‘Batman V Superman’ Review: What Worked And What Didn’t

After finally getting the chance to see Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice for myself, I can honestly say two things. First, it wasn’t as terrible as I was worried it was going to be. Second, it wasn’t good.

It wasn’t even close to good.

Even so, Batman V Superman was not the abominable snoozefest that was the botched Fantastic Four reboot. I’ve seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice compared to that godawful film more than once, and I believe that to be a completely unfair comparison.

Unlike Fantastic Four where virtually nothing worked, there were actually a couple of very positive takeaways from Batman V Superman.

First, I’ll say I enjoyed Ben Affleck as Batman. Given the lackluster material Affleck had to work with, I was surprised he managed to convince me as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. He may be the first actor to helm the live action role that was ever able to do so, so kudos to Affleck!

There are some aspects of the Batman V Superman incarnation that annoyed me, such as his lack of subtlety and common sense. I couldn’t fault Ben for that because I strongly suspect it came down to poor writing far more so than poor acting.

The poor writing could also be blamed for the misrepresentation of what Batman stands for and what drives him.

Batman fans know that the detective mind of “The Dark Knight” typically figures out Lex Luthor’s schemes before anyone else even realizes that Luthor is scheming. Although Bruce Wayne surmised that Lex was up to something, he was too uncharacteristically obsessed with Superman to understand where the true danger was. Between that and the very real likelihood they’ve made Batman into a murderous vigilante, I can see why some DC comic fans would be upset. Still, Ben gives it his all, and if Affleck is the one to helm the stand alone, it might end up being a worthwhile project.

To give you an idea of how pleased I was with Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, all of my notes about the movie were repeatedly written in CAPS LOCKS and followed by unapologetic exclamation mark abuse. I confess I was hugely skeptical about Gal Gadot when she was cast, even more so than when I heard about Ben Affleck as Batman. But she is Wonder Woman.

Putting Wonder Woman in this movie, especially for the final chapter of the film, was a saving grace that Batman V Superman desperately needed.

Speaking of future Justice League members, Batman V Superman actually did an excellent job of making me want to see upcoming Justice League movies and characters. Too bad it did a poor job of being a film worth caring about.

The editing in Batman V Superman is so sloppy, it was not even a cohesive film. The scene changes were abrupt and there was no attempt — NONE whatsoever — to connect one scene to the next. It’s almost as if several different movies were patched together while being made to feel like several different films.

I was somewhat bored and annoyed for much of the movie. Sure, I was warned by reviewer after reviewer that this would be the case, but that did not make it any easier to stomach. Much of my boredom could have been avoided if certain unnecessary elements were never placed in Batman V Superman.

The beaten rotten corpse of a horse that is “why we have Superman and if people should trust him” should have stayed in Man of Steel where it belonged, and not bled into Batman V Superman. It felt like Zack Snyder was trying too hard to justify what didn’t work in Man of Steel and wasting Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’s valuable screen time to force his point across.

He failed.

This could have been a much better movie in the hands of a different director, one that knows how to take constructive criticism and then eliminates, rather than doubling-down on his mistakes. At this point, as much as I want to see more of the Justice League characters, I’m not looking forward to watching Zack Snyder triple-down on everything terrible about his brand of directing.

This movie wasn’t Fantastic Four bad. Having said that, at the rate Snyder is going, Justice League: Part 1 will be.

I don’t know if this counts as a major spoiler, but I’m going to write it anyway: Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor may go down in history as one of the most miscast movie roles ever. He lent nothing to Batman V Superman, and only served to siphon away what little enjoyment there was to be had.

The character’s anti-Superman motivations made no sense and were constantly changing. Lex even went so far as to create the movie’s big baddie for reasons that I still don’t understand and probably never will. I’ll chalk it up to the “need for a mutual threat to bring the ‘team’ together to fight against a common enemy” trope.

Later, Luthor suggests he purposely summoned a powerful foe to Earth (who may or may not be Darkseid). Again, no “how” or “why” for his action is ever provided.

I won’t say that Eisenberg didn’t fully commit to his version of Lex Luthor. In a different movie, he might have actually worked. Ironically, that abysmal, monochrome, “no fun” tone that Zack Snyder is married to is precisely why Jesse’s Lex Luthor simply didn’t work in this film.

As a movie, Batman V Superman felt like the doomed victim of a chestburster. It was a flailing incoherent mess that we could only stand back and behold in helpless horror. Exploding from its broken body will be the DC Cinematic Universe, which — if DC and Warner Bros. ever get it right — could be a formidable rival for Marvel and Disney.

However, it’s hard to admire the monster when all you see is the icky mess left in its wake. DC and Warner Bros. may regret not letting their Justice League universe happen organically. If they haphazardly put together movies as poor shortcuts in an effort to get to where Marvel is, they run the risk of not even qualifying as a poor man’s Marvel cinematic universe.

Batman V Superman was a certainly stepping stone, but it was also a warning. The movie runners can’t afford to repeat these kind of errors if they ever want to be taken seriously.

[Image via Warner Bros./Movieclips Trailers]