For a comic book reader and Batman/Wonder Woman fan like myself, the new Zack Snyder film didn’t suck as much as people and critics claim. To give credit where credit is due, the movie functions as an ode to the many works of Frank Miller intertwined with popular DC Comics lore. From Flashpoint to Infinite Crisis, all of the universes and alternate realities get to play a role in this mash up of epic proportions. Even Wonder Woman’s story line seemed to elude to a better and brighter future for DC movie productions. With WB’s guidance and production values, the goal is to launch the Justice League in all its glory to steal some of Marvel’s Avengers thunder.
There are technically no spoilers in this review but if you haven’t kept up with the hype and drama of Dawn of Justice, or the comic book series, you will be spoiled by the discussion. Proceed with caution.
Stephen Amell, aka CW’s Arrow, was the first person to be royally PO’d about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (DoJ). The reason? Green Arrow’s role would be recast if DC ever launched a Justice League movie, and DoJ is the precursor to that endeavor. This also meant that a new Green Lantern was needed, and that Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash needed to be cast. I suspect that Amell’s outrage prompted DC to remove Green Arrow from the original DoJ line up to avoid angering and alienating the fans. This movie needs all the support it can muster to be considered a financial successs. (It looks it will be profitable in spite of the detrimental critic’s reviews.)
On a similar note, Barry Allen fans would have had reason to complain about The Flash’s casting which occured in parallel to the CW’s series debut. Early on DC made sure we all understood that like Arrow, the current protagonist would not be part of the actors selected for the Justice League. Ezra Miller got the job instead. Supergirl is on that same corollary, if they ever used her in the movies she would most likely be recast. Why? These characters are from an alternate reality and are not necessarily the ones we follow on TV or in print. DC is adamant we all adhere to this concept. Confusing isn’t it?
The idea, albeit it subliminal, is to get people back into comic book stores. The movies generate more revenue than the printed novels they emulate, but I don’t see new readers flocking to buy Wonder Woman #50 after this effort. It amazes me that these paper and ink heroes need films to move their stories. You’d assume by now they would be more avid followers in Kindle format too but the issues aren’t really moving as well and most incarnations of The New 52 will be killed off and rebooted due to dwindling sales. (Rebirth is already planned to replace The New 52.)
Perhaps this is why DC and WB went back to Frank Miller prose and character design to shape Dawn of Justice. Ben Affleck’s Batfleck could very well have been a continuation of Bale’s depiction. Older and wiser Bruce is back wearing the suit after Wayne Manor is torched and Jason Todd is killed by the Joker (not shown in the movie). In his DoJ Batcave, the Bat keeps Robin’s vandalized uniform, a shout out to the loyal readers of the Batman. Jeremy Irons brings gravitas to Alfred who, like Michael Cain’s butler, is dead set on getting his master to hang up the cape for good and get married. After all Bruce is in his late 40s or early 50s! (Hence the Reed Richard’s white hair stripes.) Enter Gal Gadot’s character into the mix.
Presented as a love interest and quickly dialed down to partner in crime, Diana Prince comes to the scene because she is looking for a memento that Lex Luthor has to prove she is a Meta Human. Bruce helps the lovely lady and discovers her secret identity. In the process, he also discovers other players with supernatural abilities, all thanks to Luthor’s scheming. FYI – In the comic book world Bruce is the one who has a file on everyone to call out weaknesses and create weapons to destroy rogue operatives within the Justice League. This is one of the liberties the screenwriters take that is not necessarily based on the comics. Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex is half joker half Luthor, crazy and ingenious at the same time. It wasn’t as bad as I thought this character would be but it wasn’t better than Kevin Spacey’s or Gene Hackman’s eccentric portrayal either. Note that Metropolis and Gotham seem to be across the bay from each other which my husband informed me isn’t an error. Apparently the cities have been moved close to one another as time has progressed in our reality, due to convenience.
Superman, still played by Henry Cavill, is the backdrop used to develop the story. He is no longer just the Man of Steel, he is a god and a symbol of hope. If he went off the deep end the planet would be in danger. Enter the senators and dialog about how to control and manage these superheroes. Kind of Civil War-ish but mostly done to keep the rethoric moving. Superman bad, meta humans bad too! However, in this universe the Justice League will assemble instead of tearing each other appart.
Ma Kent is very clear on one point: Superman owes nothing to this planet or to its people. Diane Lane nails it and so does the cameo from Kevin Costner. (Pa Kent is still very dead.) Clark Joseph Kent has a choice to make: protect Lois, the woman he loves, or save her by not loving her and distancing Superman from her. True to form, everyone understands that to get to the Man of Steel you have to put Ms Lane in peril. To add a bit of a twist to the old “save the damsel in distress model” the writers make the call to add Martha Kent and Martha Wayne into the formula. Yes, they bro-bond over their moms! It was a nice twist of events even for a fan like me who should have realized these two women shared a first name.
If you have no idea what Flashpoint is it is safe to assume you didn’t understand why Flash (the dude in the vortex) was giving Batman advice about the future via the most awesome dream/alrernate world sequence I have ever seen in a DC movie: A nod to the Red Son graphic novel was introduced while covertly presenting Doomsday and Darkseid references. If you don’t know those either, these are traditional Superman nemesis that usually result in comic-title-multiple-issues-crossovers. These are the DC universe bad guys. My husband calls these crossover events money suckers. He ends up having to read comic books of heroes he couldn’t care less aboutt or doesn’t follow. It’s the best way to develop a story and hook you on new characters, if you are into getting the big picture. A little extra revenue doesn’t hurt anyone. 😀
By the end of the movie you come to accept two things: #1. Clark and Superman can never coexist, he has to choose one or the other and #2. The Justice League is the future of the DC cinematic universe. This entry into the Superman saga is a spring board to present to the world a whole new set of superheroes that have been on the back burner for a long time. Rumor has it Wonder Woman will get a movie out of this deal. Yay! I loved her strength and smugness but the accent they asked Gal to use was terrible and distracting for me. I didn’t know Amazons had a non-USA drawl. (Silly fan!) She very much pwned Doomsday and the caped guys though. Kudos for the performance Ms. Gadot, A++.
Even though I am not as excited to see all these characters get their own spin-off movies like the Marvel Avengers, I have to admit I take great pride and pleasure knowing that the screenwriters are infusing the scripts with more comic book material. It is a nice tip of the hat for those of us who grew up with Aquaman cartoons and The New Adventures of Batman, who know how cool characters like the Flash and Wonder Woman can be if cast properly. (Linda Carter, anyone?) Although it was supposed to be Superman’s sequel it is fitting that it wasn’t just about him. We got to experience the Holy DC Trinity in all its live action glory and it was spectacular! Left me wanting more.
I can respect those who thought this was crap as the movie wasn’t necessarily catering to the layman. I’ve been asking for this miracle to happen and I have to appreciate it to avoid becoming a hypocrite. However, the fighting sequence between the protagonists did feel a bit over the top to the point my brain drifted and wondered if Goku or Vegeta should tag Batman out. I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one.
B+ to Zack Snyder et al. Go watch it and come to your own conclusions. Whatever it takes to see Diana Prince back in action is worth it to me. Batman v Superman wasn’t a truly awful movie and was worth the price of IMAX admission. Do your best to research the rest of the story before critiquing how bad it was; the real fans will thank you.