Written by Griffin Maghari
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the Kal-El of superhero movies: powerful, grandiose, and wildly misunderstood. Zack Snyder’s second foray into the Man of Steel saga has finally arrived after three long years of waiting. Highly regarded by DC Comics fans as a groundbreaking movie, it’s been panned by critics for having a confusing storyline and loud, bombastic action. I say, bring it on! I’m not going to call this a movie review; it’s more like a review of the reviews. Some critics may have guzzled Granny’s peach tea over the weekend while watching this movie, but let’s put it down and reflect on what we actually saw in this ballsy comic book film.
For the relevant folks that haven’t seen it yet (I don’t know why you haven’t), potential spoilers ahead.
Like a lot of DC Comics fans, I was admittedly bummed by the initial reviews of the movie. I went into the theater, kept my head up, and decided to support the film like the Little Engine That Could. What I got instead was a movie more powerful than a locomotive. It was a hard, fast fan’s-dream-come-true, and it got my attention. I was checking off scenes I’d always wanted in a DC Comics film, and this movie was giving it to me. It was crazy! This was total DC porn. The critics seemed to have watched an entirely different movie.
If you have a short attention span, the slow-motion segments displaying the gravitas of the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and the montage of Superman’s good deeds may have been a slog. But for true fans that understand their importance, we gobbled every single pining moment. The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents made him the man he is. This was not a wasted sequence. Since we’re being introduced to a new Batman, this was the only exposition we needed and wanted. It was essential to revisit the mythology, and I welcomed it in glorious slow-motion indulgence.
The allegedly confusing editing also seemed jarring for some. Welcome to Cinema 101. This is called non-linear storytelling. While this is a device not commonly seen in popcorn movies, there wasn’t really any problem putting two and two together. The movie just had to unfold for you. Don’t get me wrong. This movie did not hold your hand. It traveled faster than speeding bullet. For example, Batman’s nightmare scenes were crazy and weird! If you couldn’t keep up with the bursting complexity of DC lore, that’s OK! You can catch up later. If you were able to keep up, you enjoyed it even more.
Plot was also largely questioned in this movie. This was more anti-Snyder rhetoric, because the film had a believable story and was total DC Comics fare. The plot was driven by the diabolical schemes of Lex Luthor, and it had our heroes at each other’s throats. Using Batman as a pawn to take down Superman was not only wish fulfillment, but was done in a sophisticated, thoughtful way, filled with references to mythology and religion. Jesse Eisenberg’s casting was unusual to me, but his quirky mad-scientist Luthor really popped against a backdrop of gods and monsters. Luthor saw Superman, and any other metahumans for that matter (cue Wonder Woman), as none other than a walking, talking nuclear bomb. Batman shared the same sentiment, and Luthor exploited that. Seeing the greater threat, our heroes came together to do what they do – save people. Luthor’s plan was uncovered by the risk-taking Lois Lane, and it was thrilling to see a comic book movie so grown up.
Ben Affleck’s casting backlash seemed to have died down as the audience actually saw what a movie Batman should’ve always been. Another credit to this film! What we have here is the real Batman, folks. Brutal, skilled, and intelligent. This is the Batman I’ve always wanted. This is not a Nolan Batman or a Burton Batman. (*Dodges rotten tomatoes.*) Simply, Batman. You’re welcome.
Wonder Woman’s introduction was refreshing. She seemed to be the common denominator among critics and praisers of the movie. A mysterious character, she stole every scene she was in. We welcomed this, especially in slow motion! Essential to the bigger world the movie was creating, Zack Snyder called her the “gateway drug” to the rest of the Justice League, and we were all hooked.
This leaves the last of the Holy Trinity: Superman. The themes of the movie seemed to transcend celluloid, because this guy still doesn’t get the respect he deserves, even in real life. In my opinion, he was the true hero of the film. While some so-called Superman fans claimed he’s changed from a good and hopeful hero, Snyder never changed him. In actuality, the world had grown cynical around him. This added complexity to the character, and something completely missed by critics spewing anti-Snyder rhetoric. Superman questioned his place in the world, only to be inspired again by the spirit of his father Jonathan. He accepted that every good deed will always have repercussions. His touching scenes with Lois and his mother Martha were the heart and soul of the film. The drama was only topped by the Man of Steel making the ultimate sacrifice. It was utterly heartbreaking. If this was dismissed by critics, then it makes me sad that our world really is that cynical.
I have to commend Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. for making such a gutsy film. In this age of oftentimes fun yet flavorless superhero flicks, Batman v Superman was a triumph to push the genre forward… even if it has to deflect bullets along the way. It was a comic book come to life. What a novel idea! It was a love letter and a thank you note of awesomeness to DC fans. Was it a perfect movie? What is? But I guess it’s true what Pa Kent said: The world is not ready.
Critics: 6% on the Griff-Meter.
My post-credit scene is to see you all again in the theater for Justice League. It cannot be denied. Up, up, and away!
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