In hopes of replicating Marvel’s success and rivalling their ever-expanding MCU, DC have launched a vast cinematic universe and staged a civil war of their own.
It’s billed as “the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world” and in that regard it doesn’t disappoint. No punches are pulled in the battle between Batman and Superman, and this meeting between indestructible force and immovable object offers some truly riveting, and inventive edge-of-your-seat action.
Yet, so many are not entertained. It opened to critical humiliation; a rotten tomato that nearly drove Ben Affleck to tears (if you haven’t seen the clip, it’s viral gold: Click Here), but while there is certainly room for criticism, it’s getting far more than it deserves.
Just as Heath Ledger wasn’t going to be a very good Joker; and was, Ben Affleck was condemned as Christian Bale’s replacement only to silence his detractors with the finest onscreen interpretation of the comic book character. He’s transformed himself physically and plays the philanthropist well, but his greatest triumph is as the gruff, veteran vigilante. Worn down by years of crime-fighting and torment from the Joker, Affleck’s Batman is a bitter, cynical anti-hero who has lost faith in justice and is the perfect counterpart to the clean-cut Superman.
Henry Cavill brings everything from his previous success as the Man Of Steel and this time embarks on a journey of self-discovery to find a place within humanity, both as their lycra-clad god and honest journalist Clark Kent.
Jeremy Irons and Gal Gadot complete the main cast and thrive in rather restrictive, near cameo-level appearances, but it’s only when the latter is finally revealed as Wonder Woman where we understand just how good her own spin-off could be. The entire film, however, is stolen by an energetic and menacing Jesse Eisenberg who manages to turn the rather plain businessman Lex Luthor into a maniacal tech magnate who’s nervous ticks, mad ramblings, and spitefulness equals Gotham’s craziest.
The film opens with the first of many cutaway sequences, a flashback that retraces the steps of Zach Snyder’s Man Of Steel as Superman battles Zod and pretty much levels Metropolis. Only this time we aren’t in the sky alongside Superman, but at ground level with Bruce Wayne, who having flown in from Gotham, watches on as the aliens fight and the city crumbles around him. This simple switch in perspective is effective and when combined with the authentic news coverage and a beautifully haunting score from – you guessed it – Hans Zimmer, Man Of Steel’s flawed finale is transformed into a weighty piece of cinema that bravely echoes 9/11.
But things take a turn when we are then subject to yet another Batman origin sequence and however brief and beautifully constructed – and this one is absolutely stunning – nobody needs to be told how Batman became Batman. And this sums up the major problem with the film. Not only is it inconsistent, there’s just far too much going on.
In an attempt to please everyone, Snyder has crammed his film with unnecessary sequences to welcome newcomers, obscure references for hardcore fans, and even dedicated time to setting up the Justice League movie we all knew was on its way, and ultimately, has ended up upsetting everyone.
Snyder has paid the price for his lack of direction and sadly, rather than being remembered as a bold post 9/11 parable, or a complex exploration of morality, or even just an entertaining superhero flick that pits DC’s greatest heroes against each other, it will only be remembered as that bloated, unsubtle trailer for Justice League: The Movie.