Batman v Superman is a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, where the destruction of Metropolis has lead Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) to be distrustful of Superman (Henry Cavill). Likewise, Superman is weary about how Gotham City’s Batman dispenses justice. Also not too fond of Superman is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who plans to kill the boy in blue, either through Batman, or his monstrous creation Doomsday.
I actually enjoyed Batman v Superman more than I thought I would, yet there was still the sense that something was missing. There wasn’t anything to make it really memorable. Even Batman and Robin is hard to forget with Arnie’s Freeze and the hilariously bad dialogue. There wasn’t anything that made Batman v Superman stand out other than the mishmash of several DC heroes, and even that lost its novelty before the film even came out, really.
Still, Affleck, I thought, made a good Batman. I didn’t really mind the way the way he was portrayed here; I mean, Keaton’s Batman broke the “one rule” but I overlooked it due to his entertaining performance. Same goes to Affleck here. One of the best things about Batman is how flexible he is, which makes him similar to so many great characters (the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland has been portrayed as a hero and a villain, Count Dracula can either be the embodiment of evil or a comic children’s cartoon) and Affleck was a great choice for this rendition of Batman.
Lex, however, I don’t really think is as flexible a character as Batman. What I mean is, I thought Jesse Eisenberg’s performance was good, but I was disappointed they didn’t go with the more serious Lex of the comics. Like, if he played another character, it wouldn’t feel so jarring. If he acted like that, but played Toyman instead of Lex, then it would have been more fitting. And yes, I know the story that he was originally supposed to play Jimmy Olsen. He does become bald in this film, but sadly they don’t use the story from the comics where he used to be Superman’s friend until he lost his hair in a lab accident and blamed Superman for it. I kid, but at least then he would have a reason to hate Superman, which he doesn’t really seem to have here.
Like many people, I liked Wonder Woman, especially her theme tune, and would have liked to see more of her. Really, her purpose here is to make you want to see more of her, so there’s an area where the film succeeds. Another thing I agree with is that they seem to be trying to do too much in one film. Batman fighting Superman is enough to put people in seats, but here’s Wonder Woman! Flash and Aquaman and Cyborg! And of course, Superman (I said there would be spoilers) dying due to Doomsday is just overkill.
It really does feel like there should have been another movie between this and Man of Steel. Superman died before we really got to know him, before he had an actual confrontation with Lex or faced Brainiac or something. I know Superman comes back, but adapting Death of Superman is something that should have been saved for this Superman’s third or fourth movie. The Dark Knight movies at least waited until the last movie to do something semi-similar with their Batman, and we got to know Nolan Batman more through his first two movies than we did DCEU Superman.
There’s another common complaint about this film; it’s trying too hard to be like The Dark Knight. I could definitely see where they’re coming from there, and it’s all the more jarring when it’s dealing with a more fantastical world than The Dark Knight. In fact, I think the Tim Burton Batman movies did a better job of mixing a dark world with comic book fantasy. Batman had Nicholson’s entertaining Joker living in one of the most lugubrious-looking versions of Gotham City without feeling too out of place, and the Penguin’s death in Batman Returns is one of the few times a scene was successfully silly and poignant at the same time. BvS, on the other hand, calls out for more levity.
BvS is lacking, but it isn’t a complete waste of time. Affleck and Gadot themselves are worth the price of admission. It’s entertaining enough, but still quite forgettable, and has nothing earlier Batman movies haven’t done better, really.