Somehow, Zack Snyder turned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice into what it was that I wanted out of the drearily ugly Man of Steel, and the results are rather satisfying. Seeing how he’s willing to explore the potential that he had and turn it all into this, I’m only interested in seeing what more can Snyder do when he’s behind comic book films and seeing as I’ve not been all too impressed with his earlier offerings (Watchmen being a notable exception), I’m finding myself haven been proven wrong if he is indeed to direct more films where he shows his potential in the way he did with this.
What makes Batman v Superman rather interesting when compared to many other superhero films, I feel, is the more political nature that offers some sort of a postmodernist atmosphere which goes to show that superhero films can be a lot more intelligent in terms of their insight. The allegory is rather clear from the moment in which we see the young Bruce Wayne being lifted by the bats, then a quick cut to Superman amidst the destruction of Metropolis from Man of Steel (one of the most tiresome sequences of said film). Snyder’s characterization does not establish that these iconic characters are the heroes we would perceive them to be in escapist entertainment, but symbols representing a God complex. There’s more to deconstruct within this material than I’d have thought was possible, but that adds to my satisfaction with what I have received in here.
Snyder’s interest in these areas is what indeed keeps Batman v Superman a much more fascinating experiment than I’d have expected given how outside of Watchmen he seems to be a director so overly focused on the visual aesthetic and it can either aid or fault him (I’ve found that half the time with his work, it gears towards the latter). When it aids him, though, his most interesting means of storytelling come about (generally I find him rather lackluster in that department), and in this case, it sheds the sort of light onto what intelligence superhero films can bring if they try, and the very ambition behind Batman v Superman already raises enough for one like myself to express nothing but great admiration for.
Performances are rather fantastic, Ben Affleck’s Batman in particular standing out for it’s some of the most life we’ve seen to both him and the Bruce Wayne character on live action. Seeing that he’s heading onto his own solo Batman film, the results are only what I would imagine to be rather fascinating. Henry Cavill also has proven me wrong after the banality inside of his Superman in Man of Steel and pulls off a stellar performance of his reprisal of the character, with all the life and soul there should have been, it indeed did induce a smile. Jesse Eisenberg initially didn’t have me sold, but as the film went on, he only grew to impress me more for the role brought out a sense it was critiquing the comic relief in other superhero films.
Amidst all the strengths, I feel there are some critical moments that drag down the film to the heights it could have reached considering the amount of care and intelligence placed in. One of these reveals is a spoiler especially towards the middle, which I choose not to spoil for the convenience of the readers who have not yet seen the film. My biggest problem is just how Wonder Woman fits into this story. Something just told me that Wonder Woman was only a character shoved in for the sake of it, and I feel nothing could be very different without her role in the film. It’s a shame because considering how Gal Gadot is built out especially when she becomes this role, she really seems like a fitting choice for the part and she’s just not given enough room like I would have wanted.
Batman v Superman took me by surprise indeed. It’s a superhero film that undermines escapism and goes to show what sort of meaning they can accomplish if they set out for more. The critical maligning that I’m witnessing so far is something I find rather baffling. I’ve seen many call the story messy, and yet I was on board for the most part. I’ve heard others say that it was too gloomy, but I can only ask what did they expect? I’m not one to criticize what they thought, but in what they saw as negatives, I saw as positives. Zack Snyder has indeed provided something more than just an ordinary cape flick, it’s really something more under the hood. Simply put, it’s something to be seen.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Warner Bros.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Screenplay by Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer, from characters from DC Comics
Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Release Year: 2016
Running Time: 151 minutes