Living up to the hype was always going to be tough, but BvS doesn’t begin to do a great story justice.
By Thomas Simpson
Crossover movies aren’t a new idea. In 2003 we saw Freddy vs. Jason while it was Alien vs. Predator a year later. This summer Marvel’s greatest heroes will do battle in Captain America: Civil War, but before then the two most famous comic book characters in history are set to do battle on the big screen for the first time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Expectations were high but reviews haven’t been kind, not that it’s stopped fans flocking to the cinema to watch these legends do battle.
We pick off during Man of Steel’s final fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon). Director Zack Snyder strives to remind everyone about 9/11 while Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) braves the destruction to save lives. Looking at the destruction the Kryptonians caused, his rage turns to paranoia and he begins to see Superman as a threat and one that must be stopped. Coincidentally, Clark Kent has been investigating the Batman of Gotham City and feels he’s too reckless and needs to be reined in. Unbeknownst to both men, other forces are at work – led by Jesse Eisenberg’s tick-laden take on Lex Luthor – to ensure that both capes are on a collision course where only one walks away.
Batman v Superman is heavily flawed. The characters are underdeveloped, the chemistry lacking, with plot holes littering the story. If it was a TV show you’d be forgiven for thinking you missed a few episodes as events unfolded. When you’re dealing with superheroes you can allow logic to take a back seat but not at the expense of a poor narrative.
I wasn’t a fan of how Batman was portrayed. Early clips suggested that this interpretation would be a lot more kill-happy than previous incarnations. This was less Batman and more The Punisher with money. This is no fault of Ben Affleck who is great as The Dark Knight. He looks menacing and has an incredible presence in the suit. I came away feeling Affleck deserved his own movie before being thrown into the lion’s den here.There is great potential in this casting and we won’t have to wait long to see him again as he features in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
We don’t need another origin story for Batman, but Snyder gives us one anyway. To be fair, he handles it well by getting it out of the way during the opening credits. What audiences could have done with however was some background on why this Batman is the way he is as this is an older and more cynical incarnation heavily inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Comic fans will likely piece together the subtle and not so subtle Easter eggs but the average cinema goer may come away wondering why Batman is so violent.
The third act becomes a vehicle for the upcoming Justice League film as Wonder Woman joins the fray along with some other surprises shoehorned in. Gal Gadot has great charisma as the Amazon Warrior showing why she also deserves her own film, which is currently underway.
Therein lies a huge issue. While Marvel introduced their core characters with films of their own, Warner Brothers has hijacked a Superman film to kick-start their DC universe.
The end result is messy and results in a poorly made film. Batman v Superman is more of a test screening than a finished product and reminded me in many ways of the recent Fantastic Four film. It has many problems but it doesn’t deserve the total kicking it’s received. History may be kinder but, for now, it just feels like a wasted opportunity.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.