In the build up to Justice League, I decided to re-watch Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Upon first viewing I had enjoyed it, but was I looking at it through rose tinted glasses? Would a viewing of the ultimate edition help me remember what I enjoyed? Or would it make me realize that all the criticisms and online jokes about it, are true? Turns out neither, I came out of Batman Vs Superman loving even more than I had remembered and I can comfortably say that it is, not just a good, but a great movie. I’m not going to go into the scene by scene by scene review of the film, by rather, what makes these characters work.
**SPOILERS I guess**
I’ll start by addressing one of the biggest complaints people had about the movie; the darker tone. While I 100% agree that it wasn’t as humour filled, compared to other super hero movies by marvel, the darker tone does allow for more of a reflective look at the world the movie takes place in. Man of steel built up a world not used to super powers or aliens. It introduced us to a Superman who is flawed, who is struggling to find his place, his purpose. BVS builds on that. After the destruction of Metropolis at the end of Man of steel, Superman is viewed in two very different ways, some name him a savior, others name him a terrorist and a threat. This is not helped by the main villains in the movie framing Superman for murder, while saving Louis Lane. This allows us to see the very human side of Superman. A side that is struggling with trying to do the right thing but met with anger and hatred. Is what he is doing worth it? This deepens his character and allows us to see that even though he is all powerful, he is not all knowing. He feels that he needs to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, even if the world doesn’t want him too. His journey through the movie allows us to see that even through persecution and hatred, he is still a good person and is willing to sacrifice himself to save the world. I also totally agreed with his reasoning for disliking Batman, while Superman was out trying to save people, Batman was out punishing criminals. Of course this version of Superman would dislike that, he is being punished for saving people, while the Batman is being praised.
Speaking of Batman, Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the caped crusader is the movie’s highlight, and is definitely a stand out performance. He feels like an established Batman. His reasoning for Superman is completely justified. This is an alien coming to our world, leveling cities and killing thousands. Batman takes down criminals, and Superman, in his eyes, is a criminal. He sees this person trying to be a saviour, to belong, but has also seen first hand, what his heroics leave behind. You can tell by Ben Affleck’s performance that this Batman is tired of the old ways. He has seen Superman do too much damage and decides enough is enough. He is willing to do anything to stop this massive threat, even kill other criminals. Is this right and in character? God no, but it does show the damaged mind-set of Batman during his crusade against superman. Once the battle between them is over (more on that next) you can clearly tell that Batman is back to his old ways. During that amazing warehouse scene, he doesn’t go in guns blazing. He knocks out and subdues his opponents. I’m not naive enough to think that some of those men didn’t die, he did throw a crate at someone’s head, I feel that he is still recovering and that it’ll take some time for him to get back to his old self.
Now let’s talk about the fight, while I understand the reasoning behind the fight starting, Lex wanted Batman and Superman out of the way so what better way to do that than have them destroy each other, to me they didn’t need a catalyst, they disagreed with each other from the very start. They were going to end up fighting anyway. Superman tried to talk to Bruce before it started but Bruce’s mind was so focused on destroying the threat he wouldn’t listen, link that to his kryptonite grenade against superman and its clear why Superman fought back. You could feel the punches thrown between the two and it made the fight seem real, and the constant shift in power made it feel like either of them could win.
So the Martha thing? How do I feel about it? Weirdly, I actually loved it! It was something that I had never realized before but as soon as it was said it clicked, their mothers do share a name. There were hints towards this all the way through the movie. His father’s last word was “Martha”, During his first vision, the “Man Bat” comes out of his mother’s grave, all these things show that he had a connection to his mother and her death shaped who he was. Everyone is complaining about how Batman wouldn’t care if any other criminal had a mother called Martha so why would Superman’s make any different? Because Superman is different than any other criminal, he thinks he is the same as everyone else, while Batman feels that Superman is an outsider, so whenever Superman utters his mothers name, and the same last words as his father, of course he is going to be taken aback. It was the shake Batman needed. He had been blinded by rage and anger, so it was only fitting that it would be a memory of his mother that would bring him out of it.
While there was a lot that I loved about BVS, there was definitely some weak points within that movie, the main one being Lex Luther and his stupid doomsday plan. It made no sense. He wanted to get rid of Superman and Batman, but why? He wanted access to Zod and the ship, Why? None of it made sense. His character as well just didn’t fit. He was evil for the sake of being evil. Doomsday felt like a add on, that they needed something that would get Batman and Superman to fight together. I do agree that needed to happen, it would have been far more satisfying if they had a fought a villain with any sort of back story or connection to either character, not a goon.
I also don’t think Wonder Woman should have been in the movie. While she was great and her fighting along side Batman and Superman at the end was amazing and got me really excited about Justice League, I just feel that her inclusion was also forced. She didn’t add anything to the story and was only there so that they didn’t have to introduce yet another character in Justice League.
Verdict: Minor Surgery
While it did have a few weak plot points and forced characters, I feel that BVS: Ultimate edition is not just a Super hero movie, but a great character movie. Before I watched it, I was not excited about Justice league at all, but now after seeing the journey these characters have been through, November 17th cannot come soon enough.