After an on-going controversy stemming from its initial production and casting, the highly anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice finally opened up last Friday. Although the gladiator matchup of the ages left critics with a bad taste in their mouth and less than kind reviews, the film racked up a little more than an astonishing $420 million at the global box office last weekend—grossing more at the cinema during its opening than the first collaborative Marvel film, The Avengers in 2010.
As of Wednesday, Variety reported that Batman v Superman ranked in a grand haul of $501.9 million worldwide. It seems the more critics hamper down on the allure of the DC Universe’s efforts to create their own box office success and cosmos on the big screen, the more audiences are determined to see what all the fuss is. Evidently, the film, which is an appropriate set-up for future DCU films, has polarized critics and audiences alike as fans are more receptive of the film than the media who seemingly wants to deter audiences in favor of familiarity, ie. the Marvel movie franchises.
We already know the history of Clark Kent/Superman and Bruce Wayne/Batman, but in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we are given a peek into the preliminary coupling between the two. While the title of the film may give it all away, this film is not at all tale of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel sitting down for shawarmas after a sweaty battle and buddying it up. The film pays homage to the duo’s dynamic from the darker comic books, exploring their rivalry, partnership, and ultimately, friendship. Of course, all of that encompasses grit and darkness, something most are not use to seeing on the big screen when it comes to superhero films. But it is a superhero film nonetheless, and one that really stands on its own in the most positive way.
If you’re interested in watching the film for yourself, there are some spoilers beyond this point, so read at your own discretion.
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Do you wonder what happens when superheroes save the world, but leave behind a path of destruction? It’s refreshing to see a superhero movie actually acknowledge that degree of destruction.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice starts where its 2013 DC Comics predecessor Man of Steel ends. The Last Son of Krypton (Henry Cavill) is fighting General Zod (Michael Shannon) over the streets of Metropolis and as an offset, demolishing the city in order to save the people. But what we didn’t know was that amidst the rubble, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) made his way from Gotham to rescue workers at a local Wayne Enterprises branch.
Acknowledging the total devastation that Superman has left behind after ridding the world of General Zod, this reckless behavior intensifies Bruce Wayne’s disdain for The Man of Steel. Disturbed and angered by a frightening 9/11-type disaster that kills his employees, a little girl’s mother, and hundreds more in the city, Bruce channels his resentment in a tactical war against Superman.
Months after the alien showdown, we learn the U.S. government is starting to investigate and question whether there’s a role for Superman in their country, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. Perpetuating the conversation against Superman is the duplicitous and deranged Lex Luthor of LexCorp (Jesse Eisenberg), whose number one mission is to kill Superman, and later pit him and Batman against one another. With continuous efforts to convince Sen. June Finch (Holly Hunter) to help him retrieve kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean from Zod’s terraforming attempt and use the alien DNA as part of a biological weapon against Superman, Finch blocks his requests.
When we see Bruce Wayne in his Gotham habitat with his trusty butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), we discover Batman is up to his crime-fighting vigilante ways, taking down baddies most violently and bringing forth justice. But back at the Daily Planet, journalist by day, Clark Kent considers Batman a real threat and seeks an angle with his editor, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) to expose him. Of course, with any journalist, Perry asks Clark to stick to his beat—the sports section.
While the two superheroes grow to despise and gravely misunderstand one another through circumstances and playground battles, a mysterious woman named Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) shows up, hoping to retrieve her personal files from Lex Luthor. While Batman figures out how to take down the alien in blue tights, Superman is summoned by Sen. Finch to attend a Congressional hearing at the U.S. Capitol to debate the validity of his actions. Unfortunately, Luthor sets up Superman and masterminds a bombing that kills hundreds, including the senator. This forces Superman to go into a self-imposed exile, upsetting and worrying his love, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), while pushing Bruce’s frustrations to the brink. Deciding to take things into his own hands, Batman retrieves the kryptonite and prepares to launch strikes against Superman with a large variety of biomechanical armor and technology fortified with Kryptonite.
Activating the Genesis Chamber aboard Zod’s ship, Lex splices his own DNA with the General’s and the results are ghastly. Producing a monstrous genetically engineered creature made from Kryptonian technology, Lex unleashes Doomsday. But not before he blackmails Superman into confronting Batman by holding his adoptive mother, Martha Kent (Diane Lane) hostage and awaits the death of one of the heroes. As the two fight it out, they realize they have more in common than they initially imagine and come to their senses—thanks to Lois.
With the aid of Diana Prince also known as Wonder Woman (a hero the industry badly needs!), the three join forces in a battle royale against Doomsday. Of course, this film pays homage to the comic books so if you recall the veracity of saturnine some of the storylines illustrated, you might know how this goes.
Batman v Superman is a brilliant re-imagining of the DC Universe and a stirring one too. Shady and raw, the film conjures up sentiments and fear from a world post-9/11 where dreams, visions, memory and history overlay to tell a story about two of the most beloved superheroes of all time. Oh, and of course, the silver screen’s introduction to the dazzling and wondrous warrior that is Wonder Woman.
Affleck and Cavill are both exceptionally superb in the lead roles. While many tried to make Affleck the butt of all jokes for being Batman this time around, it is safe to say he will do an amazing job with the role in the next few years. His Bruce Wayne is not the same sort we’ve seen in Christopher Nolan’s franchise. Closer to the Michael Keaton depiction from 1989, Bruce is middle-aged, jaded and in many ways, has lost faith—and his sidekick, Robin to The Joker. As for Cavill, he’s really grown from Man of Steel and played the angst and heart of Superman most meticulously in this film. Considering how the film ends and the apocalyptic vision Bruce had hinting towards the future (Darkseid, anyone?), the circumstances the characters will find themselves in will give the actors plenty to work with.
Playing amazingly to the neurosis and anxiety of Lex’s derangement, Eisenberg captures the erratic and undeniably psychotic Lex down to a T. Masterfully manipulative and rigid to the altruistic Superman, Eisenberg’s portrayal in comparison to past Luthors is chaotic, frazzled and one to fear. Conversely, it would have been great to see more Irons. He is a wonderful Alfred, reincarnated almost from past versions and very independent. Seen as a great patriarchal figure to Bruce Wayne too, Irons is more pro-active in this role than the other versions allow and takes action when need be.
The women in the film held their own. Observably, Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is such a shining star to the film. Gadot’s portrayal of a strong, fearless warrior is the perfect complement to the doom and gloom. She’s the perfect balance between the underlying anguish between these two lead superheroes as she is the most morally comprised of the three. Maintaining an air of mystery and immense charm, it’s going to be very exciting to see her film in 2017. As for Adams reprising her role as Lois Lane, she is ever spunky and matches Clark/Superman like yin and yang. Playing with great appeal, she is ballsy and caring and her own lead despite falling into traps that almost get her killed. Watching Cavill and Adams blend into one of the most loved couples of all time is sweet to see too, especially since Lois serves as a good influence on Superman and his decisions.
Borrowing inspiration from its iconic designs, situations and attitudes from Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns, the whole film is a fun one for adults. Plenty of action, story, and depth for the future franchises, one of the most exciting aspects to the plot was the clever integration of the upcoming Justice League film. Though it was nice to see Lois with Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy) before he literally bit the bullet (and was an apparent spook from the CIA), it was thrilling to see the integration of the Justice League in the film. One scene in particular finds Bruce awaiting a decryption download containing files on metahumans monitored by Lex Luthor. It is here we get our first glimpse of The Flash (Ezra Miller) trying to relay a message of doom from the future. As the climax builds up, Diana peruses files sent from Bruce of Cyborg, Aquaman and The Flash, making her wonder if she should run or stay.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a good film and a long-awaited one for fans appreciative of the comic books. While Snyder did a fair job directing the film, it’s good to see David S. Goyer back at it penning the script. With a well-painted influence from the Man of Steel’s darkened hues and dramatic imaging, Batman v Superman is a very naturalistic story with a somber script. Additionally, its heart pumping soundtrack from composing genius Hans Zimmer manages to really rouse the “feels.” It will be an interesting weekend to see how the film fares as it heads into its second official week. And if the reaction from fans has been impartial and honest against the word (or cockamamie) of critics, it’s suspected that the film will stay at the top this weekend.
One common complaint critics expressed is how much of the conflict between the two comes from a place of anger and ignorance instead of necessity. But in reality, such behaviors ring true in our own world. Sure, movies are a form of escapism, but they’re also great chapters in social discourse. It’s as if to say superheroes can’t be tormented or wonder about their real place in the world. If our hearts beat, do we not bleed? And yada, yada. But the scenes of protest outside the U.S. Capitol with citizens waving banners warning Supes that “This is our world, not yours” is a sentiment all too familiar and perhaps, one where many, like the weary media, don’t want to admit their shortcomings of reporting in the form of their favorite comic book.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters. For more information on the film, visit their official website. And follow the film on social media for updates on the future DCU films at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.