Rough thoughts on Batman v Superman

the-battle-of-the-century

I thought I might as well weigh in on Batman v Superman. I’m not a comic book fan, but I am a film fan, and despite the film being lampooned by critics, I really wanted to like it.

I didn’t, and I think it fails on some of the most basic filmmaking levels. Here are some thoughts:

  • Ben Affleck is clearly passionate about the project, and gives a great performance. This makes me feel even sorrier for him given how the film turned out. I do look forward to his solo Batman films, though.
  • The film makes no sense. It feels like two films mashed into one, which is fitting, given the overblown title.
  • Zack Snyder is more interested in bringing the ripped-straight-from-the-comics storyboard panels to life, than he is in telling a coherent story.
  • The film is drab, colourless, and boring. It is shot without any flair or effort to distinguish. There are hardly any establishing shots, leading to confusion when a close-up of one character suddenly cuts to a close-up of another character in an entirely different scene. It’s bizarre.
  • I actually have no problem with a jaded Batman killing people in theory, but it makes no sense in the context of the film. When the precedent is set that Batman has no problem with directly and indirectly killing people, his non-lethal warehouse action sequence in the final act is out of place. Why bother punching everyone when he could just shoot them?
  • Lois Lane continues to be a plot device rather than a character. She is a walking Superman magnet, used to draw him to wherever he’s required to be by the script.
  • Speaking of Lois, wouldn’t it be nice to explore how a relationship between her and Superman would work in the modern day? That would be interesting, so naturally there’s no time devoted to it in the film.
  • Batman deciding not to murder Superman because their mothers have the same name is ridiculous.
  • Hans Zimmer’s score is the most unremarkable work of his that I can think of.
  • Without saying anything of Eisenberg’s acting, what was Lex Luthor’s motivation? What was his goal? To kill Superman? Why? If the big CGI monster had succeeded in killing Superman, what then? The whole thing is just vacuous.
  • Lord of the Rings already did an amazing Cave Troll fight. Stop it, Zack.
  • Lex says that the titular fight will be “day versus night”. One would assume that the “day” is Superman, but hold on a second. There’s nothing “day” about this universe’s Superman. He’s not a heroic or charismatic saviour. He’s yet another brooding mass of muscle whose inhabitancy of earth the entire film up until this point has been criticising.
  • The plot thread about the morality surrounding Superman’s existence and actions is a really interesting one on paper, but it’s completely abandoned as soon as the time comes for Batman and Superman to fight.
  • Gal Gadot is a good-looking woman, but were we supposed to be excited when Wonder Woman showed up to fight at the end? Why? I haven’t read the comics, so naturally I’d expect to be informed as to who the hell she is and why I should root for her. But no, she just turns up for reasons, and all the important stuff will be explained in another film.
  • The Justice League cameos were awkwardly shoehorned in and had no place in the film.
  • The ending of the film is built entirely around a character sacrificing him/herself to save others. When the stinger just before the credits reveals that he/she isn’t actually dead and will be back in the next film, then what was the point of all the melodrama?
  • The overuse of slow motion is comical. If all of the slow motion shots were sped up to normal speed, the film’s running time would probably be reduced by half.
  • During the first half of the film, I just wanted something to actually happen. During the second half, I just wanted it to end.
  • Although I’m sick of Marvel films by now, at least they built their film franchise effectively, first introducing the major players in their own environments, before teaming them up. DC and Warner Bros. are trying to do a weird inverse version of that, and it’s a mess, because familiarity with characters just so happens to be something an audience needs in order to be invested in a film’s plot.
  • There’s a lot of stuff in the film that could have been handled more effectively in different hands. Zack Snyder as the ringleader of the DC Extended Universe is extremely worrying.

I went in with an open mind, willing to give the film a fair chance. I left disappointed, exhausted, and confused as to how something with such an interesting premise could bungle everything.