Batman and Superman are not my favorite DC Comics characters. Green Lantern holds that coveted spot. Sadly, the Green Lantern movie was not good and I must content myself with these two for my big screen DC fare.
Going in, I had low expectations because I am not invested in these characters. I was not impressed with Man of Steel which further moved the bar lower for my expectations for this movie. After sitting through the end of the credits and having nothing to wait for, I have to say that I am mostly whelmed with Batman v Superman. Not overwhelmed nor underwhelmed…just whelmed.
Be warned, spoilers ahead.
This movie picks up sometime after the end of Man of Steel. Metropolis is recovering from the aftermath of dealing with the Kryptonians, congress is trying to deal with the threat that Superman represents, and the world as a whole is undecided as to how view Superman. the audience is treated to watching as Lois Lane places herself in harms way for an interview in the middle east. The interview goes south quickly and she is taken captive. This brings Superman to her rescue which causes an international uproar.
The audience is also treated to an abbreviated origin story for Batman. We get to see through flashbacks and dreams Batman’s inciting incident as well as the cause for his current hatred of Superman. We get to watch as he speeds through Metropolis to get to his building in the hopes of helping his employees evacuate. He is not in time. He is only able to help rescue one man whom is trapped under a fallen I beam. The despair, anguish, and anger are plain upon his face as this scene comes to a close.
The audience is also introduced to the villain of the piece, Lex Luthor. He is a young entrepreneur who is at the top of his game. He has his own corporation that rivals Bruce Wayne’s. He is able to meet with Clark Kent and quip about whether he owns the daily planet or not. On top of this, despite having no powers, he manipulate the system to pit the two titular heroes against one another while putting a fail safe plan in motion as well. all this while appearing quite insane.
I walked out of the movie, not disappointed per se, but that there was so much that was left on the table. This movie presents to the world what is, in the DC Universe, the trinity. The three most powerful and iconic heroes of DC Comics. After some thought I’ve decided that this is what frustrates me about this movie. It presents not one trinity, but two.
The first trinity is Batman, Superman, and Lex Luthor. They are the heavy handed characters of the film. Every move they make is filmed with a loving lens that lingers longingly. There is a scene where Superman has flown Doomsday into the upper atmosphere and is hit by a nuclear weapon. Doomsday plummets to the earth while Superman drifts in space seemingly dead. The audience gets to watch as the sun lovingly caresses his form and returns him to life. This is repeated for both Batman and Lex Luthor throughout the movie. It takes what are important plot points and extends them into the grating range. I understand most are needed to set up the next movies but a little bit of restraint would have been appreciated.
It feels like Snyder has went to great lengths to have each one of these characters represent the White Man’s fears. Start with Batman. He is the ultimate rich white guy with everything he wants and is the Batman on top pf all that. Superman comes along and demonstrates that for all intents and purposes that there are always things beyond a person’s control. What is Batman’s response? That which takes control away from me should be destroyed. Superman on the other hand does have the ultimate power. Whatever he wants is not out of reach. He just has to reach out and take it. This power leads him to be seemingly paralyzed at points about what to do. His every action analyzed for the possible unforeseen consequences. The only time this is not a problem is when the one he loves is put in danger and then all thought of consequences are dropped and action is swift and final. Lex appears to represent grasping avarice. He sees things that he believes others have missed and decides to take action unilaterally without even consulting those that he purports to be saving. He knows better than anyone else what is best and the consequences of his actions be damned.
This is in stark contrast to the other trinity you can find in the movie. This one being Lois Lane, Martha Kent, and Wonder Woman. Each of these women goes about their lives with a quiet strength. Martha Kent is now a widow that works as a waitress while keeping up the farm. She does all this and has time to be there for Kal El and dispense motherly wisdom to help free himself from his analysis paralysis. she stays strong even in the face of death as she knows that her son has to save the world and that he has to make the right choice. Lois presents this same strength from the very beginning. She goes into the heart of danger to follow a story. She does this knowing that even though she is beloved at Superman, there are situations that even he can not save her. She does not avoid these situations but continues to do her job despite this knowledge. Wonder Woman, though in the movie briefly, epitomizes the hero. She dances lithely through the story when she appears, doing what she has came to do and moving on. When the circumstances get dire, she gets off the plane, puts on her bracers and tiara, goes to work. She shows no hesitation in facing the monster. On the contrary, she revels in her role as hero that fights the monster. She knows who she is an why she does and holds nothing in reserve. She provides a role model for the other two heroes to live up too.
I loved the story that you see playing out with the three women in the movie. It is subtle and overshadowed by the melodrama that is the tow heroes and the villain. It took a bit to realize that this is what bugs me. Snyder has both of these stories going on but leans so heavily on Batman and Superman that you wonder why he bothered to have the other story present. I wanted to see more of Wonder Woman, Lois, and Ma Kent. Hell, Alfred was a solid character that provided grounding for Bruce Wayne and was underutilized in this movie.
Despite all of my complaints, it is a solid movie. The acting is good. The effects are well done. The technical aspects of the movie are handle with Aplomb. It just could have done with a little more discipline in the editing and cinematography. Cut some of the time dedicated to the angst driven heroes and show us more of those that support them.
I give Batman v Superman two bear paws out of four. It was an okay movie that just felt meh. More time spent with Wonder Woman, Lois, and Ma Kent would have made the movie live up to the hype that had preceded it.