The Man of Steel is back for his highly anticipated sequel… Only this time, he faces off against one of cinema’s most popular and well known legends: The Batman.
It was clear how fierce this cinematic battle between two of DC comic’s superhero greats was going to be when the question was thrown out to the audience at last night’s exclusive premiere at Auckland’s IMAX cinema: Are you team Superman or team Batman? Both teams garnered significant cheers and the crowd was lined with cosplayers representing their favoured frontman. So the hype levels heading into the film was set pretty high already – igniting a secondary battle between director Zack Snyder and a legion of eager moviegoers and fans, thirsting for more superhero action after what seems like a lifetime of waiting and a tonne of marketing. So, did Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice exceed everyone’s expectations?
Henry Cavill is in top shape as Clark Kent (aka Superman) and has a worthy opponent in veteran actor Ben Affleck, as a gritty, noir Bruce Wayne / Batman. Amy Adams as Clark Kent’s career driven and loyal love interest Lois Lane caters to strong, feminist ideologies, although she still requires the odd rescuing in times of distress. Jesse Eisenberg surprised me as the villainous, tech-conglomerate Lex Luthor, turning the bumbling billionaire into a well-rounded and deserving foe against our two heroes.
A faithful adaptation to his original comic counter-part? Probably not, but I will let it slide. Meanwhile, Comic book fan favourite, and newcomer to the DC cinematic universe, Wonder Woman – played by Gal Gadot – pops in to make an appearance, red leotard, shield and lasso at the ready.
As Batman wallows in anger over his pursuit for justice against a superhero creating super destruction, Superman solemnly glides above the skies, facing his own conflict of…. Well, I’m not quite sure. Between saving Lois from bad guys, fighting more bad guys, working at the Daily Planet, visiting his mother and flying aimlessly, Clark Kent is basically living his life as your average superhero down the road.
Dawn of Justice serves more as an introductory piece for Batman into the world of Superman. Although Ben Affleck shines in filling in the epic role as the Dark Knight of Gotham, the need to show a flashback to his childhood tragedy could have been shortened to, maybe, a single line of dialogue, as the audience is well aware of what happened to Bruce Wayne’s parents (we don’t need to be reminded of it in every modern Batman adaptation). Concurrently, because of the focus on Wayne’s story, Clark Kent/Superman’s character development makes slow progress and is further overshadowed by his involvement in a subplot focused on a Supreme Court intervention.
The subplot doesn’t warrant any further mention as it is incinerated mid-film and the final endgame doesn’t have any connection to it whatsoever.
At first glance, Batman VS Superman seems good on paper, but anyone who isn’t familiar with the source material knows these icons of greatness are incredibly mismatched. There’s no sense of logic pitting Gotham’s greatest caped vigilante against an indestructible alien who is as fast as a bullet and as strong as an ox – yet, it happens and you can’t help but question how it happens.
However, what does works between these two champions is the dynamic they share when they are in the same scene.
On one side, you have a God from the cosmos, adapting to the idea of being Earth’s savior. On the other hand, you have a caped crusader who considers superhumans (such as himself) as “criminals”. A party thrown by Lex Luthor brings Kent and Wayne together de-costumed, where Cavill and Affleck’s working chemistry is at its best. When both men, unaware of the other’s superhero nature, trade passive aggressive remarks towards eachother, the audience is reminded of this antagonism that continously lingers throughout every frame – keeping the rivalry active and the film grounded, making the match-up far greater.
So which team are you on? Team Batman or Team Superman? Personally, since the the announcement of the film’s title in May 2014, I always felt Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be a cheap CGI-driven gimmick. It wasn’t and it looks great in IMAX.
But, due to what could have potentially been a strong storyline falling into a batcave of incohesiveness, there were moments that could have been better scripted. Nonetheless whichever side YOU are on, this is an epic film that you need to see this year and decide for yourself who the real winner is.
Running Time: 153 MIN
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence. Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot