Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice: On Ambition

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As the final push into Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was made, and I finished up season 2 of Daredevil,  I found myself wondering if the movie would feel too much like a Frank Miller comic book. Not that I would mind, I like a lot of Miller’s work, but after 13 episodes of what felt like Miller’s world, I wasn’t sure I wanted a movie of it.

And there is absolutely no way to deny that Miller’s DNA is all over the movie. But he’s too deeply engrained in Batman as we know him now to be erased. So that’s all there, the “sons,” the clunky epic speechifying, the brutal violence, it’s all there.

But as I sat back and watched, I realized that this didn’t feel like a Frank Miller story at all. It felt like a Grant Morrison story and for that reason, I was able to sit back and enjoy it all the more, because I don’t love any comic writer the way that I love Morrison. (And that includes Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gail Simone…I adore them, but Morrison is something different.)

Like a Morrison story this movie is ambitious, heavy, nonsensical at times, full of on the nose symbolism, and sort of impenetrable to newbies. It’s also very messy, which is not really an accusation you can hurl at Morrison, but I mean in spirit.

Elements of the movie are perfect. Affleck is great. I did go in rooting for him, but that means that if he’d been bad I would have been really disappointed. (Hello, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller in Fantastic Four…) He’s such a solid choice for this role, and we get to see things we’ve never really seen on screen. (BRUCE IN THE LAB!!!!)

The thing that made both Aless and I happiest is that we skip the Lois and Clark relationship drama. They’re together. They’re a team. That’s it. The end. There are issues, she isn’t sure he should risk the innocent lives that seem to fall around Superman for her sake. He can’t bring himself to not save her. Honestly, if it weren’t for the music and desaturated color scheme the scene where Superman saves Lois in the first twenty minutes would have been absolutely perfect.

Gal Gadot and the energy she brings to Wonder Woman is amazing. The story comes to life with her and she’s the impetus for Bruce to actually do him some sleuthing. Also, how good Gadot and Affleck look together has even brought me around to Bruce/Diana shipping. (You may recall, I have some opinions on that score…) Her movie is going to be SICK, because she owns Diana.

The Doomsday fight is fine, if unnecessary, the movie would have been streamlined by simply having the Luthor storyline, which involves him manipulating Batman and Superman to fight each other. (In fact, the final fight only happens because he kidnaps Matha Kent and tells Supes that she’ll be killed if he doesn’t kill Batman.) This is a good contrivance, and while the potential fridging of Martha is dangerous, it’s worth it to create a new framework for the smackdown. But without Doomsday they would have needed another reason for Wonder Woman to suit up, so there’s that.

The Justice League set up is probably the best part of the movie, including a brilliant reveal that I won’t spoil.

Batman v Superman isn’t a great movie. It’s either an adequate movie or an ambitious and interesting failure and I can’t decide which yet. Parts of it remind me of Iron Man 2, in the bad way, but in the end it’s worth it to see the Big Three on screen together.

Jesse Eisenberg is a huge disappointment. Or maybe the script. Either way, I’m not into weird crazy Luthor. The only time Luthor should feel unhinged is when there’s rage happening. Otherwise he should hold it together.

Overall the movie has more good than bad for me, but I can’t really recommend it to people who don’t really love these characters and aren’t overly attached to a particular version. It’s a specific niche, but a worthwhile one. It did set up an interesting world, and honestly, I think the other films, which are out of Snyder’s peculiar control (The Ben Affleck/Geoff Johns helmed Batman solo movie in particular) should be really good.

Look, if it means a lot to you to see Batman and Superman punch each other, get your butt to the Cineplex. Because that definitely happens here.

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