Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By: Matt Waterman, Guest Contributor
“Black vs. Blue. Day vs. Night.” Batman v. Superman; Dawn of Justice. This film was one of the most hyped up movies in film history. Despite this fact, it has some of the most diverse reviews of any film that I have seen. Never have I seen the fans and the critics so split on a single film before. Yet Batman v. Superman proved to do just that. On Rotten Tomatoes, one of the biggest movie review websites, the critics gave Batman v. Superman just a 29%. Yet, the fan’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, rated the film over 70%. I have to agree with the host of Mixed Drinks, a film and video game review show on wxlvradio.com; the same station where I do my show. To open the show on Wednesday, March 30, he said about Batman v. Superman, “I don’t know what the critics were watching. I thought they had to be watching a different film. I went into the film thinking that it wouldn’t be that good, because of the reviews that I saw. I had to eat my words. It was amazing.” I am not sure why the film got such low scores from critics. After seeing the film twice, my rating for this film is a solid 7.7 out of 10. Granted, this film will not absolutely blow your mind, but it is also not a bad film. In fact, it is an excellent lauchpad for DC Comics to now expand their universe.
One thing that I want to say right off the “Bat” (pun intended) about this film is that I feel like people went into this film thinking that it would be like a Marvel picture. With its humor and relatively light-hearted characters, it is easy to enjoy and like Marvel’s superheroes. But DC’s heroes are different. Just by how they were written in the comics, they are darker and not as light-hearted as Marvel characters are. Batman is not going to be going around making jokes, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow have no problem killing someone if they get in their way, and the villains for DC are much more psychotic and brutal than Marvel’s are. Just look at the Joker and Lex Luthor and compare them to any Marvel villain and you will see the difference. The Marvel impression of heroes has been on our brains in recent years due to the fact that Marvel has made significantly more pictures than DC. But we need to understand that they are very different, Marvel and DC, and we should have different expectations for both superhero universes.
Now, on to the three pros and cons that I and the fans have for the film. First, lets take a look at some of the cons that fans had with this film. The biggest one that fans disliked, and even I had some problems with it, is the story. The story is kind of all over the place, and it is rather difficult to understand what is going on throughout the film. The story introduces seemingly random bits of flashbacks or nightmares or visions, only adding to the complexity of the story. Along with those, the story seems to just vault forward at certain points without much explanation, thus adding to the difficulty in understanding and following it.
But I understand why it was like this. Batman v. Superman had to introduce Batman and Wonder Woman into the DC universe. Now, you might be thinking that we already have Batman, and you would be correct. But what DC Comics is doing is bringing Batman into the Man of Steel Universe, thus creating the need to re-introduce the Bat of Gotham. This is something that fans, including myself were hoping to not have in the film. We already know how the Batman was created, and the tragedy with his parents; we do not need to see it again. The story for Batman v Superman is jumbled, fast, and challenging to follow.
The second con of this film is the ending. A friend of mine had the opinion and made the comment that though the first 3/4 of the film were good, the final 1/4, when Batman v. Superman ends and they team up with Wonder Woman to fight Doomsday, the film goes down south. This is an accurate depiction of the film. The end, despite the epicness of the battle against Doomsday, the ending is rather sudden and jumbled. This is kind of a joint point with my previous point about the story, but the story of a film can be poor, yet the ending be spectacular. That was not the case in this film. Once they tried to set up the Justice League after Batman v. Superman, it was a bit of a mess. And this could have been avoided if they had not spent the first 20 minutes of the movie setting up Batman. We already know who he is and how he was created. That time could’ve been used later in the film to help set up the Justice League in a more thorough way. The ending to Batman v. Superman was messy and rushed.
The third and final con that I have for this film is that Batman v. Superman was hard to understand unless you had previous knowledge about the DC universe. Now, to someone like me, who is a passionate DC Comics fan and knows more than he probably should, I really liked that part of it. But I also understand that not many people understand the DC side of things, and that, other than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, people generally do not know more about the DC heroes and villains. This makes this aspect a con for most people, including a lot of fans. It is not a con for me personally, but for a movie fan, this is a con.
One scene in particular that I found to be true to this is Batman’s “vision” of a world controlled by Superman. When he is fighting the guards with the Superman symbol on their arms, that strange circular symbol is in the earth, and those random flying monsters came out of the sky to help subdue the Batman. Now, unless you know a lot about DC, you would’ve been confused, and maybe even frustrated that the movie had yet another random thing that did not seem to fit. Yet, for me, and others who know DC, we understand the power of that scene. The flying monsters are Darkside’s minions.
Now, you are probably asking, who the heck is Darkside? Well, I am glad you asked. Darkside is the villain of the DC universe. Despite the presence of Doomsday, he is not the villain of DC. That honor goes to Darkside. Darkside is the most powerful being in DC Comics. He wants control of the entire universe. And the only thing that could stop him is the Justice League. So if, say, Superman would go into business for himself, or be hurt in a way which would make him turn away from humanity, Darkside would have one less, and one of the most powerful heroes, out of his way. Plus, he could use Superman as a right hand, executing his every will.
And this is the very situation that Batman fears. And his fears are “confirmed” by the red guy who comes out of his computer. But this, to someone like me who knows the DC universe well, is another powerful moment. Another friend of mine pointed out that this could have been the Flash, traveling back in time, with the help of Cyborg, to send Batman this message. Seeing the film a second time, I think that that theory is actually correct, and that was the point behind his “vision/dream”.
This might all seem a little strange, and difficult to understand despite my efforts to explain it. And that is why this aspect is a con of this film. Unless you understand and research a little into the DC universe, you will not get parts like this. So those are my three cons to this film. They all, ultimately, circle back to the story. And that is the biggest problem. The story was poor in this film, as I have just shown. Even for someone who knows the DC universe rather well, the story did not match the hype that this film had.
Despite the flaws in the story, there were many aspects to this film that were incredibly well done. The flaws in the story are the reason that this film did not get a higher score from me than a 7.7, but the majority of this film is really well done. I do not have the time or space to elaborate on all of the things that I liked in this film, so I will only focus on three of them.
The first pro to this movie is the evolution of Superman and Batman. In the first parts of this film, we see Batman and Superman each acting maybe a little irrational and out of character. Batman is branding criminals and Superman is flying across the world to save Lois. A friend of mine offered up this point as something that he did not like the film. But, on the contrary, this aspect of the film added to the depth of each character. Initially, it looks like they are being like immature bullies who are running around and just beating up anyone and everyone for no real reason. But, this is a false assumption about the characters. There is much more to both Batman and Superman than just something as shallow as bullying everyone and anyone because they can.
Superman, to start, is struggling with his dual identity. He is Kryptonian, yet he desires to be human. This is why he seems so focused on the things of humanity. He is struggling with reconciling Superman with Clark Kent. And what makes this point is the conversation that Clark Kent has with his Earth mom. She says he can either be Earth’s hero or he can just be a normal nobody. “You don’t owe this world a thing.” This statement made by Clark’s mom shows his struggle. And this makes that part of Superman, the human side, makes this part of the movie excellent. It makes it seem more realistic for Superman. People see him as an invincible, impenetrable alien with no weekness; yet this is not Superman. Superman is just as much a human being as he is Superman. And this being a part of the film is a definite pro.
But, what about Batman? Batman, at the beginning of the film, seems to just be running around branding criminals for no apparent reason. But his behavior for this, and for even going after Superman is explained in his conversation with Alfred. Batman says that he has been in Gotham for 20 years. “How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?” “We know what promises are worth.” Batman is tired of fighting criminals and just having more take their place. Batman is looking for a purpose for the Batman, and he thinks he found one; in being mankind’s defense against Superman. This evolution of both Batman and Superman adds to the depth of the normal characters we are used to, making them that much more interesting for us fans.
The second pro to this film is Lex Luthor. Some villains in large scale movies like this tend to be so cliché. They are going after mankind, and want to rule the world. But Lex Luthor is different. He does not want to control the world or dominate humanity someway. All he wants is for the world to despise Superman. He thinks that Superman is a fraud and fears that he will not always be mankind’s friend. He sees Superman as a threat, and wants to have some form of defense against him. This is why he is going after the Kryptonie found in the Indian ocean. He wants to make a Kryptonie weapon to be able to use against Superman. Lex Luthor is out to show the world that Superman is not the hero that the world thinks he is. And he is not entirely wrong. Lex Luthor’s idea of Superman is actually more accurate than people think, which is part of the reason that he is such a good villain. Most villains are not accurate in their depiction of whatever they want to change. But Lex Luthor is. This fact about him makes this another pro for this film.
The final pro, and my personal favorite fact about this film, is the introduction of the majority of the major Justice League players. Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg, and one of my favorite superheroes, Aquaman. Now the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman are only in the film in little tidbits, but Wonder Woman is a major player in Batman v. Superman. And all of them, except for Cyborg, showed us just what they can do.
The Flash had his little moment when he saved the convenience store clerk, but then he had his moment when he traveled back in time to warn Batman about Superman. The Flash is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe, and he showed us why. But he is not the most powerful hero to show us their power in this film. That title goes to Aquaman. Now, you might think that Aquaman is a lame hero and one who has no real power. Yet, he is quite the opposite. He can breathe underwater, is as strong as Superman, and can swim as fast as the Flash can run. And he showed us that after he shatters the submarine camera and takes off, swimming at mach 2. I am a little biased about Aquaman, because he is my favorite hero, but, despite that, the facts speak for themselves. But even Aquaman was not the best new hero in this movie. That is Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman was the highlight and one of the most anticipated parts of Batman v. Superman, and she did not disappoint. Her character, her power, and her spunk make her just that. But the other heroes in the film also showed what they can do. Gal Gadot portrays Wonder Woman in the way that all of us superhero fans were wanting her to. She is a total boss, she is fearless, and she enjoys the fight against Doomsday, just as Wonder Woman should. She is superbly skilled with her sword, her strength, and her shield. And her lasso of Doomsday at the end of the battle really showed what she is capable of. Wonder Woman was the main highlight of the film for many film critics and fans alike. In fact, she is one of the only things that some critics actually enjoyed. She is exactly the kind of hero that DC needed in this film.
Those three pros for the film are only a few that I have. But this review is already long enough, and if I keep on going, it might never end. But, with all that I’ve said, my point to all of this is that, despite the minor flaws that the film has, like all films have, this is an absolutely amazing movie. Batman v. Superman does have some plot holes and the the story does jump around, but these flaws are only minor problems when you look at the whole story. The pros of this film strongly outweigh the cons. So, if you are still on the fence about seeing this film when you read this, or if you did not like it the first time, you need to go see it or maybe even see it again. A friend of mine saw it the first time, and rated it a 30%. The second time watching it, his rating went up to a 65%!
Batman vs. Superman; Dawn of Justice is one of the most diversely rated films between the critics and the fans. The film is not perfect, but if you view it with an open mind and not expecting a Marvel movie, this film will be not only pleasantly surprising, but you will find it to be better than the critics are saying. I went into watching this film with really high expectations, and I had every single one of them blown away. Batman v. Superman might not be the best film of all time, but it is one of the best superhero movies of all time, and it is defiantly worth your watch.