Holy fuck. Remember when comic book movies were just light entertainment? Remember leaving a Superman movie and just imagining that you could fly or save the world? Remember when Batman would just knock out a few thugs and then go back to living the playboy life of Bruce Wayne? Remember when you would get out of the theater and go straight to the toy store to pick up your favourite characters? Well, with Batman VS Superman those days are clearly over. Sure Man Of Steel was a serious ride but it still felt like the old Superman who was just unquestionably good and out to save a world despite what it might throw at him. This time? Not so much. In fact this time, for a great deal of screen time we are told that our hero from another world is essentially a terrorist, destroying buildings, taking lives, he is a political prisoner, a pawn in the game of senators and the media as they blame him for bad things which surely he had made LESS BAD. Yes, the Superman character is in a strange position in this one, Henry Cavill gets to have zero fun (aside from a few seconds in the bath with Amy Adams..) as either Kent or Superman, in fact we hardly see Kent this time and when we do he is spilling a political diatribe about his alter-ego. Also whereas before Kent was hardly questioned about disappearing every time a cat needed saving from a tree, here there is a constant “Where is Kent?” and it seems strange that the boss would not have his stuff all boxed up when he finally returned. If he returned – there are no bright Kent/Lane scenes here, Snyder’s movie is complete darkness throughout, you expect that from a Batman film but Supes? Not so much.
Lex is awesome. Whereas both Hackman and Spacey played him quite jokey, Eisenberg hits him straight, there is a flash in hs eye that could explode into madness at any time. His finest moment is pushing Lane off of a building, quick and simple and without thinking. He loves being the centre of attention, introducing Kent to Wayne at his big glamorous party which also introduces us to Wonder Woman, if you were thinking that there were not enough characters floating around already.
Does anyone really like Wonder Woman? I mean, maybe it is ironic when I was saying how serious this is that I am now essentially dissing the only real comic book seeming character, but Superman saying “Is she with you?” and Batman replying “I thought she was with you” seems so out of place in the universe that has been built over the first two hours that it makes you think that perhaps WW is merely the joke in the serious sandwich. She doesn’t really matter, I mean does anyone care about Wonder Woman the way we care about Batman or Superman? She’s a B-grade hero side by side with two of the best in the business. I don’t think many are awaiting her solo movie with any great excitement are they? She’s fine but you could easily take out everything she does in this one and nothing would change. “But she ties up that big ugly dude!” Well, yeah, she does tie up the big ugly dude (XXXXXXXX) and give Supes the chance to attack but surely Bats/Supes are a good enough team to do that on their own.
Did I just say Bats/Supes as a team? Yes, i did Oh c’mon, you knew that they would side together as there is always going to be worse things in the world for them to battle. That is not to say we don’t get our Batman VS Superman main event, although you do have to wait two hours for it. It is a great big blast of a battle, pure comic book on screen goodness. Sure all the talking and the politics might make this a more grown up experience but you can still raise a smile just by showing Batman punching the living shit out of the Kryptonian.
If you want pure positivity then I shall shine my light upon Ben Affleck. Now I should perhaps hold up my hand and admit that I would happily go to the cinema just to see Ben or Casey Affleck reading a comic book for two hours, just up there on the screen, looking great, sipping a beer. Thus you might not be surprised to learn I adore this new take on the Caped Crusader. Bale’s performances were good but this time you really feel the rage and anger building up inside Bruce Wayne, later unleashed as Batman starts to take down the bad guys. This Batman actually brands those he defeats, so that they will get hurt when they go to prison. He kicks a lot of ass in this and doesn’t always have to be doing what is right if the alternative is for the best, hence lots of dead bad guys taken out without stopping. Alfred is of course his heart and soul as usual and Jeremy Irons is absolutely brilliant, seemingly understanding Wayne whilst at the same time wishing he would stop doing all these crazy things. He is much more human and likeable than Caine’s portrayal and the scenes with just him and Affleck are some of the best in the picture.
The last ten minutes of a superhero movie usually feature lots of one liners, some relaxing after the big fight or occasionally some triggering of the smoking gun involving future films. There is some of that here but the other action, which I won’t spoil, leaves you breathless, broken and leaving the theater with a tear in your eye and a heavy heart. I hope that despite the massive range of toys available for this one, the parents leave their kids at home, the first two hours would leave them yawning and then the climax could leave them shedding their innocence along with their candy wrappers.
So yeah, wow, all those words just spilled out of me when all I intended to say was that Batman VS Superman is a massive adventure that tries its hardest to squeeze rather too many characters/climaxes into its not-short two and a half hours. Did I like it? Yeah, I did, but I think it would have been better if after Wayne had gone to Metropolis, the film could have split off and become ‘just’ a Batman movie, but one with Lex Luthor in it. Or would that be mixing the streams? I was a fan of Man Of Steel but Superman is kind of left out to dry here, his actions are marked with plenty of 9/11 crashes, explosions and kids left without their parents, not things we would previously have connected with the big S and things that perhaps we see enough of on the news, without bleeding them into our favourite fantasy worlds. He’s a man who can fly and can save us, sometimes the world needs a little hope and it seems as if Snyder is removing it right from the heart of the fictional history. Batman on the other hand is perfect, everything you want from the character(s), a cool calm ladies’ man to the outside world and a dark angry force haunted by the death of his parents at night. His is a world of nightmares and violence and so is Snyder’s. It’s one that I ‘enjoyed’ (this seems completely the wrong word for the darkness contained here) greatly, but my god did I stare at the sky when I came out and instead of smiling and waving a flag I just wanted to take a deep breath and scream out “ARE YOU THERE SUPERMAN?” and for Christoper Reeve to come flying down and save us.