by Coop Cooper
In an attempt to replicate Marvel’s success, D.C. Comics has united their properties in order to pave the way for a “Justice League” movie. Though it has been tried many times and has failed, it looks like it is finally on track to happen and “Batman v Superman” has arrived to set it all up. Unfortunately, it seems as if it was destined to be a disappointment.
While Clark ‘Superman’ Kent (Henry Cavill) was fighting General Zod and the Kryptonians in “Man of Steel”, Bruce ‘Batman’ Wayne (Ben Affleck) was on the ground in Metropolis witnessing the destruction of the city and of his branch office, resulting in the death of his employees. Horrified by the incident and warned by a prophetic vision delivered by another superhero, Wayne develops a deep distrust of Superman and starts searching for the Man of Steel’s weakness. Likewise, Clark Kent has moral problem with Batman’s brand of vigilantism and writes articles critical of his crime fighting, so the antagonism is mutual. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), having already found Superman’s weakness, looks for a way to harness Kryptonian power for his own purposes, while he keeps an eye on other ‘meta-humans” in hiding who might threaten him. One of those meta-humans, Diana ‘Wonder Woman’ Prince (Gal Gadot), is wise to Luthor’s plans and attempts to steal back evidence that could expose her true identity. Although these heroes work against each other at first, they eventually realize they must join forces to stop a new destructive force that Luthor unleashes upon the world.
This film has no connection to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy. Instead, this Batman is older, more cynical and has basically abandoned his ‘no-kill’ policy. There is evidence in the film that Robin existed but was killed by the Joker, which might explain his darkening moral standards. This makes for a very interesting version of the Caped Crusader, but tying him into this particular world is problematic considering he is worn and seems to be approaching retirement age while most of the other superheroes are just getting started. Wonder Woman has some serious potential here and Gal Gadot appears comfortable in the role, but it will really be interesting to see her stand-alone movie which takes place during World War I (yep, she’s is over 100 years old). Lex Luthor is clearly the weak link in the movie and that’s largely due to the ridiculous casting of Jesse Eisenberg. His portrayal of the villain is so manic and full of jabbering, nervous energy, it almost feels like he was inspired by Jim Carrey’s comedy antics. He commits some vile acts, but he is so sniveling and weak, even Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey’s corny portrayal of Luthor would have been an improvement.
Although I was not enthusiastic when the casting was initially announced, I no longer have a problem with Affleck’s portrayal as Batman. I liked this older, more merciless version who will use a gun in a pinch, and brands the few criminals he spares with a hot iron. Any shortcomings in this movie is not Affleck’s fault, nor his character’s. This film’s biggest problem is all the wrong turns it has to make in order to hastily set up a Justice League film and cram all of the necessary characters in to make it work. It is rushed, bloated with exposition, has more plot holes than a block of Swiss cheese and is too dark in tone to set up a fun Justice League movie. It also combines/alters too much of the source material to legitimize it as canon, which is the death-knell for a comic book film if you want an endorsement from the diehard fan base.
In this instance, Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder have failed to replicate Marvel’s ingenious plan to unite its franchises, but not too many casual film fans will care because they’ve never seen Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other Justice League members, all in a live-action movie before. The implications for future films and the novelty of this one is probably too enticing to call the film a failure.
But then something interesting happened that gave hope to my own personal cynicism… That moment when Wonder Woman opens up Luthor’s computer files, revealing the video evidence that The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) already exist. This was a pretty epic moment and made me want to see them all in action, especially The Flash. It’s criminal that there has never been a live-action movie with The Flash as the main character. Even the CW’s TV version of The Flash is one of the most fun things on television and his big-screen inclusion is way overdue.
If “Batman v Superman” fails to please the fans, then the D.C. brand can still win them over if “Suicide Squad” lives up to its potential in August. However, I still think that Marvel will win the year with “Captain America: Civil War” in May and “Doctor Strange” in November.
Rating: 2 and ½ out of 5 stars