If you have not seen DC Comic’s latest contribution to the superhero film genre, fair warning: spoilers ahead.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder, 2016) is a monster movie with super heroes in it. It’s dark and serious and the critics hated that it wasn’t Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014) or The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012) level funny. The whole film leads up to an inevitable city smashing melee between characters with astounding power. And the spectacle of everything unfolding is Fucking Great. Batman gets power armor. Superman has all of the super powers to choose from when he smashes the bad guys. Wonder Woman comes out of the woodwork to put the hurt on a mutant-alien beast with abilities and equipment befitting her name. So I can forgive Zack Snyder’s decision to omit attempts at witty one liners and smiling actors in place of honest to goodness character development and gritty action. As a spectacle of modern cinema this film is really worth watching. Also see Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014) and Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013), for more giant monster fueled destruction.
Ben Affleck is the Batman that we needed. Jeremy Irons is perfectly paired with the role of Batman’s friend and butler Alfred. The casting in the film is as good as anyone could have made it. The contrast in character between Batman who is ruthless and calculating compared to Superman who is all powerful and somewhat naive, accentuates the distinct personalities of both characters. By having them both in the same film, the individual characters are in this case more engaging than they would be without each other as foils.
It’s frustrating as a fan of superhero movies and monster movies to read about the world that these two characters inhabit being portrayed as ‘too dark.’ The existence of super heroes only make sense in a universe that has serious problems. Bruce Wayne’s (Batman) parents were murdered before his very eyes on the streets of Gotham. Superman’s planet was destroyed and Metropolis is at risk of being leveled by space monsters and megalomaniacs regularly. There has to be a motivation for action, however trivial. So good for Warner-Brothers for keeping The Dark Knight dark and showing off some of the steel of The Man of Steel. Not every super hero film needs to be funny and light. Long live variety in this saturated genre.