I can’t sleep so might as well write. This will be a spoiler review. If you want my nonspoiler review click here.
Ah Batman v Superman…the movie that broke a million fanboys hearts. Immediately I got some flack on social media for being a ‘hater’ and a ‘Marvel fanboy’ (probably only time in my life I’ve been accused of being a dude but there you go). It’s no secret that I am not a big Batman fan and I do prefer Marvel’s brand of movies. However, I can honestly say that preference has no bearing on my response to this film. It really doesn’t. (I’m not that big a superhero person to begin with) As you will see in this review none of my issues have anything to do with tone, characters, humor or any of those Marvel strengths. My issues have to do with the way the story is laid out, Lex Luthor manipulation of Batman and especially the ending.
So let’s get talking!
I was really with Batman v Superman for about the first hour. I watched all 14 previous theatrically released Batman and Superman films going up to this film so I had just seen Man of Steel. Some might call it apologetic to address the carnage and destruction caused in that film but I thought it was a really interesting way to set up conflict.
As we all know, Superman and Zod caused a lot of havoc in their fight and what we see in Batman v Superman is this destruction includes Wayne Enterprise’s Metropolis building. In fact, Bruce is down on the street the day of the fight and saves a friend and a little girl from the falling building. Seeing such power makes Bruce worried (and maybe a tiny bit jealous) about Superman and he wonders if something should be done to stop him before he turns evil and is unstoppable.
All of this set up works pretty well. We get to see Bruce as this tougher, more grizzled Batman. He has been through a lot and has become kind of reckless in the way he treats the criminals, even branding them with a bat when he captures them. He also is willing to shoot people, which personally I didn’t have a problem with.
But there’s a problem that the movie also sets up with all this good Batman stuff. He’s sort of shown as a private investigator looking into Lex Luthor and Superman. This makes him seem all the dopier later on when he is played so completely by Lex, which isn’t a good look for our Batman. I don’t want a dopey Batman.
Meanwhile Clark Kent has some kind of understanding at the Daily Planet where he can get random stories but be gone for long segments as well. Perry wants him to cover local football and not investigate Batman. Superman’s beef with Batman is a lot less convincingly developed than Batman’s with Superman in the film. In fact, when it comes to the final fight Batman is a bit of a bully to Superman which is a strange sentence to write…
As part of Bruce’s investigation into Lex, Bruce attends a party at Lex’s house and Clark Kent is there too. This is a fun scene but problematic also. First of all, Bruce goes into the food prep area and finds all of Lex’s servers laid out without a lock or guard or anything. He puts his transfer device on the server and in 7 minutes gets all of Lex’s files…really?
Now the movie tries to claim this is all part of Lex’s plan but Lex doesn’t even know Bruce is coming to party and how does he know that Bruce is Batman? Same thing with Clark Kent being Superman? We are given the impression this is the first time Clark has been to such a gathering and yet Lex introduces Clark and Bruce as if he knows who they are but nothing in the files seems to corroborate this kind of knowledge. This is a major plothole in the film. In a world where Lois and Perry are the only one’s who know Clark’s alter-ego it doesn’t really make sense and they needed some kind of explanation on his super-secret knowledge.
Anyway, we also meet Diana Prince at the party and she see’s what Bruce is doing (everyone see’s what he is doing. Even Lex’s assistant does!). Clark also figures out that Bruce is Batman at this point because he hears Alfred talking to Bruce (I didn’t realize Superman’s powers included that kind of hearing capabilities).
So, Diana see’s him making the transfer and takes the transfer device. She tries to look at it later on but it is military encoded. I liked Gal Gadot. She’s sexy, strong and I look forward to her getting more time on screen.
At the same time, Lex is throwing the party because he wants to convince a senator played by Holly Hunter to turn over a piece of kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean.
They try to explain that Lex views Superman as the devil but for a dark gritty Batman movie he’s kind of an old school comic book movie villain, which makes it stand out. He just kind of wants to get rid of the good guys because they are good guys spoiling his bad guy plans. Like I said, Snyder gives us lots of speeches about God and Godlike power and that’s compelling motivation for Batman to be afraid of Superman but why that bothers Lex Luthor so much isn’t exactly clear, except it stops him from doing bad things. Kind of lame villain if you ask me.
I didn’t really like this version of Lex Luthor (I realize he is Lex’s son Alexander Luthor) but he just became kind of annoying because he didn’t really fit in with the feel and tone of the rest of the film.
But Lex is certainly quite the planner because he evidently had it all arranged that Batman would get the information, investigate Superman and do everything that he wants him to do throughout the film. Bruce learns about the metahumans from the files and this gives us some very awkward introductions to Aquaman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman etc.
Lex also seems to be able to predict Batman’s dreams (remember at this point we have no clue he knows Bruce or Clark from any other party guests). Bruce has a dream of The Flash who can time travel and warn him about an impending threat. (Are you getting the feeling that the story is all over the place?)
Meanwhile, Superman is sad that people don’t like him but yet they do seem to like him. The movie is very inconsistent in that regard. Nevertheless, there is a hearing at the Senate with the Holly Hunter character. Lex again predicts Superman will arrive and blows up the Senate. This is a horrible act of terrorism and yet it seems to be forgotten by the movie and is never really talked about again…
Evidently Luthor is doing this to make people dislike Superman even more but this seems like an unnecessary step for Luthor. If the main point of his plan is to get Batman to fight Superman who cares what the public is thinking? They were already having a hearing. Isn’t that enough to peak Batman’s interest and you know he has already stolen those files and is looking into it.
And Batman is a pretty lame private investigator. You’d think with all of this he could find out about Clark, the Kents and everything else. I mean these files are oddly specific and if Lex knows that Clark and Bruce are Superman and Batman, which he seems to at the party, why wouldn’t he have put all of that information on the files? Wouldn’t he want Batman to know all about Superman?
If he doesn’t know about Clark and Bruce’s alter egos than his plan is nonsensical and he has the worst security on his home. It’s hard to believe he has other motives for Bruce to have those files other than that he knows Bruce is Batman. It really makes no sense. Well, and I guess he knows about Diana because she is on the files so why isn’t he trying to manipulate her?
Anyway, despite being a very suspect person Luthor is able to gain access to the kryptonite, Zod’s spaceship and Zod himself which seemed highly implausible. And not just that but there are power outages caused by his activities and he is in there for quite some time learning from the Zod spaceship. Don’t you think someone from the government might monitor that kind of access? I mean call me crazy but I don’t think he would be able to make Doomsday and activate the ship like he does without anyone realizing it.
But there’s also more of his plan…(It’s quite the plan and I remind you this is all in a gritty comic book movie not a Schumacher silliness movie). He ends up obtaining the kryptonite. Batman tries to stop him in a long car chase but instead they kill lots of people and destroy property. Whatever it’s a decent car chase.
Then Batman ends up breaking into Lex’s offices and stealing the kryptonite and this is all supposedly part of Lex’s plan to pit Batman vs Superman. This is quite the plan! How does he even know that Batman knows about the kryptonite at all?I guess there is the car chase but Lex isn’t there. They are just a bunch of cronies and how did Lex get to take possession of the kryptonite in the first place? He makes a deal with a lolly rancher guy but this is quite the leap a private citizen would get access to a major radioactive substance, an alien vessel and alien body for no reason at all…
Anyway, Batman gets it and Lex wants him to have it. That’s the part that makes no sense. How could he possibly predict all of this is going to happen and that it is all going to lead to the takedown of Superman? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the kryptonite himself instead of orchestrating Batman to do it?
But that’s what he does and Batman begins training to take on Superman. He designs a new suit and does some crossfit. It’s very exciting.
Then we have Lex further mad scientisting himself in the spaceship and he combines his DNA with Zod’s because evidently the ‘Genesis Chamber’ tells him what to do. He creates a Doomsday creature which was a generic kind of crappy looking CG creature. I was shocked at how bad it looked.
He abducts Lois to try and lure Superman out of hiding and she gets rescued for the umpteenth time in the film (I didn’t think Lois and Clark had good chemistry in this version). But that’s not all he has done. He has captured Martha Kent, Clark’s Mother (again how he knows Clark/Superman backstory doesn’t really make sense). This manipulates Superman to go and confront Batman.
Batman is there in his super duper Batsuit having been totally manipulated by Lex into designing a kryptonite spear and gas pellets to take down Superman. Superman tries to talk to Batman about his mother but he won’t listen and the two fight. It’s an Ok fight but more smashing into things than a martial arts style match if that makes sense.
I was a little surprised how close to taking down Superman it got but that makes the ending even worse. Batman is just about to spear Superman with the kryptonite spear and Superman says ‘Martha’. Now we saw earlier in the film Bruce’s mother’s name is Martha, as is Clark’s mother. This is it and he not only stops killing Superman but he agrees to go with him and save his mother. This is completely ridiculous.
It’s not like this is a spur of the moment angry fist match and Martha would wake him up. This is a plan that has been in the works for months. That he has thought about and weighed out. He has trained, made weapons, even had that warning from Flash in his dream about the future. There is no creditable way that Martha would have made him stop killing Superman at that moment. It makes no sense to this admittedly dopey but dark and gritty character they’d built up to that point. You can’t have him killing lots of people and branding people and then have something so lame stop the Batman v Superman match.
And then they don’t stop there! Not only do they work together to find Superman’s Mother but he refers to Superman as his friend! Are you kidding me? And he is mourning him later as if they were so close. I don’t think one word away from killing him is a friend…
When Lex realizes his plan for Batman to take down Superman hasn’t worked he unleashes Doomsday and we get a tedious segment that seemed right out of the Raimi Spiderman movies more than a dark and gritty comic book movie. You’ve got your one note cheesy monster fighting Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Like really how different is Doomsday than Sandman in Spiderman 3?)
And here’s where I really got annoyed with the film. We all know there is a Justice League coming out in 2017. And not only do we know that but the movie hints at it again and again with all the Metahuman file shoehorned bits. So with that knowledge…
They kill Superman. And not only do they kill Superman but they have a long drawn out funeral, processional and mourning process with Bruce, Lois and Diana grieving. This really irritated me because I felt like the movie was trying to invoke phony emotion out of me. I don’t feel sad about Superman dying because I know it isn’t real.
Now you can make the argument that Zack Snyder knows we know and this is all just a fun little teaser for Justice League but that almost annoys me more! We already know from the earlier dream you have introduced a time traveler in The Flash. I’m not stupid Zack. I know exactly what is going to happen and it greatly annoyed me.
I think he thinks we are all stupid. That we are going to somehow find this intriguing and that there is going to be debate about what might happen next, kind of like the ending of Force Awakens did with Luke. Force Awakens is fun speculation because we don’t know what is going to happen with Luke or what he is going to be like. We all absolutely know for sure that Superman is going to be in the freakin Justice League! Give me a break!
There is even a shot of the coffin that greatly insinuates The Flash and the time travel and everything else and it all just makes me groan!
So in conclusion, Batman v Superman started out promising with the bounce off of Man of Steel. The charisma of most of the performances kept me from being miserable. However, Lex Luthor’s plan has so many plot holes as well as the script as a whole. How he gets permission for certain things, knows about certain things, and how the Senate explosion is never talked about again.
Batman is cool but he is also kind of stupid if we believe he is a pawn in Lex’s scheme. Wonder Woman is cool but underused. Lex is annoying. Lois is a damsel in distress. Superman stands around a lot and while people are making speeches about God.
But all this would have been fine if they hadn’t had the climatic fight end so unbelievably, bland Doomsday sequences, and the cheap, phony trick of killing off Superman. That was unpardonable and it really irritated me.
And some people may be inclined to say ‘oh, it’s just a fun popcorn movie Rachel. Just turn off your brain and have fun with it’. I poo-poo that idea because don’t try to sell me on darker, grittier realistic Batman and Superman and then expect me to go with such nonsense. Wasn’t that the whole appeal of Man of Steel is that it wasn’t the man with the red underwear saving people? It was more than the old school popcorn movies? Now they want to have it both ways. No way.
Also, someone said would I be as annoyed if they killed off Captain America in Civil War? No because we’ve had 3 Captain America movies and 2 Avengers. It is a lot less obvious we need Cap in Infinity Wars as we need Superman in Justice League. Therefore, such an ending has that debate and feels more authentic and believable. There is no way Superman is dead where I could believe Cap really is dead (hopefully not though as that would break my heart!).
Well, and Zack Snyder has already said ‘I’m a comic book guy. I was trying to be 100% accurate to the comic books’. I’m no expert on Frank Miller and dark and gritty comic books but I’m pretty sure they don’t involve crackpot scientist with elaborate schemes that manipulate Batman. Plus, you are making a MOVIE not a comic book, not a video game, not a music video. You need to tell a coherent story with a satisfying ending for this movie. It comes off as not only a weak excuse but kind of blaming the comic books for the problems of the film. Not goona fly.
So there you have it. My long rambling spoiler filled thoughts on Batman v Superman.
Overall Grade- C- although more I think about it the more annoyed I get.