Think back to the time when you first had an amazing girlfriend or boyfriend when you were younger. It was fantastic for a while, but as is often the case for youthful romances the object of your dreams leaves you.
You then spend months getting over it until one day you’re in a record shop (or wherever the kids hang out these days) and you see her/him draped round the local arsehole who has all the style and class of a Happy Shopper in Stockport on a bank holiday weekend.
This is what’s happened to Superman and Batman, In this case the arsehole is Zack Snyder, who has draped himself all over DC Comics’ prime two superheroes like a 16 year old that’s discovered how to use his cock for the very first time. Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice is an overlong confused mess of a film that overuses the same tricks over and over again til you finally get to the end and get to emerge into the fresh air.
The plot picks up a few years after Man of Steel.Superman is sort of loved but the American government doesn’t trust him because of the whole destroying a major American city and helping kill tens of thousands of innocent people thing. We are also introduced to Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman who has a massive amount of dream sequences because the plot for this and future DC Universe films need him to have them because the writers can’t think of anything better. Batman’s a psychopath who brutalises criminals and Bruce Wayne’s a rich, white racist who hates the idea of an asylum seeker or immigrant (which is what Superman is after all) being more powerful than him. Alright, that’s possibly a tad harsh but the politics of this film are all over the place. Is Superman seen as good by people? Depends on the scene and whether it serves the plot. Is Batman a psychotic murdering thug or a brave vigilante? Depends on whether the plot needs to move in one direction or not? Why is Wonder Woman there for 95% of the running time if all she’s there for is for Affleck’s Bruce Wayne to go chasing her like some horny teenager.
The entire plot revolves around Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor manipulating Batman and Superman to fight each other. Much of it makes no sense like why is Batman/Bruce Wayne (one of the finest investigators and detectives on the planet) unable to spot the bloody obvious signs that Luthor is insane and is manipulating him? Is he that stupid?
And Superman; why can’t he hear the bomb in a scene that in better hands would be a pivotal scene but is just confused. Why doesn’t the most powerful creature that’s on planet Earth work all this out in a second using his powers? Is he that stupid?
As for Lois Lane, she’s relegated to the role of being saved by Superman and/or pining for him in scenes they don’t share together, including one semi-nude scene that simply comes over as awkward mainly because Henry Cavil and Amy Adams have all the charisma together of fish and diarrhoea. Also, this film isn’t going to pass the Bechdel Test because out of the four main female roles in this film, one pines for Superman, one is in and out to set up future films, one gets killed halfway through and the other exists to be held hostage near the end. Everything in the film though is secondary to Batman and Superman, even poor Jeremy Irons wasted in the role of Alfred seems like an afterthought in the script.
There’s the problem. Rather than building a good script the film has to service several things from having Superman and Batman fight (obviously), setting up future DC films (so there’s teasers for Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Justice League) and director Zack Snyder’s obsession with having people hit each other over and over and over again in some of the most unexciting, stale scenes of action I’ve seen in a while. Then there’s the problem of having the script reference The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman at any available opportunity.
The problem is that DC and Warners have spent ages fannying around trying to work out what to do with their characters, and in that time Marvel have proven a cinematic universe works if you spend some time building it up. In trying to jump start it and throw all the big guns out first, DC have real issues here, mainly with quality control but having dark, humourless, joyless (it’s amazing how starkly joyless this film is for what is essentially two children’s characters fighting) and emotionally empty films like this isn’t a great start.
There are good points though. Cavil is a good actor and does what he can. Affleck is fine, but everyone else is totally wasted by David Goyer’s clunking fist of a script. Yeah, the idea of spinning off criticism of Man of Steel’s end slaughter is the film’s one smart idea, but when we get to the end and you have Batman luring back into the city towards where people are, not to mention a scene where Doomsday smashes up the memorial to the dead of the first film, then it feels like they simply didn’t care by the end to stick to, or develop that idea that heroes try to save people rather than be stupid careless arseholes.
Batman versus Superman isn’t a dreadful film. It’s a bad one that suffers from poor direction at times and a dreadful script, but it’s entertaining in places, however it’s a bloated, overlong confusing mess as said. It raises the point about whether Snyder or even DC get these characters they have. If after all this film is being marketed to kids (as it is here in the UK with things like cuddly meerkat dolls) but their ‘heroes’ are a pair of moody stupid dickheads, then that risks the film pandering only to a hardcore of DC Comics superhero fans which means they’re looking to sell this really to 20-50 year old men. If you’re going to make money back from a $250 million film you need to go outside that audience, and although it’s making money in the UK on a damp Easter weekend in March, the test is going to be whether it carries on making money next week, or the week after.
The main feeling I have though is of a wasted opportunity. This could have been a fun bit of superhero action/adventure. It could have given me more than maybe one smile. It could have been less tedious in it’s violence and action. Instead it’s another Zack Snyder film and that’s the most damning thing I can say about this.