Thursday, March 31, 2016


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  The long-awaited follow-up to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, and the second chapter in the new DC Cinematic Universe (also known as the DC Extended Universe).  This film has been getting destroyed by critics since before its wide release, and some of these criticisms are not unfounded, but overall, I truly enjoyed this film in almost every possible way.  It was visually breathtaking and had an amazing score by the talented Hans Zimmer.  It also had some huge balls, pulling off things I never thought would be done, especially the ending.


The film starts out great, giving us an introduction to our new Bruce Wayne, showing us the iconic death of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, played by the very talented Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan, just as Man of Steel started with Kal-El/Clark Kent's origin.  The beautiful shot (no pun intended) of Martha Wayne's pearls caught on the shooter's gun is straight out of The Dark Knight Returns, which Snyder took much inspiration from for this entire film.

Batman v Superman was a very dense and complex film, something that, I think, rubbed some people the wrong way.  If you are paying attention throughout the whole film, you will miss things and be confused, which may have caused people to dislike the film.  I, personally, loved the depth of the story and how much was going on.  It made you think about what had happened and how it would affect later parts of the story.  For example, the "Desert Knightmare" scene and the following Flash appearance seemed out of place and somewhat confusing at first, but came together in one of the final scenes, helping to set the groundwork for the inevitable coming of Darkseid (alluded to by the giant omega symbol and the Parademons) as the DCEU's big baddie, much like Thanos is for the MCU.  

We may also have possibly seen a hint toward a version of Crisis on Infinite Earths, where The Flash travels throughout time, trying to warn the other heroes of what is coming.  This is seen in the second part of that dream sequence where The Flash appears to warn Bruce of the impending doom if he dosn't save "her", saying "she's the key".  I initially wondered if this meant Lois, but after seeing the whole film, I'm taking this to mean that the "she" in "she's the key" is actually Martha, and if she had died because Bruce refused to stop the fight with Superman, it would cause the "Desert Knightmare" future that we saw, where Superman was out of control, and Darkseid had, presumably descended.  The only issue I have with these two sequences is why is Bruce having these visions?  Also, as seen at the end, Lex seems to have some knowledge that "He" is coming, This is something that's not explained in the film, but has me excited to find out more.

One of the things that I absolutely loved about this film was the extremely talented cast.  Henry Cavill reprised his Man of Steel role as Clark Kent/Superman and managed to bring a feeling of guilt and anger that is rarely shown in this character.  It showed that even though he's a nearly indestructible alien, he's still a person, with fears and doubts.  It showed his capacity to love and to hate, and that no matter how powerful one may, everyone has flaws.  Cavill also managed to work perfectly opposite Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman, who, in my opinion, gave the best performance as the billionaire playboy/Caped Crusader I've ever seen.  

From the beginning, Affleck's portrayal as Bruce Wayne had me hooked.  This is the Bruce I've always wanted and couldn't have asked for a better person to deliver that.  He has a strong and powerful presence, yet remains approachable.  That is, until he's out of the public eye.  You can see the anger and rage that he holds within, and he needs somewhere to focus that, and he chooses to aim that rage toward Superman.  His performance as The Dark Knight has gotten me very excited for the eventual Batman standalone film that Affleck is writing and hopefully directing.

Jesse Eisenberg's performance as Lex Luthor Jr. was actually pretty good.  It was very unique from the past incarnations we've seen, which have pretty much all been the same.  I enjoyed this fresh take on the character.  Lex has alway been somewhat boring to me, but by making him a bit unhinged, it upped the threat, as he is obviously willing to do whatever it takes, whether he's using his own blood to create a monster, blowing up a senate hearing, or kidnapping Superman's girlfriend and mother.  He was able to control Superman and bring him to his knees (literally) and make him do his bidding, and, in essence, that's what Lex is all about.  

We also saw the big screen debut of the most iconic female superhero of all time, Wonder Woman, played by the beautiful Gal Gadot.  I was cautiously optimistic about her performance going into this film, as most of her past performances haven't proved her to be the most talented actress.  But she really surprised me with how much I loved her character in this.  She was strong, sexy, and mysterious...everything you expect from Wonder Woman.  She nailed the role and I can't wait for her standalone film next year.  This film did a fantastic job at introducing the audience to her character and parts of her backstory.  She wasn't the only character introduced in this film, though.  We also got our first looks at The Flash (in two different scenes), Aquaman, and Cyborg.  These cameos were done perfectly, setting up the upcoming Justice League film and their individual films as well.

The rest of the film was filled with great actors like Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Lawrence Fishburne, and Holly Hunter.  Irons gave an incredible performance as Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family butler and Bruce's most trusted confidant.  He set himself apart from other incarnations by having a much more active role in Bruce's "extracurricular activities".  Amy Adams reprised her role as Lois Lane.  A lot of critics disliked the fact that Superman constantly had to save her throughout the film, but I think they were missing the point.  Even though Lois did need to be saved multiple times, she wasn't a "damsel in distress", they were all legitimate reasons for her to be in trouble.  She's the kind of woman who does what's needed to be done at the risk of her own life, and sometimes that turns around and bites her in the ass.

For those that may have missed it, if you pay attention during the end credits, you actually discover that the photographer/CIA spook who was with Lois at the beginning of the film was actually Superman's long-time pal in the comics, Jimmy Olsen.  This was not made directly known during the film, but Snyder says it will addressed in the R-rated Ultimate Edition Blu-ray release.  Another great Easter egg was the appearance of the spray-painted Robin suit that was initially seen in the trailer.

This is the only time Robin is referenced in the film and teases the events of the "A Death In The Family" storyline from the comics, in which Jason Todd, the Robin at the time, is beaten and murdered by Joker.  I'm hoping that they choose to go back and tell this story during one of the stand alone Batman films, possibly even the one that is being worked on right now.

Now, I know I've been talking about all the things I loved about this film, but there were a few things I didn't care for.  For instance, the first and third acts were great, but the second act really seemed to drag on a bit.  It made the film seem to last a longer than it probably needed to, but I still enjoyed everything I saw, and can't wait for the R-rated extended Ultimate Edition to come out on Blu-ray.  I also felt that Lex's bodyguard, Mercy, who is usually portrayed as more of a badass, was wasted in this film.  She brought him a few things, sat around a little bit, and was then blown up.  There were also a few odd editing choices, but otherwise I really enjoyed this film.

And then there was that ending.  After a brutal battle with the Kryptonian abomination, Doomsday, Superman stabs the beast through the chest with a kryptonite spear, but not before taking a bone spike through is own chest, seemingly killing each other.  Batman lowers Clark's body down and Lois cradles his lifeless body, in a scene very reminiscent to the iconic "Death of Superman" storyline.  We then see funerals for both Superman and Clark Kent, solidifying the fact that Snyder actually went through with a storyline that many have wanted to do in the past.

This ending had me saying "WHAT THE F***?!?!", but not in a bad way.  I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.  It ended very much like The Empire Strikes Back, wherein the fate of one of the main, beloved characters is left uncertain.  We see the dirt on his casket begin to rattle and levitate, just like the ice particles that surround Superman’s fist prior to his first flight in Man of Steel.  This indicates that he's not actually dead (which isn't surprising, since there's so much more yet to come), but what the repercussions of this will be are still a mystery.

So, with so much going on, this film was bound to be very divisive, but for me, it was an excellent film, and I definitely plan to see it again in theaters and buy the R-rated Ultimate Edition Blu-ray as soon as it comes out.  I am so excited for the future of the DCEU, and luckily, I only have to wait four more months to see the next chapter, Suicide Squad, which will feature Ben Affleck's Batman and a brand new Joker.

The Merc's Score: 9/10

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