In history, defining moments can sometimes be summed up by a great match between great opposites: Persia vs. Sparta, direct current vs. alternating current and Coke vs. Pepsi.
Yet there has never been a match up so anticipated as the one between Batman and Superman. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is Zack Snyder’s take on the DC titans’ duel.
The film takes place sometime after the events in “Man of Steel,” which seems to become more and more like a prologue as the blistering hurricanes of time erode. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sees Superman as a thorn in the side of his business empire after the Metropolis branch of Wayne Enterprises is destroyed in the battle between General Zod and Superman.
Meanwhile Superman (Henry Cavill) finds it difficult to continue has duties as Clark Kent at the Daily Planet as a result of fighting Wayne’s war against him (proving my opinion that Clark Kent is a terrible reporter).
Like J.J. Abrams and “The Force Awakens,” “Batman v Superman” has been breaking the Internet since its announcement in 2013. The parallels between the two films are undeniable: built-in name recognition, a large fan base, media anticipation, action-packed blockbuster chops. In theory, everything should have been right.
But that’s if the following elements from “Batman v Superman” are omitted from the equation: While Batman had a groundbreaking stand-alone trilogy, Superman had a reboot with mixed reviews. The same director from said reboot returns with greed and intentions to introduce the entire DC universe.
Add to the equation, and it becomes understandable why “Dawn of Justice” would create both an artificial high for die-hard DC fans and a disappointing pit for the casual movie-goer.
The performances, including Affleck and Cavill, are not at all bad. What makes them falter is that the characters are given odd motivations.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is portrayed as a spastic Silicon Valley billionaire with diabolical tendencies. This doesn’t seem right. Wouldn’t it make more sense if Luthor was an old money fat cat, not unlike the Koch brothers or (dare I say) Donald Trump? Wasn’t his unwillingness to embrace change the driving power of his villainy?
Eisenberg isn’t a bad actor, he is just bad for this part. Sure, the filmmakers were just trying to be different by creating a grittier universe. But where is it written that 21st-century comic films have to be gritty and realistic – an oxymoron considering most cityscapes are green screen. Since Christopher Nolan opened Pandora’s box with his “Dark Knight” trilogy, the hero part of “superhero” has become unimportant, while the undesirable brooding and the need to seem relevant have taken over.
In addition to the epic battle between the DC demigods, there are also Senate hearings, a giant blob monster and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) which just goes to show that “Dawn of Justice” came into fruition only because somebody was blinded by giant dollar signs.
The worse part of it all is that movie-goers will buy tickets to this gloomy fruit salad of depression and disappointment. To put it lightly, “Dawn of Justice” has no intentions to be a fun piece of entertainment. It was meant to be a cash cow that will give birth to more cash cows.
The unnecessary introduction of Wonder Woman will surely become a film about her, as well as one for Aquaman (who will be portrayed by Jason Momoa) until it all reaches a dark franchise cake-topper known as “Justice League.”
With that in mind, perhaps the film should re-titled “Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Money Bovines.”
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is currently screening in theaters nationwide.