Jenny and I saw BvS last night. It was a great date night. Alas, the movie wasn’t as wonderful as I wanted it to be. To be upfront, maybe I expected too much. I’m one of the few fans who actually enjoyed Man of Steel. Yes, it had some plot and logic problems, but overall it told a good story.
So I went into BvS thinking it would be more of the same, just bigger and louder. Well, it was big and loud, but most of it fell flat on its face. I’m referring to pretty much the entire first two-thirds of the movie wherein Batman and Superman are racing…. well, kinda shuffling … toward an epic showdown.
*SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE ON *
It all stems from what is really a silly misunderstanding. Batman is convinced that Superman is somehow to blame for General Zod’s attack on Metropolis and is dead-set on removing the “threat” of Superman from the world, going so far as to grab some kryptonite to forge into weapons with the purpose of killing Supes. Yes, you heard right. Batman in this movie is not only the world’s worst detective with the deductive powers of a tree stump, he’s also ready, willing, and able to kill a superhero just because he could someday be a threat. The line which tells it all is when Batman tells his trusty butler/sidekick Alfred that if there’s even a 1% chance that Superman could go rogue, he must be killed. Wow. When did Bruce Wayne morph into Donald Trump. I kept expecting Wayne to tell people about the “big, beautiful wall” he would build to keep these pesky space-aliens off his yard.
For his part, Superman plays these scenes with cold detachment. He wants to be a hero, but some people don’t like him. Boohoo. President Obama deals with this shit everyday but Superman can’t stand it when the pundits on the evening news dare to question his morality? Talk about anti-heroic.
The weakness of this story is highlighted at the climax of the Batman-v-Superman battle royale when these two “heroes” finally have a ten-second conversation and realize they are on the same side. Duh. Thanks to the creators of this movie, Batman and Superman have been whittled down to the dumbest, most hair-trigger, least-trusting people on the planet. Even Spongebob F—ing Squarepants shows more mental wherewithal.
Look, the basic premise of this film – that Batman and Superman should fight – is shitty at best, but these kind of hero-v-hero battles have been done over and over in comics, and done much better. The movie takes a giant crap on everything these characters ever stood for. Batman, instead of being a super-sleuth, is shown as a rich, muscle-bound terrorist. Superman is depicted with all the remoteness of Dr. Manhattan, but without any of the philosophical underpinnings.
And as for that mega-battle hyped in the title? While well-choreographed in a technical sense, it was just plain stupid from story-logic point of view. Batman, bedecked in cheap Iron Man armor and wielding a kryptonite-tipped spear, flicks on the bat-signal and waits for Supes to show up. Superman does so, because he and Batman are both completely unable to foresee Lex Luthor’s childishly obvious manipulations. Even if I buy the reasons behind it, the battle was idiotic. Superman goes to meet Batman because he wants to talk; Batman just wants blood. But Superman is stupid, so he just walks into Batman’s traps. No using his x-ray vision beforehand to check the scene. No using his heat vision to spot-weld Batman’s armor into a pile of slag from a safe distance. Nope, Supes just walks into trap after trap, refusing to even try to dodge the kryptonite-laced smoke grenades. And of course, Batman refuses to listen to anything Superman tries to say to solve their dispute. Egads, these two idiots deserve each other.
So they beat on each other for a while, giving some audience members the blood they desire. And how does it end? Oh, Superman finally manages to say one word, which leads to a 10-second conversation wherein both “superheroes” realize this was all a big misunderstanding. From that moment on, they are bestest buddies. C’mon. How stupid and trite can we make this movie?
That all being said, things got slightly better after Bats and Supes made up. Batman goes to save Martha Kent and engages in the best fight scene in the movie against Luthor’s mercenaries. Meanwhile Superman goes to confront Luthor, and ends up battling Doomsday.
Sigh. Doomsday? Really? For those of you unfamiliar, in 1992 the Superman comics had an arc of stories called The Death of Superman, where the Big Blue battles an unstoppable science-engineered killing machine named Doomsday. It was done very well, reviving my interest in a character I hadn’t read in a long time. An entire movie could have been devoted to this epic battle. Instead, it’s tacked onto the end of this movie like an afterthought. Yes, the battle itself is shot well and we get to see some cool explosions, but it was like if George Lucas had just tossed Darth Vader into the end of A New Hope without any of the lead-up scenes that made us fear Vader in the first place. Who is this guy with the black armor and James Earl Jones’ voice? Nevermind, he’s just here to fight and die, don’t ask any questions, kid.
There was no story value here. Doomsday is just a placeholder opponent. Just a sad, sad cherry on top of this pathetic sundae.
While we’re at it, why did Superman just allow the crashed Kryptonian scout ship from the last movie to sit in the middle of Metropolis where it could be used by a villain like Luthor in the first place? Oh yeah, stop thinking. Superheroes are dumb as a bag of rocks.
Talking about token characters, this film treats Wonder Woman like day-old bread. For ninety percent of the movie, she’s just a mysterious (and hot) woman in a slinky dress, trying to get some photo back from Luthor by attending parties and exchanging long glances with Bruce Wayne. What the frak? Sorry, if Wonder Woman wants something you took from her, she is a godsdamned goddess. She just walks up to your lab-fortress, busts down the door, and beats you into giving it back. But no…. we need her to just show up at random scenes and look mysterious. Really, stop asking questions.
Honestly, the entire Wonder Woman set-up felt like pandering to her fan base. Finally, you get to see your favorite character in a feature film! Well, sorta. Just ignore that she’s eye-candy for the boys until the very end. I guess we can at least be happy that she speaks with more intelligence and commonsense than either of the title characters, but that’s a very low bar to hurdle.
Princess Diana does show up again at the very end to help Batman and Supes battle Doomsday. And she kicks serious ass. It’s great . . . if you don’t ask why she’s getting involved in the first place, since she states very flatly that she’s done meddling in mortal affairs. But hey, the film needs a boost, so turn off your brain and toss her into the fight. We need more explosions!
I’m on the fence about adding a sword and shield to Wonder Woman’s accoutrements. On one hand, they look awesome, giving her a classic warrior look. On the other, she is as strong and tough as Superman, obviously smarter than Batman, and now she has Captain America’s impenetrable shield and a sword that rivals Thor’s hammer. Why the frak is Luthor worried about Superman? This movie reduces Superman to a low-powered chump. A chump who worries about what people say about him, no less. Just grab some kryptonite that seems to be lying around everywhere and launch a PR campaign against him. He’ll crumble. But Wonder Woman is the real power in this DC universe. Luthor should have been plotting against her the entire time. At least she would have had a compelling reason to be in this movie.
All in all, BvS is fatally flawed on some basic levels if you actually want to care about its characters or story world. Don’t look to Batman to be intelligent (or consistent in his morality). Don’t look to Superman to be the unassailable bastion of justice. And don’t look for Wonder Woman at all until the very end. In this movie, these characters are just pawns moved around to be in the right place for the explosions and fist-fights to happen.
My problem is that I went in expecting to see something comparable to The Avengers. Or even Iron Man 3. Instead, I got an experience which reminded me of Superman IV: The Quest for Your Money.