On March 25th, 2016, the highly anticipated film, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder, was released in theaters. Despite the massive amounts of satisfied fans, critics have spoken negatively about its plot and characters.
Despite the infamous Rotten Tomatoes score it has acquired since its premier (33%), some audiences have found the movie to be a thoroughly entertaining superhero film. The harsh backlash it has received, however, does have some truth to it. Many of the nitpicking done by critics have proved to be insightful, despite many becoming irrationally angered by the film’s “lack of heart”.
Primarily, critics have zeroed in on the multiple storylines of the movie. Many who have pulled apart the film, such as Screen Junkies, have determined it is an entanglement of multiple plots and stories that don’t necessarily fuse together in the end. It was as if this single, two hour and thirty minute film was composed of a standalone Batman movie, a Justice League set up movie, and a Man of Steel sequel all messily composed into one. This mound of many plot points, stories arcs and expository character development was arguably the weakest aspect of the movie. Unfortunately, its presence made the movie feel lazily composed.
The story also had many problems primarily with the editing and pacing of the story. It has been well discussed amongst critics that the first hour was curiously created through many awkward cuts and an unclear exposition. Though many of the characters as individuals were well developed (not counting Superman, who was played by actor Henry Cavill, and still left much to be desired), the story itself was rather unclear during the entire first half of the film.
Characters specifically were the strongest parts of the film. Though Henry Cavill’s Superman still feels a bit underdeveloped and mildly dishonest to his comic book roots, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman’s brief appearances were intriguing and built excitement for her movies to come.
Ben Affleck’s Batman was easily the best character of the film and arguably the best Batman adaptation to be brought to the screen. With a grit and darkness to him that deviates from past film productions, Affleck’s Batman is the most fascinating yet.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther was at the core of much fan speculation since the release of the first trailer. Many critics and fans alike critiqued the inaccuracy this adaptation of one of Superman’s greatest adversaries. Most deemed his portrayal as “over the top” but I particularly found his character to be quite interesting. Though he felt more Riddler than the classic, serious Lex Luther, he was an intriguing and intelligent adversary to both Batman and Superman.
The ending, however, was one of the most awkward parts of the movie and left much to be desired. After Doomsday (who was exposed prematurely to be the “big bad” in earlier trailers) joined the brawl between heroes, Superman puts his life on the line to rid the city of Lex Luther’s creation. In the process, the man of steel is killed leaving audiences thoroughly confused. Many casual fans of the hero were disappointed by the death of the Justice League member, and many were left wondering why this occurred just as they were starting to form the League.
The death of Superman follows a comic book arc though, that was unexpected within this film. Evidently, as the last scene of the film implies, Superman will return, resurrected just as superhero films are infamous for doing. The death of Superman felt entirely out of place given the film and was an unnecessary cliffhanger. We are already excited for the Justice League in itself, so it feels unnecessary to tease Superman’s abrupt return after he was so curiously killed off.
While the movie did have its flaws, during the entirety of its runtime I was submersed completely in its plot and initially had a great time. As with many films, the critiques and flaws did not occur until well afterwards, despite how large they were.
(photo provided by deadline.com)