Batman v Superman Falls Short of Victory
- Ryan Duncan
- 2016 24 Mar
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice delivers an epic showdown as promised, but not before lulling viewers to sleep with a tedious, brooding lecture on the nature of gods and power. 3 out of 5.
Beginning several months after the events of Man of Steel, humanity is still coming to terms with the existence of Superman (Henry Cavill). Many consider him a hero and a savior, while others view him as an unpredictable global threat. The situation grows worse when Superman incurs the wrath of Batman (Ben Affleck) who witnessed the battle of Metropolis and blames Superman for the mass destruction and misery which resulted from his fight with Zod. Taking advantage of their mutual distrust, billionaire mogul Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) manipulates events in hopes of pitting the two heroes against each other. As both titans prepare to square off, Batman is haunted by visions of an apocalyptic landscape, and a mysterious woman (Gal Gadot) makes her own plans amidst the confusion. When these epic forces finally clash, who will rise victorious?
Want Another Take? Watch Our Video Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
For all its troubles, Batman v Superman is actually a fun movie to watch. The visuals are stunning, down to the last, minute detail. Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot all disappear into their roles as iconic legends, though it's a bit of a toss-up between Affleck and Godot as to who wears their hero best. A string of well-rounded supporting characters lend strength to the film, and the action, when it finally starts going, is a thrill to witness. Even the philosophical arguments, which are by far the film's biggest weakness, ask some interesting questions about humans and our relationship with power. Finally, the movie is peppered with enough comic homages and minor cameos that DC fans should be satisfied for weeks.
Sadly, Batman v Superman attempts too much in one movie. Rather than focus on its two lead characters, the story tries to justify itself through a convoluted plot and endless foreshadowing. Viewers are yanked from scene-to-scene at breakneck speed, and unless they're well-versed in comic book lore, they'll spend the whole movie trying to figure out what's going on ("I thought they were both good guys; why are they fighting?"). To make matters worse, Batman v Superman dedicates seemingly an hour of run-time to long, pretentious monologues about whether someone with godlike powers can be both all-powerful and all-good. The fallout is countless scenes of drudgery, and stilted dialogue that makes you wonder if the writers forgot how real people speak.
The creators of Batman v Superman are trying to build a Justice League universe while making a Superman sequel, but they spent so much time laying the foundation for future installments that they forgot to actually make a good stand-alone movie. The result is a bloated mess which is fun to watch, but hardly as legendary as its characters.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
The nature of god, devils, belief, humanity, and power are all major themes throughout Dawn of Justice. Lex Luthor believes God cannot be simultaneously all-powerful and all-good, and he projects these ideas onto Superman. He consistently states that demons do not come from hell, but from heaven disguised as beautiful saviors. He also ponders whether anyone with power can resist using it, or if mankind has the ability to overthrow gods. In his eyes, someone with godlike power cannot be innocent of wrongdoing. Batman, meanwhile, puts more faith in human action. He believes only humans can be brave because it costs them something. Superman, on the other hand, questions whether his existence on Earth is usurping the world's belief in higher powers. Where Man of Steel concentrated on what makes Clark 'human,' this film tackles what makes him a 'god,' and the result is a very aloof, distracted, joyless Superman.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality
- Language/Profanity: A few minor curses (one instance of 's-it'), but otherwise quite clean.
- Sexuality/Nudity: Lois Lane is shown naked in a bathtub though her anatomy is covered, Clark Kent later joins her fully clothed; the corpse of General Zod is shown naked but his genitals are obscured; the monster Doomsday is depicted in a pod which resembles a womb, Doomsday is also naked but has no genitals; Bruce Wayne flirts with women and mentions that he's "known many," he's also depicted shirtless and in bed with a woman; Alfred makes a joke that there needs to be a "next generation" of Waynes; Wonder Woman's armor and dresses can be a bit revealing.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: The film is heavy on violence and destruction. Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered by a mugger; Metropolis is destroyed during the events of Man of Steel; a man's legs are severed after a steel beam falls on them; a little girl is almost crushed by debris; Batman has begun branding sexual predators and human traffickers with a hot iron, something which gets them murdered in prison; a police officer is almost shot; a bloody boxing match between two men; Batman destroys several vehicles in a car chase; a man is shot in the head off-screen; many other people are shot; Superman tackles people through walls; Superman incinerates two people in a dream sequence; a bomb goes off during a Senate hearing; Doomsday destroys buildings; Batman beats down numerous thugs; a woman is kidnapped; Batman uses a variety of weapons on Superman including poisoned gas, sonic blasts, automatic weapons, and grappling hooks before cutting him with a kryptonite spear; Lois Lane almost falls to her death; Lois Lane almost drowns; Superman is seamingly killed after being impaled on Doomsday's spike; Superman stabs Doomsday with a spear; Wonder Woman fights with a sword and cuts off Doomsday's hand. The Flash knocks out a mugger; Aquaman attacks a camera; the character Cyborg is shown to have suffered serious injuries that leave him with nothing but an arm and a torso; we witness a his father's disturbing attempt to restore a body to him.
Drugs/Alcohol: Several characters drink hard liquor and wine; champagne is offered; a poisonous gas is used against Superman; references to Kentucky Mash. A few characters are shown smoking.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Comic book geeks, action fans, and philosophy majors.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Children, families, those looking for a simple movie to enjoy, people who can't stand long speeches or movies, Marvel fans.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder, opened in theaters March 25, 2016; available for home viewing July 19, 2016. It runs 151 minutes and stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, and Jeremy Irons. Watch the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice here.
Ryan Duncan is Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: March 25, 2016