Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is in many ways a dream come true for superhero fans. Unfortunately, the director also allowed the disjointed nature of dreams into the finished product, from confusing dream sequences to Warner Bros’ dreams of matching Marvel’s success. The fight that moviegoers have anticipated for years certainly satisfied, but once again Hollywood failed to realize that doing too many things at once is the equivalent of script-Kryptonite.
The central question of Batman v Superman is intriguing: How would humanity realistically react to a god-like being who walks — or possibly flies like a silver bullet — among the civilian population? Billionaires Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) view Superman (Henry Cavill) as a living time bomb. Reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who knows the Man of Steel is Clark Kent, is torn on the issue along with the rest of the population.
“God takes sides,” Luthor says to Superman at one point. “If God is all powerful, then he cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all powerful. And neither can you be. They need to see the fraud you are with their own eyes — the blood on your hands.”
When Snyder’s film focuses on Luthor’s core claim about the nature of God, it works. The problem, however, comes in when Batman v Superman doubles as a vehicle to fast-track a future Justice League franchise. Instead doing one thing and doing it well, Warner Bros. tried to chase after rival Marvel Studios’ success and ended up with a frustrating, convoluted movie.
Many reviews lament the dreary tone of the film, but it should be noted that tone has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Affleck portrays the darkest big-screen adaptation of Bruce Wayne ever, but he may be the best part of the movie. He character is fleshed out, people understand his worldview, and he is convincing when he puts on the cowl.
Lex Luthor by comparison has no real backstory, his motivations are unclear, and Eisenberg imbues the villain with idiosyncrasies that come off as a smoke screen for uninspired writing.
In short, Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the theaters for individuals who are already invested in the genre, but a complete toss-up for everyone else. Those who grew up with Batman and Superman action figures battling out differences on a bunk-bed should probably check it out. Everyone else should send Warner Bros. a message about convoluted scripts by staying home.
Rating 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Original CBC movie review by Douglas Ernst