We’re finally here. After nearly 3 years I can say that I have watched Batman v Superman, and what a journey it has been. Sometimes it’s really hard to be a DCEU fan, but at the end of the day it becomes completely worth it, even with all the ups and downs. This is probably going to be a lengthy post so brace yourself, for its time to discuss Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice!
It’s weird that after 2.5 years, 3 Comic-Cons, 1 teaser trailer and 3 main trailers, dozens of TV spots, hundreds of interviews, and thousands of articles we have finally reached this place. If you’ve been following my blog then you probably know that Batman v Superman has been my most anticipated movie. And let me tell you, it’s been an intense journey.
From controversy of Ben Affleck, to the movie being pushed back 10 months, to behind-the-scenes concerns, to the movie opening to fans with rave reviews, and then the embargo lifting revealing the critical panning it had received.
I’ve seen the movie twice so far, and I have to say the first time I watched Batman v Superman, I didn’t know if I liked it or not. The culmination of the critical negativity, along with the already long and tiring road it has been to Batman v Superman had a lot to do with it. And the fact is after watching Batman v Superman for the first time, I was annoyed.
Because I won’t let blind fangirlism detract from the fact that this movie has issues. The editing from the first half wasn’t very good. Scenes didn’t flow together as well, and the cuts were jarring. The pacing was uneven as the first half was off to a slow start and then the second half was maybe too fast. Lex’s motivations weren’t as explored as I had hoped, and Bruce and Clark didn’t really get a chance to bond or connect. And yeah, there was probably too many subplots.
But then I watched it a second time and I can say without a doubt that I love this weird, flawed, chaotic and beautiful movie. I still acknowledge that it has its problems (pacing and editing didn’t bother me as much the second time around) but this is the ballsiest superhero movie and it’s just such an unforgettable experience.
Okay so let’s start from the beginning:
The opening of the movie in a great sequence was the death of the Waynes. Cue the whiners, but let me tell you this; my second viewing of Batman v Superman was with two friends who don’t really know superheroes and don’t really watch superhero movies (one of them was ready to hate this movie when she walked in but walked out absolutely loving it). And one of the questions they asked me after the movie was, how does Batman become Batman? Yeah I know to the people reading this are probably like, wow your friends are idiots. But a lot of people do only have vague knowledge about these characters.
So I have no problem with them including this scene for those unacquainted. And it also symbolised the birth of a new Batman. This isn’t Christian Bale’s Batman anymore, meet the new Bruce Wayne in town. And of course the scene is significant as we hear Thomas whisper “Martha” before they both die.
The opening sequence gets a little weird when little Bruce Wayne is lifted up by bats, but this is just metaphorical imagery quickly representing how Bruce embraces his fear to become fear itself.
Then we move onto the Battle in Metropolis. This time from Bruce’s perspective. It’s a great scene because it emphasises the impact Superman’s introduction to the world had. From Bruce’s eyes he saw Superman cause all this chaos and terror, a chaos that killed and injured many of Bruce’s employees.
This is where we meet Scoot Mcnairy’s character Wallace (remember when we thought he might have been Flash or Jimmy Olsen…). Wallace’s arc is pivotal because it showed how easily Superman’s presence could fracture a human. He became half a man because of Superman.
Like I said earlier the first half of the movie is edited weirdly and many small scenes take place so I’ll talk about the major moments in broad strokes:
Lois in Africa
We get a scene of Lois in Africa, with Jimmy Olsen??? Now I may love this movie, but here is something I hate, or at least strongly dislike. Why? Some may not think Olsen is an important character in the Superman mythos, but I do. Superman is a guy yearning to have a normal life still, Jimmy helps to give him that. But instead in the movie he’s a CIA operative, who gets killed. Slightly annoying to use a major character like that.
Anyways Lois is in Africa investigating a terrorist group when things go down. Here’s where Lex’s plot starts to really kick in. In an effort to continue to tarnish Superman’s public image, and make people question him more, Lex sets up the situation to go into complete chaos when Superman arrives. This scene is important because later on it reveals just how much Lex knows about Superman and Lois.
World reacting to Superman
And from this situation leads to the Senate hearing. The world is split on Superman. We like that he can save us, but we don’t like that he can basically do what ever he wants. How can the world trust someone so powerful to make the right decisions? Humanity aren’t typically the trusting type anymore, so for people to simply accept Superman was never going to be the case.
We see Superman saving people and we see that people appreciate that, look to him as a saviour. Intercut in this montage are news reels of people discussing Superman. One of the best parts was when the voice over says “What if he’s just a guy trying to do the right thing?”. This is said whilst Superman is catching the rocket ship. In one shot as he is holding the rocket over his head he is god-like, then as the voice-over starts we close-up to his face. He isn’t a god, he’s just Clark Kent.
We know one of the most distrusting people is Batman. Remember this is a Batman who has been through a lot. He’s seen his partners die, and his efforts only cause temporary change. He’s bruised and cynical. He has been watching Superman for a while now (as was made even clearer from the prequel comics), but Wallace was the final straw.
And who helped pull the final straw, well Lex Luthor of course! Lex uses Wallace to become this sympathetic figure to the public, to make people hate Superman even more. To make Batman hate Superman even more. Bruce already feels like his life has been full of failures, Wallace became another one of his failures.
Earlier we thought the “You let your family die” note could have been from the Joker or Jason, but it wasn’t. Wallace (or really Lex) had sent them to make Bruce feel even more guilty for not protecting them against Superman.
Meeting Lex Luthor
When we first meet Lex Luthor, he seems like an okay guy. He’s playing basketball and is overly happy. But then he starts to speak, and you start to feel a little creeped out. Lex Luthor’s portrayal in this movie has been one of the things (one of the many things) people are divisive about.
I agree, he isn’t the Lex Luthor we’re used to seeing. Normally Lex talks slower, is more sophisticated but still has that layer of psychopathy underneath. This Lex is faster, more eccentric and isn’t as good at hiding his layers. He’s definitely more unhinged, but this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different.
“If God is all-powerful, he cannot be all good”. I’ve discussed Lex Luthor before, and as I said before Lex is a character driven by his insecurities. The dynamic between Superman and Lex Luthor has always been fascinating, as they are these two diametrically opposing characters. One is a man trying to be a god, whereas the other is a god trying to be a man.
Lex feels like he should be this all-powerful figure. He feels like he is surely above the human race. What he hates is that he isn’t this figure, he views Superman as this figure and he hates that. Superman is everything he aspires to be, and the fact that Lex is merely a man angers him.
So if he can’t be a god, he will bring god down to his level. Which is essentially his plan in Batman v Superman. He can’t reconcile with the fact that gods are among men, he doesn’t think this is fair. Gods are cruel, time to get rid of them. “And now god bends to my will“.
Lex’s plan involves getting access to the Kryptonite found, which is where his conflict with Senator Finch starts as she refuses him access. He also wants access to Zod and the fallen Kryptonian ship. And of course he wants Batman and Superman to fight. His end goal was to have Batman kill Superman (which judging by how brutal this Batman is, it’s not unusual to think Batman would actually do that) or to have Superman kill Batman to prove that power isn’t innocent.
Which is when we get back to Wallace.
Back at the Senate hearing, Superman has arrived and yet Luthor is nowhere to be seen anymore. You want the world to fear Superman? You want Batman to hate Superman even more? Well bombing the Capitol is a good way to do it.
Not only that but this is a major moment for Superman, this is the moment where he stops believing in himself. His road to becoming Superman had already started off rocky, now this? He doesn’t believe that he’s capable of being this figure his parents wanted him to be. If he can’t save everybody, even those that are right in front of him, what’s he good for?
Diana & Bruce
We first meet Diana at Luthor’s party. Bruce is there to investigate the White Portuguese, which he’s interested in because he knows it’s connected Kryptonite. At the party he meets Clark (which is when Clark finds out there is more to Bruce than meets the eye) and he meets Diana.
Diana is also investigating Luthor because of something he has on her. Luthor’s meta-human thesis has meant that he’s been investigating certain meta-humans for a while now, including Diana.
When Bruce eventually gets the device back from Diana he finds out about her (cue Diana’s awesome theme music). Their arc continues until the very end of the movie, and essentially they join forces to form the Justice League. And why are they forming the Justice League? Because Bruce has a feeling they might need to…
Looks like it might not be a nightmare after all. When Bruce is decrypting the device he falls into this dream. A dream of a future where Earth is being dominated by Darkseid, and Superman appears to be one of Darkseid’s agents (Darkseid for those unaware is an alien tyrant from the planet Apokolips, one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe). When the evil Superman confronts Batman he talks about how Batman took “her” away from him, how she was his world. Superman then proceeds to rip Batman’s heart out.
This of course is strongly influenced by Injustice: Gods Among Us. In the comic tie-in to the video game, we find out that Joker has killed everyone in Metropolis, including Lois. This makes Superman snap, and he ends up ripping the Joker’s heart out in front of Batman.
Batman wakes up from the nightmare to find a future Flash in front of him. The Flash talks about how Lois is the key, how Batman was right to fear him. Then The Flash screams that he’s too soon, that Bruce has to find them. The working theory right now is that the dream was actually either the future, or a possible timeline.
In this timeline for some reason Batman causes Lois’ death, which results in Superman snapping. Superman becomes an agent of Darkseid which allows Darkseid to take over the world. Flash comes back in time to probably prevent this from happening. This scene may have felt a little random but remember that The Flash didn’t plan to come at this time, he was too soon. It’s clear that Darkseid will be an upcoming Justice League baddie, especially from Lex Luthor’s final remarks, which we will get to.
Lex and Zod
We see that Lex does get Zod’s body and takes him to the Genesis Chamber. Remember Krypton was all about producing a perfect species, with each individual having their own purpose. When Lex mixed his blood with Zod he created an abnormality, which wasn’t accepted in Krypton. Hence the creation of Doomsday. It’s also here that Lex learns a lot about Krypton and other worlds, including Darkseid.
Lex on a rooftop
Lois eventually finds herself on a rooftop with Lex. If you didn’t know Lex was crazy before, you definitely know now. However he seems even crazier in this moment, almost like what ever it was that he learnt from the ship got to him. I guess finding out about a real alien tyrant, in the form of Darkseid, can have that effect on someone.
Lex throws Lo off the roof, and Superman saves her. But Lois was just the distraction, for the real one in trouble is Martha, Martha, Martha. (I have to say as well, it is interesting that this Lex knows Superman is Clark Kent). Here is when Lex gives the classic villain monologue, explaining his plan.
God now bends to his will, he will either corrupt the image of god by turning him into this monster who kills Batman, or have god be killed by man. In either of these scenarios, Lex wins.
Batman v Superman
And so the fight begins, but not the way we thought. Superman doesn’t want to fight Batman, he wants to convince Batman to help him save Martha and to stop Lex. So when Superman does arrive on scene he tries to get that message out, but Batman isn’t listening.
Remember in Bruce’s eyes, defeating Superman may be the only thing he does that matters. He’s so obsessed by this need to make up for his failures, that’s he’s displaced all his anger onto Superman. Superman embodies and is a reflection of all of Batman’s failures and weaknesses, so of course he’s not going to be listening to reason at this point.
Superman is forced to fight back after all of Batman’s traps, and so the fight begins. It was shorter than what I expected, and we already saw a lot of it in the trailers, but the fight was really good, to be expected from Snyder.
And yes technically Batman won the fight, but only because Superman didn’t really want to win the fight. The only thing Superman had on his mind was saving Martha, this was just an inconvenience.
The fight is resolved when Batman finally listens to Superman, and Clark yells out “Martha!”. In the decades of Batman and Superman having existed, people never really think about the fact that their mothers have the same name.
So the fight is resolved when Clark is finally humanised to Bruce. Bruce has been so caught up in this idea of Superman being this uncontrollable alien, who had the potential to be a huge powerful threat, that he never really considered that he could just be a normal guy. Hearing Clark only be concerned about his mother’s safety as Batman is about to spear him, really was a wake up call to Bruce.
I have to say that the turnaround from Batman hating Superman to them teaming up was a little quick. It would have been nice for them to have a mini deep and meaningful before they get to teaming up, but hey no time when Lex is out there causing chaos!
Diana discovering the Justice League
In the midst of all this we see Diana explore Luthor’s files, which includes details on the other metas (yes Luthor apparently likes to design superhero logos as well). Maybe it felt a little out of place, and could have worked better as an end credit sequence, but it was a nice little scene that introduced us to the idea of other metas existing.
We saw Flash again, but this time as Barry Allen. We see Aquaman, who is already Aquaman. And we see Vic Stone being turned into Cyborg. Now the Cyborg one was the most interesting, because Vic was turned into Cyborg by a Mother Box. A Mother Box is of course a device used on Apokolips, planet of Darkseid. So it looks like Darkseid already has his sights set on Earth.
Doomsday is born
So whilst Batman is off to rescue Martha, a Martha, a mother he can actually help, Superman is off to see Lex. You have to feel sorry for Lex, he made this great plan but ended up creating the Justice League instead! Lex then reveals Doomsday, and the big battle begins.
Remember how everybody bitched and moaned about Superman not taking Zod into space during Man of Steel, even though he was clearly being overpowered and was in his early days of being Superman? Well they can’t moan this time because Superman takes Doomsday to space! And then the government nukes them.
In a frightening Dark Knight Returns-esque shot, we see Superman all shrivelled up as he slowly starts to soak in the sun again.
Doomsday on the other hand just fell to Earth because a nuclear weapon won’t stop him. Batman realises that the only way to kill Doomsday is to use the Kryptonite spear, so it’s back to Gotham they go.
Trinity v Doomsday
In a moment that got the loudest cheer from my theatre, Wonder Woman saves Batman’s ass, coupled with her epic theme. And so the fight begins as Superman regains his energy and comes back to fight Doomsday.
When I say Trinity v Doomsday, really I mean Superman/Wonder Woman v Doomsday, because Batman spends most of his time running away from Doomsday, which is pretty hilarious. But hey, Batman’s the brains of the operations normally, so leave him be!
I love that before the fight Wonder Woman talks about how she’s fought creatures from other worlds before, hinting at what she’s been up to before.
The fight itself was pretty cool. Seeing Wonder Woman in action is always great, and I’m grateful for the lasso action we got.
Superman gets interrupted mid fight as he has to go save Lois who has gone to retrieve the Kryptonite spear she threw away in the first place.
Now before this all took place we had another dream sequence between Pa Kent and Clark. Basically it was set up to allow Clark to learn that no matter what troubles he goes through, Lois will always be there to help him through it. Lois is his strength and allows Clark to believe that he can be Superman.
He tells Lois that she’s his world before grabbing the spear to finally end Doomsday.
I have to say, throughout most of this movie I wasn’t surprised about what happened. I probably consumed too much information about this movie before it came out. I knew about The Flash giving Bruce the vision, I knew Scoot Mcnairy’s character was going to blow up the Capitol, but I didn’t know they were going to kill Supes!
It was discussed a lot when Doomsday was revealed to be in Batman v Superman, the Death of Superman story line. Many people wanted Doomsday to be saved for a solo Superman movie so that story arc could take place. Myself, don’t care for Doomsday. The story is bigger than the character, so I didn’t mind them using Doomsday. A character the Trinity could fight so they could join forces.
My rationale was always that, they would never kill Superman on film. Yeah it’s something you do in comics, because comic book audiences are different to movie going audiences. Comic audiences expect certain things to happen in comics, and accept when weird shit goes down. So Superman dying in a comic? Sure why not! Superman dying in a movie? Well that would be crazy, right?
But no, they went and did it, and I was shocked! Lois runs over to Superman, and we see the compassion on Diana’s face.
But what about Doomsday? Is he really dead? Probably not. Remember when he dies, he just evolves so that he can’t die the same way twice. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him again in another movie.
Starts with a funeral, ends with two
The beginning of the movie was the Waynes’ funeral, it ends with Clark’s and Superman’s funerals. What’s surprising to me is that they actually killed Clark Kent. Because sure Superman can come back from the dead, but how will they explain Clark’s return?
Man of Steel spent a lot of time exploring how concerned the Kents were for their son. They didn’t want the world to hurt him, to take him away from them, and that’s exactly what happened here.
But we know that Superman won’t be staying dead. At the very end of the movie we see the soil on his casket start to gravitate, similar to what happens when Superman puts his fist on the ground to fly. He won’t be staying dead, but the question is, how will he come back?
Lex in Prison
We also see the fate of Lex Luthor, the classic bald head finally comes, as Lex looks even crazier now that he has been confined. Batman makes a terrifying appearance after which Lex talks about how the bell has been rung. They know he’s dead and they’re coming. He’s coming.
Obviously this is Darkseid. Perhaps now that Earth’s greatest hero is dead, now is the perfect time for Darkseid to arrive, and Lex knows this.
Now that we’ve discussed the plot, lets dive a little deeper into the three main characters and their motivations and journeys in Batman v Superman:
Batman’s Character Arc
Now there’s been a lot of discussion about how dark and brutal this Batman is. He doesn’t seem to be so strict on his no killing rule anymore, and has become ruthless with his branding and harsh fighting techniques.
At the start of the movie Batman had just about given up hope. He viewed his world as nothing but endless chaos. Robin was killed by the Joker, Wayne Manor is burnt down for some reason and he is alone (but always has sassy Alfred of course).
He’s lost sight of the symbol he once was, the good Batman could do. So he has become darker and more brutal. He’s branding criminals, and even says he’s a criminal himself. He can no longer differentiate himself from the monsters he fights, because he doesn’t view himself as a hero, not anymore.
So Superman gives him the motivation to do something again. To have a purpose, to make a difference. After everything Batman has seen and been through, after he allowed himself to be consumed by the darkness, it’s not surprising that he can’t see past Superman being someone he needs to take down. There’s no such thing as good guys anymore, Superman is a fake hero, needs to be stopped.
But after the fight, after Superman is humanised in his eyes, he is able to see Clark for who he really is, a good guy trying to do the right thing. And so the Doomsday battle happens and Bruce sees Clark sacrifice himself for the greater good. Men are still good.
Along with the introduction of Diana, a force of compassion who will influence Bruce’s life, expect to see Batman evolve from his brutal state. Remember his scene with Lex, he didn’t brand Lex, that stage of his life is over now. His nihilistic crusade has an inspired purpose again, which will be explored in Justice League.
Superman’s Character Arc
We see that at the beginning of the movie, Superman has been dealing with a lot of hate. People criticising his every move, questioning his motives and wanting him to go away but also be their saviour when it’s convenient to them. Being Superman is hard for Clark, the only constants in his world are Lois and Martha.
After the Capitol incident, it was enough for Clark to really question what the point of being Superman was, when everything just seems to fall apart around him. Was he causing more harm than good? He stopped believing in himself, stopped believing that this was his world in which he belonged to, he stopped believing in Superman.
The world has also started to stop believing in Superman, they don’t think he works in their best interests anymore. Lex’s plan is working.
On top of this he has to deal with an angry Batman and a kidnapped mother. But once Batman realises who Clark really is and Martha is safe, it allows Clark to go try be Superman again, because he has to. Lex gave Clark the motivation again, gave him a reason to be Superman even if he didn’t fully believe in himself anymore, and neither did the world.
It wasn’t until he was holding Lois in his arms again that he remembered who he was and why he did what he did. Clark is the most human of us all, loves humanity, this is his world. Lois reminded him of that and gave Clark the ability and confidence to believe in himself. To believe that he can be Superman. And he does become Superman, the Superman we know and love when he picks up that spear.
Superman sacrificing himself made the world realise who Superman really was as well. The world united again to support Superman.
Lex Luthor’s Character Arc
Like I discussed earlier, Lex is a character who can’t reconcile with the power indifference in the world. It’s unfair to him. We heard that he was abused as a child by his powerful father, that he had no saviour. Lex’s idea of power means that he doesn’t believe in the idea of there being a good god.
But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t constantly yearning to consume more power. Through gaining more knowledge and making a god bend to his will, Lex has the ability to gain a sense of power.
At the end of the day Lex just wanted to prove a point: that power was cruel. He wants to prove this because he has and always will feel insecure with the idea of individuals being more powerful than him. So essentially the plan is two-fold: Gain more power so that he can be greater, and prove the cruelties of power.
But at the end of the movie, he failed to do either. He couldn’t prove power was cruel, instead he ended up proving the good it could do when driven by the right moral compass. And he couldn’t attain it himself, as he ended up being confined in a metal cage.
However he almost doesn’t care because he’s distracted by what’s to come. Luthor was right, devil’s do come from the sky. The angel, Superman, is in the ground, the devil, Darkseid is coming to Earth. It’s amusing to Lex because he knows that the chaos of cruel power is about the reign down on these so-called heroes.
What’s to come
So now that Bruce is aware of a possible threat, he will join with Diana to find the other meta-humans. Snyder recently talked about the fate of Superman, and how the team may be trying to find a way to bring Superman back. But what he comes back as is still the question.
I have to say that’s a little concerning for the Superman fan in me to hear. I don’t want evil Superman. I know the easy route to go is to make Bruce’s vision come true. Have Darkseid resurrect Superman or corrupt Superman when he comes back and have the story be about JL vs Darkseid and Superman.
Now that Clark has gone through two movies of having to be on the defensive all the time, he now finally has the chance to be the Superman we know. Let them join him in the sun, don’t make him a pawn to Darkseid’s plan.
It’ll be interesting to see when Superman comes back, and what happens in the movies leading up to Justice League. Suicide Squad is supposedly set after Batman v Superman, so hopefully we get a sense of the repercussions of what happened in Suicide Squad (might even seen an imprisoned Lex).
Wonder Woman also supposedly jumps to present time at the end of the movie, so we might see some other League members, or, wishful thinking here, see Superman return so that he’s back by the beginning of the movie.
This doesn’t seem to be the case as Snyder has discussed his want for Batman to form the Justice League not Superman, so we probably won’t see Superman in the Justice League movie until the second half (less Superman? Outrageous!).
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice overall thoughts
Overall I do love Batman v Superman. It’s not the flawless movie I was hoping for, but I still enjoyed the heck out of it. I’m thinking Snyder’s 3 hour version of this movie will make up for a lot of the problems I had with editing and pacing, and give us some longer character moments, but at the end of the day, there simply was too much happening in this movie.
It would have been good to dive into Luthor’s motivations more, to see Bruce and Clark bond more, to not have the marketing spoil some of the big moments, but this movie was an experience worth having, problems and all.
A lot of people are saying that us fans are just trying to make ourselves believe that this movie didn’t suck, or something along those lines. No it wasn’t perfect but it took risks, some paid off, others didn’t. And it gave us an exciting world with characters we love. It wasn’t scared to explore deeper themes and darker aspects of humanity. It wasn’t afraid to embrace its comic book nature and give us weird Flash visions and a crazy Doomsday fight. It wasn’t afraid to subvert our expectations for these characters, and instead of giving us them in a form we’re used to, it gave them a journey to get there.
The road to Batman v Superman was an emotional rollercoaster, but it was absolutely worth it!
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Categories: comic book movies