After Man of Steel was unable to meet expectations, Warner Bros. switched things around a bit by putting the sequel on hold and pushing Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice as the next release in the DC Universe. It’s a weird situation to be in, but finding a way to get Batman into the fray as soon as possible can’t ever really be a bad idea. Then again, when you look at who’s directing it, I don’t know if even his introduction can help as much as they need it to.
Picking up after the events seen during the conclusion of Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice raises the stakes as a more vicious Batman (Ben Affleck) sets his sights on stopping Superman (Henry Cavill) before there’s a chance for things to get even more out of hand. The rage that’s growing in the heart of Batman can only be rivaled by what someone like Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has in mind. While no one can truly say what’s in the future plans of the son of Krypton, the plans of Luthor may prove to be even more dangerous for mankind.
Batman V. Superman starts off solid enough even with the same scene from Bruce Wayne’s childhood playing a significant part of it. Just based on what’s seen during this period, there looks to be some legitimate potential for success. This portion does give the film the epic feel that one would anticipate at first, but cracks in the armor begin to show themselves and damage your sense of hope once you realize this is being mishandled.
The reason for Dawn of Justice falling apart here is due to Zack Snyder feeling the need to have it all linger for far too long. Eventually, it’s easy to see that nothing is actually happening at this point and it takes an awful long time for the film to move forward and finally start to center itself in order to focus on the story. You can understand why some films take their time getting into their stories, but having this remain idle for such a long period of time wears on you and takes a large chunk of the joy out of what is being shown to us.
When this happens, films almost always tend to feel empty after a while. This is why Dawn of Justice is never able to fully recover even after it attempts to straighten itself out. I know this would have made the movie significantly shorter, but it doesn’t really need to be two and a half hours anyway. Chopping off thirty or so minutes could have made this more entertaining while also giving the movie a chance to build some kind of connectivity that could carry it through.
Since he’s the director, this failure falls squarely into the lap of Snyder. Just knowing what it had to offer, Batman V. Superman deserved a better director. It’s difficult to understand how someone with such a shaky cinematic history gets to make something this big for a studio that hasn’t really had any financial successes over the past year or so outside of maybe Creed. The DC Universe is an imperative piece of their future and allowing someone as ill-equipped as Snyder to jump start it with this and the upcoming Justice League film is proving to be an incredibly bad idea.
Another bad idea was casting Henry Cavill as Superman. I’ve said this for years now, so it’s no shock that he delivered another forgettable performance. As soon as he hangs up his computer generated red cape, I’m certain his days of being cast as a lead actor in significant movies will be over. His star will fade like Sam Worthington’s did and like Jai Courtney’s is. As I essentially said in my 2011 review of Immortals, Cavill is more suited to play Robocop than he is Superman. Even though he looks the part, he still lacks the charisma and personality to star as an effective version of this iconic superhero.
I’m assuming his weaknesses as an actor is why Batman V. Superman puts the spotlight onto Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight more than anyone else. I was originally against Affleck being cast in this role, but luckily, he proved me wrong. As far as balance, he played both Bruce Wayne and Batman as well as I could have hoped. This made me want to see him star in a movie worth what he brings to the role of Batman. Whether it’s Justice League or a solo Batman flick, I’m open to seeing what else he can do.
Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as a newer version of Lex Luthor also managed to sneak up on me. I had my doubts about this casting choice as well, but it works much better than I could have imagined. He plays a true menace here that makes you want to know just what he has in his plans. Technically, you already know what his biggest plans are if you watched those spoiler filled trailers, but that doesn’t take away from what he does in the movie itself.
The other important character that people will want to see is Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot. My take on her performance is awkward, because while I think she proved to be suitable selection, she didn’t have much to do. Her character could have been removed completely and the movie would have been essentially the same with a couple of small rewrites. It’ll be interesting to see how her stand alone movie will do. If that fails, I doubt she will be the reason.
The idea behind this picture is an exceptional one, but the execution is not able match it. Even if you still have Henry Cavill bringing his fruitless performance to it, this would have likely been better if the man behind the camera was replaced by someone with more skill, substance and vision. From my perspective, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice turned out to be a failure when it’s clear that didn’t have to be one. In a way, that makes it even worse for audiences and for the studio that invested so much money into it.
If people choose to see this in droves like I think they will, it may do well financially, but there’s a strong possibility that they won’t be too fond of what they see. If that’s the case, how do you justify giving Snyder a chance to direct Justice League? How would you sell that to the people? What would be the chances of people giving that movie a shot after being disappointed? Those are questions that Warner Bros. will have to answer themselves. All I know is that there will be a large amount of money being invested into something that will likely fail if it gets made. That’s tough.
Director: Zack Snyder
Film Length: 151 minutes
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 3/103/10