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Movie Review: Batman vs Superman vs Storytelling

Josh VanDyke • Apr 14, 2017 at 4:47 AM

When I heard Zack Snyder would be directing the new Superman franchise reboot, I mentally prepared myself for gloomy movies with extremely exaggerated action scenes. What I didn’t prepare for was a movie plot that was more disorganized than my garage.

For instance, in my garage you can find a foosball table, a lamp, a shovel and maybe a car. In Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, you get random dream sequences, clunky dialogue, a random Ben Affleck work out montage, and about 30 solid minutes of a superhero movie.

After thoroughly enjoying Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot (I’ve seen The Dark Knight at least 87 times by now), I was holding out hope that the Batman vs. Superman movie would at least be a refreshing take on two of the most idolized superheroes in American culture.

Unfortunately, Ben Affleck just isn’t a passable Bruce Wayne. He’s great in The Town and Good Will Hunting when he’s donning a Boston accent, but he just falls flat in the billionaire/vigilante role. In his defense, anyone who tried to duplicate what Christian Bale did with that character was likely to fall short.

In Dawn of Justice, Affleck’s grey-haired Bruce Wayne is a shell of a human being. After the death of his parents and the destruction of the city he loves, Wayne turns Batman into more of a fear-mongering bully with no rules than the morally conscience modern-day Robin Hood that we see in previous adaptations. It’s hard to make an alien seem more human than you, but that’s exactly how Batman’s character development leaves you throughout the movie.

Luckily for the audience, Snyder is actually fairly efficient with the backstory on Bruce Wayne. It’s his overzealous storytelling on Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor that left me checking the time through the first two-thirds of the movie.

The audience never gets much rationale as to why Lex Luthor hates Superman so much, other than he’s a crazy tech mogul with a superiority complex. As for Wonder Woman, the audience learns nothing of her origins or backstory, just that she once fought in Word War I, got tired of human beings’ natural cruelties and decided to hide amongst the mortals for more than one hundred years.

As for the film’s two main characters, I understand the need to set up a plausible scenario for Superman and Batman to want to beat the crap out of each other, but the fact that you have to wait two hours before it happens is just bad storytelling. Honestly, the movie could have saved itself a lot of criticism by simply calling itself “The Dawn of Justice.” By labeling a movie “Batman vs. Superman” you already tell the audience what’s going to happen, so the wait for the eventual fight scene doesn’t seem worth it in the end.

Instead, you get backstory after backstory to help close out the original Man of Steel movie, introduce new characters for future DC comic book reboots (Justice League), while also trying to sell a fight between the Son of Krypton and the Bat of Gotham. Needless to say, this movie has a lot going on all at once.

To help sell the fight, Snyder makes it painfully obvious that both Batman and Superman are similar in a lot of ways. Capes, glowing eyes, and a mother named Martha. Call me crazy, but if I was hell-bent on taking out an alien from another planet that I’ve spent the better part of two years plotting to destroy, the fact that his mother shares the same name as mine is not going to suddenly make him my best friend. But, that’s exactly what happens in the Dawn of Justice.

Maybe I had illusions that Batman vs. Superman would be more like 300 and less like Watchmen or maybe my previous experiences left me with a false sense of security that it would be impossible to make a depressing superhero movie. Unfortunately, Dawn of Justice is just another Zack Snyder installment of an underwritten and overproduced popcorn flick that leaves the audience feeling like the real losers after sitting through nearly three hours of it.

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