With two of the most beloved characters in the world, a respected film director, a stellar cast and a quarter of a million dollars, it seems nearly impossible to produce a terrible movie. With that being said, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has done the impossible.
With Zack Snyder at the helm, a terribly structured plot and even worse casting choices take the film from an idea with a plethora of possibilities to a very dark spot in the rich history of both Batman and Superman.
The film begins with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) witnessing first-hand the destruction caused by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) final battle with General Zodd in Man of Steel, leading him to the conclusion that Superman should be stopped, a conclusion that Superman soon comes to about Batman, as well.
After that, the story becomes quite confusing.
Like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which both Affleck and Snyder cited as an influence for the film, there are several plot lines that clumsily weave together, leaving the audience wondering exactly what’s going on. There’s, of course, the main conflict of Batman v. Superman, but there’s also Batman v. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), Lex Luthor v. Superman, Lex Luthor v. the government, Superman v. the government and scenes of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) secretly meeting with a high-level public official. Add a good bit of Kryptonite to the mix, and the audience is left with a jumbled mess to sort through.
There is some salvation at the end as the last twenty minutes of the film play out similarly to The Dark Knight Returns but with a slight tweak, adding a fresh cherry to the melted and off-putting sundae created during the first two hours.
Cavill manages to pull off another decent performance as Superman, who finds himself at odds with the people of Metropolis and again dealing with whether he belongs in society. Cavill’s performance may be the most substantial in the film, but that’s not really that high of a compliment.
Affleck’s portrayal of Batman strongly resembles Miller’s interpretation of the character as an older Dark Knight who has become much more ruthless and often strays from his strict moral code (like branding the criminals he apprehends, inevitably leading to their murder by fellow inmates). The problem with Ben Affleck, though, is that he’s Ben Affleck. It’s hard to see Bruce Wayne as Bruce Wayne when he’s so uncomfortably and irritatingly Affleck-y.
Making even less sense than casting Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor leaves much to be desired. The film shows a younger version of Luthor, which carries the potential to be great, but Eisenberg causes the character to fall on the opposite end of the spectrum. Every time Luthor is on the screen feels like Eisenberg doing a bad impersonation of Heath Ledger’s Joker while dressed as Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma. Not the Riddler. Long-haired, labcoat-wearing, smart, yet psychotic Edward Nygma.
The rest of the cast delivers solid performances, but none of them really stand out, which is a shame considering the incredible talent involved. Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Diane Lane reprise their roles from Man of Steel, but offer nothing special to the film. Jeremy Irons delivers a solid performance as Alfred, as well, but the character’s appearances are too brief to make an impact.
One bright spot of the film, though, is the first live-action film appearance of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. First seen as a mystery woman at a party thrown by Lex Luthor, she eventually shows up donning the costume and lasso towards the end and plays a pivotal role in setting up the upcoming Justice League films, which seems to be the ultimate goal of the film, raising the question: is $250 million too much to spend to set up an upcoming film? Let’s hope so.
All in all, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a disappointment to fans of both the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel. Snyder relies too heavily on a 30-year-old Batman story to direct the film, and there’s way too much going on throughout for it to be enjoyable. Sure, the ending may be spectacular, but not quite spectacular enough to justify sitting through two hours of a film to get there.
Though it’s never really answered who wins when it comes to Batman v. Superman, one thing remains clear: it’s certainly not the fans.
To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email firstname.lastname@example.org.