Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ugh, where to begin?

Well, let’s just get it out of the way up-front. Last night, I went to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I went in with very low expectations. Extremely low. And I still left disappointed and frustrated with DC in general and Zack Snyder in particular.

102597285-Batman-vs-Superman.1910x1000Part of my frustration stems from the muddled story, such as it is. The movie picks up two years after the events of Man of Steel, where Superman trashes Metropolis and kills General Zod with the neck-snap heard ’round the world. Some people have embraced Superman as a sort of Messiah figure. Others, however, are understandably nervous about having such a powerful being stomping through the world, righting wrongs and answering to nobody. One of those individuals is Bruce Wayne, who in an ironic twist has developed a problem with someone dishing out vigilante justice outside of the law. But Bruce is also after Lex Luthor for…reasons, as is a mysterious woman (who unsurprisingly turns out to be Wonder Woman). Luthor, in the meantime, is orchestrating events so that eventually Batman and Superman will come to blows, which they do, only then they decide to become friends because of a ridiculous coincidence that director Zack Snyder treats like a life-altering epiphany, so Luthor then unleashes {—–PLOT REDACTED DUE TO SPOILERS—–}.

Ahem. Sorry. Lost control for a second there. I’m good now. Seriously. Let’s start the dissection.

I really did not care for this movie, and there are many reasons why. For starters, this is just another step down the “WE’RE TOTALLY DARK AND GRITTY AND REAL, YOU GUYS!” path that the DCCU seems committed to stumbling down. I kind of get why they’re locked into this mode of storytelling. The last time they tried to do a light and fun movie, we got Ryan Reynolds’s Green Lantern train-wreck. And the Christopher Nolan Batman movies were dark and really, really good. So clearly, all superhero movies must be dark and brooding.

Only that’s clearly not the case here. The reason why Nolan’s movies worked is because Batman is a dark character. Brooding works for him. It doesn’t for Superman. This is why Man of Steel was such a mess as well. Superman doesn’t do dark that well. He’s called the Big Blue Boyscout for a reason, but the current movie iteration of Superman lacks the moral character that makes him interesting. Superhero movies need more than just one tone and worldview. It’s the contrasts that make them fun.

Marvel seems to get that. They’re willing to go goofy, light, fun, and still tackle some heavy themes from time to time when the story and character can handle it. Even the DC television multiverse gets it. Arrow started out as a very dark show, but The Flash didn’t follow in its tonal footsteps. The folks in charge of the DCCU really need to get it into their heads that they shouldn’t keep doubling down on the grimdark storytelling.

Second, the story in this is a convoluted mess. It’s like the writers took two iconic Batman and Superman stories (you can guess which two by looking at Batman’s costume and who the DC trinity winds up fighting at the end) and slammed them together, plus they had to slather in a lot of set-up for the rest of the Justice League and the eventual arrival of Darkseid to boot. It’s simply too much, and the movie buckles under the weight of it. It’s pretty clear that DC feels like they have to play catch-up to the Marvel franchise, and they’re suffering for it. They could have easily stretched this movie into several and it would have been a whole lot better.

Plus I can’t quite wrap my head around Lex Luthor, who Jesse Eisenberg plays with a grating, spastic energy that made me want to pull out my own hair. He’s focused on the problem of theodicy (which JR Foresteros, a blogger and fellow pastor, points out doesn’t quite fit in this movie). And yet I can’t figure out what his problem was. He clearly doesn’t like Superman, but it’s never really clear why. He wants Batman dead, but never really explains why. And yet he seems to know, somehow, that Darkseid is coming and that this is going to be a problem, which makes me wonder why he’s so intent on destroying the very people who might, you know, stop the dark lord of Apokolips.

Worst of all, though, is the fact that it’s pretty clear that no one making these movies actually gets the characters in them. Zack Snyder clearly doesn’t understand who and what Superman is and what he stands for. Look, I get that the first movie was Superman trying to find his way. That’s an interesting story that could be told. But by this point in the overarching story, Superman has to be the Big Blue Boyscout. He has to be the moral center of the nascent Justice League, and he isn’t. He’s not really much of anything. And watching Batman use guns so much? Kill so much? That was problematic too. I get that in this storyworld, Batman is a lot more jaded and cynical, but the guns? Really? It seemed like such a betrayal of who Batman is.

Look, a fight between Batman and Superman can be entertaining, but it’s not just about Superman having power and Batman…well, not. It’s also about the clash of ideologies that the two heroes represent. And in this movie, neither hero really stood for anything. What little they did embody were just reflections of each other. It left the overall conflict just flat and noisy and filled with CGI explosions.

Now that’s not to say that there weren’t glimmers of hope. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was awesome. In the Doomsday fight, when she actually smiled at getting kicked to the ground? Loved it! And Ben Affleck was a great Batman and a great Bruce Wayne. I was worried about him Daredevilling another franchise, but he’s not the problem here. And there are some interesting questions that this movie raised about Batman: why is Wayne Manor a burned out wreck? What happened to Robin? Is it possible that Jared Leto’s Joker isn’t quite who we thought he was?

I don’t know. I’m planning on seeing this again in a few weeks. Maybe a second viewing will help me untangle all of this. For now, though, I’ll say this: the real winner of Batman and Superman fighting is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel is the real winner in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Click To Tweet



    I share many of your thoughts on the movie, but I did want to respond to a couple of your points with my perspective.

    1) Batman isn’t after Lex as much as he is after the Kryptonite, which he wants because he needs a silver bullet to use against Superman and other Kryptonians if/when needed. Lex just happens to have the Kryptonite that Batman wants.

    2) When Lex sends Superman off to kill Batman, I’m thinking it’s for a couple possible reasons. Either he’s angry at Batman for stealing the Kryptonite (Batman left a batarang in the empty case for some reason). Or, because Lex knows Batman has the Kryptonite, he’s sending Superman after him in hopes that Batman will use the Kryptonite to kill Superman, thus doing Lex’s job for him.

  2. Holy Parallel Universe Batman.
    Did we see the same movie?

    I went in with very high expectations and left feeling well satisfied.

    It seems the reasons you disliked it were many of the reasons I liked it. (I also adored Man of Steel) Different Tastes I guess.

    My polar-opposite review at

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