There is a lot to consider in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and, while the result is a net positive (just barely), I think we have reached the point where the degree of difficulty is so high in the superhero genre even achieving such a humble milestone will take a supersized effort.
What do I mean by that? Well, if “Batman v Superman” were the first superhero movie you had seen in the past decade, you would be absolutely gobsmacked at the spectacle, especially considering director Zack Snyder’s forte is stunning visuals.
The problem is this isn’t the first superhero movie you’ve seen in the past 10 years and, in fact, it might not even be your 20th (all those Spider-Men, X-Men, Iron Men, and Ant-Men start to add up quickly). You’ve seen these visuals before and, in some cases, the exact same visuals.
How many more times are we going to have to watch poor Thomas and Martha Wayne be gunned down in that alley behind the opera? The only events I think I’ve seen happen on screen more often are D-Day, the shootout at the OK Corral, and the crucifixion of Christ.
Superhero fatigue is real. Don’t believe me, just ask Deadpool. Giving an audience enough that is new, interesting and insightful in regards to these men in tights is more of a challenge than ever.
So here we are again as the DC cast of characters is following the Marvel playbook and bringing together familiar faces in yet another coming wave of team-ups, stand-alones, and crossovers.
“Batman v Superman” is a sequel of sorts to “Man of Steel,” where Henry Cavill returns as the toned and saintly Superman. But all of the wanton carnage, skyscraper demolition and thousands of casualties in Metropolis that served as that film’s finale that didn’t sit well with audiences apparently didn’t sit well with Bruce Wayne (as played by Ben Affleck), either.
Across the bay in Gotham City (wait, is Gotham supposed to be like Oakland, or worse yet, New Jersey?), Batman is harboring some serious animosity regarding the unknowable intentions of an invincible alien, while Clark Kent isn’t too keen on the Dark Knight’s brand of vigilante justice.
Goading these two along an inevitable collision course is obnoxious tech billionaire and aspiring villain Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg), whose motivations are more than a little murky. Is he an evil genius or an insane nut job? Apparently, it’s yes to both.
The cast actually delivers performances that are a notch or two above what the final product deserves; as aside from Eisenberg, there’s not a missed casting in the bunch. Affleck and Cavill are both worthy keepers of the cape and returning for quality turns are Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Jeremy Irons is a home run as Batman’s dutiful butler Alfred and the introduction of Gal Gadot as a certain wondrous woman is easily the most intriguing character to come out of this movie.
There are quibbles to be made aplenty; most notably, clocking by at 151 minutes, this sucker is easily half an hour too long.
It’s clear Snyder is shooting for some Christopher-Nolan-level allegory regarding fear of the other and the danger of persecution, but he’s just not talented enough to pull it off and plot-wise the result is lumpy and uneven.
Now don’t worry, we’re not dealing with a travesty of Michael Bay proportions here. There is still plenty to be impressed with if you’re a fan of things blowing up and people punching each other. “Batman v Superman” is just entertaining and, yes, fun enough to be worth your time, but it falls well short of greatness and fails to feel as epic as the decades of debate held in musty basements and in the aisles of comic book stores leading up to this surely deserved.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout and some sensuality.