Listen everyone. Last Thursday I saw Batman v Superman and my thoughts have been on a rollercoaster. Before I dive in, let’s talk about what was going through my head before, during and immediately after.
Before: I do not have a great feeling about this movie, but the trailers are great
During: All these flashes of light may induce epilepsy. I did not see that explosion coming.
After: That was good. I was entertained.
The next morning, my head stopped throbbing from all the lights clashing with the dark tone of the movie and I was able to think clearly. Yes, I still believe I enjoyed the movie while admitting it’s really a mess.
To be clear, this is coming from someone who’s read two comics in her life but listens and reads a lot about the subject. Basically this isn’t my knowledge but what I’ve learned from others.
When I separate what I know about the comics from what I saw on screen, I can forgive a lot and just enjoy it as a nonsensical action movie. I think Batfleck was great. Jesse Eisenberg was all in and unnerving in many of his deliveries. Henry Cavill was so attractive but basically man candy without anything to do (but he did it well).
Eliminating all knowledge, the plot was a disaster. There were at least three movies squeezed in with a fourth trying to flow in for Justice League. More than all the characters, it felt like someone spliced several movies together. Superman’s screen time felt different from Batman’s and then there was a lot of reading email and clicking files.
This is what should’ve happened: Lex Luthor is super annoyed about the return of Batman as he has like a crime ring or something in Gotham while Clark Kent (who he knows is Superman) is investigating Lex’s corporation’s activities. Annoyed by their actions, he orchestrates conflict between the heroes to make them fight each other, hopefully eliminating each other or wounding enough he could finish the job. Meanwhile, Diana Prince spies and learns all of this about Lex and foils his plan. He cleverly covers his tracks after she exposes him and breaks up the fight, but there is no evidence against him and he’s released from jail and the public loves him more. Maybe he gives a speech about running for some political position as the trio of heroes watch and begin to think about a plan when Diana reveals what else she found from Lex, revealing an introduction to the Justice League. Roll credits.
I know this isn’t a great plot, but it’s better than what actually made it to the screen and much easier to understand. In reality, all the motivations were complicated and not fleshed out enough to be believable. If you know the comics, you understand how terrible the movie makes the nefarious Lex Luthor appear while totally changing the anti-killing stances of Batman and Superman. My favorite podcast the Weekly Planet wisely pointed out Zack Snyder clearly doesn’t understand this universe.
Luckily, it wasn’t all a disaster. I really enjoyed the opening showing the destruction of Metropolis from Bruce Wayne’s point of view. I didn’t want to see a flashback of his parent’s death for the 155799 time, but I actually matching the panels from the Dark Knight Returns down to Martha Wayne’s necklace getting caught in the gun, combined with young Bruce falling made it more fresh than I anticipated.
The idea of Batman and Superman working on two separate storylines that led to the same conclusion could’ve worked, but again, neither had enough meat to make them satisfying. Then again, we don’t see a Zack Snyder movie for satisfying plot.
Basically, this doesn’t bode well for the DC cinematic universe. I’m not saying the MCU is flawless, but no movie is as messed up as BvS. At this point, as much as I enjoy the creativity of Snyder, I think it’s to the detriment of this property to have him continue to helm these films.
We know the Aquaman movie is going to have a lighter tone. I think Wonder Woman looks promising, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. Suicide Squad may be the saving grace for DC. It looks balls to the wall and it’s not relying on copying the Avengers-style hero get together. The villains fit the tone of the DC universe. If it’s bad, all faith might be lost.
Now that I’m educated via the Internet, I plan to see it again so I can better understand the dream sequences and see if I like it less when the thrill of the initial screening is past. So maybe I won’t find any redeeming qualities or maybe it will be just as adequate as I remember as long as I ignore the plot and Superman’s stupidity when he walks into the second Kryptonite grenade.