‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Is The Superhero Epic We’ve All Been Waiting For
The Dark Knight finally going up against the Man of Steel on the big screen? “The greatest gladiator match in history” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
In full production since 2013 and in early development for much longer, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ first foray into the shared universe storytelling that has brought Marvel so much success. To call this one of my own personal hyped films of 2016 would be underselling it, as I’ve been waiting to see the two most iconic superheroes of all time duke it out since before I learned to walk.
Yet, in the lead up to release, the reviews coming out were painting a very ugly picture. Critics calling the film a mess, saying it gets the characters wrong, and other comments of the like gave me pause.
Was this film really a disaster?
Well rest assured, comic book fans and casual moviegoers, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” goes above and beyond in delivering.
Following the carnage of “Man of Steel,” Superman (Henry Cavill) is a controversial figure in the eyes of the world. An international incident involving the rescue of journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) by Superman bubbles these issues to the surface.
There are those such as Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) who believe that he is a force that needs to be controlled and then there are others such as Gotham City’s Bat vigilante- secret billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck)- who believes he’s a menace that needs to be put down immediately.
In the middle of all this is young billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who masterminds his own plan to bring Batman and Superman into conflict so he can enact his own scheme that just might change the world at large forever.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” succeeds because of its complexity. The story has tons of moving parts that create a deep immersion instead of a cluttered feeling.
Director Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio pack their film to the brim with interesting, timely themes about what it means to be a superhero in the modern age. These themes serve to make the story soar far beyond its contemporaries.
What must really be commended is the integration of everything DC Comics. This flick is dripping in the mythology of its heroes, and the story’s wide scope creates an involved experience that’s really lacking in most modern day superhero films.
In addition, the ensemble cast does not have a single weak link.
The titular superheroes are pitch perfect, with Henry Cavill upping the ante and Ben Affleck providing a very visceral, hardened Batman—different from all the other incarnations. Importantly, the two have great chemistry, building up a feud that’s hard to resist watching.
Other supporting players, such as Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, give it their all, adding a solid foundation for our main heroes to play on.
There are some cameos in the film serving to set up the upcoming “Justice League” film that, while interesting, don’t work quite as well. The big “Justice League” set-up character, however, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, absolutely commands the screen and steals every scene she’s in. It’s a total joy finally seeing the character up on screen, and Gadot has sold me on 2017’s “Wonder Woman” solo film.
My personal favorite of the cast has got to be Jesse Eisenberg’s radical reinvention on Lex Luthor.
Far from the quirky nightmare of the trailer, there’s a real twisted sensibility on his Luthor that I haven’t shaken since I’ve left the theater. The emotions conveyed by Lex via Eisenberg are vivid, yet elusive, creating a villain that’s both terrifying and oddly sympathetic. Definitely not the classic Lex Luthor, but something better entirely.
The real talking point of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is likely to be the visuals. In honesty, I’m still picking my jaw up from the floor.
Cinematographer Larry Fong (“Watchmen,” “300,” “Sucker Punch”) really outdoes himself. Like a comic book come to life—hell, like a painting come to life—the images on display are unforgettable.
A long way from the shakey-cam aesthetic of “Man of Steel,” Fong’s cinematography captures the sheer scope of the production with a still grace unlike anything a mainstream superhero film has ever attempted.
And the action? Boy, oh boy, you’re not going to see anything more exciting in cinemas right now. The choreography, effects, and stunt work all come together nicely to pack a massive punch, particularly in a nonstop third act that practically leaps off the screen—even…even in 2D.
If there’s any true flaw with “Batman v Superman,” it’s that the editing can be pretty erratic at times. With so many story lines, it feels as if some of the plot lines are intercut rather randomly. Yet as the film goes on, the editing improves, and upon a second-viewing, it’s a non-issue.
For me, this is the superhero film I’ve always wanted. It treats its subjects with conviction, has relevant social themes, an epic-scale storyline, badass action and doesn’t forget to have fun.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may be eluding some critics now, but give it a couple years, and no doubt history will mark this down as the incredible achievement it is.