Batman versus Superman. Pro versus Con. What worked versus What Didn’t. By the greatest gladiator-themed geek site in the history of the world. (Well, The only gladiator-themed geek site in the history of the world)
First off, I want to state that I want to be respectful in starting his discussion. I recognize that Batman V Superman is a very divisive movie and people feel very strongly about it. I’m not asking for a fight (or god forbid, name calling on the internet) but in the interest of decompressing the film and unpacking all our collective thoughts about it, I think the fairest form in which to do this is to elaborate on both the pros and cons. I, personally, do lean a certain way but I want to commit in doing my absolute best to stay fair and be accepting of contrary opinions. Until, at least, the very end on this article where I unabashedly state my opinions.
With all that said, let all get down to it.
(Full spoilers, of course)
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Zach Synder delivers in action scenes. BVS is no exception. Fights are expertly choreographed, playing out differently and uniquely depending in the combatants. Batman rescuing Martha from Luthor’s thugs definitely comes to mind. He utilizes all sorts of Knight-craft to take out everyone in the room in a long, gorgeous and brutal scene. The penultimate battle between Superman and Batman is also a standout, each blow is punishing and harrowing as the fight plays out. Batman is methodical and calculated here, clearly showing his mastery of strategy and taking Superman to the proverbial “operating table” The scene also culminates with a shocker of a twist as even comic fans and casuals alike are taken aback by one word: “Martha”
We do make fun of it quite a bit in the special review discussion we had (which we will post later in the week) but this was genuinely a surprising moment for me. Having been familiar with the origin stories of both heroes, It never dawned on me (pun) that their mother had the same name. After having slept on it and given it some thought it did serve as a great way to shock Batman into realizing just how far he was down the line he never sought to cross. Extending that shock to affect the audience, as I’ve just now realized, was a master stroke.
The explosion in the Courthouse
This was also one of the key moments that got a tangible response from me. All the repercussions and fallout of that one scene flooded my mind in a delicious flash. Luthor killed EVERYONE. US Senators, legislators, the people in attendance, the civilians in the building, even his own Assistant, Merci Graves!
On top of all that he pinned it all on Superman, as he stands in the burning husk of the building, the sole survivor of the terrible inferno. It’s symbolic of the destruction that people fear accompany him wherever he treads. It’s also pretty perfect that somewhere in the city, a furious Batfleck boils over with anger and rage as he watches.
Speaking of Batfleck..
Ben Affleck’s Performance
I think it is best to separate Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman in the movie from the actual character of Batman depicted in it. The former was to my liking and the latter was definitely not.
Despite a wide majority of fans up in arms and sharpening pitchforks when Batfleck was initially cast, It’s in my opinion that he did fill in the role quite nicely. He portrayed a Batman that we have not necessarily seen before. Performance-wise he was asked to deliver a tortured Batman, one that is visibly tormented and fundamentally changed by terrible events in his long and arduous run in Gotham. Ben Affleck does indeed succeed in giving us this but the question of whether this Batman was entirely necessary is another thing entirely. More on that later.
Yes, just yes.
What didn’t work
The Whole Africa subplot in the beginning was muddled and confusing.
There were a couple of things wrong with it, namely:
1.) It was redundant. Clearly the whole purpose of this subplot was to kickstart the paranoia in the world and have people cast doubt on Superman’s allegiances and capabilities. However, there are events before AND after this one that could have served this purpose. The destruction at the hands of Zod’s World Machines in the last movie as well as the Courthouse explosion could have easily done this.
2.) It was illogical. The men in Africa were clearly killed with bullets and gunfire. Lois Lane knows this so I assume the US Senators in the Council should know as well. And surely the Council also knows that Superman does not need bullets to kill anyone. It just plain doesn’t make sense.
The Devolution of The Central Conflict between Batman and Superman.
The film devolved what should have been a clash of Ideologies between Batman and Superman to “Lex has my mom.. I need your help or I have to kill you”.
It was all set up at the beginning that their eventual clash is because of their philosophies and yet the film decided to abandon all that or sideline it in favor of a kidnapping story. That’s what happens, they ultimately come to blows because Superman’s Mom got kidnapped. It’s just so.. basic. And downright lame.
It robs audiences of a deep philosophical battle between one jaded man’s convictions and one naive god’s idealism. It would’ve been amazing.
On top of all that, it takes away from Lex’s strengths as a villain. Anyone can execute this part of his plan. ANYONE. Even a common thug can do it. It’s just such a huge waste.
Oh Lord Almighty. He was just really, really bad.
The “Page -turn” Style Transitions
The common defense for the abrupt scene-to-scene transitions that pepper the movie was that it was that it sought to emulate the feeling of watching a comicbook. While I certainly applaud and commend the notion of trying something new, I must be honest in saying that the execution of it really did not work. Scenes transition weirdly and jarringly jumping forward and back leaving the audience to recollect and re-orient itself on what exactly is going on. It was so stop-start that it ruined any flow and build-up that the previous scene established. It was needlessly confusing and definitely made the movie much harder to take in.
The Mistreatment of Batman
Everything about the Batman depicted in this movie sought to alienate and, quite literally, blow away everything you came to know and expect from the character. We are given a Batman that is brutal, violent and at times downright cruel. It is evident that this Batman is a jaded and cynical version of the valiant Caped Crusader we once knew.
The core tenets of his identity, the stuff that makes Batman, Batman, is long gone and forgotten. He humiliates: He brands his victims with his symbol; and He kills: He open fires on a vehicle of thugs before plowing through it as it explodes in bloody halves. And perhaps in many ways worse, He used a gun to kill someone: He shot the thug with the flamethrower holding Martha Kent hostage. Yes, I am aware that he shot the flamethrower and THAT exploded but still he might as well have shot him in the head directly.
The Batman I knew was above all that. He knew that killing was too easy. He knew that it’s what separated him from the criminal riffraff that so tragically changed his life. The Batman I knew would find a way to save Martha without resorting to killing. The Batman I knew was always on top of the situation and methodically planned everything out so that it would never come to bloodshed. This code made his job a whole lot harder for sure but he committed to it and accepted that this was the cross he had to bear. To be more than a man or a gun-toting vigilante but to be an Ideal.
I’ve watched it once. It had its moments but I must say I didn’t really like it. It struggled to start telling a story and it struggled to end it. There was too much that the film wanted to accomplish and it felt like a sordid balancing act to manage the different story threads. The “page turn” transitions didn’t help in that regard. On a minor note, The set-up to the Justice League was pretty ho-hum but it didn’t necessarily derail the movie.
However, ultimately what ruined the movie for me was the dissolution of the film’s Central Conflict (which is in the title by the way) and the treatment of the characters, Batman especially.
I also want to add that if you did enjoy the movie then I’m happy for you. No, really. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I care about Batman and DC a whole lot and I’m happy to see them film do well.
Perhaps you’ll share what you liked about it and your individual takes on it with me in the comments below! I’m also free to discuss on my socials which is also below. Do share!
Raffy Leynes is a geek of all trades (master of fun).He loves videogames, comicbooks, movies, cartoons, wrestling, science and art. Lately, he’s been liking his geekery with a dash of “Indie”. He doesn’t know what the f*ck musings are but he is told he does them on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.