Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice – First Thoughts (spoilerish)

I saw Batman v. Superman Tuesday night. I normally wait until I have the DVD and can pause the movie while its playing, write down quotes, etc, before writing a review – but several of my friends on Facebook have asked for my thoughts, so here it goes – based on one viewing.

Overall – I liked it, but I have quibbles. Two of the quibbles were rather important – Ben Affleck (didn’t like him, more below) and the director (Dear Warner Brothers – Can we please fire Zack Synder? Please?) But there were also good things, and overall, taken all together, not only was the movie not as bad as I’d expected from the fannish rumbling and even critical backlash I’d heard even while trying to ignore spoilers, As I said, overall I liked it.

So – starting with the good:

I loved, loved, loved Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) – and I loved that she was a mysterious woman. We really don’t know who she is at first, and I liked that surprise factor. And she kicked butt during the fight sequences. I loved that. Plus her New 52-inspired armor actually worked for me.

I also really liked that the two “hero women” in the film were in a very real sense – the only ones with brains (we’ll get to that). Lois Lane and Diana Prince were the only people who knew what was going on. And they seemed to be at times the only ones with common sense.

Lex Luthor – omg, Lex Luthor. I never thought I’d be excited by Lex, he’s always bored me, other than his rather obvious direct parallels to real world politicians and businessmen. We’ve seen Lex as a buffoon, as a sociopath, and as cold unemotional b*****d, and even as president of the US – but I have never seen Lex Luthor as totally bonkers. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex is completely and totally nuts – and even people other than Superman seem to realize it. Eisenberg plays Lex like he’s The Joker – and I liked it. It was very different, and it was interesting. Possibly in the Chinese sense (May you live in interesting times – the old Chinese curse) but wow. That was pretty much amazing.

I also liked that the film started with a different view of the battle from the end of Man of Steel. Seeing the same events from a different perspective was a cool way to start the film. And it should have set-up why Bruce was, um, concerned, to say the least about Superman.

I also loved the sneak peaks into the other “meta-humans”. But I refuse to spoil that by going into details.

Okay – now on to the bad.

Ben Affleck – from the beginning, the very beginning, I questioned this casting choice. And Affleck sank the last superhero movie he was in (2002’s Dare Devil), but I reserved judgement until I saw it. And Affleck was so bad as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Just awful. His grizzled look, heavy armor, and throaty voice reminded me of The Dark Knight Returns – both the graphic novel and the two-part animated film. But whereas it works, both as costume design and by the actor (Peter Weller) in The Dark Knight Returns it definitely does not work – at all – in Batman v. Superman. This film is supposed to be setting up the Justice League – so Batman should be young and relatively new to crime fighting. He definitely should not be old, cynical, gruff, rough and tumble, and grizzled. It was just wrong. I also hated seeing Batman using guns. Batman doesn’t use guns. It’s one of his major principles. Having Batman using guns, beating criminals to a pulp, and even branding them – that makes him into the criminal those who do not know the canon always accuse the character of being. Heroes need to be heroic or they aren’t heroes.

Bruce Wayne’s cynical outlook and utter lack of trust, especially of Superman, just didn’t really play either.

And since when did Bruce start having apocalyptical visions of the future? Can someone explain that entire thread in the film to me? Because it made no sense.

The other big problem was the director. At this point, I’m thinking Zack Snyder needs to have his directing license pulled. His ADHD hyperactive directing style is counter-productive. I found I was just starting to get involved in a story thread – when Snyder would change focus, completely. Action is completely meaningless if you don’t care about the characters – and Snyder directs in such a way it’s like he’s afraid of character and actual meaning. Good characters, meaning – that’s basic to what makes a film work. You have to care about the characters and have empathy for them. Characters drive the story – that doesn’t make it “boring”, it makes good film. Action sequences centered on characters we actually care about always work better that action that’s simply there to blow stuff up. And the sad part is, Snyder’s such as bad director he could sink the entire DC Comics movie line before it gets started. If Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice has poor box office results – Warner’s could sink the whole line as “not profitable”.

OK – and on to the fan wank. Do Superman and Batman actually duke it out? Yes, they do. But what did I think of that scene? I was angry and annoyed. All Superman had to say was five words. Five words. He’s the bloody man of steel and he can’t get out five words because he’s either too dumb or too busy? Come on! That is not good action or good drama – it’s a bad excuse for a fight. And, in the end, it’s Lois who points out the truth to Batman. Though it was nice to see Lois being proactive for a change – that whole big fight scene just… well, it got my blood boiling. (Also, not spoiling what Superman just needed to say, because: major plot point, send me a message or comment below if you want to know.)

OK, finally, nice, not quite subtle point about how people treat Superman – as a hero, then as someone to fear, then as someone who’s “alien”, then as a saviour again. I actually liked that bit.

Overall, I’d say – go see Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice. It’s worth two and half hours of your time. And it’s the necessary prequel to Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc, which I have high hopes for. I will be getting the DVD or Blu-Ray and posting a full review then.

UPDATED: 4/3/2016 to fix typos.


  • Title: DareDevil
  • Director: Mark Johnson
  • Date: 2002
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Genre: Action, Fantasy
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Gardner, Colin Farrell, David Keith
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“We made each other a silent promise to never give up, to be fearless, to stick-up for the long shots like us. We were two fighters on the come back trail.”  — Matt Murdock

“You killed the only two people I ever loved. Why?”  — DareDevil
“Business. That’s all it ever is, is business.” — Kingpin

“That this city is born of heroes. That one man can make a difference.”  — DareDevil

DareDevil is of course based on the Marvel character of the same name. I’m a DC gal, not Marvel so much, so I’m not that familiar with the source material, though I think I read a DareDevil graphic novel once. The movie though explains what you need to know about the character’s background and shows us Matt Murdock’s journey. Matt grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, the son of a former boxer. His father, Jack, is washed-up now but urges Matt to not fight but to get good grades so he can become a doctor or a lawyer.

Matt, at 10 or so, loses his sight in a biohazard chemical spill. At 12, his father is killed, leaving him all alone in the world. However, he manages to become a lawyer anyway and specializes in helping innocent people – ending-up doing a lot of pro-bono work, much to the chagrin of his best friend and partner. Matt, also, at night is DareDevil, The Man Without Fear (formerly The Boy Without Fear), who uses his acute radar-like hearing and highly developed senses of touch and smell to fight crime and to seek vengeance.

I loved how this movie visualized the way Matt “sees” by sound. It was innovative and just plain cool-looking. I also liked that the credits were in braille which transformed into letters, though I don’t know if the braille was accurate. There are some other stunning visuals in the film as well – When Jack dies, it’s in a dark alley, with a yellow caution sign at one end that says, “End”. Some symbolism there, don’t you think? And the brilliant red rose dropped on Jack’s body is the only real color in the shot. Actually, the color palette of the entire film is very muted and dark – emphasizing the darkness of the world Matt Murdock inhabits – both literally as a blind man, and figuratively as a masked vigilante.

Anyway, as an adult with a dual identity, Matt is working in the justice system by day, fighting criminals by night. One day he meets Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) in a coffee shop, as Matt, and the two begin to date. However, when The Kingpin (of crime), hires the assassin, Bullseye, to kill Elektra’s father, not only does he succeed, but it looks, even to Elektra, that DareDevil is the guilty one. Elektra practices the martial arts she’s learned since she was five, dresses in black leather (of course) and sets out to find and kill DareDevil for killing her father. They fight, and Elektra stabs him in the shoulder. She pulls off his mask and is shocked to find it’s Matt – though she also now believes him – she knows Bullseye is to blame, not Matt. Speaking of – Bullseye shows up, fights Elektra, and kills her. Or does he? The end of  the film makes one wonder. DareDevil goes after Bullseye, they fight, he kills Bullseye (by throwing him through a church Rose window no less), then he goes after Kingpin. But during his fight with Kingpin, he comes to a realization: he no longer wants vengeance after seeing what it did to Elektra. He leaves Kingpin to the police. DareDevil will be the city’s protector, not a masked vigilante seeking random vengeance.

Again – I’m more of a DC gal, but I will say that the Marvel Comics characters make for good movies. And, even though I see a lot of similarities between DareDevil and Batman, I still think DareDevil is a good movie – the visuals are very, very cool. I particularly liked the ghostly images and white-on-blue or sparkly dots (e.g. rain) used to visualize how Matt “sees” – unusual, visually stunning, and something that makes you think. How unusual is that in a “comic book” fantasy movie? This also is a fairly dark film, really. Matt’s life is grim, and Elektra’s is about as bad.

Recommendation: See it – at least once.
Rating: 3.5
Next Film: Date Night