Wow. Just wow. By now, most of you reading this have either seen Batman v Superman, read the reviews or both. To say the film has received diverse opinions would be an understatement. There seem to be three camps emerging from both the critic world and the paying public. 1. Those that love the film, 2. Those that loathe the film and 3. Those that enjoyed the film but have problems with it. As someone who didn’t enjoy Man of Steel, this reviewer is delighted to say that he is in the first camp.
DC and Warner Bros. should be commended for their bravery. Not a sentence that looked likely a few years ago, but once Man of Steel performed below box office expectations in 2013 the easy route would have been to fold. Instead the studio decided to go all in, announcing a slate of films for the foreseeable future, casting their leads, writing their scripts and *gasp* beginning production on three films before any provided results. This all meant that their lead in film, Batman v Superman, had to succeed in building a universe interesting enough for audiences to return to time and time again.
The world that is built in these two and a half hours is impressive. Characters, for the most part, are fully formed and serve their purpose to not only move the story forward, but hint at what’s the come in the future. While a brief encounter Bruce Wayne has with The Flash during a nightmare is very clunky, other cameos come in a succinct scene that not only helps introduce us to future Justice League characters, but is done in a way that makes sense with the films narrative.
The world building is, however, kept to a minimum. Wonder Woman is not just their as an advertisement for her own solo film, rather she has a mini plot weaving in and out of the films main storyline. The character is an absolute highlight of the film, whose introduction might possibly be the best in the comic book genre. The cheeky smile as she shakes her head at Doomsday proves that the filmmakers and Gal Gadot hold the beloved Amazon in safe hands.
While Gadot is fantastic in her few scenes, she’s not alone in showing the great range of acting talent boasted by the film. Ben Affleck portrays a “cruel” and beaten down Bruce Wayne, who walks a very shady line with his approach to killing. It’s a rightfully contentious aspect of the film, where it seems perfectly ok for Batman to stab another person in the shoulder and then shoot a flame thrower attached to another humans back. However while it’s certainly a more on the nose breaking of his rule, the argument can be made it’s just a more honest take on similar actions throughout The Dark Knight trilogy. Despite this, Affleck proves himself to be the perfect actor to take on the cape and the cowl, allowing us to believe he might actually have the upper hand against a God.
Speaking of which, Henry Cavill returns as Kal-El from Man of Steel and is just as charming and likable as his first outing. While awkward editing means a disconnect can be felt between he and his mother, his portrayal means you still feel for the character when he lies battered and beaten, begging Batman to save her after she’s been kidnapped by Lex Luthor. It’s a heart-wrenching scene, and one that immediately forms a strong bond between the two biggest super-heroes in history.
It’s scenes like this that help gloss over some of the weaker aspects of the film. The editing is very much hampered by trying to cram so much story into 150 minutes, and therefore parts of the film are disjointed and rushed. Without inspired performances like Jesse Eisenberg’s as the villainous Lex Luthor, it’s quite possible that these problems would be ever more glaring.
Batman v Superman is not a film without it’s flaws. Though it is a film with exceptional special effects, tremendous performances across the board, a story that holds our interest despite some strange editing choices, characters as complex as they are relatable and a thoroughly enjoyable climax to a narrative which sets us up for an expanded universe of riches. While the consensus may be that the the World’s Finest should have been kept apart, it’s when they come together in the dying moments that this world really shows it’s true potential. Sit back everyone, the DC roller coaster is just getting started.