Zack Snyder sat in a dimly lit Detroit hotel room, smoking a cigarette while watching the flickering lights of the city skyline through the glass balcony doors. He looked at the phone in his hand. The email subject line was still as exciting as when he read it the first time. “Dark Knight Rights Permitted”. This was it. His big sequel to Man of Steel!
He took another puff and blew. Smoke blew out of his mouth vaguely forming the shape of a bat. Bringing Superman and Batman together on one main stage was going to be a big one for him. So, he sat in that hotel room chair watching the flickering lights of the city while fending off the voices of uncertainty. He is going to do it. No turning back. But where to begin with influences? Which Batman/Superman storyline would influence his version of events? Then, like a stroke of lightning, a horrible idea struck him. Like a whisper from Lex Luthor himself. “Use all of them!”
That’s a fictional account of how, I assume, Zack Snyder decided to go about creating a storyline for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The movie, as only Mr. Snyder can achieve, is a visual masterpiece featuring all his trademarks – sepia tone, slow motion and war drums during fight scenes.
Visually, Mr. Snyder has outdone himself. From the live portrayal of the assorted Bat-gadgets and vehicles to the power involved in Superman’s take offs. Explosions, giant monsters, Gal Gadot dressed like an Amazonian, this movie has it all. It even has parademons as a hint of which DC heavy hitter Mr. Snyder is aiming at incorporating as a villain next. The thing it lacks is a congruent storyline.
Dawn of Justice comes across as a two and a half hour attempt to tell too many stories at once. As such, it leads to a lot of confusion. In addition, the main villain is underutilized. Even though Jesse Eisenberg shines as an arrogant “Mark Zuckerberg-esque” Lex Luthor, he is depicted as being more demented than a criminal mastermind. He ended up coming across as more of a big budget Joker than the ultra-calm Lex we all know and love. His motivations as a villain are as pointless as they are unclear. Furthermore, for all his brilliance, he actually discovers the identities of the whole of the “Snyderverse” Justice League just to act as a Batman plot device.
Speaking of the other heroes, there is a scene sequence and a Flash cameo that feels, to me, like they were spliced in at the last minute to really push the future of the Justice League in the Snyderverse. “They are coming!” But such proclamations are what comic book conventions are for.
Then there is Batfleck. When it was announced that Ben Affleck would be putting on the cowl, the internet erupted in flames of displeasure. But he actually did a great job of playing Bruce Wayne. Sprinkle a little bit of the wonder that is Jeremy Irons playing Alfred and you have a recipe for on-screen gold. Unfortunately, this combo was also underutilized in a rush to cram too much information into a short story. And let us not forget the hint at the Robin costume which had, I assume, been defaced by The Joker maybe hinting at the identity of Jared Leto’s version of the clown prince of crime, being a certain former boy wonder. But that is a whole other story.
Here is what you need to know about Dawn of Justice, it is visually amazing. But the congruency of the storyline is sorely lacking. As a DC fanboy, I am not particularly shocked by the “shocking end”. Doomsday v Superman usually has the same finale.
But I will say this. This was a huge gamble on the filmmakers part. Critics are telling it like it is but fans are reacting to seeing their heroes on big screen. But ultimately, even the gloss of seeing heroes on screen needs to be backed up by more than epic fight scenes. This movie is a two hour trailer for several other movies. On its own, it’s not really a great stand alone movie.
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