Short story: go see this movie. It’s worth it. Tell the hoity-toity reviewers to stuff something sideways.
Long story: this is a movie about Batman. It’s really not about Superman, or Wonder Woman, or Flash or Aquaman or (thank goodness) Lex Luthor. This is all Batman, and it is a very particular Batman, at that. And yes, Ben Affleck kills it. Except for the very end, which made me want to scream, but otherwise it’s perfect. I’ll get into that later in this review.
This is not Michael Keaton’s Batman, but it is close. This is not Clooney, or Kilmer, or Bale. To truly appreciate this movie (and this might be the source of all the bad press it has gotten) you have to actually understand the comic-book canon. Alternatively, you need to actually know that the canon exists. I take it most reviewers did not.
Batman vs. Superman opens shortly after the storyline “The Killing Joke”, in which the Joker finally defeats Batman (by driving him over the edge, to the point where he murders Joker). Robin has been murdered. Batman has lost his soul. He becomes a cruel shadow of what he once was, ready to meet vengeance of a more permanent sort. This Batman is not brooding. This Batman kills people. So, the confrontation between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne is a very real plot-point. And Batman, having lost the heroic virtue which left him all-but indestructible, has adopted armor for his suit. That’s a good thing, because he is about to face-off against the most powerful person in the world.
Side note: Batman is the only person who is ever able to defeat Superman. Over and over and over, he wins. Why? Because superman has scruples. Batman kicks for the crotch, and more importantly, knows where the crotch is. Everyone else just punches and fails. Even Wonder Woman, back in the 70’s, wasn’t able to defeat him (Supes realized he was pulling his punches, because she was a girl, and stopped doing that. Then she went appropriately *splat*).
Ok, back to the action! Post-Robin Batman wants revenge for everything wrong in the world. Post Man-of-Steel Superman is a likely target for his anger. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is manipulating everyone into thinking Superman is a threat.
Side note: Zach Snyder should be shot for many things in this movie, but more than anything else for the portrayal of Lex Luthor. Lex was an homage to Keith Ledger, and a bad one at that. This movie needed Kevin Spacey to return as Lex. Oh good golly, that’s giving me chills, just thinking about it.
So vengeful Batman must face off against brooding Superman. Throw in a reticent Wonder Woman and an over-the-top Luthor. Finally, throw in Doomsday, for good measure. It’s a steel cage match to the death, and there’s only one way out–and it’s not the door. The acting is right where it should be. Everyone pushes their script to the edge. Lex is over the edge.
Now, the bad.
Zach Snyder and his writers made some fairly large mistakes with this film, and they are glaring. If you rent this movie, just fast-forward through all of the dream sequences. They make no sense, and have no bearing on the story whatsoever. Ok, maybe the first one, where Bruce remembers his origins, and the one where Supes talks to his dead father. Other than that, they’re pointless and confusing, and actually work against the plot. Shoot Zach for this one.
There is less flow to the scenes than there should be. Scenes jump between character without respect to plot, rather than as a tool to further plot. It’s almost as if Snyder wants everyone to get equal time. Bad Zach. Another shooting for you.
Doomsday: why is he there? I mean, why not have Superman face off against Batman, with some help from Wonder Woman? Then they realize they’re all good guys, and form a Justice League so they can coordinate efforts? Why was Doomsday even necessary? Ok, I get it, you had a CGI budget you needed to use up, and there was this cool superman storyline called “The Death of Superman”, and you figured, “Why not?” I got it. Another bullet in the chamber.
Doomsday, of course, has no character development (unless you count being developed by LexCorp). Neither does Supes, for that matter. Superman doesn’t really need it in this installment, because he’s fighting public opinion. His conflict is, “How do I stay good when no one stays good?” Batman, conversely, is “how do I get more bad-ass when I’m already as bad-ass as it gets?” How, you ask? You check out Dianna Prince’s ass in front of Superman, at a party. Wonder Woman? Forget about it. She’s there to look good and then kick everyone’s back-side. She is the only one who is even able to hurt doomsday without assistance. That’s probably why she’s the only hero that Batman can’t defeat.
Now, finally, we come to the end. No spoilers here, but you’re going to expect the final scenes. You’re waiting for it. You know it’s coming. Everything in the movie, including the bad homages to Excalibur, lead up to it. Bad Zach… killing the shock value like that. However, just before the very end, Zach Snyder allows a blasphemy so rancorous, so obscene, that mere bullets cannot correct it. This will take nukes. No, I won’t spoil it for you, but it is the movie’s very worst lines, delivered by its very best actor (actually, a toss-up between Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck, but bear with me, here). No I will not spoil it for you, but remember this: Batman was never a member of the Justice League! He refused to join. Bruce Wayne was a loner, someone who knew that friendships turn into funerals.
So, the movie was equal parts OMFG and WTF for me. The show was well worth the money. Next time get Kevin Spacey.