Movie Review: Batman v Superman

This movie review is dedicated to the family and friends who put up with my shrieking every time new set pictures came out, my hyperventilating when Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot showed up unexpectedly at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, and my whispering every time someone said something nice about Ben Affleck, “Yeah well, I liked Batfleck before it was cool.” Your love has been unconditional and I thank you a thousand times for not threatening to send me to the funny farm. 

Well, I’ve seen it. I have seen The Film…the one I’ve been waiting for since watching Man of Steel twice, back-to-back, on October 2, 2013, while on my way back to the States from London.

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I won’t leave you in suspense: I thought it was great. It took me a few hours to absorb and process everything I’d seen, but ultimately, it was very good and tugged on all the right heartstrings. DC is on the right track. They’re different than Marvel, but as unpopular as this opinion is, that’s A-OK. Yes, DC films are darker, but they’re also intensely philosophical and extremely accurate to the comic books. I appreciate that. I’ve always been a stickler for accuracy anyway.

Did I have quibbles with it? Uh, yes. I have quibbles with every film I watch. Editing-wise, there were at least one too many dream sequences, and as with Man of Steel, the battles tend to be  too long. Worldview-wise, they could’ve (and should’ve) shown more clearly than they did that Lex Luthor is wrong: God IS all-good and all-powerful, and Superman is NOT God. The script was excellent and clever, but could’ve used more comic relief.

Still, I think most of the vitriol against this movie is over-the-top. Call me biased; maybe I am. But some of the critics have been unnecessarily and suspiciously cruel. Zack Snyder should get huge kudos for attempting a story this colossal. And contrary, also, to popular opinion, no movie is going to be perfect.

(*whispers*) Not even a Marvel movie.

So, here are some of my thoughts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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If you want a Batman who scares the dickens out of you yet gives you the impression that he’s a tortured grumpy soul who just needs a blanket, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and a good Robin, look no further than Ben Affleck. I like Christian Bale, don’t get me wrong, but I can see now that he doesn’t adequately pull off the fearsome persona that leaves the criminals of Gotham quaking in fear. Ben Affleck is the perfect, broody, grey-at-the-temples Batman we deserve. Also: they’re totally setting us up for eventual Daddy-Bats. COME ON, TIM DRAKE, WE NEED YOU TO BE ROBIN, PRONTO.

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Clark Kent, on the other hand, remains my favorite superhero–and possibly my favorite character–of all time. Note that I didn’t say “Superman.” The small-town boy from Kansas who brings his girlfriend flowers just because he loves to make her smile, who feels a personal responsibility, as a journalist, to get to the bottom of the Batman mystery, who agonizes over whether or not he should even be Superman..he doesn’t need an ancient Kryptonian suit and a red cape to be a superhero. The Christ-like attributes of kindness, courage, and sacrificial love are all still there, with or without the suit.

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My favorite fictional couples may come and go, but Clark and Lois will always be the best. One of my quibbles was that they’re living together unmarried, so parents need to be aware of that–but except for one very short scene, it’s quite discreet. One of the things I love so much about them is their partnership: one look, and each knows what the other is thinking. He protects her, and she encourages him. In short, they’re each other’s best friend. The most emotional moment for me in the whole movie was when he told her he loved her. And without giving too much info…”Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now,” because we’re all but guaranteed a future Clark/Lois wedding. 

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Wonder Woman, AKA Diana, is my new best friend. She’s elegant, kind, conflicted, a fierce warrior, and incredibly intelligent–and she was not sexualized. Yes, she wore some revealing evening gowns in a couple of scenes, but she wasn’t there to be eye candy. That woman was there to cut Bruce Wayne down to size and give Superman the helping hand he needed, amen hallelujah. Really, really looking forward to her solo movie next year–which, might I add, will be the first solo superheroine film EVER. Also, somebody tell me I’m not the only one who went into a spasm of fangirling over The Photo because 1) her musical theme was so awesome, 2) WORLD WAR I, and 3) Chris Pine. Somebody please assure me I’m not crazy.

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Lex Luthor creeped. Me. OUT. If you prefer your villains like the Joker and Moriarty, you’ll like Luthor. The way he projected his bitterness towards God onto poor Superman hinted, in a fascinating and unsettling way, at a complexity and a painful past that I didn’t expect. Like I said earlier, I wish that someone had repudiated him soundly–preferably Superman himself–although if you really think about it, you see that Clark did prove him wrong time and time again with his actions. Superman is good, but certainly not perfect; he’s powerful, but not omnipotent.  

Luthor disguises his hatred for Superman, though, by masquerading as a defender of the world’s security, and uses his connections in the US government to further that “agenda.” It’s interesting that both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War deal with the same problem: the government’s role in a world where superheroes exist. I can’t wait to see Civil War and see what its conclusion will be. The question wasn’t resolved in BvS due to Unfortunate and Unexpected Circumstances in the story, but Superman did end up facing the United States government of his own free will, presumably to testify about his actions. Whether or not he would’ve defended himself, we don’t know. But his humility and submission may be a hint.

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The more I think about Batman v Superman, the more I realize just how much I enjoyed it. I didn’t cheer and applaud like I did for Star Wars because I was too busy pondering all the questions posed throughout the story–not to mention bracing myself emotionally for what I knew was going to happen at the end (yes, I read all the spoilers a week ago). It’s definitely a heavier movie and hey, not everybody enjoys that and that’s okay.

But it’s well worth seeing. It’s a thought-provoking story about personal responsibility and self-sacrifice (Superman), tackling the hard things even when we’d rather just sit back and let others do the dirty work (Wonder Woman), and moving beyond the tragedies that haunt us most (Batman). As C.S. Lewis once said, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage…”

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And I thought these three fit that bill pretty well.

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12 thoughts on “Movie Review: Batman v Superman

  1. Hi Maribeth,

    It’s been awhile since I posted. I’ll catch up on this one.

    I’m glad you have the insight to filter out the world view as you absorb modern media. I do too and mostly, I read, hear and watch stories as spiritual allegories, getting the most in object lessons from the things of God. I pray for understanding continually. God is good about that.

    I’ve been a fan of the DC Justice League characters since I was a little boy reading comics at the mall while my mother did the shopping. I have hundreds of DVD’s with dozens of them pertaining to Justice League characters and storylines. I haven’t seen this one, I have been hesitant since seeing the trailer and the failed savior tie in with Superman. A LOT of network television series deal with God has failed sceneries such as the shows, “Lucifer” on Fox, “Of Kings and Prophets” on ABC (canceled after two episodes), “Angel From Hell” (canceled after 5 episodes) and “You, Me and the Apocalypse” on NBC, which had a comet destroying missile named, “The Savior” which when the device failed, the story characters chanted, “The Savior has failed” over and over again.

    The World powers that be today are using veiled allegories to more fiercely attack people’s faith and the truths they hold onto in their lives. No accident.

    Your movie review is excellently written and generally, I like reading your blogs because your heart comes through your writing.

    On the previous blog about the political mess, none of these candidates are speaking for themselves, but only what is given to them by their “owners” controllers. This whole presidential campaign is about dividing the republican party so Hillary will win. She could not stand the scrutiny of her past, which is why no other creditable democrat was allowed to run to oppose her, except one she could easily beat. Trump is a red herring, a divisive robot only in this race to divide and nothing more.

    The quotes he has made over the last several weeks, disparaging women – – no body is THAT stupid – it was intentional to give Hillary some softballs to hit out of the park and frame her as the warrior for women rights – – pa…leeze!

    The Bible states in Ephesians that we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood (humans), but against powers and principalities and rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in HIGH places. The next scripture calls us to put on the whole armor of God in order to defeat it. And we can by prayer in His Spirit, IF we sanctify ourselves before hand.

    Finally, on the blog of your brother’s wedding I have one comment. After looking at the pictures you shared – Oh my God Maribeth (can you take a compliment) you are beautiful! I mean…wow!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the review! I actually enjoy filtering through the worldview of the movies and shows I watch; some people might think it’s drudgery, but I think it’s half the fun and good for you, too.

      As for politics…you may be right, it may all be a conspiracy…but that only makes me all the more focused on “doing my little bit” right where I am. God has not only promised his people ultimate victory, but he’s given us all our own little mission fields. I’m convinced that our communities–not politics–are where we should be turning our attention now. Not that we should ignore politics entirely–we definitely shouldn’t–but it’s probably time for us to realize that reformation and revival will start in the families first, then the church, then community by community and FINALLY the government.

      And thank you very much for the compliment; you’re very kind 🙂

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      1. Another Ben Affleck movie I would recommend to you, is one I discovered when I bought a DVD four pack featuring Gwyneth Paltrow. This is the first time I’ve seen one of her movies and I was shocked how really good of an actress she is and how different she was in each of those films.

        The movie with Ben was titled “Bounce”. It’s a story, a touching one, about a man waiting at an airport to catch a flight during the Christmas rush, and who meets another man about the same age who is in a hurry to get home for Christmas to be with his wife (Paltrow) and his two children. Ben’s character feels sorry for the man, who is worrying about missing the holidays with his family, so Ben gives the man HIS ticket with plans to buy another one. An hour later…the plane goes down, everyone on the flight dies and Ben goes into shock and suffers survivor guilt for months. He then sets out to find the man’s widow and children. He watches her from a distance to make sure she is alright. He can tell she is hurting so he sets up an introduction and begins to slowly fall in love with her, but resists it at first, because of the guilt of blaming himself for her husband’s death.

        But over time, Ben bonds with her children and helps her financially without her knowing about it.

        The more time Ben spends with her, the more he falls in love with her, but is worried that she will eventually find out his secret, that he knew her husband and gave him the ticket for the doomed flight.

        I was halfway through the film when I realized that it was a romance movie, but by that time it was too late, I was hooked.

        As I got toward the end of the movie, I noticed strangely that my face was wet. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until the water works came and tears began streaming. That is not suppose to happen cause – – – I’m a guy. I didn’t have anything handy to dry my face so I decided to go with it. Good thing I was by myself or someone might have thought that I was sensitive or something. : )

        Ben and Gwyneth worked well together. This is a movie I believe you would love to see.

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      2. Hey Maribeth, did you see this second post? I’d like to get your take on my review of the movie “Bounce” that I’m recommending to you.

        Mark

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  2. I saw this movie yesterday!!! And I immediately had to write a movie review, the writing/fandom adrenaline was pumping so fast. While I still prefer Man of Steel, and Christian Bale will always be ‘my’ Batman, I thoroughly enjoyed BvS. Diana Prince was beautifully portrayed and I’m excited to see where her story is going to go in future movies. Oh! The beginnings of the Justice League! My sister and I were almost screaming in the theater when we saw Aquaman (but that was because of the actor, Jason Momoa, too) and that was clever how they slid the story plot into the film.

    I do like the fact that Zack Snyder continued on with the religious elements in this story. I mean Christian morals and world-view was all over Man of Steel (which is one of the reasons I loved the movie so much), but in BvS, he did take a darker, almost agnostic view that went beyond the questions of good v. evil. Everyone questions God, everyone questions their own existence on this earth and Zack Snyder took those abstract thoughts and made them completely concrete in the characters of BvS.

    Great review : )

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    1. Hi Ivy! I am SO SORRY it’s taken me a month to respond to this–I’ve just realized that I’ve gotten several comments that completely slipped through the cracks for me! Life is crazy. Terribly sorry.

      I am so glad you enjoyed BvS! I’m really looking forward to the DVD coming out so I can watch it again. I think I’ll like it even more the second time around, especially since I’ll have subtitles and won’t miss any of the dialogue, haha. I prefer Man of Steel as well, simply because I like solo superhero movies anyway…but BvS did meet my expectations.

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  3. I finally got to read your BvS review! *huzzah* I was always looking forward to your reaction because you have a special POV in the midst of all this Marvel vs DC fiasco. I am so thrilled to see this one turned out good for you (unfortunately the past semester has eaten up all my time so several good films have gone into the “just have to borrow it” category of my film viewing).
    ANYWAY. Heavy thematics are definitely something they’re playing up in these films, which is great. The Messianic symbolism with Superman are one of the main reasons he’s an incredible character and an awesome one to play off thematics with. I’m thrilled about Superman facing the consequences of his actions on his own accord. I’ve always liked this quote from Cressida Cowell (writer of the How to Train Your Dragon books):
    “But sometimes the bravest thing a Hero has to do is not fighting monsters and cheating death and witches. It is facing the consequences of his own actions.”
    Anywho, I *love* Moriarty (the old classic one and the BBC Sherlock one too) so I’m very happy about Luthor here. And I’m also SUPER excited about Wonder Woman. Really pumped she’s getting a film on her own. Female superheroes are sorely needed in the filmscape right now and Marvel has been ridiculously slow in getting a Black Widow movie off the ground. *shakes head*
    That quote from CS Lewis is the best thing though… Gosh that’s why these stories are so POWERFUL and important and why we should be writing them to inspire and move people. Stories on this scale aspire to be Myth itself, universal truths told in universal symbols to reflect, question, and affirm the values of a culture.
    Loved reading your review!

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, Glory!! AND I LOVE THAT QUOTE FROM HTTYD. So so great. You see that same principle in, say, Star Wars, where Luke has to face the consequences of confronting Darth Vader prematurely in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

      Wonder Woman is amazing; you’re gonna love her when you get to see the film. Talk about poise, kindness, and elegance–and yet she’s *very* fierce! I would be first in line to go see a Black Widow movie, by the way…come on Marvel, let’s get a move-on…

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  4. Ok I just found your Pinterest and it led me to your blog and oh my word. STAR TREK. TOLKIEN. SUPERMAN. AHHH!!! Ok I’m fangirling a little bit. It’s so hard to find people who love Superman like I do, and didn’t hate Batfleck or BvS. Or just girls who like DC in general. I loved this blog post!

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    1. Hey, that’s awesome!!! Fangirl all you like, haha! I do a lot of it on this blog myself 😉 I love Superman–and specifically, Henry Cavill’s Superman–so much. He’s my ideal hero: he’s so kind and warmhearted, but he’s also meek, or as I’ve also heard “meekness” described, power-under-control. Come to think of it, all the heroes I’ve ever fallen in love with in the three fandoms you mentioned (and that would be Aragorn, Superman, and Captain Kirk), whether introvert or extrovert or superhero or just regular ol’ human–they share those same qualities.

      I recently re-watched BvS and liked it even more than I did when I watched it in the theater. It’s definitely not a happy-go-lucky movie but *I* think it’s a well-told story, especially if you do keep in mind that it’s setting up a whole cinematic universe (and that’s why some things happen that are obvious foreshadowings of things to come, like Flash appearing to Bruce, or the parademons, or Robin’s suit).

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      1. Aragorn, Superman, and Captain Kirk are all the ones I’ve fallen in love with too! I love them for the qualities you described – warm, kind hearted, meek.

        I just watched the directors cut of BvS and it’s even better than the theatrical cut! Yes, I agree with you! Of course there were flaws but that doesn’t mean it was a horrible movie! I personally love all the foreshadowing and the deep and complicated storyline. It’s fun to follow along with the “Easter eggs” and little hints and things.

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