DC have let Marvel get way ahead of them in terms of building a cinematic universe, but will Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice allow them to catch up?Going to see comic book films has become a bit of a family tradition for us now, and we try to see them as soon as possible after release. The boys had already been disappointed to miss out on Deadpool (a brilliant film, but so unsuitable for younger viewers and definitely a 15!) so we decided to make up for it by seeing this film on its first weekend.
As usual with my film reviews, I will try to avoid giving away any major spoilers that haven’t been out there in the public domain for a while. But if you want to stay completely spoiler free then please click away now!
The premise of the film is pretty simple really, even though there are lots of people who can’t imagine why Batman and Superman would ever fight each other. When Superman fights and defeats Zod in Man of Steel, it results in a massive number of people losing their lives. This number includes friends and employees of Bruce Wayne. When you bear in mind that Batman is more of a vigilante than a super-hero, it’s no surprise that he ends up bearing a bit of a grudge against Superman. Wayne thinks that Superman needs to be held to account for his actions, and he’s the right person to do it.
Meanwhile, Superman has got his own battle to fight because his crazy arch-enemy Lex Luthor is all out to destroy him as well. Luthor wants government backing for his weapon which is designed specifically to kill the son of Krypton. And then the plot throws in a mysterious woman who seems to have been around for a very long time as well…
I was not actually that bothered about seeing Batman vs Superman. I have never been a huge fan of Superman, he’s far too squeaky clean for my liking, and in general I much prefer the Marvel set of characters. Then when it was announced that Ben Affleck was going to be playing Batman, that really was the final nail in the coffin. Ben Affleck?? Seriously???
So this is me eating humble pie and saying that not only did I enjoy the film, but actually I thought that Ben Affleck made a great Batman and an even better Bruce Wayne. Affleck really portrayed the older, more battle-weary Dark Knight very well, contrasting nicely with Henry Cavill’s clean cut Superman. I left the cinema thinking that Affleck’s Batman was one of the best parts of the film, and I’m looking forward to the stand-alone Batman film which sounds like it’s going to go ahead now.
I was very pleased when I saw that Diana Prince/Wonder Woman would be making an appearance in this film (sorry if that’s a spoiler for you!) and I liked Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the character. She is more than a match for the male superheroes and their alter-egos. At first I was a little disappointed that the iconic costume had been changed but when the film reached its climactic battle sequence, I thought that the new costume worked brilliantly. Again, can’t wait for the stand-alone film!
Jeremy Irons makes an amazing Alfred, very tongue in cheek and ascerbic – much more than just a butler. I did enjoy the brief appearances from the Kent family though Lois Lane still annoys me hugely, as she has done in every version of Superman that I’ve seen so far. I just really can’t warm to the character in any way, but I can see why she’s an important part of Superman’s story.
The main problem with Dawn of Justice is that it just tries to pack in far too much information. DC are trying to set up the cinematic universe ready for the Justice League films, much in the same way that Marvel has done with The Avengers. But Marvel took time to introduce each character gradually over the course of 8 years, so that the audience knows them all individually before they come together as an ensemble.
In Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC try to do all of that ground work in one film. So they first have to fill in the back story of Batman’s development, and Superman’s battle with Zod so that we can see why they are fighting in the first place. Then there is Wonder Woman and her back story, not to mention Lex Luthor and the explanation behind his hatred of Superman.
But let’s not stop there! Let’s also throw in the concept of meta-humans, and introduce other characters for a few minutes apiece without explaining who they are. Luckily we weren’t confused by the characters, but this film has an awful lot to take in if you aren’t well-grounded in the DC universe.
Dawn of Justice is 2.5 hours long, and I think that is just too long. If they had produced the standalone Batman film first, with maybe a cameo by Bruce Wayne at the end of Man of Steel, that would have removed the need for quite a lot of the backstory. They could have introduced Wonder Woman without mentioning the other meta-humans just yet. And they could have taken out all of the ridiculous slow-motion walking scenes which probably added a good 15 minutes to the length of the film!
My only other quibble with the film is that it’s very dark – both visually and in content. Batman vs Superman sounds like it should be the kind of film you can take your kids along to watch in the school holidays. But there is a lot of quite graphic violence, some swearing and just a general air of darkness, I’m not sure that I’d have been happy taking the boys to see this if they were 9 or 10 years old. I even got my tickets out half way through the film to check that I hadn’t inadvertently taken the boys to watch a 15-rated film by mistake! Ideally parents will have checked it out properly first, but I imagine there might be some who do get caught out.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film and I’m glad that we went to see it on its opening weekend. It has some pretty big flaws, but overall it was an entertaining way to spend a Friday night. I’m just left feeling that DC don’t run their universe as well as Marvel does, and I’m really looking forward to Captain America: Civil War next month!