When I heard that there would be a Batman versus Superman movie my heart didn’t start racing at all. Even though the Christopher Nolan Batman movies were worth watching, the last two Superman movies didn’t impress. The fact that Zack Snyder was responsible for Man of Steel and also would be directing this one didn’t make me feel euphoric.
Then I started to think about the central point of this movie. If these two superheroes would fight each other would there be any question about who would win? One is a rich guy with some gadgets and the other one an alien with superpowers who only has one weakness which is kryptonite. Despite all my concerns though I did decide to see the movie, because I expected Snyder wanted to prove himself after the criticism he got for Man of Steel. Besides that the studio behind the movie needs a hit and also show the DC universe is worth checking out as well.
Initially Snyder seems to be aware of the flaws of Man of Steel and uses them well when opening the film. You see the battle between Superman and General Zod, but now from the point of view of Bruce Wayne. He witnesses how the two are destroying the whole city and are responsible for hundreds of innocent victims. That battle is brought to screen convincingly and genuinely is a spectacle to behold. Because Bruce Wayne has seen how people he cared for have been killed you immediately understand why Bruce Wayne wants revenge and attack Superman.
Batman (Ben Affleck) isn’t a sympathetic character in this film, but a violent vigilante who doesn’t refrain from using extreme violence, for example brandishing people. He also calls himself a criminal when he is talking to (the much underused) Alfred (Jeremy Irons). This a much darker version of Batman compared to the one we saw in the Nolan films.
Meanwhile the government is trying to decide what they want to do with Superman (Henry Cavill). Hearings take place to decide how to handle him. Some see him as a hero, others a a huge danger we should arm ourselves against. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is in the latter camp and tries to get his hands on kryptonite to make one.
Had that been the core of Batman v Superman, than this could have been a very solid movie, but unfortunately too many other elements have been added making this feel like a bloated mess. It results in a movie in which I regularly had the feeling that I had no idea what was going on and kept wondering if I had missed something. I think that feeling is best compared to watching a couple of different movies at the same time with someone else constantly changing channels between them. There is hardly any coherence between scenes, some choices which are made are illogical and the movie is also used to try to set up a Justice League film. The addition of Wonder Woman never feels organic and she looks out-of-place.
By adding all that unneccessary weight it leaves little room for character development. The movie has various dream sequences which, although looking pretty (like the rest of the film), didn’t add anything. Jesse Eisenberg plays Luthor in such a weird way that he stands out for all the wrong reasons and later in the movie a monster is introduced which seems to have escaped from on of the Lord of the Rings movies. It is a shame that Snyder hasn’t managed to prove himself with this film. What should have been a dark, gritty and focussed movie in which two titans battle each other now ends up as a schizophrenic and bloated two and a half hour collection of scenes which I can’t suggest checking out.