THE MOVIE superhero fans have been waiting for has finally landed, and it’s good.
Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel is a soaring, action-packed blockbuster that finally puts the two most famous comic book characters ever created on the big screen in the same movie. That feat alone is remarkable, but that the result is a thrilling spectacle remaining true to the comics is even more incredible.
Yes the critics have given Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (henceforth BvS) a bit of a pasting, but their disdain for this titanic match up is hugely unfair. This is no Batman and Robin level misfire, it’s clever, enjoyable, filled with comic book lore and above all very serious. Perhaps too serious for the audience that’s used to seeing Marvel’s lighter touch. And there’s the rub.
DC Comic’s rival is the reason why Hollywood is saturated with superhero movies at the moment and its unbridled success with The Avengers franchise is the driving reason behind this late-coming push to bring a Justice League (DC’s own super team) film to movie theatres.
Batman and Superman’s owners are playing catch up and no mistake. They might have had the drop with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy but it’s Marvel that has been leading out the ‘connected universe’ drive with its own inimitable blend of wit and wonder since 2008’s Iron Man and now finally DC is taking them on.
The problem with BvS for the non-comic book reading cinema audience is that they’ve already seen two superhero team-up movies (Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron) and both were exceptional, so what’s new? If you’re not fundamentally excited by the premise of Batman and Superman (and Wonder Woman) being in the same film together, the answer is probably ‘not much’. But for fans of these characters, BvS really delivers. What’s more Zack Snyder’s glossy epic cinematics and darker tone is a world away from Joss Whedon’s lighter touch.
In essence we’re watching a mash up of two hugely successful comic book arcs – The Death of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns – with the movie also driving towards the obvious eventual goal of bringing the Justice League together (hence the Dawn of Justice tagline), which DC is hoping to pull off within the next couple of years should everything go smoothly.
We’re treated to cameos from The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and a supporting role from Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) all of whom are set for solo outings soon. But it’s Batman and Superman who are rightly the stars of this showdown, although if you were expecting a fight to the death then think again.
The Batman (Ben Affleck) of BvS is older, jaded, troubled by yet more personal tragedy and on the verge of losing his morality. It’s a superb take on the character, very close to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, and one that is starkly different from Christian Bale’s version – although the legacy of Nolan’s trilogy is still hard to shake off, such was its success.
While technically this is a Superman sequel, it’s Affleck’s Batman who steals the show and drives the movie along. His hallucinogenic nightmares prove harrowing viewing and hint at the wider DC universe and a threat that is yet to come (all signs point to Darkseid). These are a fanboy’s delight but can make for confusing viewing if you don’t have some grounding in the comics.
Henry Cavill’s Superman looks fantastic in a lighter-coloured suit and still moves in a way that is just a pleasure to watch. Not since Christopher Reeve proved a man could fly has Superman’s physicality been so well portrayed in a live action film. In BvS his role as a saviour is being questioned by a still wary US government. While he performs messianic feats in blue tights, beautifully shot by Snyder, we’re short changed on finding out more about his life away from the cape with Lois Lane (Amy Adams).
Jesse Eisenberg takes on Lex Luthor with gusto. He channels some of his Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network to create a mercurial young billionaire whose twitches reveal flashes of inner psychosis. It’s Lex who unleashes Doomsday, the movie’s monstrous antagonist, in a staggering finale.
Final word: Ignore the haters, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is an epic spectacle that will delight fans of the comics and new-comers alike.
If you liked Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, you should watch:
- Man of Steel
- The Dark Knight
- The Avengers