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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…”
And I thought these three fit that bill pretty well.