This review will cover both versions of “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, the theatrical and Ultimate Edition. The film is directed by Zack Snyder who previously did other graphic novel films, “Watchmen”, “300” & “Man of Steel”. The film is also the second in the DC Cinematic Universe and a follow up the aforementioned “Man of Steel”. From that film’s cast, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane & Laurence Fishbourne return to their respected roles. The new cast include Ben Afleck, Jermey Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter and J.K. Simmons. Other actors make very brief appearances but play important roles, Jason Mamoa, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Ezra Miller, Lauren Cohen, Joe Morton and Ray Fisher all fill out the supporting and upcoming characters. While the film does draw inspirations and has serval callbacks to the novels, “The Dark Knight Returns” & “The Death of Superman”, the film stand alone on its own story much like Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy.
During Superman’s (Cavill) fight with General Zod (played by Michael Shannon) at the end of “Man of Steel”, Bruce Wayne (Afleck) attempts to save as many people as possible in the mass destruction but sees the bigger picture with Superman, a worldwide threat. 18 months later, while on an assignment in the desserts of Africa, a reporter for the Daily Planet, Lois Lane (Adams), is caught in a set up between rebel forces and an unknown group of mercenaries that frame Superman after they kill the rebels along with a group of innocent civilians. Back in Metropolis, Lex Luther (Eisenberg) has been meticulously planning to gather all the remains of the Krypton technology as well as the body of Zod. Senator Finch (Hunter) has been trying to stop to Luther plans seeing as they seem a but devious even though its for the protection of the planet. The world begins to question themselves as Superman still acts the hero despite being criticized at every turn. As Superman and Clark Kent deal with the uncertainty of the world, Batman and Bruce Wayne along with his butler and long time friend Alfred (Irons) have their own investigation which leads into Luthor’s plans. As both heroes are on the same paths, their differences on the world clashes with one another leads to the showdown of the century for comic book fans. Son of Krypton vs. Bat of Gotham. With the 2 heroes at each other throats, it seems to be perfectly planned for Luther and others.
Zack Snyder’s films have always been the closest to the source material than anyone but that also proves to be his downfall. While the film is visually stunning and has some great performances, the storyline is one big inconsistent mess. By cramming 3 different stories together, the film is all over the place. You have a rebooted and older version of Batman and his brief origin, you have the continuation of the Superman storyline, the introduction of the Justice League and then Superman / Doomsday story all in one movie, that’s including the 3 hour Ultimate Edition. The theatrical version is a bit off and way out of touch, the Ultimate Edition does its best to clean up the plot holes but adding an extra 45 minutes to an hour does not match the different storylines trying to be told. My biggest complaint with this film however is the over the top and very weak performance from Jesse Eisenberg. His portrayal of Superman’s greatest enemy is lack luster and has no character development or depth at all. You getlittle tidbits here and there of the Lex Luther character but just plain awful overall. The reveal of Doomsday would’ve been amazing had it not been in the trailer as the first time seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman on the big screen for the first time.
Overall, the theatrical release was mediocre at best and then Ultimate Edition does improve it quite a bit but not as much as it should. Despite the mixed reviews, Warner Bros. & DC went ahead to continue their DC Cinematic Universe as “Justice League” was released the next year. Majority of this cast return for that film. Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman, would return to her own film in 2017. DC also released “Suicide Squad” in 2016, which featured a collection of DC villains. Jason Mamoa would get his own stand alone film in 2018’s “Aquaman” and a new character was released in 2019 as Zachary Levi played “Shazam!”. While the featured of the DC Cinematic Universe is unclear, all we know is that after this film and with the exception of 3 films in particular, this universe is in a bit of a decline. “Dawn of Justice” tried to tell too many stories in one movie, and just like Snyder’s other film, “Watchmen”, a director’s cut did eventually save the momentum. With Snyder remaining with DC and continuing the universe, things are looking up….. for now.