Batman V Superman Review

Introduction

Batman v Superman is the culmination of over a decade of waiting for me.   It was originally planned believe it or not for a 2004 release.  I was a fequent purveyor of a site called UpcomingMovies.com and saw Batman vs. Superman on schedule for 2004 waaaay back in 03.  I was beyond excited, being a child of the Burton Batman, Batman the Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman and Robin, and to a lesser extent JLA/JLU animated series, and even the dreaded Joel Schumacher Batman.  I was young and Rural, they were all I had, forgive me.

I was heart broken when it mysteriously disappeared from the lineup on Upcoming Movies later on.  So I have literally been waiting on this movie for 13 years.  Since I was a teenager.  It goes without saying, seeing it today was a momentous occasion for me.  I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

For those that don’t know, this is the sequel to Man of Steel (2013) and precursor to the Justice League movie set to release in 2017.  It is largely inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight returns.  If you have not yet, please check out my previous post: All of Your Questions About Batman V Superman Answered.

Brief Review

Overall I absolutely loved what this movie did for the DCEU Franchise.  The movie itself however, was lacking in substance.  I do not feel as though I’ve been cheated.  The movie seemed…burdened.  It had to be the springboard for an entire universe.  I understand.  But I didn’t want to have to understand.  13 years I’ve been waiting for this and I wanted a Batman fighting Superman hedonistic slugfest for 3 hours.  What I got was about 2 hours of explaining how the plot works, and roughly 30 – 45 minutes of awesome fighting.

It seems (and this is just conjecture) that this movie was rushed.  More time would have lent to better writing and more cohesion.  I mean the characters were AMAZING.  The acting was truly next level, better than any performance in a Marvel movie to date.  Oscar winning stuff.  And the dialogue was truly amazing.

So what do you get when you mix bad plot cohesion, flaky character motivations, but excellent dialogue and acting?  Stupid studio execs.  So don’t blame Zack Snyder, don’t blame the actors who poured their HEARTS out for this movie (even the cameos were amazing.)  I think if anyone requires blames for the problems this movie had it would be the studio.  It seems as if the writers were forced to shoehorn in a lot of elements that didn’t make sense, and maybe we’ll hear more about that in days and weeks to come.

Overall this was a great movie, it just didn’t live up to my own personal hype.  It probably couldn’t have.  I really enjoyed it.  My jaw dropped for the cameo scenes, and I think it has served its purpose as a springboard for a massive franchise.

When Suicide Squad drops and connects the dots for supernatural superpowers and mutations, we’ll have a much more complete idea of what this universe is, and we’ll be ready for the Justice League.  And when that happens, maybe the studios will feel free to take a breath, and really take their time with these movies and give the creative staff the control they need and deserve.

If I had to put a number to it I would say it was a solid 9/10  I just can’t give it that last one because of the fact that I had to suspend a bit too much disbelief.

Huge Spoiler Filled In Depth Plot Exploration

LAST WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The movie opens with Bruce Wayne talking ethereally about his origins and they thankfully get the Batman origin story out of the way in the title credits.  Honestly it wasn’t even necessary, the young Bruce in a well scene was nearly identical to the Batman Begins scene, it’s almost a trope at this point.  Batman’s parents die, Batman sad.  We get it.

But this interpretation was for once, shot in a more poignant manner than the rest.  To watch Thomas Wayne stare into the eyes of his dying wife and literally watch the life go out of her was…haunting.  I was shocked that all of a sudden…hey, I wanted to see this scene.  The gunman places the gun on her head and the slide catches her pearl necklace.  It’s actually the shot he fires that breaks the necklace when the action of the gun ratchets another round in…it was truly beautiful and sad.  Bravo Snyder.

The rest of the scene is relatively similar to what we all know (see: above), with one exception.

Young Bruce Wayne falls into the well at his parents funeral and when the bats stream in and cyclone out, we see him levitate…as if the hand of God reached down and pulled him out.  Up and through the bats into light.

The Bruce Wayne narration says something to the effect of “In my dreams the bats lead me into the light.  How deceiving the mind can be.”  It wasn’t that, it’s probably far off from that, but that was the point.  That this is how he remembers it, but in reality the bats lead him to darkness.  I’ll be excited to get the exact quote when I can find it, but right now google is not producing results.  I thought it was one of the best Batman lines…ever.

This was vastly important as it sets the tone for our new Batman.  A mentally unstable man, engulfed in rage over his powerlessness to stop a god.  He’s never really had this problem before.  He’s never been outmatched.  He knows of no way to stop Superman if he needs to and the lack of balance here…terrifies him.  Instead he is forced to, as Lex Luthor put (wonderfully) “depend on the kindness of monsters.”  Again, I don’t have exact quotes as it is the day after release, please forgive me.

He’s a different Batman from one we’ve ever seen.  He doesn’t have so much PTSD as extreme paranoia and a growing concern over his identity.  Is he the bat or Bruce Wayne?  Can he be both?  Was he ever? It seems his instability of late has been brought on by these concerns coupled with Superman, and comes to a head in his preparation for, and ultimate defeat of Superman (told you he would win.)  We’ll get to that in a few pages.

He’s very close to the Dark Knight Returns Batman in essence.  A man relentlessly persued by his dark side.  We see Batman give in entirely to his dark side in TDKR and then come back from it.  I don’t think we see that full arc in this movie, and I think fans would not be forgiving for it.  It’s hard enough to get past the scenes where Batman utilizes guns, but again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Batman is prone to nightmares and…seemingly narcoleptic hallucinations.  It’s odd, and could mean a lot of different things, but nothing is certain until we see further movies.  To put it shortly: Batman is having a very bad time.

Superman is being crucified for being a savior, the metaphor is heavy here.  A Junior Senator June Finch is leading some sort of committee to investigate as well as condemn Superman, at the very least for not showing himself and claiming accountability for the destruction of Metropolis seen in Man of Steel.  I’m sure Snyder loved making this aspect of the movie given the backlash he got for making a movie with so much collateral damage that Superman is seen as careless and rogue by the fans.  

As a result, Finch is portrayed as quite uninformed.  However she isn’t completely an enemy of Superman, as she does not help Lex Luthor import some Kryptonite that was found off the coast of Africa.  Lex solves this by blowing her up along with everyone present at the committee meeting with Superman present.  Superman just sort of shrugs this off like it’s something that happens on a Wednesday.  Just sort of looks down like “Crap, all these people I was in a room with are dead again.  Welp.” (Shwoom)

Of course that is sort of a Wednesday thing for Superman as portrayed in these movies (low blow, sorry Zack)

Superman is becoming increasingly annoyed with the “Batman Brand” of justice.  Literally.  Batman is now branding people with a bat symbol, mostly sexual criminals…which I think most of us would be OK with, and is probably why he still has a BatSignal hanging around courtesy of the GCPD.

Alfred seems to blame the branding on Batman’s grappling with the idea of a god who he literally cannot keep in check.  This may sound like strange motivation, and it is, which is why a lot of critics hate this film.  I find it forgivable, but I am also a huge Batman fan, and am intrigued by this new take on Batman.  

My AP English teacher told me once “you can write a paper about anything.  You don’t have to believe it.  You just have to be able to support it.”  And a monster was born.  However it seems like Snyder may have been taught a similar lesson because he does back up the “stressed out by Superman because I can’t control him” motivation.

The movie opens with Bruce Wayne driving around Metropolis as Zod and Superman are leveling it in Man of Steel.  He calls an employee in a Wayne Tech office building in Metropolis and tells  him to get out, then watches the building crumble like blue cheese.  He couldn’t help him.  There was nothing to be done.  He turns his attention to a man trapped under a girder and a little girl who is nearly crushed by a collapsing wall.  He asks her where her mommy is and she points to the same building his employee just died in.  He just hugs her.  That was pretty Batman of him.  

And seeing all of this from Bruce’s perspective, it’s a bit easier to see why Batman is a little more broody than usual.  Although it doesn’t exactly explain why he would want to kill Superman without having even talked to him…or why he would want to kill at all.  This Batman isn’t all about the killing, but it’s not nearly so hard a rule as it is EVERYWHERE ELSE in Batman lore.  And this is a bit perturbing, but not a dealbreaker for me.  His killing is always indirect, he shoots a vehicle with the BatWing, the vehicle explodes in an unsurvivable way.  The Batplane is essentially a bus without this functionality, and this functionality means jerks with guns may not make it.  

Though I trust in my heart he isn’t aiming for them directly.

So Superman tells Batman in so many words to knock off being the Batman, he’s the new sheriff in town, and he doesn’t want to have to come back across the bay again.  Also odd to note, Metroopolis is right across a bay from Gotham.  Inconsequential but odd.  Likely done this way to simplify a rather complicated plot.

Batman has all the while been tracking down criminals looking for a higher up.  He finds that the higher up is Lex Luthor and bugs his servers, at a party, downloading a lot of data in the process.  Wonderwoman shows up, copies the drive and gives it back to him at a later party.  These scenes with high rollers and infiltrating servers has a very James Bond feel to them, which I like.  I always thought of James Bond as Bruce Wayne in an alternate universe.  Maybe Bruce mimics Bond for his alter ego. I like to think so anyway, as a big Bond fan.

So he cracks open the files and finds out that not only is there a way to kill Superman (Kryptonite) but Lex has been tracking “metahumans,” a term you’re pretty used to if you’re a fan of the Arrowverse TV shows.  (I like to think of it as the Flegends verse and pretend Arrow no longer exists).  Metahumans in the Flash universe refers to a specific set of humans affected by a particle accelerator explosion at Star Labs and thereby given superpowers.  In this continuity it’s a blanket term given to “humans with greater than human powers.”  He and Diana both look at different files in different parts of the movie but the audience sees all the files.  They were pretty interesting.

We have a file on Aquaman which shows a huge overreaction to a camera being in his ocean.  He neptunes the crap out of it with his trident sending a MASSIVE shockwave through the water, akin to something like a depth charge exploding, or like 20 of them.

We then have footage of Barry Allen in plainclothes saving a man in a convenience store hold up with his superspeed.

We also have a nice file on Diana Prince that includes no video but a photo of her being the same age in 1918 which is…troubling to Batman.

Then and finally we have footage, much longer footage, of the origin of Cyborg.  We see a torso strapped to some type of electronic board in the background.  The torso is Viktor Stone and his father Silas is his father attempting to save his son who would obviously be otherwise dead without his efforts.  He seems exasperated and desperate in the first clip, then reveals a strange alien looking cube in a second clip.  He moves the cube over to Viktor and it begins covering him and reproducing his limbs as Viktor screams in agony.

Batman either falls asleep or passes out while watching the clips, there’s a hard cut to a scene where he is coming out of a bunker, strapped to the nines with guns, wearing a duster and goggles in some sort of desert.  The desert is soon revealed to be an apocalyptic Gotham…or Metropolis?  Buildings are seen in the background, as well as an ongoing nuclear explosion of some sort.  The area Batman is in seems to be ground zero for some explosion.

Batman then meets some men who drive up, goes to their truck, and it seems he was trying to buy Kryptonite.  He sees a couple of green lightbulbs and a battery, and then Superman thugs attack.  He kills a lot of them….with guns…and then a bunch of….PARADEMONS?! Swoop in.  He’s then taken to a bunker with a couple of his cohorts.  Superman falls in to the bunker from the sky and laser-eyes the cohorts in half leaving only batman.  He removes the cowl to reveal Bruce Wayne inexplicably sans eye makeup.  I guess we’re just pretending the mask is form fitting to Batman’s eye lids.  But I’m nitpicking.

Bruce wakes up at his desk just as Superman puts a hand in his chest.  He told Batman that he took Lois from him and she was his whole world.  When he awakes it’s as if a storm is going on next to his desk.  Out of a swarm of lightening in front of Bruce Wayne, none other than the Flash in some sort of Iron Man-esque mech suit sticks his head out and uncouples the faceplate to reveal…another mask.  He tells Bruce (by name) that he was right about Superman and that he needs to find Lois, she’s the key to all of this.  Then Batman awakes from this dream within a dream.  

This scene had me on the edge of my seat.  Was the Flash a dream brought on by just having watched the footage of Barry Allen?  Was it some sort of vision?  Why did Bruce fall asleep?  Parademons are soldiers of a very important DC character called Darkseid.  Is Darkseid coming?  DARKSEID KILLS BATMAN IN THE COMICS!  AHHHHH!

Batman forges a spear from Kryptonite and there’s a montage of Ben Affleck being swole as all get out followed by a visit to the now decrepit Wayne Manor.  Alfred visits him there and Bruce reminisces about his family history.  Apparently…he comes from a family of hunters.

So he takes his spear and sets up a myriad of traps, and in the greatest act of defiance and angst, turns on his BatSignal.  Across the bay Lex has kidnapped Lois Lane and pushed her off a building, which is the equivalent of the Superman signal.  Apparently no matter what he’s doing, Superman keeps an ear dedicated to the screams of Lois Lane, as he swoops in out of nowhere and saves her.  

Then it’s down to business.  He flys up to the roof and confronts Lex who explains to him in great detail just how well and trully by the balls he’s been had.  This confrontation demonstrates for us why Lex Luthor is, though merely mortal, more than a match for Superman.  Superman is reactive.  Constantly responding to emergencies that are currently ongoing.  Lex is plotting and scheming.  He’s 10 steps ahead of superman at all times.  How is he ahead of him this time?

He has his mother.  He has polaroids of her.  He tells him to go kill Batman and bring Lex his head or she’s going to die in less than an hour.  He then hops on a chopper and bids Superman tootles.  Superman has no intention of doing this and informs Lois that he has to go convince Bruce to help him.  

Bruce doesn’t really care about helping him.  Through some manipulation by Lex bruce has had all doubt removed from his mind that Superman’s gotta go.  They have an EPIC FIGHT.  Batman bombs Supes with Kryptonite tear gas, beats the living tar out of them, finds out the gas has a pretty limited half life (a few minutes tops), but the good news is he brought extra cannisters!

It wears off and Batman gets his butt handed to him for a bit.  He drops another K-bomb and with the help of a special armored suit he built just for this fight is able to sling Supes into a thousand pillars before dragging him into the room where he has stored, the Kryptonite spear.  He’s about to go all Deadpool on the Man of Steel when Supes says MARTHA!  THEY HAVE MARTHA!  SAVE MARTHA!

Batman is shaken, confused.  He’s been hit with his own Kryptonite.  WHY DID YOU SAY HER NAME?  He yells over and over, but since Superman’s neck is currently serving as storage for Batman’s boot, and the Kryptonite spear is making him all too human, he can’t really explain.  Lois shows up and clears up this silly misunderstanding and says that “Martha is his mother’s name.”

This is actually when it hit me for the first time that Superman and Batman both have moms named Martha, I know, I’m ashamed of myself.

In the shock of hearing his mother’s name Batman remembers their murder in vivid detail.  The gun, the pearls, his father, his mother’s eyes.  

Suddenly it’s not in him anymore.  He can’t go through with it.  

This is…not the best writing, I’ll admit.  I don’t understand why he would stop because of that, though I feel Batman could have explained it if given the chance.  I honestly feel like there’s a further explanation there.  Perhaps a cut scene?

So now Lex is pretty fed up with this nonsense.  While they’ve been duking it out he’s been working on plan B.  He’s taken Zod’s body and dropped it into a genesis chamber, with his own blood.  The crashed Kryptonian ship’s AI objects but is ultimately powerless against Lex’s superior hacking skills.  Actually Lex doesn’t hack anything the ship simply hands over control to anyone who’s walked on board when you point out that Krypton is gone.  That was really weird, but I doubt too many people got as bent out of shape about that as they did Batman’s motivations.

By the end of their fight the ship is throwing out lightning and Doomsday is being born.  Supes says he’ll take the ship and Batman says he’ll save Clark’s mother.  I assume Batman wanted to do it this way because Martha Kent is being held by trained mercenaries and well…Supes lacks finesse.  Batman ninjas his way in and saves Martha, making a barrage of morally questionable choices.  There were probably no fewer than six casualties and a myriad of broken bones as well as a scene where Batman uses a villain’s gun to shoot a gas tank on the back of another villain who is about to torch Martha Kent.  It’s nearly ripped straight from the pages of TDKR.

 

He and Supes meet up when it’s clear this isn’t a one man job and they begin to fight Doomsday.  Supes flies him into space and a nuke follows them up which the US Military so graciously donated to the cause.  It blows them both up but neither die.  Doomsday hurtles back to earth and Superman, who is now withered and dying, is left floating in orbit.  The sun plumps him back up nicely when he clears earth’s shadow and he’s back in the game with a vengeance.  

He flies back down, joins Bats and also Wonderwoman in the fight.  Bats hangs back and gasses the hulking east while Superman spears him through the chest with the Kryptonite spear which Lois nearly died trying to recover.  He does so at his own Peril, and it costs him his life.  While in a weakened state brought on by proximity to the Kryptonite spear, Superman is impaled by one of Doomsday’s claws.  He is “killed” as a result.  I’m not a fan of this happening now.  I personally think it should have waited until later in the franchise, perhaps in two Man of Steel movies.  Why?  Because now we’re either going to have to waste time in exposition on Superman coming to life in the Justice League movie, or have him come back to life and get back in the action immediately at the beginning of the movie, which is disheartening to viewers and critics alike.  It takes away from the preceding movie.

And they even show dirt lifting off his coffin in the final scene showing that he’s not really dead.  What was the point?

But there is one scene shortly before this which is just wonderful.  Batman visits a now bald Lex in prison (his head was shaved prior to admission, guess he had lice.) He’s about to brand him, which is basically a death sentence in prison because it marks you a pedophile (previously referenced on the news) when Lex informs Batman that an ominous figure is coming, sparked by the death of Superman somehow.  This seems to be pointing to the arrival of Darkseid, which will likely occur in the Justice League movie (HEAVY BREATHING.)

Batman slams the brand into the concrete wall and vanishes.  This may either mean Lex just made himself useful and Bats needs more info, or it may mark the end of dark side Bats.  As I said, motivations are tricky in this film.

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