My thoughts here contain some spoilers, but honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. The movie isn’t really....a movie? I’m not sure you can spoil a movie lacking a linear plot. You’ll have to see it to understand what I mean.
Here are my 100% non spoilery thoughts:
Henry Cavill could be a great Superman if they would let him. Despite everything, Ben Affleck is completely convincing as Batman and I want to see more of him as that character. Gal Gadot is going to be a great Wonder Woman and I’m excited about that movie the most. Lex was great, don't believe the critics. Amy Adams and Diane Lane are amazing actors whos talents were wasted as their parts amounted to nothing more than being bait.
After leaving Man of Steel, I was sure that Zack Snyder had no real understanding of who Superman is. I was convinced he didn’t understand the source material. However, upon viewing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice I realize I am mistaken.
Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer understand Superman completely. They just find him boring and probably a little stupid. I don’t think they find him interesting as protagonist, only as antagonist. Superman as antagonist excites them very much I think. But they lack the balls (or permission) to fully go there. Instead they go as far as they can and then immediately back off. Superman punches a man through a wall but later claims he didn’t kill anyone. He continues to knock down buildings but only abandoned ones. He hovers imposingly and threatening overhead but wonders why everyone fears him. He’s constantly threatening people with his laser-hate eyes but never actually burns anyone to cinders (well, okay two people but it was only a POTENTIAL future/vision).
I guess my question is this: If you hate Superman so much, why do you keep making movies about him? I’ve never seen this character take more of a beating both literally and emotionally. They beat the shit out of him, gassed him with kryptonite twice, stabbed him in the heart, nuked him, killed him and buried him.
So yeah, the people making Superman movies really don’t like Superman very much. In fact, other than his mother and his girlfriend, I don’t think anyone in the movie liked Superman. Superman didn't even like himself very much. I certainly didn’t. If faced with a Superman so confused about how to be good, I would be terrified of him. I was rooting for Batman.
So, mission accomplished I guess? Everyone hates Superman now. Where do we go from here?
Well, that’s what the rest of the movie is about.
You see, only about five minutes of this movie is about Batman vee-ing Superman. The rest of the runtime is spent showing you six demo reels of movies that these guys would rather be making right now. Think of it as a youtube playlist of fan-films on shuffle. You’ll see:
- The Dark Knight Returns
- Batman: A death in the family
- Wonder Woman
- The Justice League Begins
- The Death of Superman
- President Lex
- plus the DVD extra one-shot: Perry White has an grumpy day
They say writing is about making choices. Nobody involved in this film made any.
Unlike Man of Steel this movie had some really awesome ideas. It contained some really amazing moments that I’ve never seen before in a Superman or Batman movie. But for some reason nobody could decide which movie they were making. So they just made parts of all of them. I joke that it seemed like six fan-films, but they were AMAZING FAN FILMS! I really liked all of them and wish they were each a whole movie. But we live in a time where we have vines of instagrams of teasers to announce a movie trailer. It makes sense that they would finally just make a movie that was a trailer for six other movies.
I’m curious if the results we see here are due to artistic vision or studio interference. Either way, it’s disappointing because they’re sitting on arguably three of the most iconic superhero mythos of all time: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. We are living in a new golden age of comics. Comic culture is finally mainstream pop-culture. These movies are popular and profitable. Even when they’re horrible they’re profitable beyond the dream of avarice. Why then, given the resources and opportunities are these DC movies so disappointing? Was the property just given to the wrong creative team? Is it just a matter of Warner Brothers trying to catch up with Disney? Maybe a little of both?
BvS: DoJ is too many good ideas at once. It’s drinking from the firehose. It’s a gauntlet of pop-culture at 100 miles an hour. That’s not how stories work, despite what the marketing data says about the attention span of millennials.
Here’s hoping Warner Brothers and DC can slow down and find their pacing. They've got all the right pieces. They just need to summon the patience to build the puzzle.