I want to use this post to write about my love for BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and use it as a 'Thank You' to Zack Snyder and everyone involved in making one of the greatest super hero films ever. The hate this movie has received is unwarranted and quite perplexing. I thought the theatrical cut was great but the restored true version was perfect and I mean that in all sincerity. The movie delivers a serious story that treats the audience with respect. It doesn't dumb down the plot by adding action beats every ten minutes or comedy at inappropriate times just to appeal to mainstream audiences who view the super hero genre as nothing more than "leave your brain at the door popcorn fare". Thank you, Zack Snyder for this film. Like Superman doing great deeds and still being greeted with fear and hate, you too have given us a great film that has received the same. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I find it so strange that this film and MAN OF STEEL have been held under a higher magnifying glass while other films with more problems are given a pass. See the CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR for example. CIVIL WAR is pretty much the same freaking movie yet receives high positive ratings! Don't get me wrong. I loved CIVIL WAR too but I think BVS was way better. By the way the Ultimate Edition of BVS is what I will be writing about. That is the true intended version of the film. As far as I am concerned the theatrical cut no longer exists.
Essentially BVS is a Man vs. God story. Because of the abuse he had to endure as a child by his father, Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) has grown into a man who believes that there no such thing as a god who is good. To him people only pretend to be good but deep down inside they are selfish frightened creatures. Superman's existence contradicts Luthor's religion undermining his whole wold view by giving people hope of a better future. Lex sees no such future.
There are people who revere the man from another world as a god. Lex's view of Superman (Henry Cavill)is that he is a great lie that needs to be exposed. In a nut shell the whole movie is about Lex exposing that lie with an incredibly complex plan to pit Batman against Superman with the hopeful result of the death of the 'False God'. Despite all his wealth and intelligence, Lex Luther is a jealous man envious of those that Superman saves. Why couldn't Superman rescue little Lex from his monster of a father? After all, the young head of a billion dollar company is surely more important than the average person!
Jessie Eisenberg's Luthor is a man wearing a mask that has already began to crack from his growing ego and resentment of all those around him. He is a smart man and he knows it. The problem is that nobody else does. He wants everyone to know! He wants everyone to know that he is the one that figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman! He wants everyone to know that it was he that discovered the great Superman was nothing more than a farm boy from Smallville pretending to be a human with delusions of being a reporter! Of course letting anyone know would jeopardize his plan on destroying the Son of Krypton. All he can do is toy with them.
One of my favorite scenes is at Luthor's charity party. He had invited both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Luthor introduces the two neither one knowing who the other is and Lex in the middle knowing all. You can see he wants to scream it in their faces but Lex can't. He can only play along all the while going more and more mad from his own extreme narcissism.
Jessie Eiesenberg's quirky and slightly unhinged performance of Lex Luthor disarmed me. I figured he would create Doomsday judging by the movie trailers and that wold be about it. So what? I wasn't impressed. However, when Martha Kent is abducted at the diner I quickly realized that Lex Luthor already knew who Superman really was. I was shocked! I did not see that coming. Lex became a villain that was a threat. He brings Superman (God!) to his knees by simply throwing a few photo's on the ground of his kidnapped mother. Luther's plan is unique in that it isn't about gaining more wealth or blowing up the whole world by the press of a button. He wants Superman to bow before him and die not caring (or maybe unaware) that creating Doomsday would have destroyed the world if Superman hadn't stopped the nearly indestructible creature.
There is a line in the movie ANGUS about Superman not being brave since he is nearly indestructible. That is a good line that makes you look at Superman a lot differently. With his bravery questioned he seems not so great even though he is all powerful. Batman himself almost quotes this line in the finale at the moment he is about to kill Superman. One of my favorite things about this movie is that it addresses this issue. The writers of BVS have created a Superman that can be destroyed with something other than kryptonite. Bruce Wayne is shown a future where the world has been seemingly destroyed and Superman leading an army of stormtroopers for the new world order. Superman has become what Wayne has feared most. Evil. How can that be? Superman is still just a man. His name is Clark Kent. He has a choice. Clark can live the quiet life with his love Lois Lane. It would be a good life. Yet he can't. He cares too much and knows he can do more to help this troubled world. Even though he is a man, he is a good man. That is a choice he makes even as he struggles to find his place in society as helping those in need of saving. Yet his good deeds are met by some with fear and skepticism. Sometimes doing good may even lead to bigger disasters later on. Lex Luthor does all he can to push Superman farther and farther from society's trust and love. The evil billionaire doesn't see a bird or a plane. He sees a monster in need of being destroyed and he wants the world to see the same.
Batman (Ben Affleck) is succumbing to the darkness that has changed so many in Gotham. He too has lost faith in his own beliefs being an empty shell of a man symbolized by the rundown vacant Wayne estate. This Batman brands the criminals he captures marking them for certain death once they enter the prison population. In the heat of the moment he does not go out of his way to make sure bad guys are not killed in his crusade. If they get in the way shooting, he shoots back. At first the idea of a Batman that kills really bothered me. It took me awhile to think about it but I realized that if Batman wasn't willing to kill then there would be no real conflict between him and Superman. BVS gives us an older Caped Crusader who has seen good people go bad. Is is about to join them. You can't but help wonder who Wayne is referring to when he tells Alfred about good people gone bad. Is he talking about Harvey Dent? Perhaps Jason Todd? Harley Quinn? It is exciting to think about considering that there are at least three Batman movies coming after JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Martha....One of the most profound moments in BVS is when Superman tells Batman to "Save Martha!" This moment is when Bruce Wayne sees Superman as a person and not a monster. Superman has a mom. But that is not all that is happening. If you remember the beginning of the film we see the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. We as an audience just assume that we are seeing, yet again, another origin of Batman. Even though this scene is a dream showing us that Bruce Wayne is still haunted by his past, we don't understand what we are really watching is the set up to the moment when Batman realized that he had become a criminal. All this time Batman had been fearing Superman becoming evil when he should have been fearful of himself becoming the same. The mugger who killed Bruce Wayne's parents murdered them out of fear. The murderer ran as soon as he shot them, too afraid to even stick around for a quick minute to take any valuables. The 'Martha' moment has been much maligned by the film's detractors reducing it's importance to nothing more than two super heroes whose moms have the same name. They are willingly ignorant if you ask me. I think it's an ingenious way that the writers came up with for our two heroes to find something in common with each other.
Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is so important to the story. In a big way she is the main character. Through her and her street smarts she slowly uncovers the devious plan of Lex Luthor to isolate Superman from society and kill him. She is the link between Superman and the world. Without her Superman has no future worth living for especially with how negative society can be toward him. She is a reminder as to why he fights for good. It was she who saved Superman at the end from Batman informing the would be slayer of a god that Superman has a mother named Martha.
I think it was a great disservice to BVS to feature Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in all the promotions for the film. The movie itself makes you think she might be Catwoman with her stealing from Bruce Wayne a flash drive that he was using to steal information from Luthor. They have some chemistry together and her name is never mentioned until the end. I think the reveal of Wonder Woman would have had a greater impact on the audience if they found along with Bruce Wayne when he sees the old photo of her from World War I. A big surprise like that could only help surpass audiences expectations.
There is a lot hate for this film. I have no idea why. Partially it comes from some fans who have a preconceived notion on who Superman is and how he should act. They see him as an all wise man always zipping through the clouds with a smile on his face brimming with confidence in his abilities. That is all well and good but not realistic for a man who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. I think if he was always smiling then the nay sayers would change course and accuse him of being too happy. Superman has a unique relationship with the audience. Just like the people of Earth have a love/hate with Superman so does the audience. The audience always questions Superman's reactions to events. Why couldn't Superman save his dad from a tornado? Why couldn't Superman stop the destruction of Metropolis and save everyone? Can't Superman go back in time and fix everything just like in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE? It is just like when people are in bad times in their lives ask God why. It is a different kind of fourth wall breaking.
Who is Superman, really? I believe he represents all of us. No matter who we are or what we look like, we all can do great things with whatever abilities we have. Like Superman, we have to choose to do so.
I read an article about Kevin Smith watching BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE 8 times in an attempt to fall in love with it after it released on Blu-Ray. He sees that there is something good here but can't quite see it. I hope someone shows him this highly positive examining of the film. I hope it helps in why he should love the movie. This isn't a dumb fun movie. The characters are respected giving them deep convictions, motivations and flaws. There are many layers to every character and event depicted in this film. It is as epic as it is serious with many elements to endlessly ponder. That is a good thing. It's not trying to be just like the Marvel films. There is no need to course correct future films except maybe give the movie creators more creative control. BVS has found its own unique style and is a better more exciting film than all the Marvel films put together. That's right. I said it. Come and get me, Internets!
Let me just thank everyone again for the time and effort put into this film. Just like the excellent WATCHMAN, the cinematography is stunning and boundary pushing complimented by the rousing music scores by Hans Zimmerman and Junkie XL. There is a hyper focus on detail especially with the super hero costumes. There is weight to our heroes movement grounding them in a sense of reality. They don't look like a bunch of C.G.I. characters flying about more like cartoons than real people. It truly is one of the greatest most epic comic book movies ever made. Batman kung-fuing the mercs in the warehouse with all his bat gadgets was exactly what we wanted in a Batman fight. It was just like the Arkham games! The fight between Superman and Batman is legendary worth the price of admission. Everyone involved in making BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN has raised the bar. Thank you, thank you and thank you!