All right, here we go! This is a film that I’ve been hyped for ever since it was announced. Man of Steel is still one of the greatest comic book films of all time and I teeter between it and Avengers quite a lot. One day I may say that Avengers is better and the next I’ll go back to Man of Steel. It’s a tough choice since Man of Steel obliterates Avengers when it comes to action while Avengers has the better dialogue. At the time of this writing it’s safe to say that I’m going with Man of Steel, but who knows in the future I suppose. You may have heard, but this film has been critically panned and everyone is complaining about the film. I’m not surprised though. Ever since the very beginning of the film’s announcement, I knew that it would be too much for the general audience. This isn’t Deadpool, where the dirty jokes and over the top violence will keep the audience smiling. This isn’t even the Avengers where you have a joke every 30 seconds to make you smile. Batman V Superman is simply an action movie that pits the two most popular superheroes of all time against each other and it succeeds! It doesn’t need any fluff to keep you entertained. Technically my review has no real spoilers in my opinion…but I recommend watching the film first just in case.
Although, it was fun to see the coincidences as I walked into the theater. For starters, there were a few people who left the earlier showing about 30 minutes early. How do I know? Well, I got there around 2 and a half hours early to wait in the line with many other die hard DC fans. There was even some Street Fighter music blasting in the background. Then, when I walked into the film, there was a little kid kicking my seat the entire time. I’m guessing that a critic must have hired her to stop me from having the ultimate theater experience that I was expecting. All right, with the premise out of the way, let’s launch into the film.
Superman’s infamous battle with General Zod destroyed a large part of Metropolis and also crushed one of the big Wayne Enterprises buildings. There were thousands of fatalities as critics of the first film were quick to point out. I certainly don’t buy the reasoning that Superman could have lured Zod away. Both combatants were at around equal strength so good luck stopping fatalities in that situation. The neck snap is another issue altogether and Pokemon actually did a homage to the final fight, but with the correct ending in Mewtwo vs Genesect. An excellent movie in its own right as well. Either way, Batman blames Superman for what happened and has decided that the Man of Steel must die.
Superman is struggling with regaining his confidence because a lot of people are doubting him. He goes into a terrorist area to save Lois Lane, but then he’s framed for destroying a bunch of terrorists because they were shot while he was in the area. First, I have to point out how unrealistic this is. Superman doesn’t use guns so how was this really a set up? The only way it can possibly work is if the bodies were completely ground to dust so there was no evidence, but there was nothing said to even hint at this so it seems like people just ignored the evidence lying inside of the victims. The whole thing was just a little laughable.
A bomb also goes off just when Superman is about to make a speech to try and defend himself so that’s essentially the last straw for Batman. Once he gets his hands on some Kryptonite, then it’s time for the fight to begin. The third plot is about Lex Luthor as he continues to make a mockery of the original comic book character. This was one of the biggest miscasts that I’ve ever seen. This guy just can’t play Lex and he probably shouldn’t play any comic book character again after this. He’s always shaking and trying to have an epic moment, but they all fall flat.
Then from the trailer you know that the film ultimately ends with the three heroes taking on Doomsday. There was a lot of controversy about the trailer showing too much, but I always chuckle at the notion. A trailer can’t show too much. Ultimately, you want to know as much of the film as possible or at least the hype moments. Without Doomsday, the trailer would not have been quite as good. This way you get to be hyped up for a few months rather than a few minutes while watching the film. Throw in your spoilers, twists, after credit scenes, and everything else into the trailers. If it makes them more epic, then you’ve succeeded. Dialogue is a different matter. You want to have the big lines, but I feel like using the comedy lines in a trailer can be tricky since you know that they’re coming so you won’t laugh or even break a smile when you hear them again. I’d say that Marvel’s typically the guiltiest of this as DC doesn’t believe in jokes anyway.
Let’s take a look at some of the critical lines in the film and how they hold up. “Be their hero Clark, be their Angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be…….or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did.” The first part of the line is fairly good. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want to do in order to do what you should do. Of course, it also sounds a little extreme and part of Superman’s problem in this film is that he’s essentially letting himself become a bit of an angel figure for the people. As a Christian throughout his comic history, Superman definitely wouldn’t let himself be presented in that way. Still, the overall message of being a hero and a symbol to people is something that Superman’s always done and you would expect Martha to give him some sound advice here. Instead…she tells him that he can just not do that? To abandon Earth because he doesn’t owe them anything. Gee..I wouldn’t want her to be pep talking my Super Smash Bros crew! It’s similar to how Pa Kent told Superman to let everyone die in the first film. It just comes off as a terrible thing to say and maybe the intention is to show that the world has corrupted them too since that’s a bit of a moral here, but it’s a shame that it comes at the expense of these two characters. Corrupted Ma Kent was really terrible in this film.
Next line is Bruce Wayne’s iconic line about Clark Kent and the Daily Planet being hypocritical. *quote grabbed from IMDB* “The Daily Planet criticizing those who think they’re above the law is a little hypocritical, wouldn’t you say? Considering every time your hero saves a cat out of a tree, you write a puff piece editorial about an alien that could burn the whole place down.” Bruce Wayne is trying to sound really tough and menacing here, but the actual line doesn’t really make any sense if you ask me. Since when has Superman been above the law? I highly doubt that Bruce would have simply allowed a friend to have been killed in a terrorist war camp if he had been around. If he’s referring to Superman attacking General Zod, then he’s no better than the masses as there wasn’t another choice. All Superman has been doing is helping people and mitigating global disasters so Bruce just comes off as desperate here. He’s the one killing all of the random minions, not Superman. I never agreed with the line from the start, but then again…I tend to disagree with just about everything that Batman does in this film.
Finally, let’s get into Lex Luthor’s philosophical question. He states that if God is All Powerful, then he cannot be All Good. If he is All Good, then he is not All Powerful. After all, then why do bad things happen to people? Well, that’s a question you will likely get asked a lot as a Christian. It can get followed up by other gems like why give humans free will if they will just use it to commit atrocious crimes and if he knows all, then do our decisions even matter? Well, humanity without free will is not really much of anything. If we didn’t have free will, we’d basically be robots so we essentially wouldn’t exist. Free will is a necessity and it is the right thing to do, even if it means that life’s going to be hard for most of us. Your decisions naturally do matter. God knows what you will do, but you do not, nor does anyone else. You still have to live your life in the best way possible and you should strive to be the best Christian possible. Finally, God can be All Good and All Powerful without contradicting either statement. It’s well within his power to stop all wrong doings, but doing so would certainly violate free will and that would not be the right thing to do. It would be the easy move to make, but we have to learn from our mistakes and willingly choose to follow him. Otherwise the whole endeavor is pointless anyway.
Those were the big lines so now let’s tackle the more specific positives and negatives of the film. There are a bunch of them to get through here so lets start! An easy positive is certainly the fight scenes in the movie. I loved the battles in Man of Steel even if they were ahead of their time. Movie goers and critics aren’t quite ready for these high levels of CGI. As a huge video game fan, I’ve had time to get used to them and I feel like they more accurately show off the true powers of a titan like Superman than if they went for a more realistic hand to hand battle. In fact, I’d say that this style has severely made characters like Thor and Hulk look weaker than they should. At this point in time, I don’t even consider DC vs Marvel in terms of live action fighting capabilities to even be a debate. Superman would effortlessly crush the Avengers. Look at how Thor had to retreat from an array of bullets or how the Hulk took a lot of damage against the Abomination. Superman’s already fought opponents far stronger and faster than any Marvel counterparts. That’s why it’s important to have a good action scene.
The battles in Man of Steel and Batman V Superman are the best comic book fight scenes of all time. There is nothing even comparable or remotely close to it. The best Marvel fight scene to date is Kurse vs Thor and even that fight was still very quick and was over before you knew it. We don’t have a chance to have battles quite as insanely awesome as in Man of Steel for the most part since Batman can’t move at those speeds anyway, but the final fight with Doomsday is pretty close and it was a blast to see. Whenever there is an action scene in this film, it delivers.
I also greatly enjoyed the soundtrack. Wonder Woman’s theme is naturally the standout one. When she appears it really compliments her big scene of saving Batman. It’s an action scene with a sort of nostalgic undertone that’s hard to place, but gives the theme some depth. Batman’s theme is also fairly good although it’s a little less obvious that it’s his theme. There’s also what I call the “Justice League” theme that shows up for all of the big cameos and hype moments leading into Justice League. It was hard not to laugh when it first played as someone was looking at a photograph since it’s intense rock and felt a little out of place, but I’m always up for a good tune. It can play during a very emotional moment and I’d still be okay with it. There should never be silence when there could be a good theme playing instead. The whole film feels very epic and thematic as a result of these themes and since Man of Steel also delivered with a lot of incredible tunes (Or one good one that kept on repeating over and over again) in Man of Steel, I hope to see this trend continue in Justice League.
Let’s dip into the negatives for a second. We do get a random bath scene with Lois as she and Superman try to talk about the bad situation that he’s in, but it feels really unnecessary. Superman can’t even give her a decent response and just pulls a cop out by jumping in. Avengers didn’t have to use any phony gimmicks like this to try and grab ticket sales and you don’t need this scene. It’s just a waste of time and they could have used the extra time for more fight scenes or something. The romance also doesn’t work because Superman and Lois hardly talk to each other and don’t even seem all that close. It’s not the romance that we needed, but I suppose that it’s the one we deserved considering the Rotten Tomatoes score. (I admit that I’ll never grow out of that Dark Knight reference)
Let’s talk about our first main character, Lex Luthor. I knew that he’d be a disgrace to the great villain right when I saw the trailer and I was not wrong. My hunches are usually right on the money with this kind of thing. Why is it so hard to adapt a villain properly nowadays? Mandarin, Ultron, Joker, etc. Lately we just don’t know how to bring the big villains onto the big screen without embarrassing ourselves either a lot or a little. In Luthor’s case, he’s the worst villain yet and only Joker may give him a run for his money in Suicide Squad. Luthor is essentially a comic relief Luthor who may be a little smart, but he’s so over the top that it just doesn’t matter. One of the most face palm worthy moments was when he forced a senator type guy to eat a candy. Seriously…whyyyyyyyyy. There’s not much to say about how bad this guy is except for the fact that it looks like he’ll unfortunately return for some other titles in the future. I’m just glad that he didn’t end up getting any supernatural powers at the end. I was worried that the film was going to go there for a minute or two and that would have been truly devastating! We need an actor/personality switch for this guy pronto. It was the biggest failing of the movie and Lex is the worst character by far.
Time to talk about the big controversial character in the film..Batman! We grew up with a Batman who didn’t use guns and who didn’t kill people under any circumstances. This Batman doesn’t believe in that since he’s based on the Miller version who is jaded with the world and is willing to murder anyone in his way. Now, he’s not quite as extreme as I was worried he’d be, but Batman does murder/torture people. He uses guns openly to take out many soldiers in the future where morals have been pushed to the wayside and in the present he uses his Bat Car armaments as well as his plane to kill a lot of minions. Even in the hand to hand fight scene it’s heavily implied that he broke some people based on how they landed. This Batman is pretty petty at times as well. In one scene a minion managed to stab him so Batman quickly picked the guy up and grabbed the spear so he could stab him through a wall. That ought to teach him eh! Alfred even lets us know that Batman was not always like this, but things have changed. It seems that Robin was the last straw.
What’s supposed to make you feel better about this is the fact that Batman only murders criminals. Think of it this way. Batman has finally become the vigilante that the cops always feared he would be and they actually support him this time. Yes, the cops are finally on Batman’s side for once now that he is willing to cross the line and deal out lethal punishment. We even see the aftermath of when he breaks into a lab and let’s just say that the fight seemed to have gotten pretty deadly. Again, the film tried to show us that we can sympathize with him because the people that he tortures by branding a logo on their body are the worst of the worst from the criminals. In the end, that’s not how Batman should operate and slowly but surely, the films are trying to make our superheroes cross the line more and more by placing them in tough moral situations. What happened to Superheroes making the right decisions no matter the cost?
Still……Batman was pretty likable. He just feels more like a villain or a hero who is willing to become a villain in order to seek vengeance. See, let’s not take Batman at his word about how he needs to protect the future by murdering Superman. He just wants to kill the guy because Superman destroyed a lot of his employees and friends during the fight in Man of Steel. He feels like he owes something to the fallen and he has to avenge them no matter the cost. No matter how you look at it, revenge is really the only thing that he’s after and that can still be a compelling reason to follow. I’ve always thought that the concept of doing something evil and beforehand knowing that it was so in order to potentially save others even if they don’t know it to be an interesting plot point. It’s been used several times like Homura’s final actions in Madoka Magica Rebellion or the Question’s attempt to kill Lex Luthor over in Justice League. Still, when you really cut to the chase, willingly committing such an act makes you just as guilty as any other criminal. A sin by any other name is still a sin. It’s fun to follow Batman’s story arc from his perspective and that’s what makes the first half so interesting, but I was certainly never in doubt that I had chosen the right side with Superman.
Batman’s Bruce Wayne persona was handled pretty well. He attends events as part of his strategy and never goes overboard with trying to prove that he’s not Batman. It’s pretty futile anyway as just about everyone seems to know who he is. The last straw was the fact that a certain villain knows his identity and tricks him consistently throughout the film. I mean really? Isn’t Batman supposed to be some kind of detective? He certainly gets suckered a lot here and even Wonder Woman is able to steal his encryption device with ease. She does have super speed which gives her a bit of an advantage, but you feel bad for Batman. Things really don’t go his way at first. He does believe that he’s fighting for the human race in his justifications though so at least he gets the cool Rocky type montage as he works out to prepare for his fist fight with Superman.
Superman is another interesting figure. He’s still not sure what he should be doing. He’s used by multiple characters and he refuses to ever come to his own defense when people accuse him. Superman’s extremely out of character and the fact that he so openly talks about killing Batman when, let’s face it, the villain’s not going to keep his end of the deal is just sad. I mean come on guys. I could write a better Superman when I was three. He also really plays up the savior aspect although part of it is the fact that the director loved to use slow-mo cam whenever possible. Superman’s always striking a pose of looking up at the sky or slowly floating down from it. When he arrives at the court hearings, he stays in the air for a few good minutes so everyone could see him before he landed. I mean, the facial expressions can crack you up a lot during the movie, but it’s unintentional. It’s definitely hilarious to see Batman and Superman constantly glaring at each other like in the future segment. I remember people making fun of that a lot when it first came out in the trailer.
The film still got Superman’s power levels right for the most part. The whole taking a hostage at gun point should have absolutely no effect on someone with Superman’s level of speed and it doesn’t. Superman is able to take Doomsday into space and honestly that probably would have been the end of it if the government hadn’t intervened, but that did a good job of showing off Superman’s high level of regeneration when next to the sun. Superman’s a hard guy to keep down after all and he’s still the strongest comic book character of all time. He’s also the most morally sound one, which is something that I wish the film had showed a little more. His line about how nobody stays good on this planet is a terrible one. Superman’s whole character arc is that he always does the right thing no matter how tough it is. Don’t start having him admit that he may not be able to succeed or that he’ll eventually be forced into making the wrong call. That’s just not Superman.
Wonder Woman got the biggest role from the superheroes after Batman and Superman. She had the best theme in the film and she gets a good role in the final battle with Doomsday. She seems fairly strong physically so I hope to see more of that in Justice League. I’m still not crazy about her using a sword since I feel like it undermines her strength a bit like with Thor, but she is evidently still powerful enough to restrain Doomsday even if just for a little bit so that’s a good start and she has a lot of speed. She was definitely portrayed well here and she doesn’t have to have as much drama as the other two. She was actually having fun during the whole film until she finally decided to step in and fight. What were the other two doing? Well, Batman was brooding a lot and getting ready to possibly die while Superman was doubting himself and feeling sad the entire time. It’s easy to see who is handling the situation best here. Although, I do wish that Wonder Woman had been told about the dream of the future instead of Batman just saying that the League would be needed soon.
Let’s not forget the side characters like Lois Lane and Perry. Lois was pretty good as she did her best to exonerate Superman and put herself in the line of fire a lot. It did ultimately make things dicey for Superman, but a reporter’s got to do what she’s got to do I suppose. She came through in the clutch for the team near the end when she revealed the truth about Superman’s cryptic words. She still may not seem a whole lot like the Lois from the comics, but she’s a good character. I actually liked Perry as well even if he’s comically bad. He doesn’t stand for the right things anymore and doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers. Neither does the government so maybe everyone just doesn’t mind letting themselves get stopped by the powers of a profitable company. Perry was always giving Clark Kent the wrong advice so we’ll see if he changes his tune after the heroes helped save the world or if he’ll hey even more extreme. Either way, he was pretty entertaining though.
This film gives us a lot of glimpses into the future of what DC is planning. We get cameos for three other Justice League members. One of them is horribly miscast though. Unfortunately he has black hair. Not blond and not red, but black. Seriously? You can’t even properly get a character’s appearance right anymore? Let’s just say that a certain TV show did really well with this guy so I would expect better from a big budget film although I had already called the fact a long time ago that the show wouldn’t be surpassed here. The suit and actor look much better in the show and people are already very used to that version so it’s going to be a little dicey. Another character’s only cameo was a lot of yelling so no comment there. As for the third, he’s not miscast per say, but he looked terrible since he seemed to be confused in his own element and he was very slow. The scene was horribly filmed for some reason. Well…I’m sure they’ll look better in their own films….probably. I just want Green Lantern at this point so he can keep everyone in check.
Batman also gets a vision of the future or a possible future. There are many theories about this and I can think of at least 6 myself, but that’s practically a cop out so let’s go with the most likely one. Darkseid is going to wage a war on Earth and without the Justice League in existence, what will happen is that they will take over and they will convince/trick Superman into joining them by framing Batman for murdering Lois Lane based on the whole “You took her from me!” line. That’s why Batman is told that he needs to form the League. If the League is available from the get go, then this will never happen so I don’t expect the scene to directly ever come into being. Since the League will be there to prevent this from happening in the first place, I’m confident that Darkseid’s war won’t be as successful. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if the films want to use the really old and beaten Superman is evil trope, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and will say that they avoid it this time.
This film is about two hours and a half do it decides to use the first 100 or so minutes on build up before the actual fight starts. I’m fine with this because the set up is where you start to get the hype going. Naturally, both characters don’t get along and they do meet before the actual fight. Batman’s plot is very interesting to follow and the whole movie went by incredibly fast. I would have easily watched the film even if it was another hour or two longer. If anything, that would have been nice to have explored more options, set up Justice League a bit more, or just to give us another Batman vs Superman fight.
Their fight happens near the end of the film and it’s pretty hype. Naturally, there is a ton of plot hax here, but as I mentioned before the film, I didn’t really care who won. Batman has his prep time meme that I love so much and if he won it would give his fans more ammo to use against Superman in all future debates. I’m fine with Superman winning as well since he’s physically got the massive edge and he could beat Batman in a heartbeat. Either way I would probably call plot hax. Suffice it to say, Batman does get prep time for this fight and there is a clear winner. There is no tie or a similar cop out like that, which I was thrilled about. Nothing’s worse than seeing the film just take the easy way out so that they don’t anger the fans. *coughIron Man vs Thor. Vision vs Thor. Thor vs Hulk.cough* Either way, I think you’ll be satisfied with the fight, even considering that one of the fighters wasn’t doing all that much fighting which made the fight a little more lopsided.
Afterwards, the plan to save someone was a little sketchy though. Considering that there were only about 5 minutes and how close the whole thing was, it was a super risky plan. In fact, it’s a plan that should not have worked. The instant that everyone started to get attacked outside, I’m pretty sure that the hostage would have been destroyed. It certainly made more sense for Superman to have done the whole thing on his own, but superheroes are typically lucky I suppose. They only aren’t when it’s relevant to the plot. Whenever a villain tells the hero to freeze and they basically say “lol no” as they run towards the villain and punch him out, it seems like plot hax. The villain could have easily just have shot and the whole thing would not have boded well for the heroes. Still, it’s just something that happens I suppose. On a slightly smaller level of plot hax, I have to say that it was iffy how easily Lex infiltrated the alien ship. Kryptonian tech is a lot better than that so it was a bit of a disappointing scene.
Doomsday certainly did not disappoint as the big villain. It would have been awesome if he had talked like in the Justice League show, but maybe next time. He adapts so you never know if he’ll appear again someday. He made for a great villain even if the fight had some plot hax with how Superman suddenly stopped using his speed and focused on power. It was a credit to his endurance though since Superman was pretty exhausted when the fight first started. Doomsday’s great energy blasts were certainly thrilling to see on the big screen and I look forward to seeing how Darkseid is handled. I definitely trust these guys to accurately show off his design. Picture Thanos and Apocalypse, but even cooler.
Finally, I’ll also give DC credit for not making this film overly violent and gritty like their animated films. I actually didn’t find the film all that violent at all since it was basically bloodless like The Dark Knight. In fact, I’d say that the Dark Knight was more violent thanks to the pencil scene. There was nothing like that here which would make you wince or look away. Most of it is very stylized and that’s why I would actually say that they handled the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents a lot better than any other film or show. They died in basically the least violent way possible. The climax is all hype as well with terrific action and no unnecessary elements.
DC vs Marvel has always been a big debate through the years. DC has always won on the animated front even if Marvel has the current edge while Marvel had the edge in live action. Man of Steel is the greatest comic book film live action-wise, but Marvel would win through sheer numbers. Well, that’s no longer the case. With Batman V Superman in the books now, the tides have turned and DC now wins in this area as well. I don’t see Marvel mounting a comeback..ever really. Unless DC goes on a huge downwards slide, these two films should be able to keep them afloat and the rivalry has finally ended. With this, DC beats Marvel in every area under which they compete. Good games Marvel. You can keep your high RT scores and big universe, but I’ll take DC’s cheat codes of throwing in their 3 biggest characters without all of the individual movies and set up. If it works, why not right?
That’s not to say that all of DC’s films are going to be fantastic after this though. I still think that Suicide Squad is going to be quite bad and the trailer still looks really sad. That is a film that I have absolutely no hopes for, but at least the bar is set really low so there’s always the slim shot that it could surprise me. There’s the possibility right? Marvel’s films are consistently good so I’ll give them credit there. DC’s are all over the place with hit or miss titles, but when they hit, they hit quite effectively!
Overall, Batman V Superman was a blast. Honestly, I doubt I even came close to touching on everything here, but the film review really would go on forever otherwise so if you have any specific questions about something that was not addressed, feel free to leave a comment. I still think that the film should have been called Batman Vs Superman, but I guess the S got lost in the budget cuts. I really look forward to Justice League and seeing Superman get to team up with some of the other heroes. He needs to prove that he’s faster than the Flash and stronger than any other character. That’s part of what makes him the ultimate hero, but they also need to make him nicer and more talkative like the Superman that we know. Rather than brooding and striking poses as if he was Batman, Superman needs to show his leadership qualities as well. As for Batman, he needs to start murdering less. It’s possible that I’m over analyzing the ending, but I feel like he is starting to show some development there so that would be awesome if true. Don’t listen to the bad reviews. Critics/General Audience viewers just weren’t ready for this one yet. You have to realize that the action scenes and plot move at a very quick pace and a lot of things happen so if it’s overwhelming for you, then you may want to take a few more months to prepare yourself first. Play some memory games and Chess battles first to warm yourself before walking in. Then prepare yourself for epicness and a next gen experience! Oh and I almost forgot, no worries if you were sad about the property damage and loss of life last time because the character makes sure to constantly remind us that the areas where they fight are uninhabited so there are basically no fatalities this time around. See, the heroes still care about the little guys even when the world is at stake. That’s what being a hero truly is!
Update 12/2/2019 I realized that I had not actually put any film with the 10 star title. This one claims victory in that arena with a slight win over Infinity War and Man of Steel.