Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Sean Kelly

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Two iconic superheroes square off in a battle of ideologies; it’s the newest trend in the superhero genre. We’ve got Captain America vs. Iron Man in “Civil War,” we’ve always had Professor X vs. Magneto in “X-Men” and right now we’ve got Batman vs. Superman in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

There was a lot of pressure for this movie to be good. First, it needed to successfully incorporate the events of its predecessor, “Man of Steel.” Second, it needed to set up the future Justice League franchise to compete against Marvel’s “Avengers.” And third, it needed to please Batman fans and Superman fans alike. Unfortunately, these expectations proved to be too much and the film did not live up to all that it promised.

For starters, there are way too many storylines in this movie. The narrative jumps from character to character so erratically that there is no time to invest in what they are doing. Theological and political themes are hinted at, but fail to leave any impression on the viewer. This ultimately results in the first hour becoming a convoluted mess that builds up to the titular brawl in dull fashion.

For the most part, the characters are underdeveloped, and horribly miscast. Judging from Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Mark Zuckerburg in “The Social Network,” his portrayal of Lex Luthor could have had the bratty arrogance akin to the notorious real-life businessman Martin Shkreli. There is nothing of that from Eisenberg’s Luthor, and what we get is a jittery, cartoonish villain that doesn’t fit the movie’s dark tone. Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, is relegated to Superman’s damsel in distress. Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, has the potential to be great in future films, however in this film she wasn’t given much to do beyond introducing the remaining members of the Justice League, which is lazily included in the movie and does not service the story at all.

The only character that the movie nailed was, thankfully, Batman. Ben Affleck is perfectly cast as the caped crusader. This iteration of the character is older, wearier and unhinged. The beat down that he gives to a warehouse full of henchmen is the most brutal in his cinematic history. His rapport with his butler Alfred, played by Jeremy Irons, is amusingly sardonic compared to the more affectionate back and forth of previous versions of the characters.

With all the issues director Zack Snyder has in storytelling, if there is one thing he can do right, it’s visuals. Three scenes in particular look spectacular, including the opening scene with the climactic battle in “Man of Steel” from Bruce Wayne’s perspective, the aforementioned warehouse scene, and, of course, the fight between Batman and Superman. Although the reasoning behind their fight was a bit contrived and not motivated by their conflicting ideologies, the scene from an action standpoint was done exceptionally well.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is disappointingly underwhelming, but Ben Affleck’s Batman and the epic action scenes he partakes in show potential for the franchise to improve.