Last Thursday, I was gobsmacked to find out that critics were heaping bile upon Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As an unapologetic DC Comics fanboy, I leaped to the defence, stating that Disney – the corporate owners of Marvel
Comics Entertainment – was engineering a drive to discredit the competition.
On Black Saturday, I finally did get to catch the film – and I realized that many of the “sheep” critics had a point in their takedown of DC’s tentpole installment fortheir own “universe” franchise. Yes, there is so much potential, as a series of trailers have proven – however, the writers and director seemed to have (literally) lost the plot on the way.
It begins with a couple of plot threads – one being Superman (Henry Cavill) interfering in a political conflict in some African nation even as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) witnessing the near-destruction of Metropolis first-hand. Affleck’s Wayne carries with him the emotional scarring of the loss of his partner Robin, so he practically portrays a Frank Miller Batman circa The Dark Knight Rises; he is back in full-on vigilante mode, branding his opponents with the bat logo as his gruesome “calling card” (has he been hanging around the Joker too much????) Yes, this Batman is one nasty son-of-a-bitch who will not hesitate to actually use guns (and you thought Superman killing General Zod in Man Of Steel was going too far)
The political fallout from Superman’s desert adventure haunts him, even as he flies back to Metropolis onto the waiting arms of a near-naked Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in a bathtub (kids – close your eyes!!!). Meanwhile, puckish tech billionaire Alexander “Lex” Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, channeling Mark Zuckerberg via Johnny Depp‘s Willy Wonka) stands to take advantage of Superman’s near-godlike popularity as he rallies public sentiment against the presence of “false gods” in our midst. He also happens to get hold of a deposit of Kryptonite left behind from the wreckage of one of the World Engines (from Man Of Steel) at the bottom of the Indian Ocean – as well as the corpse of General Zod.
Superman is then summoned to the Capitol to answer regarding said interference by Senator Finch (Holly Hunter, looking a tad weary) upon the insistence (bribery???) of Luthor – which turns out to be yet another disastrous misadventure for the Last Son of Krypton. Wayne, haunted by random apocalyptic visions, gains access to classified data from Luthor’s LexCorp on the existence of other “metahumans” on the planet – which somehow tie in to these said visions. Luthor, on the other hand, sets up the titular “gladiator match of the century” by preying on Wayne’s own parental loss and even kidnapping Clark Kent’s foster mother (he’s that much a dick)
It is with deep loss that director/co-scriptwriter Zack Snyder seriously dropped the ball in piecing together the DC Cinematic Universe, patching up haphazardly the fanboy-baiting overload with rickety coincidences and insincere, highly-contrived myth-making (nice timing the film’s release well within the Catholic Holy Week!!!) The first two-thirds of the film suffers from the forced world-weariness in the run-up to the great big super-hero punch-up – greatly enabled by Batman getting access to Kryptonite (thanks, floppy-haired Luthor). Lex – in true mad-scientist mode (cue thunder, lightning and cheap laughter) – then gains access to some Krypton tech to reanimate the dead Zod as
Solomon Grundy Doomsday – one of the few adversaries capable of going toe-to-toe with the Man Of Steel. Batman then gears up for said climactic confrontation with a new armored suit that looks a helluva like Shaquille O’Neal’s homemade suit from his ill-advised foray into superheroics, Steel (groan).
Thankfully, Gal Gadot nearly runs away with the whole film with her portrayal of Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.
Tiara – check!
Bullet-deflecting wrist braces – double check!
Unbreakable lasso of truth – triple check!
Gadot corrects the early doubters not only by filling the costume perfectly, but perfectly carrying the requisite action sequences (especially when owning Doomsday with her lasso of truth). Maybe her real-life background in the Israeli Army as a fight instructor must have paid off well for the model-actress.
On a positive note, Snyder can be credited by putting his own stamp onto the Batman mythos in the way the Dark Knight is being portrayed. Jeremy Irons also gets props in my book for his rejuvenated portrayal of Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth; the same goes for Laurence Fishburne returning as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White. Even Jason Momoa gets to steal the thunder as well in his short screen time as Aquaman.
Here is hoping that further installments of the DC Cinematic Universe try to even out the artificial heavy-handedness of this effort…especially with Ben Affleck writing and directing a new solo Batman film. For the love of all that is good, no more Bat-nipples and Bat-butts this time!!
Yeah, I feel your pain too, Affleck.