2016 has been a year filled with superhero movies: Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Doctor Strange, and Suicide Squad all will command huge waves of rabid superhero fans, DC and Marvel alike.
However, four of those six movies are Marvel, and for the past few years, Marvel has been big-time in the cinemas, not DC. While Green Lantern was a colossal disaster and Man of Steel stood on a pile of melodramatic mediocrity, DC fans are hoping the future is bright for their favorite superheroes. After months of escalating hype, Batman vs. Superman arrived, and I couldn’t walk out of that theater thinking it was much more than Man of Steel with Batman in it.
Zack Snyder took a huge step forward with Man of Steel (2013), casting Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, and Cavill delivered big time. While the movie was not fantastic, it was certainly one of the best renditions of the Kryptonian hero in quite some time, and set the stage for what one could expect to be an exponential increase in quality.
Man of Steel’s flaws seemed easily fixable; turn down the melodramatic meter a tad, destroy a few less buildings and work on sequencing scenes better to not make the movie’s story feel all over the place, and this movie would have been perfect.
It is clear that Snyder didn’t learn from his mistakes, but his strengths still shined through. He once again cashed in on great acting decisions, with Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, Argo) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot (Fast and Furious franchise) as Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Now You See Me) as Lex Luthor, the acting in this movie left little to be desired. After many a fuss after Affleck’s casting as the caped crusader, much in regards to his performance as the Daredevil (2003), Affleck proved to be likely the best actor in the entire film, portraying a very rugged and hardened Bruce Wayne. As the franchise moves forward with Justice League films, it’s easy to be excited for more Batffleck.
However, Batman vs. Superman still had the glaring flaws from Man of Steel; very confusing and odd scene editing, which isn’t normally a flaw in many movies, caused for very disruptive and sporadic storytelling. A huge excess of CGI fighting at the end of the movie made it very difficult to fully enjoy, as movies like 2012 all but ruined the enjoyment of pure CGI destruction scenes.
And, of course, a very over-the-top, melodramatic script, filled with depressing piano music and cliche back-and-forth dialogue that really amounts to nothing at all. You’ve got to love Kevin Costner’s reappearance in this film for yet another emotional scene, leaving moviegoers thinking to themselves, “yeah, we get it.”
The overall story was not very interesting, and felt forced, and what was supposed to be “the greatest gladiator match the world has ever seen”, ended rather oddly. It is as if the scriptwriters weren’t sure how to give realistic reasons for a character’s actions, so it all just boiled down to “doing the right thing.” For a movie as dark and dampered as Batman vs. Superman, people tend to become friends rather easily. Many of the cinematic shots were rather stunning to look at, if overdone at times, and the acting was superb, covering up a lackluster script. The action scenes were entertaining, and if anything, this movie felt like a lot of setup for what’s to come. Unfortunately, the story of Batman vs. Superman really should not have been used for setup; The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, the most iconic comic battle between Batman and Superman, is one of the most renowned superhero comics out there, and it’s a shame that it’s closest cinematic counterpart falls into mediocrity.
While Batman vs. Superman is by no means a bad movie, it lacks the punch that it promised, and as one of the most hyped movies at all time, push-ing the “greatest gladiator match in the history of the world” as it’s key plot point, the movie failed to deliver. It certainly is setting up future DC movies nicely, and I still feel excited to see more Affleck and Gadot as Batman and Wonder Woman, and am intrigued to see more superheroes unfold.
I give Batman vs. Superman a modest 7.4/10, and I’m disappointed to say so; this is a movie that was strongly hyped for a very long time, and hopefully, Suicide Squad will be able to shine bright amongst the other Marvel heavy-hitters coming out this year to keep it competitive.
Tommy Goodale is a Staff Writer for The Comment Newspaper.