Guest Post by Abigail Radwick
Ah, yet another Box-Office targeted movie! As the sequel to Warner Bros’ Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens with another Batman origin story, something that both DC and Marvel are notoriously known for tacking on at the start of a film.
The movie then jumpcuts to the end of Man of Steel, where Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sees the destruction brought by Superman (Henry Cavill) to his planet, his home, and Wayne Enterprises. Kryptonite is found in the ocean; Lois Lane (Amy Adams) once again witnesses horrors and requires saving during her dangerous investigative journalism. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) arms himself with bright eyes and an at-times incomprehensible stutter and is able to transform General Zol into the horrifying, volcanic experiment that was Doomsday … We have all we need for a great action flick, especially with promising cameos of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) – a solid bit of advertizing for the darker Justice League, mirroring the idea of Marvel’s successful Avengers.
The cameos are in the form of digitally advanced files of Aquaman, the Flash and the hanging half-man (Ray Fisher, billed to be Cyborg), with the only real purpose hinting at a possible DC Justice League — obviously following in the footsteps of the successful Marvel Avenger’s franchise. We see a bit more of the Flash in Batman’s terrifying (and prophetic) nightmare, telling him that “Lois Lane is the key” and “you’ve always been right about him” — whatever that means. The movie is saved, just like Metropolis at the appearance of Wonder Woman in action, with her awe-inducing demigoddess abilities, iconic bulletproof bracelets and golden lasso — true to the comics. Gadot’s delivery of her final monologue, an introspective view of Earth to Batman is moving and gracefully saves the ending.
Otherwise, the other characters we know and love seem just slightly off and fall flat: Batman’s analytical mind isn’t always present, as he thinks more with his fists than his brain in the film; Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is sassy but never imparts his usual wisdom to Master Wayne. Superman acts as though being on Earth is sucking the life and joy out of him, with his constant grim expression and attitude, even behind his Clark Kent glasses. The fight between Batman and Superman isn’t original or innovative, just a tense moment between two struggling heroes. However, there is a satisfying car chase in an attempt to hijack a chunk of Kryptonite. However, the overuse is the use of special effects, with overwhelming CGI and confusing whirlwinds of devastation to Metropolis, causing muddled scenes that were visually difficult to follow at times, hurting the overall quality of the movie and not allowing us to see the other elements of the film that were working, such as the interpersonal relationships of the characters.
And Superman’s death (if he is dead, with the end of the movie insinuating he is not) is a poorly plotted, yanking at the heartstrings of millions of emotionally unarmed Americans. Why doesn’t Superman give the Kryptonite staff to Wonder Woman or even Batman? Why does he go in for the kill himself? In a “true” but foolish heroic act, both Superman, the public figure of Good, and Clark Kent, a barely noticeable person to most but Lois’ entire world, come to an untimely death
But this leads to some unity for the upcoming franchises’ characters – Batman and Wonder Woman wonder about the state of humanity, and what do do about it; in the meantime, ordinary people come together to honor what Superman did for Earth in a memorial ceremony (although his body was buried at home in Smallville). The memorial promotes how people should work together to all be Superman — a common trope in superhero movies, for the human population to step up and be the heroes ourselves – seen in Spiderman, Captain America, and the unnamed people who help superheroes in little ways in great times of need. Perhaps if we, as people, unite, we won’t need superheroes. We also won’t need remake after remake of heroes, and we can break away from the tropes of helpless women (like Lois Lane) and think of new cinematic material.
I give the movie three out of five bags of popcorn — but the popcorn is quite salty.