Marvel has pretty much set the tone for comic book movies set in cinematic universes. Ever since Iron Man smashed its way through box office success back in 2008, MCU movies have brought our favourite Marvel superheroes to the big screen and loads of moolah to the studio heads.
DC and WB obviously wanted to replicate Marvel’s success. And with iconic super hero titles such as Batman, Superman et al who could blame them. But if 2013’s Man Of Steel was a rocky start for the DCU, 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is proving to be an even worse launch pad for the larger DC universe. Critics have almost unanimously panned Snyder’s latest directorial venture in the DCU, even comparing it to the abysmal Sucker Punch.
Although I don’t endorse these scathing reviews, there were a few elements of the movie and marketing that did irk me.
Let’s start with the Doomsday reveal in the trailers. Had the trailers not bombarded us with images of General Zod’s corpse going into the secret facility and the monstrous Doomsday tearing through the rooftops, his appearance in the movie’s final act would have been a grander and awe worthy moment in the movie.
Then there was the unnecessary shoe horning of future DC projects. I get that this movie sets in motion DC and WB’s plans for their extended cinematic universe. But jamming in cameos from all future DC super hero movies was overkill. Also, let’s face it, without any background on the characters, you’re looking at what appear to be an emo teen who blurs in and out, Khal Drogo with his hair open underwater and Miles Dyson working on a brand new Terminator.
Having said that, the movie in my opinion is great. It does a commendable job of setting up the universe for the DC storyline that the future movies will bring into greater focus. Those cameos, although forced, do help expedite the journey DC and WB need to make to catch up with Marvel and the whole Avengers storyline. There are elements in the movie that avid fans will immediately piece together and get a sense of what the cinematic rendition of the DC universe will potentially look like in the coming years and movies.
But more importantly the flick gives us versions of Batman and Superman that we haven’t seen before.
In every previous Batman movie, the masked vigilante is a beacon of justice and principles, even if they are not apparent to those around him. Here, our Batman is broken and desperate. He is willing to cross lines he himself had drawn. He is willing to kill to ensure he can protect those he holds dear. I have a feeling this is somehow rooted not only in his tragic past and the death of his parents but more importantly in the possibility that the Joker of this DCU is in fact an old acquaintance of Batman.
Superman too in this movie is a far cry from all previous versions and even in the previous Man Of Steel. He is in doubt of his own existence and presence on the planet. Various events during the course of the movie deepen this feeling of self doubt he experiences until it finally culminates with his submission to an evil he cannot fight at first. His love for his mother and Lois Lane seem to be his undoing at first.
Both these fractured souls embark on the confrontation which the movie builds up to. And in a pivotal moment of self realisation both rise and become who they are meant to be, the superheroes we know and love. The title in my opinion doesn’t refer to the physical combative showdown of these two icons, but in fact alludes to their inner demons that are brought to the battleground and are ultimately vanquished.
Speaking of the outside force(s) that pit the two titans against each other, Luther’s rendition in the movie is definitely a different take on Superman’s iconic nemesis. Eisenberg may seem off but I personally think he’s done a stellar job at interpreting the character. Although what would have been better is a little more background and motivation for his actions. Avid comic book fans are well aware for the deep hatred and jealousy Luthor holds for Krypton’s favourite son. Showcasing a fraction of the cause for that envy in the movie would have helped further the character’s appeal to movie audiences unfamiliar with the comic lore.
Snyder’s Batman is a great interpretation of the caped crusader in a world where violence is the only choice left for a withered vigilante. Batman has truly lost the will to be the force of good and is willing to compromise on his own principles to ensure the survival of those he holds dear. Affleck proves everyone wrong with his brilliant rendition of the veteran crime fighter. His combat sequences in the movie are reminiscent of those in the Arkham series games and showcase a more brutal and gritty version of Batman. Affleck’s fast becoming everyone’s favourite actor to have donned the bat cowl. And his chemistry with Jeremy Irons’s version of Alfred is even better than the one Bale and Caine shared in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Even the Bat suit in the movie seems closer to the comics than any previous Batman movie.
Visually the movie is a treat for anyone who appreciates comic book art. Snyder, who has admitted that Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns was a major influence, has peppered imagery inspired by comic books all through the movie. There were moments in the movie where I was smirking at the blatant nods to the comic book imagery. Similar to Snyder’s Watchmen (another gem!), the movie is true to the source material in terms of visuals and art. Although the opening sequence has been panned for it’s repetitive nature, I felt that it was shot in a manner befitting of the comic book art hall of fame.
The dream sequences can get a tad confusing and especially the ones where it seems where Bruce is experiencing a dream within a dream is one where some back lore about the characters helps understand what is transpiring on screen. Not to mention also providing a very good idea of what the upcoming DCU movie will build towards (Hint: The Omega Symbol is a HUGE easter egg!).
The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful! Especially the ones revolving around Bruce Wayne/Batman. The template remains inspired from the OST of Man of Steel but adds tunes for the new heroes and villain(s). There a spots where the music does feel harsh and out of tune with the on screen narrative. But those moments are few and far apart. I ended up purchasing the album just so I could listen to A Beautiful Lie and Their War Here (pretty much summing up the first 15 minutes of the movie and Batman’s introduction) on repeat.
There is a very heartfelt review that I urge naysayers to watch in order to appreciate what the movie’s underlying tone is all about. While explaining the reviewer gets teary eyed, and the fundamental theme about the movie that he highlights helps you view all those seemingly non-sensical scenes and plot points in a completely different light. His review struck a personal chord with me and helped me pen my thoughts about the movie a whole lot better!
Personally the movie has grown on me with each passing day ever since I watched it. My first impressions were mostly aligned with the negative reactions I had read prior. But the more I thought about what I had experienced within the confines of the IMAX movie hall, the more I began falling in love with Snyder’s film. I’m at a point where I would probably re-watch the movie and even purchase the Blu-Ray when it’s out. Maybe it’s the inner child in me that got mesmerised by seeing two of the most iconic super heroes in the same frame, but BvS: Dawn Of Justice is certainly one of my favourite movies of this year.