Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice packs punches – but lacks heart?

What can I say about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that hasn’t been said by the ten jillion trailers and lacerating critical reviews? Very little. But my will to rant has always been strong.

Warning: I spoiler in my sleep so watch out.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I break the plot down thus:

Superman: “Bruce*, you’re a bad dude. You’re roughing up the baddies too much.”

Batman: “Clark you killed a bunch of Wayne Enterprise employees with that big fight you had which hurt my feeling and everyone else’s, also you maybe shot a bunch of dudes in the desert with bullets and also I’ve been having ‘dreams’ that you go bad and ruin the world.”

Wonder Woman: “Don’t mind me boys, I’m just passing through.”

Lex: [Idiosyncratic exclamation followed by mousey snigger]

Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Now plenty (Seventh biggest box office opening of all time) of folks are loving this film; many calling it the best superhero film so far. I’m not one of these people, but then I thought Revenge of the Fallen was gawdawful and look how well that did.

I was honestly bored through most of the movie. There’s a lot of poetic rumination inserted in order to convince viewers that there’s something going on other than an uber-smackdown between two of the most renowned super-okes (and the clumsy setup for a Justice League movie).

And a lot of things happen just because the plot needs them to. America is furious with Superman but ultimately needs to love him. Batman wants to murder Supes but ultimately needs to be his bestie. And so forth.

Ben Affleck gives it his all and he certainly looks like on-the-page Batman, which was a welcome surprise given the negativity around his casting – Jeremy Irons also does really well as his butler, Alfred. Henry Cavill kind of phones it in, but maybe he’s sulking because Batman got all the cool stuff?

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was a calculated risk that IMO ultimately didn’t pay off. He presents as a kind of frat boy version of Jim Carrey’s Riddler rather than anything resembling the Lex we’ve come to expect – and his motivations ultimately boil down to him being straight-up crazy – which is disappointing because the Joker has that covered already. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) is present but extraneous. Also there’s some Kryptonite, there’s some Doomsday, there’s some Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash. And there are plenty of explosions.

The movie pursues a lot of ideas but fails to follow through on them, instead settling on meaningful looks, proclamations, SFX bombast, obnoxious musical punctuations, and hodgepodge pastiches of Superman/Batman lore that we’re all too familiar with by now.

Ultimately the whole thing left me feeling hollow rather than invested.

*Secret Identities are so 1990.

Batman v Superman LOGO


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the newest superhero film to break box office records with estimated global earnings of $424.1 million. At the South African Box Office it earned more thatn R16 million from 137 screens. The film is directed by Zack Snyder from a screenplay by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and stars Oscar winner Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

Jared Viljoen
Jared is a cantankerous designer looking for love in all the wrong places and living vicariously through television. Sometimes he makes things.

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