"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" has a lot riding on it. Since the film has been announced, it was met with criticism based on Snyder’s take on Superman in “Man of Steel” and the intent to create an entire cinematic universe in one movie — as opposed to Marvel, which had five before bringing any of their heroes together in Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” in 2012. This comparison between Marvel and DC movies is where the criticism becomes unfair.
Although it is indeed a movie based on DC Comics' most famous characters — Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) — it is not in the vein of Marvel’s movies, nor is it pretending to be. The universe Zack Snyder created with “Man of Steel” is ever-present in “Batman v Superman,” with muted colors, grim themes and blockbuster action, but it is because of the stark difference between the two types of superhero movies that makes this one a success.
As much as many may wish that the DC Extended Universe was made more colorful and “heroic,” it wasn’t, and an audience cannot critique a movie on what they wish it would be, but rather on what it is. What "Batman v Superman" is, is a fascinating and unique take on how ordinary people would react to a superhuman from space that — though saving the day (with a neck snap) — caused irreparable destruction and inadvertently caused millions of deaths. It is an insight into the confusion, controversy and perhaps crisis of faith that a god on Earth would bring, with fitting action between. This movie is dark, but it is a contrast that sets it apart from the wide spectacle of similar movies now hitting theaters.
In the wake of the massive destruction in Superman’s fight with Zod in “Man of Steel,” many are more than skeptical about an all powerful god-like being taking justice in his own hands. Batman, who was indirectly affected by the Metropolis fight, is one of these people. This version is more brutal, psychotic and obsessed than any Batman we have before seen on screen. He is a calculated and unstoppable force when given screen time, and many will declare that Affleck is the definitive Batman and Bruce Wayne. If there are problems with this movie, Affleck is not one of them.
Superman, however, leaves something to be desired. No one has ever looked more like Superman than Cavill, but he is certainly a shadow of previous incarnations like Christopher Reeve in terms of characterization. This version of Superman is still very much an alien in regards to his personalization, but I believe this to be an intentional part of the script, rather than Cavill’s acting. We see hints of touching emotions throughout the film, but this is not the Superman that many will remember from previous adaptations or renditions.
I would be remiss not to mention how great Wonder Woman was in this movie. The only part in the movie where the entire theater clapped was her dynamic entrance. She is a warrior through-and-through, and she uses her limited screen time to great effect. Gadot manages to make her mystery-woman character interesting and could not make for a better Wonder Woman. For a film that had so much to lay the foundation for, “Batman v Superman” has without a doubt made the best on-screen heroine in history, and will hype all viewers for her solo film in 2017.
Finally, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor brings something completely new to a 75-year-old character. It is a polarizing portrayal. He is wildly eccentric and depicted more as a young genius madman than a scheming businessman, which creates a great contrast with Cavill’s Superman. Amy Adams' second take as Lois Lane is empowering and shows much better just how fearless and smart she is as a reporter, as opposed to just a damsel in distress and love interest for Superman. Similarly, Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is a worthy mentor to Batman, brilliantly portrayed as a true partner that has not been really seen before.
The audience usually knows what they are going to get when seeing a Zack Snyder directed movie, and, as expected, he gives a great but short fight with Batman and Superman, once Luthor has finalized his plan. Snyder then graces the audience with a spectacle of a final battle, featuring the Trinity of the DC Universe. The CGI looks great and the score, by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL, is set up perfectly to the action, but can be distracting.
The biggest problem for many, though, is the setup for the future of the franchise. “Batman v Superman” is very overt in setting up for the bigger picture, but a majority of people that see this movie will be too excited to care. It will enthuse comic fanatics, but a large number of people will unfortunately be left confused, apathetic and possibly even bored in some scenes — a significant factor for the movie receiving such disputatious reviews.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is one of the most controversial movies I have ever encountered. Some will really enjoy it and some will hate it, but there is truly no way to tell until you yourself have walked into the theater and experienced it. If you are a DC fan, you owe it to yourself to see this movie. If you are a skeptic, then adjust your expectations and maybe you will see the movie for what it is, and not what you wish it to be. This is modern mythology in the making.