Batman vs Superman Review: The Movie I’ve Waited 12 Years To See
I watched a lot of cartoons when I was young, but the one cartoon that I still take time to sit down and watch when I catch it on TV is The Batman Superman Movie. Two of the greatest comic superheroes teaming up to fight their greatest foes together. No piece of media ever came close to emulating the enjoyment provided by that animated movie until I watched Batman vs. Super: Dawn of Justice yesterday, a film I consider to be my favorite film of 2016 (Sicario was my favorite film of 2015 if you doubt I have variety/taste).
I suggest going to watch the movie for yourself rather than listen to its critics, who are comprised mostly of holier than thou comic “fans” (I’m looking at you Kevin Smith) and the usual snobbish movie critics who hate movies that are made to actually entertain people (which basically applies to every movie Zack Snyder makes) but who for some reason loved the Dark Knight because it had a bunch of award winning actors playing cartoon characters. I digress…
A question I’ve heard a lot of people ask when mentioning the movie is “Why are Batman and Superman fighting? Aren’t they supposed to be friends?”. Without spoiling anything, all I can say is they are both very different, from the costumes they don to the ideals they fight for. Superman fights crime for truth, justice, and the American way (or at least what is was back in the 1940s). His motivation is to protect his adoptive home, the Earth. Batman on the other hand fights crime to make meaning out of the tragic event which took the lives of his parents when he was just a child. He defends the citizens of Gotham City from the same tragedy by sacrificing his life as Bruce Wayne in order to fight the never ending war against crime as Batman. Superman acts as a beacon of hope for the innocent, while Batman acts as a menace for criminals to fear.
They’re the two biggest kids on the block of heroes; it’s inevitable that they get into some sort of conflict. They butt heads playfully in The Batman Superman Movie, and they fought in the climax of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic, which inspired Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises and whose spirit and influences can be found in Dawn of Justice.
I’m going to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Superman’s portrayal in this film or in Man of Steel. He’s written a little more alien in personality than I’d prefer, which is probably because I grew to care and love Tom Welling’s portrayal of Clark Kent in Smallville, but Henry Cavill does a great job playing the role nonetheless.
I will admit that when I first found out about Ben Affleck being casted as Batman I was repulsed, but after seeing him in action I have to say that he stole the show as both Bruce Wayne and as Batman in my opinion (sorry Meghan, you were right, I should have given him a chance). Affleck captured everything a Batman fan would want from an actor: a melancholic playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne by day and the intimidating, calculated World’s Greatest Detective Batman by night.
Wonder Woman, (played by Gal Gadot whose portrayal did a good job adding to the mystique of the character) definitely served an important role in the film, even though a lot of her screen time was dedicated to setting up the upcoming Justice League film set to release sometime in 2017. Jesse Eisenberg did a fantastic job playing a different, much more realistic for our day Lex Luthor along with Jeremy Irons playing the cynical butler, mentor and friend to Bruce Wayne, Alfred.
I was very sad to see all the negativity surrounding the film’s release. I didn’t have high expectations for it either, but because of my fascination with everything Batman, I had to go. I became overwhelmed with emotion twice, once towards the beginning and again during the end battle scene. Upon leaving the theater I was upset, lamenting that I can never enjoy this film for the first time ever again. It’s a shame that director Zack Snyder stepped down from directing the following Justice League film (we have to commend him for caring about the fans enough to step away from a multi million dollar project), but at least he directed this (in my opinion) masterpiece of DC Comics.
Out of my favorite Batman films (of which I’ve seen a lot), I’d set it like this:
1: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
2: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
3: Batman (1989)
Mask of the Phantasm is probably unknown to the others of my generation, but it’s my favorite Batman movie for many reasons (storyline, voice acting, character development, parallels to my own life). I highly suggest it as something to watch on a rainy spring or summer day.
While I mentioned that I won’t ever get to experience this film for the first time again, I am still looking forward to other DC Comics films. Suicide Squad (with Ben Affleck reprising Batman in a supporting role and the always gorgeous Margot Robbie as the lead super villain Harley Quinn) releases August 5th, and the animated retelling of Alan Moore’s masterpiece comic The Killing Joke (featuring my two favorite voice actors Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill of Star Wars as the Joker, along with cult icon Ray Wise, the actor who got me interesting in acting again) is set to release sometime in the Summer as well.
DC took its time and is catching up with Marvel’s film franchise, giving relief to those who want a taste of the darker (and sometimes darkly humorous) stories that DC Comics masterfully tells.