While Marvel fans will have to wait six weeks for Captain America: Civil War, some of them decided to see if Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice could measure up to what’s coming. Despite serious doubts about whether the movie would work, it still earned more than 400 million dollars worldwide in the first weekend.
I saw the movie this past Monday, and it is more of a prequel of future DC movies than a movie in its own right. It was made to kick off the Justice League series that’s supposed to compete with Marvel’s Avengers. The plot of the movie is mainly a scheme for two of DC’s biggest heroes to fight only because someone convinced them to do that. To be fair, both Batman and Superman had some reason to be skeptical of each other, but the way Mark Zucker…I mean Lex Luthor…exploited it so he could cause havoc made both heroes look really bad. They got better when they faced the real threat (again thanks to Lex).
Henry Cavill is very good as Clark Kent and Superman. It’s still kind of strange Lois Lane knows him in both forms, but this is the Snyder-verse of DC and it still works…especially where Clark is living these days. While there are those worried he’s seen as a messiah, and even complain how he’s saving people, at least some appreciate him. That doesn’t include Bruce Wayne.
Ben Affleck, meanwhile, is a fantastic Batman. In this verse, Bruce Wayne has already settled into the role as a vigilante for Gotham City, but there are hints he’s had his share of very difficult times. He’s been in the superhero game much longer than Superman. He’s also upset how Supes’ battle against Zod in Man of Steel affected him in many ways. The resemblance between that and 9/11 is not coincidental. Jeremy Irons plays Alfred as a sidekick more than a butler, and his snarky attitude was a nice jolt. It was also a good move to give Batman that raspy voice through a special mike. Talking that way must have been tough on Christian Bale.
Jesse Eisenberg would be an ideal Riddler, but not Lex Luthor. The idea of making him someone who inherited his empire makes him a ideal counterpart to Wayne. However, he is way too manic and sarcastic as the main bad guy who’s trying to make Superman look like a real threat, and ramping up Bruce’s fears. Jesse should have toned it down a lot. Some have suggested maybe Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville should have been in the movie. He’s a bit older but would have at least looked more in authority.
There was a couple of scenes that were confusing, like Batman being captured by soliders who seem to be working for Superman, and some guy who seemed to be time-traveling to give Bruce a warning. Looking at this article from io9 clears them up, but it shows again how the movie is more of an introduction.
The battle between Superman and Batman is actually pretty intense, especially how Batman evens the odds thanks to good armor and a surprising weapon. What’s really far-fetched is what stops the fight, and it’s not just the fact that Lex fooled them both. It’s almost as strange as a scene early in the film, where young Bruce Wayne gets connected with bats.
There’s also the third hero that to some steals the picture in the third act: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She comes in as a party guest and antiquities expert who keeps a close eye on Bruce. Eventually he returns the favor, and also finds out she has a very interesting and long history thanks to a photograph that apparently came from what will happen in her movie next year. What’s a little confusing is how she got to the final battle with Doomsday so quickly. She mentioned she’s battled other enemies from other worlds, and we’ll find out how next year.
If there was anything surprising, it’s the ending, although it does come from the comic books. It should be interesting how it will lead into the Justice League movie.
We should remember that DC and Marvel have had different roads towards success through movies. Marvel has the advantage because it went one hero at a time before making The Avengers. True, it misfired with Daredevil and the Fantastic Four, but soon found a solid formula for good movies including Guardians of the Galaxy, the original Spider-Man series and Deadpool. DC and Warner Brothers are behind because they rebooted Superman twice in the past ten years, and had to sell fans on changing Batman from Bale with Affleck. At least with BvS, Warner Brothers is finally on its way. Its successful TV shows also help, and it would be nice if Melissa Benoist or Stephen Amell made an appearance in a DC movie. Then again, it would be great if the Agents of SHIELD got the same chance.
DC has a hit with Batman v. Superman because people were curious about how it would turn out. Some enjoyed it for what it was, while others still say it didn’t earn the big bucks it got. The movie was one big prequel, that’s true, and what’s important is whether what’s coming next will be even better.
Meanwhile, Marvel will likely maintain its lead with Captain America: Civil War on May 6th. That’s because its story is a continuation of what has been happening in the MCU, and it’s one a lot of fans have waited to see in the movies. It will also lead to what’s coming in Phase 3, including the next Avengers movies. DC’s real challenge will be to follow that very tough act.