With the exception of the Lynda Carter era Wonder Woman, the swinging 60’s Adam West Batman, and the early Christopher Reeve Superman films, the DC comic book universe has never been the most warm and inviting place to visit. Dark, nihilistic and sometimes positively dreary, DC fanboy favorites like Batman and The Green Lantern have always been kind of the Debbie Downers of the superhero crowd in my book. Troubled, humorless and brooding in the extreme, the heroes and villains in Warner Brother’s rejuvenated DC comics pantheon are kind of like the annoying goth teenager you want to banish to their bedroom until they grow out of it.
That’s not to say that it’s always all fun and games in the Marvel universe either, but, even the darkest films in the much sunnier Disney/Marvel cannon have a few zippy one-liners thrown in to balance out the pathos. And some of them, like last year’s hilarious Ant-Man are practically straight-up comedies.
Sadly, there is nothing even remotely fun or funny about the bloated, hugely-overrated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which, in my opinion, now holds the distinct honor of being both the worst Batman and the worst Superman movie of all time. And yes, I’m including the cinematic Kryptonite known as 2006’s Superman Returns and 1997’s Batman & Robin which featured Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and George Clooney in that creepy, nipple-tastic Batsuit. Hell, even the snoozy, overlong Man of Steel – which was the first film to feature Henry Cavill as a sullen, sad sack Superman – was better than this dreck. Simply put, when your promotional partnership spots for Turkish Airlines are better than your movie, you know you’re in trouble.
Directed by 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel helmer Zack Snyder, BvS is a mopey, moody master class on how not to make people care about your characters. Cold and aloof when it should be deep and moving, the biggest crime of all in BvS is that it’s actually terribly boring for long stretches of time. And not only does the film retell the Batman origin story (again?!) but it does so with all the subtly of an overproduced Super Bowl ad.
Thankfully, Snyder and company already tackled Superman’s origins onscreen in Man of Steel, so the film doesn’t waste much time setting his backstory in motion again here, but Hollywood’s insistence on starting every superhero reboot from the beginning makes absolutely no sense to me. Seriously, if I have to watch Peter Parker’s beloved Uncle Ben die onscreen again in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (which, by the way, will be the third Spider-Man reboot in fifteen years) I might just kill him myself. With literally thousands of comic book adventures for even the most minor characters already written years ago, the big studio urge to return to the well every single time really boggles the imagination. For the love of Thomas and Martha Wayne, move on already. Tell a new story. Start from the middle. Let Batman smile once in a while and please, if possible, try and cast someone other than Ben Affleck next time around. He might be one hell of a director, but, Affleck’s pouty, poor little rich boy routine wears thin real quick.
BvS’s scant use of Cavill as Clark Kent is another huge disservice to the film. Part of the fun of Superman as a character is watching him juggle roles onscreen and when you take that out and burden him with a joyless relationship with Lois Lane, played once again by a totally-disengaged Amy Adams, there’s not much to love about him either.
And as far as the creaky, collateral damage plot mechanisms that set this epic superhero showdown in motion go, comic book fans have seen variations of it many times before in everything from the original X-Men trilogy to this year’s Captain America: Civil War. And at least in Civil War you actually cared when Iron Man and Captain America were fighting to the death, here, meh, not so much.
At the end of the day, BvS has exactly two saving graces. One is The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg, who brings a wry, reptilian charm to his portrayal of a new media Lex Luthor. And the second is Furious 7’s Gal Godot as Wonder Woman. When Godot joins the battle near the end of the film brandishing her shield and lasso with her Xena-ish anthem blaring, BvS rises, however briefly, from the muck and comes alive like the big, Hollywood blockbuster it should have been. She might not have had top billing but Godot saves the day here with her badass performance on and off the battlefield. And invisible jet or not, I can’t wait to see what this new age Wonder Woman does with her own movie next year!
Now playing on select Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Emirates, Delta and Lufthansa flights worldwide, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is also available via streaming on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.