BlokeBusting The Essentials #50: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Your deep dive into the top 100 Superhero films of all time!
#50: Batman Vs Superman
What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate…
We’re back! And I bet many of you are wondering how we went right from #100 to #50. Well, there’s a perfectly good explanation. This list’s only 3 films long! Ok, not really. Really we wanted to give you guys a taste of the whole list without you needing to wait until mid-year before hitting any of the films that you’re waiting to hear about. Essentially, moving forward, we will be going back and forth in the list. Our next (re)review will be #99, then #49, and so on. So don’t you worry, we’ve got this!
Right. This film was covered by myself and my podcasting partner on my podcast when it originally came out. At the time, we did not care for it. The plot holes were many, the acting felt “meh” (with a couple of glaring exceptions) and we left the cinema feeling very let down. For this list, we’re reviewing the Ultimate Edition (the 3 hour Director’s Cut), so I sat down to watch it once more. Did it change my mind? Well…
Not really. My issues with this film are centered around a few things.
1) Lex as a character
2) Superman’s struggle (or lack thereof)
3) The Final Fight
4) Not. Enough. Wonder Woman.
I’ll go over these in order. Mostly for the sake of not wanting to re-write the list, but also because that’s what you do.
This version of Luthor could have been really cool. Jesse Eisenberg is a fun actor who has done fantastic work. And I really did enjoy his take on what Luthor would act like. He’s the smartest guy in the room all the time, he’s stuck dealing with people who are far beneath him mentally but hold the power to stop him. Of course he would be both aloof and blunt. He doesn’t need to care what others really think but he still is willing to put on the charade to get the things he needs. And yet…
His actions are dumb. Really dumb. He blows up a government building and expects everyone to believe that Superman might be behind it. This works. He kidnaps the mother of the only being on the planet who could incinerate him, find her pretty much instantly and then go about his day. This also works, somehow. Then he creates something that could possibly destroy this being. With ZERO precautions to being able to control it. None. At all. This ALSO WORKS. What I’m saying is that for a guy who’s possibly the smartest man on the planet, he’s a bloody idiot.
Superman can fly at astounding speeds. He can do a LOT to help out people who need help, and he does. And yet, some people don’t like him. Some people are afraid of him. This film wants you to believe that Superman/Clark Kent not only is affected by the negativity sent his way but is pretty much destroyed by it. At no point does Superman decide to talk into a camera pointed his way, give his point of view, agree to simply have a discussion with anyone. Nope. He flies off to a mountain, talks with his dead dad and remembers that he actually likes people. Superman having a crisis of faith is a really good plot point. This film takes that idea and makes it terrible in execution. Superman, the man, the legend, as a character does what he does because it’s right. That’s the only thing that we need. He is a force for good that some fear. At least have him be seen to be fully misunderstood, have some of his actions be interpreted as destructive for no reason. That way you really build a reason for him to doubt himself. This film falls flat there.
The Final Fight
This fight is just stupid. I’m not even sure where to begin. I think I need to just do a bulleted list of my problems. With the fight. Don’t worry, you won’t be here all day.
- SUPERMAN STOPS TRYING TO TALK TO BRUCE AFTER LESS THAN A MINUTE. Think about that. He stops to deal with guns and soundwaves. He then just gets annoyed and punches Batman. His MOTHER is held HOSTAGE. Even if you weren’t sure how to save her, JUST TELL HIM. Seriously. Grab him, take him in the air (we know he could do it in about 0.5 seconds) and make him listen. Fight over, mother saved, Doomsday possibly avoided. And speaking of Doomsday…
- WHAT THE HELL WAS WITH DOOMSDAY? Random powers from no real source, constantly evolving (yes he has that ability in the comics, but they don’t even bother trying to explain it here) in the fight AND he just looks really bad. In a film that has an onscreen darkness issue, making your Big Bad hard to see in darkness is a really bad choice. At least Superman gets the spear in his chest. Hang on…
- WHY DIDN’T WONDER WOMAN USE THE SPEAR? Superman is weakened by the spear. So why not have a character who can fly, is super strong, is already fighting Doomsday AND knows how to use a spear do that bit? Superman can distract, especially since Doomsday apparently wants to kill him so bad that he just finds him because reasons. I know that plot-wise they wanted Superman to die, but there was NO REASON why it had to be him making the final run.
- BORING. For a fight between 3 superheroes (2 of whom were introduced IN THIS FILM) and a huge unstoppable monster, I was bored. I was bored the first time, I was bored this time. There were no stakes. Anyone who knows the comics knows that Superman was going to die (and then come back later, but nevermind that now) and there was no way they’d kill off either Batman or Wonder Woman. They even throw in a random line to make it obvious that they’re fighting in a totally abandoned city. Looks like the Man Of Steel criticism got to the writers. So yeah, boring.
Anyway, my final point (which I’m not headlining because it’s just a simple statement) is Not. Enough. Wonder. Woman. In the interim from this film coming out to now, I have seen Wonder Woman twice. And that score gets me each time. Screw Batman and Superman, just have her fight Doomsday! She clearly was having fun fighting something insanely powerful, which we know she couldn’t have done much since WW2, so let me see that!
Before I pass it over to Mr Wheat, I do want to say that there are some things in this film that I enjoyed a lot:
I thought that Alfred was perfect. He’s not the old Pennyworth that we know from previous films, he’s just older than Bruce.
I also thought that they did ok at laying the groundwork for Justice League. I do think that they could have cut the scene where Diana watches the videos, but aside from that it was short enough to satisfy fanboys and intrigue casual watchers.
I also really like the fact that we got to see Batman plotting. Too often we get stuck with “Hmmm” by a computer, a very quick montage and then he’s got the answer. This film had him discussing his views, showing exactly what he does to prepare, explaining his decisions AND having him being able to change plans on the fly. Though yeah, the whole Martha thing was stupid.
Alrighty. Take it away Mr Wheat!
Bubbawheat here with my thoughts on revisiting this film and even though I hadn’t gotten around to seeing Justice League before re-watching this, I was actually a decent supporter of the previous four DCEU movies. They all have their issues, but I have generally enjoyed more than I disliked. Watching this movie again, and the Ultimate Edition specifically, it still fits right where it was the last time. There is a lot of this movie that I really enjoy. There is a great visual style on display throughout the film. The action scenes are spectacular, the music is epic, and Wonder Woman could not have had a better introduction. Every scene she was in made me grin from ear to ear every time I’ve watched this movie and this time was no exception. But the flaws are still there. The mystery is helped a little by the extra beats given to it by the Ultimate Edition, but there is still plenty of it that just doesn’t work including much of the characterizations. The worst offender of those characterizations was Jessie Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor. It was an interesting take, but it was just too far away from what makes Lex Luthor Lex Luthor. Doomsday also felt like a third act CGI blob with no purpose other than an action setpiece and weak homage to the Death of Superman comic. It was an interesting set up to what could have been a great Justice League movie, and it seems like that ship didn’t go very far either.
As for the importance of this film, in terms of box office, it did make over $300 million domestically and $500 million worldwide including a top ten opening weekend with $160 million. This was supposed to be the real setup to a much larger DCEU, though at the current time the future of that extended universe is in jeopardy with the news that Henry Cavill will no longer be Superman and the next live action movie is a Joker origin story that’s out of current continuity. Even Aquaman’s solo movie has surpassed it in terms of total box office. Time will tell if the importance of this movie fades out and the DCEU becomes just a blip in the superhero movie timeline, but for now it’s still a big milestone for Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, it made a huge amount of money, and it has plenty of fans despite also having plenty of detractors. This is the first time that Batman and Superman appeared on the big screen side by side and for a lot of people, that’s a pretty big deal despite the middling fan and critical reception. Now let’s hear what Paul has to say about its place in this list.
And so we reach the 2 questions once again. For those who missed the first review, these are the two questions that I’ll be asking in every review we do here. They are:
- Would I recommend this film to others?
- Does it deserve to be on this list?
Since I’m nothing if not consistent (debatable, but still), I’ll go in order.
1) No. Mostly because anyone who hasn’t seen it by now really won’t care, but also because I feel that it’s another example of DC royally messing up their live action films. Even though this is the introduction of Wonder Woman, you’re much better off simply watching Wonder Woman instead. Ben Affleck isn’t bad as Batman, but it’s not exactly a big reason to see it. And Superman suffers from the same problem he always does in anything other than print. He’s bloody Superman. He’s not relatable to in any way, so we don’t actually care that much about his problems. Even though they are legitimate in some cases, we all know what WE would do with his abilities and how we would handle things. And he always does less than that, since acting rationally would ruin the plot. Lois is forgettable and Lex, as I mentioned earlier, is sadly ruined by what the film requires he does. So no, don’t feel the need to watch this if you haven’t.
2) I honestly don’t know. My personal feelings are that it’s not worth a spot, but it does have the first live action Wonder Woman, it tries to set up a DC franchise and it does have a fairly typical comic-book story. At the very least, I would place this film at the very bottom of the list, as in somewhere near #95. I’m sure that’s not a big shock to you.
So that’s it! We’ve reached the end of our second review. So join us next time for #99: Supergirl. And until then, make sure your enemies are utterly disintegrated upon defeat. Honestly, who leaves a perfectly good body lying around?