In 2013, Warner Brothers released ‘Man of Steel’ hoping to set their DC Comics movies in a new direction. By this point audiences had already experienced Christopher Nolan’s vision of The Dark Knight, and movie audiences were now used to cinematic universes (see Marvel’s MCU). Audiences flocked to theaters hoping to see a newly energized Superman. A few weeks after ‘Man of Steel’s’ successful release, Warner Brothers was ready to make their next big move. To a packed Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, director Zack Snyder revealed that they were already moving forward with Batman v Superman. This week movie, and especially comic book, fans will finally get to see a moment they have been waiting for. Batman and Superman on the big screen…together.
Was it worth the wait?
*Some Spoilers Ahead*
‘Dawn of Justice’ opens with a look at the story we all know by now. The Wayne Family leave a Gotham theater leading to the murder of the parents of young Bruce Wayne. From here the movie fast forwards to a moment from ‘Man of Steel’ that viewers will remember. It’s the destruction of Metropolis during the fight between Superman and General Zod. Only this time we are seeing it from the perspective of Bruce Wayne as he tries to rescue workers in Wayne Tower. It’s a scene that is left with emotional impact as we now understand the point of view that will lead to the ultimate showdown.
After another incident in which civilians are hurt when Superman encounters a terrorist organization, the world is left wondering if Superman is causing more harm than good. As world leaders debate this, we are introduced to the weakest link of the movie. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. From his introduction we see that he is bent on getting rid of Superman, but there is no larger plan. There is no transition to see where the obsession to rid the world of Superman comes from. He just wants to. While being evil just to be evil can work for a character, this does not happen here. Eisenberg’s Lex seems as if we are seeing his version of Mark Zuckerberg on cocaine. There’s also a very awkward moment between Lex and Washington insider that will make you never want a Jolly Rancher again. This moment appeared to meant to be comedic, but our audience seemed more uncomfortable and wishing we could unsee it. But we’ll touch more on his performance later.
Knowing that Lex is up to something, Bruce Wayne is helped by his right hand man Alfred, who is expertly played by Jeremy Irons. With Alfred in the Batcave having a strong drink while using schematics to guide Bruce through a building, they meet up with Diana Prince. Bruce quickly realizes that she is someone special, and Diana shows him that he’s not the only one who is looking into Lex’s activities.
Having gained access to Lex’s computer system, Bruce informs Alfred of the true reason his searching Lex’s dealings. It seems that Mr. Luthor has obtained a very special rock from the Indian Ocean that may help Batman take down Superman and make him pay for all of the destruction and loss of life he has caused. It’s while trying to obtain this item that Batman and Superman finally stand face to face for the first time.
Eventually Bruce ends up with the rock which leads Lex to begin working on making a creature from Kryptonian and human DNA.
Before this creature is unleashed Lex begins playing all of his cards by putting Superman in a position that will force him to confront Batman. This battle lives up to the epicness that fans have been hoping to see on screen. A Batman so bent on making Superman pay, and a Superman confronted by a weakness he’s never felt. Not only physically, but emotionally. This weakness is caused by his first encounter with Kryptonite, and the need to ask someone for help. As the battle is leading to a climatic end, Batman learns of what Lex has done and begins to understand that Superman is not the one who needs to brought to justice this night.
*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
After unleashing Doomsday upon the world, we finally get to see the moment that comic book fans have been waiting to see. The Trinity – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman – standing side by side on the big screen to fight evil. Doomsday is unlike anything Batman and Superman have ever seen. While Wonder Woman seems familiar with this type of ferocity and also appears to relish in the fight. Perhaps it’s the Amazonian warrior in her, but it’s almost as if she has been missing the action.
Knowing that Doomsday is made of Kryptonian blood, the only thing that can kill it is a Kryptonian weapon. The only one powerful enough to deliver the deadly blow us Superman. The weapon is used, but at a high cost. The death of Superman. While comic book fans will know what was coming, you had to also wonder if the studio would actually go through with it.
But this isn’t the only surprising moment of the film. Earlier in the movie we get our first glimpse at the DC Comics multi-verse with an incredible appearance by The Flash. We are also treated to our first looks at Aquaman and Cyborg in research videos that Bruce uncovers from Lex’s hard drive. (Aquaman’s appearance was greeted by cheers and applause in our screening.)
The movie ends by setting up what we already know is coming, the creation of the Justice League. We can also expect this to bring the return of Superman as well.
Ben Affleck will come out of this movie defeating all of those that doubted him being cast. He brings delivers the right amount of charm as Bruce Wayne when needed, and the intensity of man seeking justice when his is in detective mode or wearing the cowl. We can tell he is haunted by the loss of life that has happened around him. To nightmares of parents murder, to having Robin’s suit on display in the Batcave as a reminder. This is a man who has no choice but to be Batman.
Henry Cavill once again delivers as Superman and as Clark Kent. While Superman can fly in the face of danger to save lives, Clark wants to use his the power of the press to do the same. We can see that his character has grown since ‘Man of Steel’, but he is still lost because the world will either love him or hate him from day to day. He just knows he wants to help.
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman gives us just enough mystery to want to know more about her. She can call out Bruce Wayne for trying to use his wittiness to get something, but she also wields her shield, sword and golden lasso with ferocity. I cannot wait for the stand alone ‘Wonder Woman’ movie to hit theaters.
Amy Adams finally gives us a Lois Lane to enjoy. While many may cry that she is nothing more than a damsel in distress, I disagree. She is put in life threatening situations because she is not afraid to run into the fire. Her character is stuck in a hard situation knowing that she has to stand back and let Superman do the things no one else is able to, even it could mean his demise.
Jesse Eisenberg is really the toughest pill to swallow throughout the movie. While it is understandable that the filmmakers wanted Lex to be more of a modern day Silicon Valley genius, one has to wonder if they just cast Eisenberg because he played one once. Now, I should also say that his acting performance in this movie is not bad. Not at all. He just seemed incredibly out of his element in the role of Superman’s ultimate foe. We have come to expect Lex to be an intimidating character that should make our heroes scared of what he may be up to. In this movie there is no reason for us to fear Lex Luthor the person. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have excelled playing another DC Comics villain. There is a moment between Lex and Superman where it seems that Eisenberg could have been great as The Riddler.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ hits enough of the right notes to get casual and hardcore fans excited. Though comic book fans may find themselves having to explain a few sequences to their friends. When BvS is playing to its strengths, the movie is incredible. Whether it’s an intense action sequence, or seeing Batman make a live-action inverse takedown, ‘Dawn of Justice’ delivers. This is all helped by a great score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. The movie just seems to hit a rut every time Lex is on screen.
Director Zack Snyder does a great job of bringing together a movie that has always seemed out of the grasp for studios. His style of filmmaking is a perfect fit to help launch the Justice League. One of the things I love is that Snyder is not afraid to linger on a shot, even in an action scene. There is an amazing sequence called the ‘Knightmare’ where Zack has one continuous shot following Batman taking down a horde of bad guys. Snyder also does a great job of weaving modern day worries to help tell this story. It’s something that constantly done in comics, and will hopefully bring in new readers to seek out those titles.
There are also plenty of easter eggs for comic book fans to geek out over. There is even an easter egg for Star Wars fans. (Hint: Check out what’s written on the last shirt you see Lex Luthor wearing.)
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ will do exactly what Warner Brothers wants it to do. It will change the DC Comics movie-verse forever. The question is, are audiences ready for this new world?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters this Friday, with some screenings beginning this Thursday evening.