[Editor’s Note: There be no spoilers here. Unless you’ve never seen a single trailer for this movie. In that case, you’ve been living under a rock and deserve all the spoils the world has to offer.]
It’s no secret I’ve been the island’s biggest skeptic (to put it mildly) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Well, I was wrong. Wrong! Against all odds, against all hope, I now do believe in miracles. In fact, I was brought close to tears. While it is not a perfect superhero(es) film by a mile, the one most significant thing it gets right is that it makes you feel like a dork with a flashlight under the blanket or a loiterer in the aisle of Barnes and Noble with a graphic novel concealing facial recognition.
This certainly is no children’s film. Yeah we’re looking at you, Schumacher. It’s pretty darn violent and I’m not just talking about seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered again. Many impalings occur and there’s also a very near and dear nip slip from Amy Adams‘s Lois Lane–who remains a tad under-utilized but still…perky.
We open with a recap of Superman and General Zod reducing Metropolis to rubble in Man of Steel and we learn Bruce Wayne suffered traumatic losses in a non-too-subtle evocation of 9/11. From there, things take off and we arrive at the most anticipated comic book slugfest in history. (No, I’m not ignoring Captain America and his Civil War but that isn’t as mainstream-ly recognizable.)
Easter eggs are dropped aplenty and it will take intermediate-level comic book fans to comprehend them all in their entirety. During the end credits, “normies” will be asking their geek friends who’s who, what was that thing, etc.
(FYI: Unless something happens in Hollywood at the last minute, there isn’t any post credits scene in this film, or at least in the preview screening I attended. “You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.”)
Speaking of eggs, the main problem with director Zack Synder‘s Man of Steel was that it was hard to spoil since there wasn’t much worth spoiling in it. Not the case in the origins of this league of justice. All the questions the trailers proposed are answered, in one way or another. No cop outs. And even more questions pop up for viewers to mull over until the next chapter.
But, no need to fear of over-stuffing. Every character (and crowd pleasing cameo) is brought out properly and as organically as can be. Especially Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot actually doesn’t do much, but she has big eyes and a lovely measured accent that gives her a chic, resilient presence. It doesn’t hurt that her entrance as our favorite Amazonian warrior just totally rocks too. This is also the point that the score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL really cuts loose with a vaguely Middle Eastern guitar riff as her theme, which makes the composer’s trademark pounding drums seem as fresh as a nocturnal inception.
Poor Doomsday is actually the weakest link, but by the time that villain pops up, what the hell… We’re already sold on the ridiculously extravagant fighting, carnage, and in what appears to be this franchise’s cross to bear, heavy municipal destruction. In fact, Doomsday is the only thing we prematurely passed judgment on correctly. He still kinda looks like a Peter Jackson cave troll.
Sure to be divisive though is Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor. The actor does indeed play him like a prescription medicine-less Mark Zuckerberg and while I thought it worked as an inversion of Kevin Spacey’s interpretation of Superman’s arch-nemesis in Bryan Singer‘s equally controversial 2006 effort, others will find the performance too twitchy.
The biggest relief is Ben Affleck. He may not be our favorite Bruce Wayne / Batman, and for some reason he plays the character with a really pronounced underbite, but he’s believable, alternately pretending to scope out the Metropolis ladies at a library opening, or pounding and dragging big monster truck tires around in his personal cross fit gym. He’s haunted, glowering and moody because he has to be: It appears a very close, unnamed comrade was killed by some maniac in a clown costume. And, he’s plagued by a “flash” of a nightmare seeming to come from the “dark side” of his unconsciousness. Trolls, leave Affleck alone and go shit on Agents of SHIELD. How the hell is this show still on the air? Talk about sleepily sluggish with no narrative momentum to give a crap about.
It will be interesting to see how Superman is handled furthermore. It’s been widely discussed that he may not be able to sustain his own movie. Man of Steel and its over-length is a prime example. Granted, we really didn’t need to see another iteration of General Zod–or at least that much of him–and if they had just fucking brought in Brainiac, maybe things would have turned out much differently.
However, in this entry, Henry Cavill, and Superman / Clark Kent, seem to find comfort, footing, gravitas, and most importantly, a certain sense of wry humor. Supporting character or not, Superman may have finally found his rightful place in this era.
My film critic colleagues seem hell bent on smashing and bashing, but time will be kinder once the zeitgeist of the 2010s is history. This film will be regularly re-streamed online yet kept a guilty secret like pr0n, and the douche-y bourgeoisie will undoubtedly be using the R-rated Blu-ray to show off the abilities of their new curved 4K televisions once they’re done uploading pics of their 1% dinner.
In a post-Nolan world, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally the DC Comics movie we needed from the under-rated bang bang stylistics of Zack Snyder. And whether we are aware of it or not, it is also the one we very much deserve.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters everywhere.