Director: Zac Synder
Cast: Henry Cavil, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Lawrence Fishburne
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
For years it has been one those “who’d win in a fight” questions – Batman or Superman? Son of Krypton or Bat of Gotham? Two of DC’s most popular and most reincarnated on screen are once more brought to life in a battle of the Titans with director Zac Synder continuing what he started in Man of Steel. Henry Cavil and Amy Adams return again as Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane, while Ben Affleck is given a chance to redeem himself in the superhero genre as Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Taking place following the events of M.O.S. Bruce Wayne witnesses firsthand the disastrous effects of General Zod and Superman’s climatic fight. The damage caused to his building, colleagues and other innocent people opens his eyes to dangers of powered beings. The aftermath of this clash sets off a chain of events that change everyone in this film. Superman himself has settled into his new role as worldwide protector, while still putting in time as alter ego Clark at The Daily Planet, and rescuing Lois. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne/Batman has to decide what to do about the threats beyond Gotham’s walls. Naturally in a film called Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s inevitable everything leads to the aforementioned title fight, and thus seeds for the Justice League (DC’s equivalent of Marvel’s Avengers) are sown.
Taking inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s gritty and realistic Batman films, B.V.S. explores moralistic themes of power, the consequences of having great power, and how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to take it. This serious tone may be DC’s way of distinguishing its superhero films from Marvel’s: in comparison to the sassy banter that has become commonplace in Marvel films, thus far what seems to come across in abundance with DC’s films is a lot of brooding stares.
Though B.V.S. follows on from M.O.S. it is not a straight up Superman sequel: each titled character has their individual story arc. Cavil’s take on Superman has already been established in M.O.S., unlike Affleck’s Batman. This Batman hasn’t been given a complete origin storyline, the story instead picking up at a later stage in Batman’s timeline after years of being the caped crusader have taken their toll. It’s easy to see why Affleck was cast as Batman in this film: with Affleck himself having experienced highs and lows in own acting profession, he does surprisingly well in portraying a more grizzled hero who’s seen more knockbacks than victories but still has some tricks left up his sleeve. Batman’s storyline has been given more screen time throughout this film, resulting in his overall story arc feeling more fleshed out and resolved by the end. The development of Superman’s character however, due to the unevenness of screen time given, is considerably less satisfying.
Unfortunately the uneven screen time of the major characters isn’t the only inconsistency in B.V.S. With this film being basically a set up for the Justice League film (coming out in 2017), there are blatant cameos from other Justice League members. Some are presented in a series of dream sequences before their appearance in the “present” timeline of the film. If it sounds a little confusing that’s because it is. It doesn’t suit the overall themes and story arc of B.V.S. and would have been better suited as an end credits scene or to close the film leaving the viewer more excited and hopeful for what is to come.
Inconsistencies aside, the final battle is well stylised, each character is given their props, and the climax is a natural outcome of the preceding story. Batman’s action scenes in the finale are particularly noteworthy, and even fans of Batman’s previous incarnations will be left the feeling satisfied. In a way the film begins to answer the question of “who would win a fight between Batman and Superman?”, but any definite conclusions are prevented by the intervention of a third party (damn pesky reporters).
2 1/2 stars