What is it?
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (BVS) is one of the most anticipated movies of 2016. People have been chattering about it for years. But even though it is a member of the currently popular genre of comic book movies, it’s also controversial. It’s one of the highest grossing movies with the lowest critic ratings.
Who’s in it?
Might be easier to ask who isn’t in it. So. Many. People. Ben Affleck. Henry Cavill. Amy Adams. Jesse Eisenburg. Diane Lane. Laurence Fishburne. Jeremy Irons. Holly Hunter. Gal Gadot. And (shout out to my fellow Supernatural fans) even Jeffrey Dean Morgan got a role (did anyone else spot him?).
What’s it about?
BVS is about a lot of things. I think that may be the problem that people have with it. It covers a ton of ground and intertwines several storylines in multiple, fast-paced, somewhat-disconnected vignettes, especially at the beginning.
But the main story is that Batman believes that Superman is a threat. Even though many people see Superman as a hero, they conveniently gloss over the fact of how much damage he does while being heroic. Batman can’t gloss over it.
So Batman does what Batman does. It’s called Batman vs. Superman for a reason. They really do get into an all-out fistfight, and for anyone who thinks that Batman can’t ever stand up to Superman? Yeah, go watch (or even better, read a comic book or watch one of the old cartoon shows).
What did I like?
Three things that I liked about BVS come instantly to mind:
- Ben Affleck as Batman
- Henry Cavill as Superman
- Comic book roots
- The Soundtrack
Let’s start with the fourth one first. The Soundtrack. My goodness. One of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard in years. Bless you, Hans Zimmer.
Thirdly, What do I mean by comic book roots? Let’s just be blunt about this, folks. If you don’t know anything about the comics, if you never watched Batman: The Animated Series or the Batman and Superman Adventures or the Justice League cartoon or, heck, even Young Justice or Teen Titans, you’re going to come out of this movie feeling really really confused.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the movies that try to establish the backstory and bring in new fans from outside the genre. I get that. I like that. And that is needed. But you know what? A movie for fans is needed too.
I’m not the most studied DC Comics fan, but I didn’t have any trouble following the story. But then I should show you my DC shelf at home. I may have one or two (or 20) movies and/or television series lying around.
There were several points in the movie that I nearly cheered when others around me just looked confused. And part of me felt bad that it wasn’t clear, but the other part of me enjoyed it because I knew what the story was about.
BVS is a movie for fans, but that doesn’t mean that non-fans won’t enjoy it.
BVS is a movie for fans. That doesn’t mean that non-fans won’t enjoy it, but I’d heartily recommend doing a bit of research into the wider DC Universe before you try to make heads or tails of BVS.
Secondly, Henry Cavill. I think he’s a pretty solid Superman. Christopher Reeves and Dean Cain will always hold a special place in my heart, but I really enjoy Cavill’s presentation of the Man of Steel. And it’s nice to see a domestic side of him too.
Thirdly, Ben Affleck.
Affleck terrified me. But then, any actor walking into the Batman role terrifies me. There’s just something in my brain that holds Batman to a higher standard than any other comic book character. Because he’s Batman.
And you know what? Affleck pulled it off. And personally I feel he pulled it off well.
He’s older than I expected him to be. He’s been Batman for 20 years. He’s lost people he loved, more than just his parents. The lingering image of the damaged and vandalized Robin suit still sticks in my brain, and it makes me wonder whose suit it was. (Because if it belonged to Jason Todd, then it would make sense why Batman/Bruce Wayne is so angry and so set on dealing out justice.)
My opinion: Affleck did a great job. I’d go see him in a solo movie.
I liked a lot of other things about it too, though. Not just those three. I actually really liked Wonder Woman. I don’t know much about her honestly, but I’m totally up for seeing her standalone movie after I saw this one. She’s awesome!
Also, holy cow, where did that version of Jesse Eisenburg come from? My goodness! He was absolutely chilling and somehow huggable at the same time, which only made him more terrifying. And Jeremy Irons as Alfred was wonderful—the perfect mix of dry sarcasm and doting father. And we also get to see him as a mechanic too.
Although I have to admit that the best performance of the entire movie belongs to Diane Lane as Martha Kent.
BATMAN: I’m a friend of your son’s.
MARTHA: I figured. You know, the cape?
Couldn’t stop laughing.
What did I not like?
I rate movies based on how many times I will watch them over and over and over again, and while I did love this movie intensely, it’s not one that I’ll watch repeatedly. It’s super intense, and there’s not a lot of humor. But then, it’s a DC Comics movie, so I didn’t really expect anything else.
I am a firm believer that any story can be told smoothly, if you have the time to do it. BVS did feel choppy in places and disconnected in others. Some of the plot points were a little weak.
Probably my biggest issue is how easily Batman fell to Lex Luthor’s deception, although some of that haze of rage could come from other events in his life that we don’t know about.
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman do team up too quickly, but at the same time I think the story depicted their relationship to each other well. They were three individual superheros fighting individual battles. They pretty much do their own thing through the battle with Doomsday until later on when they’ve gotten to see each other’s fighting styles a bit better.
Another aspect that I’m not 100% sold on is the overt references to Christianity. I think it can go either way as long as people don’t take it out of context. One of the major themes in the movie is how man relates to God and vice versa. There are some interesting statements made, and there are some very intriguing cinematography moments where the images on the screen resemble religious portraits.
But I’m not sure I can say I disliked that part of it. I’m all about finding Jesus in popular culture, and BVS absolutely generates some deep talking points.
Should you watch it?
Yes. If you like superheros, you should watch this movie. If you’re a Christ-follower, you should watch this movie, if for no other reason than so many others have already seen it. It will be a valuable asset to have in your toolbox if you want to have a discussion about the whole “God can’t be all-powerful and all-good” topic.
There are a lot of explosions. There’s a lot of destruction. And, boy, I didn’t see that ending coming, although I suspected it about 20 minutes from the end.
The deeper storyline really did make me think. And while I can’t say it’s a movie I will watch over and over and over again, it’s definitely one I want on my shelf.