YES THIS MOVIE IS FINALLY REAL. Prepare for fangirling, as I am attempting to do more of a full review for once, because my opinions don’t separate into categories as neatly as they sometimes do.
This is mildly spoiler free. I won’t reveal any major plot points, but I am going to talk about particular events and characters, as well as the look and feel of the film. So if you want to go into the movie blind…why did you open a review?
From the announcement of the movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice promised to be heavily influenced by comics, and when the first teaser was released, fans everywhere raved about how much the batsuit looked like the batsuit from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns three part comic series. That proved to be true, as the Miller’s series clearly played a weighty role in costuming, cinematography, and dialogue.
This is a comic-lover’s review. I’m no connoisseur of either film or comics, but I have to admit that it wasn’t a great movie. As a film it fell short in dialogue and character development and, really, plot. I can see how the movie would be pretty boring if you weren’t a geeking comic book fan; the dialogue did very little besides move the plot forward, and that plot was incredibly straightforward. The little bit of intrigue provided was shelved for later developments in the franchise.
But it was a comic fan’s dream. (Now is probably the best time to admit I know next to nothing about Superman – I haven’t even seen Man of Steel. But, as regular readers know, I can talk about Batman all day long.) The cinematography beautifully mirrored epic comic book angles. There was a 360 shot of Batman on the side of a building with his cape snapping out that made me squeal. The same goes for Bruce busting through a window with his cape spread out like the bat-symbol, in a shot that reminded me very much of Batman: The Animated Series.
A major concern of mine going into the movie was Lex Luthor. When Jesse Eisenberg was cast in the role, I was confused but hopeful: Eisenberg is talented and multi-faceted, but isn’t he young to be playing Luthor? And then the trailer came out and all of that hope fizzled out. Who was this dorky, psycho kid? Sure, the lines all sounded like they came straight from the bald, suit-wearing Luthor we all know so well, but the delivery just felt wrong.
It turns out that Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor, but not the one we all know and (fewer of us) love. The character is his son. This brought a sigh of relief from me, because I didn’t have to worry about the ruination of an established character, but I’m still disappointed. I think Luthor as a charismatic and powerful political figure is really interesting, and adds another level of depth and interest to plot. The lack of complexity in Batman vs. Superman really showed through, and, obviously, a more interesting villain would have aided that. Also, I’m relatively tired of the tortured-genius-antagonist.
In terms of character development, I loved the movie’s opening scene. That first glimpse of Bruce Wayne-as-a-decent-human-being, before we have to see a hungry-for-justice-Batman (KILLING PEOPLE), is so necessary in opening up the character and creating someone both new and veteran audiences’ can appreciate. When Bruce commented, “We’re criminals, Alfred. We’ve always been criminals.” – a line straight from The Dark Knight Returns – I did another internal happy dance. That line alone makes way for plenty of possibilities for both Batman and Bruce Wayne that are rarely explored, even in comic story lines. All in all, I think Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has so much potential for character development. We just didn’t see it in this film.
There is little to say about the other heroes in the film, Superman was Superman, but the film focused very little on him, in my opinion. (Though the truth is, I tend to have eyes for only Batman.) Wonder Woman was, as the kids say these days, on fleek. There are so many different versions of Diana in comics and television, that as long as her strength and abilities are on par with the other members of the Justice League (as she is one of their strongest, and certainly the most consistent), no one can really complain.
I enjoyed the movie, but I recommend it with disclaimers. It isn’t the breakthrough film I was hoping would jump start DC’s new cinematic universe, and DC still has a long way to go to in terms of live action movies, but it was a strong start.
XX. Shelby Jo
P.S. THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND FORESHADOWING FOR A JASON TODD. I’m really conflicted, because in the Frank Miller alternate universe, Jason never came back to life. But, the ending of Batman vs. Superman allows for him to return. I want to see him in a live action adaptation so, so badly, but I’m terrified of everything that could go wrong. (Like him being the Joker like everyone is speculating right now. That would completely eliminate Jason’s purpose in the Batman narrative. *QUE RANT*)