“Mr. Wayne! Clark Kent, Daily Planet. What’s your position on The Bat Vigilante in Gotham?”
As a long time DC fanatic, I’ve been waiting for this movie since before they even starting making it and I gotta say, for me, it delivered. That said, much like the first entry in the series, there are some creative decisions in the film that will certainly be divisive among fans. Despite some minor details here and there, I really do think this might be the best Superman movie to date, BUT as far as Batman movies go… well it’s no “Dark Knight”. Ultimately this is a movie for the fans of the comics.
Without giving too much away, Dawn of Justice picks up where Man of Steel left off (with the destruction of Metropolis by Zod) and we get to see things from Bruce Wayne’s perspective, which leads him (and others) to harboring an intense distrust for the Last Son of Krypton. Lex Luthor gets a hold of some Kryptonite and is essentially able to manipulate events to his own nefarious purposes, of course eventually leading to an epic confrontation between Batman and Superman.
Henry Cavil reprises his iconic role as Kal-El (Clark Kent aka Superman) along with most of the stellar cast from the first entry, including Amy Adams’s Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. I thought those characters were all handled well and especially loved the Lois and Clark dynamic.
As far as the new cast members go we have: Ben Affleck as Batman / Bruce Wayne, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Gal Gadot debuting as Wonder Woman! If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Ben Affleck absolutely nailed the role. Every scene with the Dark Knight in action is captivating. It’s worth pointing out though that his is a very different version of Batman from Christopher Nolan’s gritty and realistic trilogy and is clearly inspired by Frank Miller’s take. Jeremy Irons also makes a great Alfred, who really plays up the whole voice of reason aspect.
Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor is certainly different from what we’ve seen before in both the comics and movies and while he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I certainly prefer him to the Gene Hackman land-grabbing schemer any day. In the comics Lex has gone from being an evil scientist to a corrupt business man, so it was great to see both aspects of Superman’s arch nemesis on display. Of all the intricate Lex Luthor plots over the years, this has got to be my favorite.
And finally – in the few scenes that she appeared, Wonder Woman absolutely stole the show. In fact, even people that didn’t love this one are now really looking forward to her movie next year!
Whether you love him or hate him, Zack Snyder does what he does best here: the visuals are stunning! Just like with Watchmen and 300, this guy knows how to make a comic book panel come to life! He even recreates imagery from the famous battle from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Not only does Snyder improve on Man of Steel’s faults, I actually think that this movie really builds off of what was established by it.
The movie’s biggest strength though is in it’s script, seriously. Chris Terrio (the Oscar-winning writer of ‘Argo’) and David S. Goyer (of ‘The Dark Knight’), weave a really intricate and nuanced story around a seemingly simple concept. If you’re paying attention there’s some really great symbolism and philosophical implications sewn into the fabric of the film. Most comic writers will tell you that writing a good Superman story is a challenge, so I can only imagine how difficult a task it must have been to make this concept work on the big screen. The writers are the unsung heroes of this movie.
I can’t really go into too much detail about the weaker aspects of the movie without spoiling it, but needless to say there are some interesting creative choices that I know some people won’t be keen on. At times there are some minor pacing issues and action fatigue. There are a few apparent plot holes, which are probably the result of editing. While I don’t have a problem with certain references and cameos, they may have been more effective if they hadn’t been leaked in the marketing. My biggest beef with the movie however is a specific premonition / nightmare scene, which was cool, but also felt a little out of place without a proper explanation, but I’m sure will make more sense in either the director’s cut, or future installments.
All in all, I’m really curious to see where these movies go next. One way or another they have my money.
Note: Although there is no scene at the end of the credits, they did pay homage to all the comic creators whose work inspired the movie, which I thought was absolutely awesome.