am glad I was proven wrong about Ben Affleck – the guy is a great Batman. No, he’s the best live-action Batman yet. It’s not an overstatement; I’ve put a lot of thought into this. He’s the closest any Batman has come to resembling his comic book version or for that matter, his animated series version. Those will always be my favourites, but Batfleck does a commendable job. I think the first step to being the Batman was to look like him. Michael Keaton and Christian Bale had great takes on the character (the abominations that were Val Kilmer and George Clooney’s takes don’t even count), but when I saw Batman in this movie, I thought to myself, “Yup, that’s Batman alright!” He looks the part and thankfully, he can play the part too. He’s a good actor, who was a little limited by the script. He doesn’t really show an abundance of emotions; he’s mostly just angry or grumpy or sad. But hey, comic book Batman is chronically depressed so I don’t mind.
Henry Cavill is back as Superman and as much as I hate criticizing him, I must admit that he’s more wooden than my table. I said the same thing about him when I watched Man of Steel and it’s sad that I have to repeat myself. However, it may be the script’s fault as much as his. He was alright as Superman – he surely brings a much-needed physicality to the character, but he just doesn’t have the immense likability of Christopher Reeve’s Superman. As of now, there’s nothing we can do to change the fact that he’s playing Superman, so I guess we just have to sit back and accept it.
Jesse Eisenberg’s casting as Lex Luthor was one of the things that made me go, “Mmm, I think it’ll be a train-wreck” when I heard about it, and sure enough it was. Lex Luthor is a calm, stoic, evil and manipulative mastermind. Jesse Eisenberg was just looked like a spastic and eccentric lunatic blabbering nonsense that I couldn’t understand half of the time. In fact, I think he was just playing Mark Zuckerberg again. He seemed like the wrong kind of crazy – not Joker-crazy, but “my uncle wears a steel utensil on his head to prevent aliens from reading his mind” kind of crazy. It just didn’t click. I was waiting for a moment in the movie where he’d finally do something to prove himself worthy of being called one of Superman’s arch-nemeses, but, much to my dismay, it never came.
The story is actually quite simple to explain because the trailers have literally explained it already – Batman sees Superman as a threat to humanity because he was there in Metropolis when Superman threw down with Zod and consequently, he witnessed the two of them level an entire city in a few minutes. It seemed reasonable that Batman would be put off by something like this; even if Superman doesn’t really seem to have any ill intentions towards mankind as of now, Batman doesn’t really care – he is a billionaire who dresses up as a bat and fights criminals, so it’s evident that he’s more than a little paranoid. Apart from this, there are a few other story arcs that just aren’t that interesting. They could have easily snipped a couple of them and not only would the runtime be lowered, but the overall cohesion of the plot would be much improved. Lois Lane’s story arc had a purpose, but it was nothing remarkable so, snip-snip; the debate about whether the world needs Superman was ultimately pointless, and so, snip-snip. There are a few more side-plots and the movie would have benefitted from their omission.
The first half was a lot of lot of dialogue and a lot of set-up. There wasn’t as much action as I’d like there to be and a few parts just dragged. But Batman, I must say, really saved this film. Every scene he was in was great. It was a joy to watch him on-screen even though he does blatantly break his golden rule of “no killing”. I’m pretty sure he completely obliterates a few bad guys away in this movie, but I guess after fighting crime for twenty years, he’s weary of it all. The second half is where all the good stuff is – the much-awaited showdown and the unification of The Trinity.
Speaking of The Trinity, Wonder Woman wasn’t actually quite great. Gal Gadot hasn’t done anything to prove she’s a good actress and she also doesn’t have the physicality of our favourite Amazonian Princess, but she surprisingly played the role quite well. When they eventually showed her in full attire, with her sword, shield and whip, she looked like the Wonder Woman we all know and love. She was a nice addition to the movie, albeit a little unnecessary, but she doesn’t feel shoehorned in.
Finally, the much-hyped showdown between “day and night, man and God, the son of Krypton and the Bat of Gotham” – in a nutshell, it was great. I’m not going to lie, after almost two hours of repartee between Batman and Superman, it was very satisfying to watch them finally physically vent their anger on one another. The fight was very similar to the one in The Dark Knight Returns and it was very well-executed. Though, I must add, it could have been slightly longer with a bit more back-and-forth. All in all, it lived up to the hype and my long wish of seeing the Big Two fight on-screen was fulfilled.
What followed after the fight felt rushed – Doomsday appears in all his CGI glory (Surprise, surprise? Not really, the trailer showed that.) Honestly, he looks like the cave troll from The Lord of The Rings. I really don’t understand why he needed to be in the movie. I mean, I get why the executives wanted him – to bring together The Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but it was so unnecessary. I’m not complaining though, because that action sequence was really good. Wonder Woman looked very strong, like she could go toe to toe with Superman and there were a few memorable moments in the sequence. At the end of the scene, they did something very gutsy and bold which caught me by surprise and so, props to them for that.
As expected from a movie with the suffix “Dawn of Justice”, there are a lot of Justice League teasers and Easter eggs. I don’t want to spoil them because I think the way in which they were revealed was quite nifty. In the end, it wasn’t really a Man of Steel sequel as it was pitched, but rather a Justice League prequel. Batman’s clearly the predominant figure in the movie and he’s also the best part of the movie. For anyone with qualms about Superman and all the other things they didn’t like in the film, I’m pretty sure Batman makes them forget it all. I’m now quite excited for the solo Batfleck film, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, The Flash and so on.
The movie definitely wasn’t perfect; a lot of things make no sense because of what I refer to as comic book logic and certain aspects don’t mesh together as well as they should. But does mean that the movie’s not enjoyable? Not at all. My friends and I had an absolute blast and it was a great experience, especially for a huge comic book fan like me. In fact, even after all the gripes, I wouldn’t mind watching it again.