The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. God versus man. Day versus night! Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!
When Deadpool was released, it was met to rave critical reception due to being subversive of the superhero genre. Instead of being a tale of the good hero trying to beat the bad villain, Deadpool was more mature than that. Its R rating allowed it to have a sense of humour that was as vulgar as it wanted to be, which was handled extraordinarily due to its sharp sense of wit. Essentially, this film felt like a breath of fresh air. However, while Deadpool had ample amounts of humour, it had the same problem as most Marvel films, its story was simple and shallow. That is why Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice could have been a breath of fresh air.
A common theme in this review has to do with one word: potential. For example, one action scene could have been fantastic if it was handled in one take, as the action that unfolded lent itself excellently to that style. However, director Zack Snyder went with the lazy route and shot it in a typical blockbuster fashion. If Batman vs Superman had better execution, it could have become a fantastic movie. It was not prioritising constant action over deep and enriching storytelling, but due to the manner it was handled, it unfortunately fell flat.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is another element that had potential. Not only was he a competent villain who surprisingly was a threat to both Batman and Superman, he was also vastly different from any other incarnation. Instead of being an older, corrupt business man, this Lex was simply a spoiled boy with unlimited power. His motivation was not an overcomplicated James Bond-like plan, but it was something a lot more relatable. Unfortunately, because Lex was played by Jesse Eisenberg, he of course had to be incredibly quirky. The quirkiness ended up ruining Lex’s character as a whole, and made me cringe every time he was on screen. I really wish Snyder told Eisenberg to downplay his performance a bit, but because Eisenberg was allowed to do his own thing, Lex ended up feeling like a character ripped straight out from a cartoon. It is a shame how such a poor performance ruined great character work.
Another disappointing thing was the event that audiences had been waiting for; the titular fight between Batman and Superman. The actual action of the two protagonists fighting was satisfactory; it managed to surprisingly be an even match between a man and a God. I was really unsure who would win, despite the fact that Superman was clearly overpowered. What was poor about this fight was the storytelling reason why it happened. The reasoning why these two were against each other felt so silly and meaningless, and it felt like a type of conflict that would come out of something from a high school drama. Furthermore, the build up to the fight was incredibly forced; you could tell the writers were itching for it to happen and did not care how organic it was with the pacing of the movie. It was literally a detour from the plot that had no real purpose whatsoever and could have easily been avoided.
The final fight scene between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman was also lacking. While Wonder Woman was by far the best part about the final act, the whole fight was poor. For a film that barely had any action, it was surprising how overwhelmed I felt with the climax. It went on way too long, and any time it appeared it was about to end, it would just keep continuing. Furthermore, Doomsday shows up a good ten minutes before the final fight, which takes away the investment. If there is no time allotted to developing the opponent, there is no reason to care. He just felt like a CGI obstacle designed to get the heroes to work together.
Despite all these flaws, Batman vs Superman can be a very good film…if you are a casual moviegoer. The Rotten Tomatoes score has a huge discrepancy between critics and audiences, with a 28% critical rating, yet a 72% audience rating. It really depends on your taste in movies and if quality matters, or you just want to be entertained. Batman vs Superman is enjoyable if you do not notice or care about these problems, and just want a movie to see. However, Marvel does this type of style a lot better since Batman vs Superman lacks much action, and has very little sense of humour. In fact, when it does try to be funny, it constantly falls flat. There is a sparse amount of jokes in Batman vs Superman, and not one works.
Overall, Batman vs Superman is an incredibly flawed film. There are aspects of it that can lead to deep and enriching storytelling, something which a Marvel film has not really done. However, this potential is bogged down by its many problems, which limited how good it could have been. Despite that, if you do not care for these critical flaws, you can still be entertained.