Once Upon a Dark and Dreary, Batman & Superman had a Throwdown
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
What has Gone Before
OK kids, it is finally here, Director Zack Snyder’s take on a trio of the most iconic superheroes ever created. Chronologically, the film takes place immediately after his 2013, Man of Steel film, where Superman battled — and killed — General Zod (and destroyed much of downtown Metropolis), and some 20 years after Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (2005 – 2012) where we are presented with an older (crankier) Batman reacting badly to the appearance of this supremely-powerful alien being, the destruction of Metropolis, as well as the death and maiming of dozens of Wayne Enterprises employees and the obliteration of a Wayne corporate office in midtown Metropolis. Now, fearing the unchecked actions of this god-like alien, Gotham City’s Dark Knight vows to take on Metropolis’ most revered, modern-day savior. Meanwhile, the world wrestles with what sort of hero it truly needs.
Man of Steel
Clark Kent, one of the last of an extinguished race disguised as an unremarkable human, is forced to reveal his identity when Earth is invaded by an army of survivors who threaten to bring the planet to the brink of destruction
Aliens Among Us
Eighteen months after Superman fought and killed General Zod, Metropolis has been able to rebuild (thanks in part to Lex Luthor), and Superman is currently the most controversial figure in the world. While many still feel that he is an emblem of hope, there is a growing number of individuals consider him to be a threat to humanity. Now, as far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to the world. Wayne fears for the future of Earth, that with such a reckless powerful creature running around and left ungoverned will bring unfettered chaos to the world., So he sets about attempting to determine a way to bring Superman down, and he is not the only one. Lex Luthor also wants to take down Superman, and he is using his vast wealth to find a way to do it; like locating Kryptonite meteorites and learning how to weaponized them — not to mention transmogrifying the corpse of Zod into the unstoppable Doomsday.
Batman v Superman: Trailer
The Superhero Trinity
Thrown into the mix is the centuries-old Wonder Woman who joins the fight (as well as (very) brief cameos from Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg) as DC Comics attempts to build its own cinematic universe to rival the one that Marvel began in 2008 with the release of the first Iron Man film, only the company is attempting to launch its own superhero team — the Justice League of America (JLA) in a single film, rather than across half a dozen films and as many years. Now, having said all that, we want to talk about our impressions of the film itself. First of all, this isn’t so much a Superman film with Batman in it as it is a Batman film where Superman (and Wonder Woman) play supporting roles. This is a dark, ponderous, film where every line of dialogue, every camera angle, every bit of action is layered with weight and pontification. Snyder wants us to know that everything we see is of utmost importance (sort of like when someone types in all caps), unfortunately, by attempting to make everything very important, nothing actually is, and the film — however, instead of adding value and significance to the story, it merely slows everything down to a crawl, and causes the audience to start checking their watches.
Clark Kent meets Bruce Wayne
Building a Legend
The film clocks in at two-and-a-half-hours, and honestly, could have easily shaved a full 60 minutes off the runtime and not lost any of the storyline. For reasons that pass understanding we need to (once more) run through the origin of Batman (but oddly enough, not Superman, but that could simply be because Snyder already dealt with that in his previous film). Truthfully, everything just takes too bloody long. Everything is done in such a laboriously slo-mo; with long, lingering shots, as the characters stand stock still and attempt to resonate their character with gravitas, that it starts boring the crap out of you. Now we’re not saying that it is a bad movie, but we are saying that is a film that (like many movies about DC characters) is supremely impressed by its own presence, and it shouldn’t be, it should simply tell a story, and let the viewers to determine its importance.
Batman v Superman
The Long and Dreary of it All
It takes nearly an hour for the two protagonists to meet, then another hour for them to actually tangle (at which point Diana Prince finally steps up as Wonder Woman). Then; when they finally meet the unstoppable force that is Doomsday the trio best him in like 20 minutes. To be sure, the action sequences are top-notch, and the film itself is well worth watching (however with a production cost of like a quarter of a billion dollars, it should have been totally over-the-top awesome, while it was merely watchable without completely embarrassing itself).
The Legend of Heroes
Coming out of the film we could only feel that writer David S. Goyer (who also wrote Man of Steel, as well as the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy) never learned the lesson of Shakespeare in that all of the Bard’s drama contained elements of humor and all of his comedies contained some drama. Batman v Superman is so dark and dreary that it is almost ominously depressing. This film could have used some lighter moments (unavoidable aside, all of the Marvel films contain lighter elements that help break the tension and lighten the mood.) storytelling requires highs and lows, light and dark, drama and comedy. This film is all lows, darks, and heavy drama; it so wants to be a powerful story about powerful men and women — superheroes with the weight of protecting the world around them from the evil that does in fact exist — and they so totally need everyone to know that, so they effected a grim and dower outward appearance so as to clearly demonstrate their dogged determination to succeed — something that Spider-Man does with the mantra that he learned for his Uncle Ben, “With great power must also come great responsibility.”
Conclusions and a Look Ahead
We’re not saying that this is a bad film, nor are we saying that we didn’t like it, what we are attempting to say is that it could have (should have) been better. At best, it is disappointing, at worst, it is an over-produced, ponderously-bloated misstep that could potentially scuttle any future DC films, hopefully it is neither, and in 2017 we’ll finally get to see an actual JLA film, so yea!