By Jim Foote
In the comics, in my eyes at least, Justice League trumps The Avengers. Arguably your three biggest superheroes ever are Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. Meat Loaf even said it... two out of three ain't bad. The film didn't have to be great, because putting Bats against Supes would be enough the movie would need to get some traction.
Once Ben Affleck was announced, the internet groaned and complained. Photoshops of him and Damon were everywhere. For the record, and my friends can back me up on this, I never had a problem with Batfleck and always thought he'd crush it. Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg, however, I was always skeptical. I had only seen Gadot in the Fast and Furious franchise and Eisenberg was... well Jesse Eisenberg in everything he's done. Quirky and kind of nerdy. When the skeptics came out to play, defendants of the casting would say his Lex was going to have two different personas, one for the public eye and the other for secret. Well, I will say one thing right now. That doesn't happen.
The first part of this review is going to be spoiler-free. So if you haven't seen the flick yet and want to read, I'll give you fair warning when we're headed into the danger zone for the SUPER SECRET SPOILER REVIEW! Until then... I will say this... watching this movie...
...it was an experience.
Let me talk about what I did like about this movie... because there ARE things I liked. Well, more so people than anything else. I thought Affleck killed it. He was great. I really enjoyed Affleck in this flick (notice how I didn't say I enjoyed Batman). They made some curious choices with Batman, but Affleck was working his ass off. It showed. He was the best part of this movie. One big complaint I have with Superman/Clark ties into a strong point of Affleck's. He was different as Bruce Wayne than he was as Batman. You get a sense of these two different identities. If only one thing from this franchise was to live on, I'd want it to be Batfleck.
Jeremy Irons, Larry Fisburne (I can't call him Lawrence... not after Dream Warriors), and Gal Gadot were all good. I liked all of them, but we didn't see ENOUGH of them. Not that Perry White is ever going to get a load of screen time, but we didn't get one, "Great Caesar's Ghost!" We did get a damn call back to Superman III, though. The, "no extra leg room," was a direct quote from both movies.
Irons' Alfred was great. There's no way around it. He holds his own with Affleck's Bruce/Batman in any scene and seems to be the one person who knows what we know... don't mess with Superman.
As for Wonder Woman... I'll say I only liked her, simply because she wasn't around nearly enough. At first, we were led to believe she'd only have a small part in it. But, the promotional and marketing departments ramped up and included her in everything. She's being billed WITH both Batman and Superman on pretty much everything, making you think she's going to play a pretty sizeable part. Hell, look at this...
But we don't even hear the words "Wonder Woman." Hell, I was singing the old theme song myself in the theater. It's true. All of it. And the WW problem ties into a more major one... you know everything that happens if you watch the trailers and tv spots.
You all know Doomsday shows up. The beats are there. You see how Eisenberg plays Lex. The Bats/Supes fight is misrepresented, as it's not nearly long enough and a victim of trickery editing. You're lead to believe, "Superman does this, then Batman does this..." so on and so forth. Yet, it's not as it appears. You'll understand when you see it.
There are so many tonal shifts, both pacing wise and even score wise, it plays like an episode of Game of Thrones. In a single moment, you can go from two characters having a low discussion at a table to a big battle at the wall to a sex scene. Not to say there were any sex scenes in this, but it kept shifting from plot to plot, seemingly all over the place. The more I've watched Man of Steel, the more I disliked it. But at least with that movie, they go from point A to B to C to D. It all makes sense structurally. Here, it's as if they go from point A to F to K to D to W to C to H. It's everywhere all at once.
The best way to describe it would be as if the writers could not keep up with where the script wanted to go. It felt they were playing catch up the entire time.
As with a movie called Dawn of Justice, we know The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg would all be in here. To say much else would be spoiling it, but I will say this... they are very quick and VERY forced. It was as if they wrote the entire script, then one said to the other, "oh sh--... we forgot to put the Justice League teases in. What do?" "Umm... screw it, just do this..."
Henry Cavill was... just kinda there. I'm not as harsh as some might be. I don't really think we've gotten a chance to see him really try. Superman is clearly a second fiddle to Batman in this movie, and much like Supes, Cavill is clearly second fiddle. I'd be very curious to see how Cavill could do if given something of substance. Here... he did not.
Doomsday... he's not the Doomsday you know or remember. They shouldn't have even called him Doomsday. They could've called him, "Plot Device Monster!"
And I can't not see Diane Lane and think, "hallway scene." Some of you get it. Some of you don't... but you should.
One thing I want to say that's very important, and I think often gets lost in cases like this. I'm not telling you to see it or avoid it. I'm not saying whether you should like it or not. The thing with movies is they're extremely personal or impersonal to the viewer. Hell, I'm the guy who says Batman Forever is his favorite Batman flick. Some things latch onto you a way only a Metroid can.
So again, if you want to watch it... then do it. If you don't... then don't. I'm simply giving what I think in relation to myself and what I expect from a Batman/Superman movie.
Having said that... we are about to enter the THE SUPER SECRET SPOILER DANGER ZONE! Turn back now if you want to avoid being spoiled. If you wish to continue, then hold onto your butts.
Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice... Well... Kinda... Maybe... Sorta... One Day.
Batman V Superman: Let Us Hate Fuck You
Batman V Superman: Watchmen 2.0
Batman V Superman: Jolly Ranchers and Jars of Piss
Batman V Superman: We're Not World's Finest
Batman V Superman: A Michael Bay Production
Batman V Superman: Fuck Yo' Childhoods
Batman V Superman: Diane Lane Hallway Scene (okay... that one was just for me.)
Batman V Superman: Batman The Murderer
Batman V Superman: WOOONDER WOMAAANNN... For A Few Minutes
Batman V Superman: Justice League Because Reasons?
Batman V Superman: How Long Before We Can Try Again?
Batman V Superman: I Feel Bad For Batfleck
Batman V Superman: With Very Little Batman V Superman
The character of Doomsday works because until then, Superman has pretty much dispatched everything. Doomsday doesn't randomly show up in Metropolis and fight. It's a slow burn of a monster that is gaining steam. Let me hit you with a wrestling metaphor.
Take Undertaker in the early 90s or Brock Lesnar in the early 00s. They didn't show up and immediately go after Hogan or Rock. They first took out the likes of Koko B. Ware and Jeff Hardy. They worked their way up, because the main eventers didn't have any reason to care or fear this new monster. So by the time a Hulk Hogan or a Rock turn around and acknowledge, they've run through most of the roster.
Then they both fall. Undertaker beat Hogan for his first title, as did Brock Lesnar beating The Rock. It's Storytelling 101. But dropping Doomsday randomly and going, "fight!" Well, it plays more like a 5 year old playing with action figures... and that's what Snyder did.
Imagine if this was solely Batman V Superman, then a Justice League movie, and maybe a Brainiac threat. We go through all of that, and in an after credits scene not unlike the ending of Cloverfield, we see something drop in the background. DOOOOOMSDAY.
But nah. We get some kind of energy blast, heat vision and breath, and him growing spikes when injured... like never before.
Oh... and he randomly puts Jolly Ranchers in government officials' mouths and fills up jars with his own urine. That happened.
Btu what was his plan really? Because when he has Superman on his knees with the Diane Lane photos, he could've easily stabbed him with kryptonite. He had it. He knew what it could/would do. At least bust out a ring and punch him a few times. You know why he didn't? BECAUSE PLOT. There's always a certain amount of suspended disbelief, but glaring plot holes like that does not a good movie make.
And he knows Bruce is Batman, Clark is Superman, and all of the other Justice Leaguers. Already. We don't even get to share that moment of discovery. The first time any Lex Luthor found out Superman was Clark Kent... it was a monumental moment. Here? We don't get it. We don't get any of it.
Even Smallville would do one-shot memory loss episodes just so they could repeatedly give us that discovery moment.
AND THAT'S HOW HE LOSES HIS HAIR? YOU COULDN'T EVEN GIVE HIM KRYPTONITE POISONING FROM THE ROCK? JUST KICK ME IN THE NUTS AND CALL IT A DAY.
But we don't see actual Darkseid. They may allude to him with the Omega symbol in the sand or possible Boom Tubes in the background, but we don't see HIM. Who do we see? An angry Superman. A vengeful Superman. The INJUSTICE Superman. So are we led to believe Superman IS this version of Darkseid? Is he Darkseid's apostle, sidekick, partner, whatever? Or is it more of a triple threat between Batman, Superman (and his guards lol), and Darkseid and the Parademons?
And furthermore, what in the hell triggers Batman's visions? I get Flash comes through the time stream (looking more like either Iron Man or... INJUSTICE Flash) and warns him, but is it a dream? Is it a vision? Did Flash turn Bruce's dream INTO a vision? It plays so fast and wonky with no explanation, so you're not really sure how it works. It's flashy (hehe) as hell and looks incredible, but it's yet another pace jumper that creates a tonal imbalance. I will say Sand-Batman looks badass.
But what about The Flash? Did they... yes. They just took one of the biggest Flash moments from the comics in an attempt to recreate it... badly.
As for the Justice Leaguers... an email? Really? That's all we get? Snyder seems so hung up on visuals, he forgets the logistics of actual storytelling. It's the same problem I had with Superman hovering over the flash flood victims. Why is he hesitating? He wouldn't. But Snyder wanted him to be there for the Jesus visual... because Snyder can't NOT do religious tones.
And yes. Bruce Wayne gets lifted up by bats... because Jesus?
So along the lines of "just stare towards the camera so we can get the visual," how long did Aquaman just stare at the camera? We get it. He's Aquaman. IT just seemed so gosh darn forced. That's what happens when you force a team up movie before establishing your characters. If you build these people up, you get the gravitas of their appearance in the cross-over.
That's a big over-arching problem this film has. They want the pay off without the build up. Example. After Superman dies, Batman says something to the effect of, "I failed him in life. I won't fail him in death." Now, it seems like it works because we know Batman and Superman have this storied history. In this world, they've known each other for like... a day, and we're actively trying to kill each other. All the sudden Bruce gives a shit because they both have a mother named Martha? All is suddenly forgiven? Oh, he's not the bringer of war now because, "Martha."
And Martha Wayne TOTALLY got shot right in the face. Let's not forget that. Brutal.
Another thing. Both Batman and Superman killed people in this movie. Superman ran the terrorist threatening Lois through concrete walls at super speed. Dead. Batman openly shoots people, drags a car with the Batmobile, and breaks necks. Dead. Dead. And Dead. I understand that may be negotiable or acceptable for other fans, and that's totally fine. But for me, Batman and Superman killing regular people... c'mon man. That's like one of the most important facets of the characters.
The entire movie played like a little kid with action figures, repeatedly changing things for the sake of being able to. I'm not saying you're not allowed to like the movie or should/shouldn't. I'm just saying that for me, this flick was a mess that certainly deserves the shitty reviews it's gotten. It's all over the place and never stops.
Hell, the score is used as a tool to make sure you pay attention to the super obvious parts. Do we really need a loud, hard hitting score for Wonder Woman (WOOOONDER WOMAAAAAAN) checking out emails and flash drives?
The one really good thing about the score is Wonder Woman's theme. It's tremendous and something I would repeatedly listen to. Everything was so dreary and dull, but when her theme popped up, it immediately caught my attention and I wanted more. That's the feeling this movie needed to give, the wanting of more.
I could probably keep going, but let's wrap this up.
In this movie, we saw the following:
- Superman gets bitched out by Bats and ultimately loses to Lex. I'm convinced Snyder hates Superman.
- Batman and Superman both killing civilians
- SUPER forced Justice League tie-ins
- Jumping from plot to plot with no notice or tonal transitions
- Lexie Eisenberg, a cross between Riddler and Joker... who pisses into jars
- A Doomsday that resembles almost nothing of actual Doomsday
- Not enough Wonder Woman, even though more was promised promotionally
- More Watchmen style brooding and despair
- A Costner Kent "vision" that ripped off Smallville. Seriously... go search Season 10 Episode 1 Jonathan Kent. I'll wait.
- An uninspiring score that repeatedly beats you down and offers nothing worthwhile except for Wonder Woman's theme
oh and most of all...
- A MOVIE NAMED BATMAN V SUPERMAN DIDN'T HAVE NEARLY ENOUGH BATMAN V SUPERMAN.
Before I give you my final grades... this is probably the best way to explain my experience. Josh and I went and saw the movie last night. We took a before and an after picture at the theater.
I'm going to give two separate grades here. One is for the casual audience. One is for the comic fans that know their stuff.
Casual Audience: 6/10. It has enough explosions, pretty visuals, and cool fight scenes to engage.
My ACTUAL rating: 2/10. Affleck gets a point. The law firm of Irons, Fisburne, and Gadot gets another point. And for anyone who thinks I'm a Marvel fanboy, personally hate anyone involved in this flick, or am just trying to be a troll, I'll say this.
"I originally gave it a 3/10. I'm altering the grade. Pray I don't alter it any further."
Along the next week or so, we'll have more features here. I believe this flick has sent Josh into a frenzy and thus, you'll be getting three separate reviews from him. You'll also be getting a new VS case from me: Batman Forever and Superman III VS BvS. That's right. I'll be explaining why one is a better Batman movie and the other a better Superman movie than BvS. So stay tuned for that.
Seriously, though... that Wonder Woman theme is pretty damn good. Check it out below.