Seeing Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a unique experience for me. I have fairly mean things to say about Man of Steel (2013), and I have meaner things to say about Zack Snyder as a director. (Not that I’m opinionated or anything…) That said, even as a not-fan of Superman and an apathetic-viewer of Batman, I didn’t expect this to be a good installment in the universe. But I was with a group of friends for a birthday party, and I was more than a little interested to see Jesse Eisenberg playing next-gen Lex Luthor, so…I put the scathing cynicism on hold.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS:DoJ) takes place around two years after the massively destructive events of Man of Steel. Everyone—including Bruce Wayne/Batman of Gotham—have begun to see Superman as less of a savior and perhaps more of a demon, a false god, instead of some righteous deity. (By the way, Gotham is located just right across the river from Metropolis.) Torn to shreds at the constant repetition of loss in his life, Bruce Wayne makes it his duty to remove the threat of Superman, one way or another, while Lex Luthor has his own plans in mind for taking down the Man of Steel.
Okay, so the movie was rough. I admit that. But…I couldn’t hate it. In fact, I didn’t even dislike it. Oddly enough, almost all of the issues that I had with Man of Steel—such as Superman being spoken of as a new Christ the Messiah—were addressed in one form or another in BvS:DoJ. There were many things I still didn’t like, such as Amy Adams as Lois Lane (and I generally adore Amy Adams) and Henry Cavill as Superman. There were also a lot of little things that seemed like lazy writing forcing characters into roles that, in any other film, might mark them as “too stupid to live.” But I had no problem with Ben Affleck’s replacement of Christian Bale as Batman; Affleck filled large shoes, and I look forward to seeing more of his portrayal of the Dark Knight. I adored the stylistic undertones the film used to communicate more than just plot points. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was fascinating and engaging. As for Wonder Woman, I only know secondary facts about her, but Gal Gadot was a perfect strong female hero.
Stylistically, the film was saturated according to the tones of each hero’s prior film. When introducing Superman, everything had that chromatic blue hue from Man of Steel, whereas when switching to Batman, everything had a darker/slightly greener hue that was reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Once Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne finally meet up, those hues blend together to create a more neutral tone. That alone drew me in as an artistic element speaking to tie more together than just facts.
If there is one thing this film did well, it was a sense of artistic consistency between Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Trilogy—two movie series that, to me, felt very different from each other. While I still don’t know how I feel about an eventual Justice League film, BvS:DoJ did an excellent job setting the groundwork that will introduce Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) in future films. (To boot, as a SyFy channel fan, it was really, really fun to see Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis) and Joe Morton (Eureka) again.)
All-in-all, superhero films—especially the DC Universe ones, apparently—will always have a harsh divisive nature with their viewers. I will openly admit that I am not familiar with the comics, nor am I even super familiar with the cartoons that have sprouted up over the last twenty years. For those in love with the comics, there might be a lot of “run away screaming” responses. But for those who enjoyed Man of Steel, I think there is a lot here to offer in the way of addressing unexpectedly realistic consequences to so much carnage (which seemed the largest complaint toward Man of Steel).
Not that BvS:DoJ is light on carnage or violence itself. There are multiple flashbacks—this time from Bruce Wayne’s perspective—about the destruction of Metropolis that took place at the end of Man of Steel and the resulting injuries of innocent citizens. Batman has taken to being more bloodthirsty than I remember him being before. A montage of Wayne’s parents being murdered is played again and again, and he has now taken to fire-branding criminals with his bat insignia. Another person is held hostage under the threat of being burned alive, another character is in danger of drowning. Another character has a dream/vision sequence of soldiers gunning each other down before he/she finds him/herself strung up to be beaten. Within the same dream sequence, soldiers are sliced in half off-screen with accompanying sound effects, and one character punches through another character’s chest. There’s more, but you get the gist. It’s pretty brutal.
Sexual content wise, a woman is seen in a bathtub covered only by slightly tinted water; her boyfriend joins her (though there is no visible nudity). Profanity is par for the course for a standard PG-13 superhero film that doesn’t include Steve Rogers.
All in all, DC Comics continues to differentiate itself from Marvel with a much, much darker tone. While the overall tone/visuals of BvS:DoJ is much darker than Marvel films, it still stays true to the consistency set by the Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel. If you’re looking for light-hearted fun, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not it. However, if you’re looking for a film that actually questions the responsibility of a godlike-man who has not denied his godlike status, then…BvS:DoJ gives some pretty interesting things to think about.
September is an aspiring novelist, book
hoarder collector and movie watcher. She has an incredibly tolerant cat named Scout, an assortment of plants that seek global domination, and a distinct lack of awareness for where she is at any given moment.