Batman v Superman: Where did it all go wrong?
I enjoyed this film, I will start off by saying that. I went to see the film on the day of its release, anticipation seeping through the audience. I enjoyed this film but the more people I discuss the film with, the more I realise that I am probably part of a minority but I am able to see both perspectives. The strange thing is that, since the release of the Avengers, the audience are expected to sit at the extremes: you must either love the film and think of it as a masterpiece or despise it the way Batman despises the Joker. But let us delve further into the positives and negatives of this film.
What went right
Need I really say more? The Batman segments of this film were done brilliantly which, personally, made me feel that Zack Snyder would make a fantastic Batman film due to a greater passion for the character (potentially). Ben Affleck gives such life to both Bruce Wayne and Batman, giving them both their own characterisations that are different enough to discern them. In my opinion, Ben Affleck is one of the better Batmans put to screen as he successfully portrayed a Batman who has been driven to the point where he has abandoned his own moral code. Plus, the action and fight scenes were beautifully brutal and film-making gold.
2.) Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot does not get a lot of screen-time but the time she does get, she is a presence who is able to hold her own against the male actors. Her action and her characterisation were brilliant and enough to excite the audience for the Wonder Woman solo film.
Say what you will about this film but this you cannot deny: this is, for the most part, a gorgeous film. Bruce Wayne’s backstory looked like a scene out of a comic book (the pearls around the barrel of the gun, in combination with operatic score, was so hauntingly beautiful and straight out ‘The Dark Knight Returns’.)
4.) Score and Character Themes
I was already a fan of the ‘Man of Steel’ theme so it was nice to hear it being utilised once again but the theme that totally won me over was Wonder Woman’s. The music seemed to work so well with her character, including references to her origins but was, to put it very mildly, kickass. The only theme I had an issue with was Lex Luthor’s: I liked it as a piece of music but I felt it would have fit a character like the Joker, not a stoic businessman like Lex Luthor.
What went wrong
You know a film is doing something wrong when one of the titular characters is boring. By the conclusion of the film, it was so difficult to form an emotional connection to the character because the writing was so substandard. No matter how much I adore Henry Cavill as an actor, the character of Superman was plain boring which is never a good thing.
2.) Lex Luthor
When you talk about bad casting, look no further. I like Jesse Eisenburg as an actor, I do, but he just did not look or sound like Lex Luthor to me: the Riddler or the Joker felt like a better fit for the characterization given by Eisenburg. The character just seemed so socially awkward that it didn’t seem possible for him to be a successful businessman and you know things are going badly when there are moments in ‘The Social Network’ where Jesse Eisenburg was more intimidating than he was as Lex Luthor (the snot bubble at the end, all intimidation gone.)
3.) The plot
The film tried to do way too much; it tried to incorporate too many elements without enough establishment: the fight between Batman and Superman; setting up the Justice League and Doomsday was too much for this film. It seemed like the film was trying to establish the DC Cinematic universe without having the necessary solo films to make this feasible, as demonstrated by the Avengers. Personally, I believe that Snyder should have done one of two things: release the Batman and Wonder Woman solo films before this film or make a concrete sequel to ‘Man of Steel’ to make sure you are able to make a solid Superman film before working with other DC property. Furthermore, some plot elements did not make sense: the characters of Superman and Batman were too similar so their fight did not make sense and Doomsday should not have been in this film. Doomsday should have been introduced in the first Justice League film; the character was just shoe-horned into this film to give Luthor a plan B. Plus, why did Batman lead Doomsday back to an inhabited city when he could have just left Doomsday on the island and gone back to get the spear? Stupid Batman.
Doomsday was ugly, seriously ugly. To me, the character looked like he has been modelled after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the Michael Bay films; he just did not fit my image of what Doomsday looked like which may make this a personal gripe.
This was a very shoddily edited film; in the beginning, it seemed like each scene went back and forth: the destruction of Metropolis from Batman’s POV to the terrorist plot in Namibia with Lois and Superman to the ‘Bat brand of justice’…it just felt like the editors felt that they had to go from character to character from scene to scene, which never allowed adequate scene pay-off. I can only hope that the extended cut makes some of the editing choices more clear due to deleted scenes.
The second trailer that was released revealed all of the major plot points, which left me kind of underwhelmed. The reveal of Doomsday, in the trailer, took so much away from the experience of the fight between Batman and Superman because it couldn’t have the focus it deserved in order to fit Doomsday in.
On the whole
I enjoyed the film because of the Batman elements but the problems in this film are too clear to ignore. There are editing issues and plot holes that take away from the film but, in my opinion, the cardinal sin this film commits is being overhyped; such high expectations were placed on this film because the title promised so much. Two of the most famous superheroes fighting each other; how could it possibly go wrong? The film tried to include too much to compete with Marvel and fell short. It suffered from what I liked to call ‘Age of Ultron-itis’; it tried to focus on setting up the sequel while forgetting to make the film good in its own right. The reason ‘Deadpool’ did so well is because it wasn’t concerned with establishing a sequel and yet, the fans demanded a sequel because it was a fantastic film that pushed the boundaries.
The potential of the film is the tragedy; this film suffers from a lack of focus and from trying to include far too much to compete with Marvel; the audience does not go into a DC film to watch a Marvel film. Yet, there is hope for Wonder Woman and Batman and I know I will continue to watch DC films.