After so many years of waiting the world finally got to see Batman v Superman recently and it’s safe to say the movie is, uh, divisive. I’ve basically been a bit obsessed with it ever since the first trailer and the noire vibes it seemed to be going for. And even though the vibes seemed to change with every trailer, from noire to epic to what we eventually got, dark fantasy, the final product was every bit as great as I could have hoped for a dark fantasy film, although a movie with the those first two vibes would still be really cool. It was even still enjoyable after the admittedly incredibly overboard marketing near release, although that was understandable since WB seriously needed this to be a hit. This movie was basically the gateway to the rest of the universe and eleven other movies they’ve already invested in with preproduction. Now that it’s a huge success those movies are definitely getting the go-ahead, which is pretty neat.
The movie itself was a near perfect follow-up to Man of Steel, which was a pretty perfect Superman movie itself in my mind. Before I saw that I really couldn’t have cared less about Superman to be totally honest, but after seeing that I really felt like I got the point of him a lot more. He’s not so much the “undefeatable person so why care at all” figure like I’d thought, but rather he’s more about trying to fit in and the moral dilemma of if you had superpowers like he does, are you under any obligation to be a hero and save people? It’s actually really interesting, and Zack Snyder has done a really good job expressing that across both movies so far.
Batman v Superman builds on this by introducing Batman to the universe, and frankly it’s the best Batman we’ve seen yet. Ben Affleck kills it and his two big action scenes, the Knightmare and the Martha rescue sequences, were my favorite parts of the movie. It very clearly sets up his motivations for disliking Superman early on, and from there we get it. A lot of people say that Superman’s motivations aren’t set up, but his are clearly there too. The thing is that he’s not trying to get involved with fighting Batman like Batman is to him. If he wanted to he could beat Batman with no issues, and he even mentions that. Clark’s just trying to go his own path and live his life, yet because of the powers he has people like Zod, Lex, and Batman keep trying to bring him down and hurt his family, and he’s getting really tired of it. That’s pretty clearly established and very understandable.
Even Lex Luthor I thought had pretty understandable motives for his actions in the movie. They might not be normal or sane motives but that’s pretty clearly because he’s not a normal, sane person. He was just obsessed with power and since after he’s already proved he’s more powerful than all the businessmen and governments, the “meta-humans” would be his next logical targets. Once he took them down, Superman especially because of his significance, he’d essentially be a god himself in his eyes since he’d have effectively taken down a god. And even though the interpretation of the character might not have been what everyone knows, Jesse did a fine job with it and it worked for what it was.
The rest of the movie goes down pretty much how you’d expect from the trailers, the first act is introduction, the second is the titular Bats v Supes fight, and finally they all team up against Doomsday. The only things I didn’t see coming were the destruction of the Capitol, which although cool to see didn’t really affect the movie too much, and the death of Superman which I really should have seen coming because that’s the only comic I’ve actually read. I didn’t think they’d actually go that route since he’s obviously coming back for Justice League, but after listening to Zack Snyder talk about the decision and how he wanted Bruce to be the one to assemble the team in Justice League, it makes a lot of sense and I agree it was the right call.
Zack Snyder really is the perfect choice to direct these movies. I’ve always been a big fan of his and he just knows how movies should look. He and the general philosophy of Warner Brothers behind these upcoming movies are some of the major reasons I’m excited about the future. So far Zack Snyder’s, David Ayer’s, and Patty Jenkins’s movies all have different looks to them so it’s really cool that these directors are actually allowed to express themselves in that way. Really one of the major reasons I’ve started caring less about Marvel movies recently is because they just all look the same now and the directors can’t express themselves as freely, and the fact that Joss Whedon, Ava DuVernay, and Edgar Wright all left their projects shows that the studio involvement is increasingly hampering people’s visions. Fair play to them though, it was new and exciting back in 2008 when Iron Man came out and we’d never had a cinematic universe like that, but now we’re eight years in and coming up on the 13th movie in the series that all have the same look and it’s really easy to start getting fatigued. Especially after Avengers 2, which was technically a solid movie on paper but so full of action and mind-numbing explosions it made a borderline-scarring experience.
One of my favorite things about superheroes is that you can have so many different artistic interpretations and aesthetics of the same idea, and Bats v Supes really continues this. Everyone wondered how they could possibly do Batman in a post-Nolan world, where Nolan perfected the gritty, realistic look for the character, and Snyder’s dark fantasy world Batman is a perfect follow-up to that because it’s awesome in its own, different way. It’s something we’ve never seen before, and that’s really what fans want I believe. See, the thing about hero movies isn’t so much about being faithful to the comics but rather being faithful to the spirit behind the comics. Superheroes are essentially the modern-day equivalent of things like the Greek gods, where it’s more about the meaning behind what happens than the events that actually happen. And the best superhero stories are the ones that perfect both these things. That’s the reason I think DC fans really love this movie and the upcoming movies is because they get that. They’re okay with Batman killing people, Lex being a little goofy, the Wayne manor inexplicably being burned down, and Batman and Superman’s roles effectively switched from Dark Knight Returns because they get it, and it’s a new interpretation of a familiar idea. One of the weirdest complaints is that they showed Batman’s parents getting killed again but didn’t explain who the Flash or Darkseid was when they popped up. Like !!! you can’t have it both ways! The scene with Batman’s parents actually tied into the plot too. They didn’t treat the audience like idiots who didn’t know what things were, unlike Avengers 2 which had a five-minute intermission scene to explain Infinity Gems in a totally unrelated story about Tony Stark’s hubris.
Finally, I really like how we finally got to see the infamous Batman v Superman fight in an actual live-action movie, with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill no less. I really love Batman for a number of reasons, obviously because he’s so cool and edgy but also that he represents being able to overcome any problems you face, in my mind at least. He’s faced tons of obstacles over the years and always manages to overcome them using only his wit and skills and by generally just being awesome. And squaring off against Superman is the ultimate version of this; it basically represents solving the impossible problem. Would Batman really be able to take down Superman in real life? Of course not, but in the end he always comes out on top and that’s just really cool and inspirational. The flipside to this, and this goes for the superhero genre too, is why bother watching if you know they’re going to win in the end? The answer is it’s more about how they go about solving problems, what things represent, and the relationships between people. Batman and Superman relationship is one that’s really grown on me once I started appreciating Superman more. Batman’s basically the world’s greatest leader and Superman’s the world’s greatest force, so together they make a pretty perfect team built on respect. Superheroes are just really cool and fascinating in general, and I’m really glad we keep getting new interpretations and that Batman v Superman turned out really great.