Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the DC Comics epic made at a rumored cost topping $400 million, goes into release on more than 4,000 screens nationwide on Friday, March 25 — but now that the big day is nearly here, does the film’s studio, Warner Bros, have a super-size flop on its hands?
Probably not. But if it were up to critics who have turned in early reviews of the spectacle — whose production budget was more widely reported at a still-whopping $250 million — the film pitting the two most iconic superheroes in the DC Comics inventory, Batman and Superman, in an epic battle against each other would never fly.
The film stars British actor Henry Cavill as Superman, reprising his role from the 2013 Warner Bros/DC Comics blockbuster Man of Steel — also directed by Batman V Superman helmer Zack Snyder — along with Ben Affleck giving his debut turn as Batman, making Affleck the fifth actor to don the cape and cowl since Warner Bros made its first Batman feature in 1989.
With Man of Steel, Cavill became the third to portray Superman in the Warner Bros feature film series that began in 1978, with the first of four Superman movies starring the late Christopher Reeve in the title role.
But in a non-animated feature film, Batman V Superman marks the first time that the two superhero characters have appeared together.
Watch the final trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in the video below to get a sense of the movie, for fans outside of New York or Los Angeles where the hoped-for blockbuster premiered earlier this week.
So how did the long-awaited Batman V Superman film — which also stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot as another iconic DC Comics character, Wonder Woman — turn out? According to the majority of early critics, not so well. The movie as of Tuesday has received 27 reviews aggregated by the Rotten Tomatoes site, 10 of them positive, and 17 negative.
Even the comic book fan news site Comic Book Resources was less than thrilled with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, calling the movie “clunky” — and worse.
“I was bored. Often,” wrote CBR reviewer Kristy Puckho. “Then infuriated that this massively budgeted movie guaranteed to be a blockbuster is so willfully a trainwreck.”
Puckho was similarly unimpressed with the film’s storytelling.
“To call it ridden with plot holes would be a disservice to plot holes,” the reviewer wrote. “These are plot caverns.”
The New York Times weighed in on Wednesday, with a review by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic A.O. Scott, who described Batman V Superman as “about as diverting as having a porcelain sink broken over your head,” adding that the film’s plot, in his opinion, is “overstuffed and preposterous.”
Alex Abad-Santos of Vox.com also registered his opinion of Batman V Superman on Wednesday, deeming the superhero epic “a crime against comic book fans” and “a stink bucket of disappointment.”
Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty graded the film a “C+,” calling the two-hour, 33-minute spectacular, “another numbing smash-and-bash orgy of CGI mayhem.”
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Screen Daily Chief Critic Fionnuala Halligan was similarly underwhelmed deeming the movie “loud, sprawling, and distracted,” while Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy deemed the film “imposing, but not fun.”
The Hollywood Reporter also speculated that, at the box office, Batman V Superman will “need to haul in $1 billion at the very least to justify itself financially and pave the way for the flood of WB/DC outings already set with release dates over the next four years.”
On the pop culture site Uproxx, writer and fan Mike Ryan was just as disappointed as his counterparts at The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly.
“I can’t remember the last time I was legitimately looking this forward to a movie that I found this dull. About halfway through this over two-and-a-half hour movie, I had to stop my brain from thinking about other things, like what groceries I needed to pick up at some point.”
Writing for the online entertainment business news site The Wrap, Alonso Duralde dismissed the film as “sludgy,” but sounded a somewhat more upbeat note by saying that the performance of Gadot as Wonder Woman “saves” Batman V Superman from “superhero sameness.”
[Featured Photo via Warner Bros Publicity Image]