Like most of the nation, I also saw the latest superhero slugfest to hit the big screen.
Be warned right away that there are spoilers here for the whole movie.
Critics are savaging this one. Was it that bad?
Here is my relationship with this flick. I am primarily a Marvel fan. As a kid, I read Marvel Comics. I read a few DC comics – but those were limited to my brother’s old Superman and Batman comics that he probably didn’t want anymore or something. Maybe I stole them. I don’t remember.
I read a few DC comics in the 90’s, but those were limited to the gimmick storylines like Knightfall and the Death (and return) of Superman. I always liked Batman better, but I really dug the Superman stuff too. I have admittedly read very little comics since the 2000’s. I pick up a TPB occasionally and when I do it is typically something Marvel. Full disclosure, I have loved every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to date. They are pretty much the perfect embodiment of the comics I love.
I thought Man of Steel was OK. I liked it better than Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy, which I really didn’t care for. It was too pretentious while at the same time being as silly as the other comic movies it was trying to claim it wasn’t. I loved Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Dark Knight… and that is about it. Bale was OK as Batman, except for his voice when he is Bats. Ugh. So stupid.
That is to say – I didn’t want to like Batman v Superman. I got caught up in the “Marvel vs. DC” nonsense and thought I had to dislike it out of principle. I felt that it was my duty to turn my nose up to it strictly because it was a DC property. Then my son begged me to watch the Flash TV series with him. I started to hear from several others that it was a show I should check out. I hesitated because I tried to watch Arrow and didn’t get into it. But I listened to my boy and watched Flash with him. I was hooked. My perspective shifted. I had forgotten that I could *gasp* like BOTH Marvel AND DC stuff! Suddenly, I was getting excited for BvS. The early reactions before the lifting of the review embargo were very positive.
I was getting hyped.
I went and bought tickets early. Then the embargo lifted and the critics were harsh.
It tempered my expectations. I went from being excited to being a little worried. The family watched Man of Steel again to prepare. Well, we watched half of it. The copy I got off eBay stopped halfway through.
Friday came and the time for our showing was here. I sat down with the family and we took it all in. The credits lifted and…
I didn’t hate it!
Sure, there are things that weren’t perfect. If you didn’t like Man of Steel, nothing has changed that will make you suddenly like this continuation of that story. Superman isn’t the boy scout like many fans want him to be, which I understand. I love Captain America, who has very much the same ideals. Marvel was able to make Cap work on screen while retaining that character core, so it’s a shame that DC hasn’t been able to figure that out for Kal-El.
The CGI falls victim to “video game physics”. During the battles, the realistic laws of physics go out the window and the characters move too fast, in unrealistic ways. It’s a little thing that makes your brain register that what you are watching is fake. Fake…besides, you know… seeing an alien with superpowers, a man dressed in a bat costume and an Amazon warrior fighting a cave troll with a glow worm face.
I thought the acting was good. Ben Affleck did a great job as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jeremy Irons had real character in his all-to-brief scenes as Alfred.
Henry Cavill is an earnest Superman/Clark Kent and I think he may be my favorite actor that has been in the live-action role. Sorry Christopher Reeves.
Gal Gadot brought charm and grit to Wonder Woman, and I anticipate her stand-alone movie is going to do well. She is a highlight of the film and seeing the trio fight Doomsday was the clear-cut point in the movie where I felt I was having a lot of fun, dodgy CGI or not.
Jesse Eisenberg was good. Was he a good Lex Luthor? I don’t know. It sort of seems like he thought he was playing the Joker or something. Interesting to see what he does with the role from here on out.
The story surprised me a bit. I couldn’t believe that they actually went with the “Death of Superman” angle. I have to say I thought it was too early. I guess I should have expected it after they introduced Doomsday, but I feel it was too early in the series to kill the Big Blue
Boy Scout like that. That kind of was my problem with the whole movie. It felt a bit reactionary, as if they were just feeling the Marvel pressure so bad that they just started throwing everything in there. It came off as unnatural and confusing. Marvel has had nearly a decade to slow simmer things and add an easter egg here, an after credits coda there and build a viable, living universe. Not to mention 12 feature films, 4 television series and 5 short films. Clearly DC has catching up to do. The decision to separate the excellent television series from the movie universe may came back to haunt them as well. I know I really have no desire to see another actor play the Flash. Well… the Barry Allen Flash. Seeing the part when Wonder Woman looks at all the files of other meta-humans felt so tacked on that it slowed the story down. I know Marvel has had the same criticisms with their films, but the choice to put it smack dab in the middle of the movie instead of at the end or after the credits felt clunky.
Despite the missteps, I did enjoy the movie. The titular fight between Superman and Batman did not disappoint. The writing to get them fighting could have been better, as it could have been squelched right at the beginning having Clark explain what he needed to do. Or just have flat out had Supes grab Luthor, fly around the city using his x-ray vision to find his mom, and save her. Batman had the kryptonite, there wasn’t anything Luthor or his goons could have really done at that point. We saw Superman stop a bad guy holding Lois at point blank range earlier in the movie – so why couldn’t he do it this time and save his mom?
But that’s beside the point. I did enjoy it. It may not have had the joy or quippy-ness of a Marvel production, but I want to see it again, and I will certainly pick up the director’s cut when it comes out. I am a fan of Snyder’s. I even liked Suckerpunch and thought that was unfairly saddled by a bad marketing job.
As I am writing this I realize that I am unintentionally still sounding negative. I guess what is hard to put into words is that this film has an X Factor (no, not these guys) that makes the movie greater than the sum of its parts.
Give it a shot.