Field Notes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (theatrical version) last night and did so with the understanding that it was not reviewed well.

But that’s a good thing – when you go in with low expectations, the movie almost always turns out better then you thought it would.

Unfortunately that’s not the case (for me) with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – I’m interested to see where the DC Extended Universe goes from here, but this movie was a rough ride.

Biggest Issue

The biggest issue I had with the movie was the realization of Lex Luthor. I could not get on board with how they portrayed the character, and this is coming from someone who’s not steeped in DC lore. It wasn’t a “he-doesn’t-match-with-who-I-thought-he-should-be” thing, it’s a “he’s-more-annoying-than-evil” thing.

I believe the writers, actors, and everyone involved tried to give Lex a presence, tried to make him complex and interesting and someone to be feared all at the same time. He had an abusive upbringing from his father, he spouts philosophical quips about the relationship between God and man – both things point to a man who’s had it rough and has larger issues on his mind.

This could translate into a villain who’s motivations you can understand and yet root against because of the means he’s chosen to right those wrongs … but that does not happen. Why? I believe a combination of writing (“the red capes are coming”, etc.) and the voice delivery reduced Mr. Luthor to an incompetent, someone who pulls off evil schemes but you’re not sure how.

Lex going all Lex on it

This is the guy that can masterfully manipulate the Dark Knight? This is the guy who can – through processes completely unknown – have an alien ship answer to his every whim?

It’s not easy – to make a believable super villain – but it did not happen here.

Not Making Any Sense

But Lex Luthor wasn’t the only thing that didn’t add up – there were other facets of the movie that just didn’t make sense, which I will list in rapid question style:

  • Why is Batman now gunning people down, blowing up people with the Batmobile?
  • How does every character know the other’s secret identity?
  • Why the steady stream of dream/nightmare sequences? Batman’s went on long enough that I didn’t even know what was going on. Was Superman dreaming his dad or what?
  • Why did the Flash warn Bruce Wayne about the future and about Lois Lane being the key, and then that not factor in at all? I mean, AT ALL?
  • Why was Doomsday even there, if such an afterthought?
  • Why did they “kill” Superman with such little emotional gravitas at the end, since we all know he’ll be back ASAP?
  • How can Louis Lane be portrayed as the tough as nails reporter, but then only serve as a plot device for giving Superman a reason to go different places?
  • How can you make the Bat armor boots not look cool? I know then when he was running they were making a squishy sound and only added the clunking in post

Silver Linings

Lest you think I’ve nothing good to say, read on.

I liked the connection of our two heroes when it came to tragic parentage. I never considered how Clark and Bruce were alike in that way (yes Clark had the Kents but we’re talking “original” parents here, bear with me) and I thought it was a strong connection.

Ben Affleck did a good job as Batman – I’ve never seen that much emotion from the Dark Knight, and that’s tough to pull off.

My favorite part of the film was without a doubt Wonder Woman’s theme – if you haven’t heard it, check it out here!

Shield yourself with my theme

Closing Thoughts

This movie tried to do so much, and it’s a tall order – pitting two of the most iconic comic book characters of all time against each other in an entertaining way and setting up the upcoming Justice League film (indeed a whole host of DC films).

But I felt the film fell short of these lofty goals, and I found myself not rooting for anyone during it. I usually didn’t feel the characters pain or joy, and this lack of investment means an emotional climax that could have carried me through to the end didn’t happen.

I started off by talking about low expectations, and that meant that a lackluster showing wasn’t a big deal. But if you had been psyched out of your mind for this and checking off the days until opening night, I think it would have been a letdown.

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