DC is scrambling right now to do what has taken Marvel a decade-plus: formulate a coherent, cinematic universe that is both well-done and can be financially milked for eternity. Yet, Marvel has slowly tweaked their formula over multitudes of years and films, and this, a bald-faced attempt to cash in on a similar concept, seems destined to fail.
Zach Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (known forever after as BvS) is the blueprint in terms of how badly the need to build a shared universe of films can fail. Because somewhere, cowering underneath the pile of nods to future films about superheroes yet to grace the silver screen, there might exist a good movie or three, but this convoluted mess of a film never gets around to exploring them. To review this film, you don’t really need to dig into spoilers or plot, because the plot is so buried underneath a cavalcade of glorified post-credit scenes, that it doesn’t matter. Know this: Batman and Superman fight, Lex Luthor is a bad guy, and by the end of the film you’ve been introduced to enough new characters that DC can make a film a year until the world implodes. Even with a two and a half hour running time, this film feels cramped, because DC is trying to jump start an entire new universe without any of the legwork. Instead of trying to explore the reasoning and/or the character motivations for why this Batman is beaten down and embittered or why Superman struggles with his role in society, they just toss it out there and hope that the audience will grab the ball and keep running. Or more so they, toss out major character developments but then drown them in excessive fight scenes. I don’t care about Batman’s position in the film, because Snyder makes no attempt to define this version of Batman. He is simply broken and beaten because that is what he needs to be to drive the film, and the future films in this franchise forward. This Batman deserves a film that explores the notion of his particular take on heroism as good as Snyder’s take on Superman was in Man of Steel. As does the relationship between Lex Luthor (played with tinny psychosis by Jesse Eisenberg) and Superman or Superman and Doomsday or Lex Luthor and his own demons – but instead, Snyder crams them all into a 3 hour fight scene and seemingly hopes that he can drown out the need for a coherent story with explosions and fan-bait. Honestly, Lex Luthor is Superman’s main bad guy – a man who believes he’s a god squaring off against a god who wants nothing more then to be human – and in this film (I can only imagine the last for Mr. Eisenberg) the two characters spend maybe four minutes of one on one screen time together. It’s embarrassing and indicative of the entire film’s sacrifice of strong character development and narrative progression in favor of setting stage for future blockbusters. People can argue that this is just a landing pad for the next wave of DC films, better films you would hope, but if this is the foundation, I want nothing to do with what comes next.
One Last Thought:
Not only is this film bad on the big scale – you know characters and story lines – but if you’re paying any attention through the laser eyes and over-acting, it’s also terrible with small details. Characters just do shit in this movie because seemingly that’s what they need to do to push forward to the next scene. I’m shaking my head just thinking about it.