Like most fans when I heard years ago they wanted to make another Superman movie, but one with a darker tone I cringed. Superman isn’t by nature a dark character. He’s all about Truth, Justice, and the American way, and goes after criminals and super powered bad guys in a way that upholds that ideology. But as we all know movies reflect society and whatever that society is going through at any given time and, well, let’s be honest here, society in the last decade feels like it’s swirling around the crapper, not sure if it’s wants to flush itself or climb out of the toilet. So, as I write this review in the summer of 2016, it’s not all that surprising now that Man Of Steel (2013) had a dark undertone that was even reflected in Superman’s costume. Gone were the bright red and blue we’re all so accustomed to. Oh, there was red and blu but it was a darker shade. This darker tone didn’t really push me away. I liked Man Of Steel and one of the things I liked about it was that the movie took into account the collateral damage that occurs when super powered beings wage war against each other in highly populated areas. We’ve seen the numerous hero toons and in the back of our minds we all knew people were dying when those buildings were crumbling and those cars were being used as punching bags. It’s just in Man Of Steel it was more up front, and more in our faces.
And Man Of Steel turned out to be the beginning of an interconnected DC universe that Warner Brothers has been struggle to get off the ground for some time. Naturally I expected a solo Batman movie to be next in line, but the powers that be decided to instead make a Batman/Superman “team-up” movie. I remember when Warner teased us about this back in 2007. Anyone remember that lackluster I Am Legend adaptation? Unfortunately, I do and I remember a scene in that film that showed a billboard hinting at a Bat and Supes team-up movie. Well, here we are nine years later and we finally have that movie, and wouldn’t you know it the fanboys hated it. I don’t see movies in theaters anymore, so all I could do is read the hate on the net and bide my time until a disc release. I watched the theatrical version two nights ago and absolutely loved it! I then watched the Director’s Cut last night and loved it even more! I can now understand why the fanboys were up in arms over what they saw at the theater. If you still haven’t seen it, it’s the Director’s Cut you’ll want to see first, and then if you feel so inclined go back and check out what the studios released at the theater.
From here on out talk of this movie will be based on the Director’s Cut since it’s a vast improvement. Thirty full minutes was taken out and personally I think that was a mistake. My theory has always been Warner simply didn’t want to release a 3-hour hero flick and had Director Zack Snyder cut it down. What got excised were all the lines that connected each dot. There’s still a basic story in the Theatrical Cut, but the how and when certain people knew certain things was taken out. And to make the Director’s Cut even more interesting it’s rated R. As I said, people, these are dark times and our live action hero flicks are starting to reflect that. Most of the R-stuff revolves around Batman and the fatalistic justice he metes out. This didn’t bother me since Batman has always been one hop, skip and a jump away from killing, but hasn’t because once he goes down that route he knows he’ll never come back from it. Superman kills now too. He offed Zod in Man Of Steel and takes out a terrorist holding Lois hostage in that Africa scene.
Well, this Batman (now played by Ben Affleck) is at the youth of his old age and is now burned out and even more pessimistic and now views criminals as things that need to be permanently stamped out. In the Director’s Cut you get small hints of the sad trajectory he took from the Batman of his youth to the killing machine he is now via newspaper clippings.
It’s been 2-years since the invasion of General Zod and his world building machines in Man Of Steel, and Superman has helped so many he’s become viewed as some kind of God-like being, but Lex Luthor (played surprising well by Jesse Eisenberg. Never knew he could play psychopathic so well) is now in the world and has taken notice of him. Quite frankly from what I gleaned from the confrontation the two have in the final act is that Luthor appears to be jealous of the Man Of Steel and in his twisted mind that won’t stand so he must be killed. Luthor knows the identities of both Batman and Superman too, which is hinted at during a party he has where he deliberately invites the both of them, and later on more explicitly when he confronts both heroes at different times. Those lines of dialogue, however, were cut out and in the D-Cut they’re restored so we can see him blatantly tell Batman he knows he’s Bruce Wayne; this comes at the very end after Luthor is in prison and the Bat pays him a visit. We also get more juicy restored bits like what Batman has in mind for him. As in shipping him off to Arkham Asylum.
When Batman V Superman starts Lex’s plan is already underway and it first involves discrediting him in the eyes of society. Not only is Superman unfit to be among us, but that he’s actually dangerous to us. Keep in mind since Lex knows his real identity he also knows he and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) are an item, and that factors into the set-up he’s planned in Africa where Lois is trying to get an interview with a notorious terrorist. Not is it only revealed that Jimmy Olsen is CIA, but embedded with them is Luthor’s assassins. Now how do you get Superman in a certain place at a certain time, if you’re a villain? You use Lane as your pawn and predictably he’ll show. To frame him as a killer, Lex’s assassins kill everyone with Lane, including Olsen and then kill all the locals, using a flame throwing to burn the bodies to match the burning of Supe’s heat vision. To make the frame-up even more perfect a local woman is bribed to go to DC and lie to the government that this motherfucker flew in and wiped everyone out.
Why does Batman hate Superman? In a flashback Wayne was at ground zero in Metropolis when Zod and Superman were battling and some good people in one of Wayne’s buildings were killed. Since then he’s viewed Superman as a creature that must be destroyed. Revenge is what I think is motivating the Bat. And he and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) set about building a protective suit of armor that’ll keep him alive long enough for him to kill the Man Of Steel. How is he going to kill him? This is the chapter in the DC’s connected movieverse where kryptonite is discovered and how lethal it is to Kryptonians and it got here in the world-building machine from Man Of Steel. Lex wants it and so does Batman. Lex gets to it first, but Batman gives him the ultimate fuck-you-it’s-mine when he breaks into Lex’s facility and takes it for himself. Batman makes some gas bombs with it to render Superman powerless enough so he can beat the shit out of him for a little while, then makes a spear tip with the remainder so he can kill him with it after he gets tired of beating on the alien.
Meanwhile, phase two of Lex’s plan to make Superman look like alien scum is a ballsy one for sure. On Capital Hill freshman senator, June Finch (Holly Hunter), wants to hold hearings on what happened in Africa and get to the bottom of what this Superman really wants. There’s no love lost between Finch and Luthor, but I cannot believe that motherfucker had the psychotic balls to plant a bomb in a wheelchair and detonate it, thus killing just about everyone in that courtroom. Superman was obviously there and now he looks like he was somehow complicit with the man Luthor framed as the bomb maker. It’s explained in the D-Cut that the bomb was encased in lead, so Superman couldn’t have sensed it in any conceivable way.
Lex’s new weapon comes in the form of General Zod’s body and with access to the crashed scout ship during Zod’s invasion, Luthor has the ship create this being that will kill for him. Enter Doomsday! But this is plan B. Plan A is manipulating Batman into killing him since he’s got the kryptonite now, but that fails once the two heroes break bread after trying to break each other in half. And that final battle with Doomsday is a sight to behold. What Snyder managed to create in live action is something we’ve only been able to see in animation—three members of the Justice League going toe-to-toe with a major league villain!
Wonder Woman has a very small part, yet it’s handled well, and personally I think she stole the show when she finally shows up in full gear and ready to party, and she’s portrayed beautifully by Gal Gadot. I will admit when I heard the news of how her uniform was going to deviate heavily from the iconic one Wonder Woman has always worn making her look more like Xena, Warrior Princess, I was disappointed, but all that went away when I saw this movie. Sure the uniform is different, but she’s still the Wonder Woman we’ve all seen in the comics and toons.
Shall I now address Ben Affleck as Batman? Yes, I think it’s about time to have that conversation. And again like everyone else when news came of him getting the role I was shocked and flabbergasted, but after seeing the movie now he makes a damn good late in his career burned out Bat. I think that was a backhanded compliment. Point is I liked Affleck in this role, liked the costume, the batcave, the new batmobile and his batplane too.
Since Justice League is currently filming and that’s Part One, yes, it’s a two part movie, Batman V Superman has a few scenes that set up the villain of that coming movie and it’s going to be Darkseid. The set-up scenes are two back-to-back dream sequences that Wayne has while he’s waiting for files to decrypt. They’re done John Landis style. You know, a character is having a nightmare, he wakes up, we think he’s actually awake, but the nightmare strikes again, and this time he wakes up for real. Wayne has a rather extensive dream of being on a post-apocalyptic Earth that apparently Superman is responsible for. Darkseid’s sign is carved into the desert earth, and Batman is looking for kryptonite but he’s set up by the men who are supposed to be bringing it to him. Nazi-like soldiers gun down the people he’s working for and while he’s knocking off these soldiers himself Darkseid’s parademon shock troopers swoop in, and one of them knocks him out. He wakes in an underground bunker chained up with other prisoners. Superman shows up, kills the others with his heat vision and blames Batman for taking away the one he loved. As he’s being killed he wakes up to find an armored Flash trying to penetrate Wayne’s dimension. Cryptic things are said, and then Wayne wakes for real. Based on those cryptic things we get the hint Lois is killed during some future event and this sends Superman into an downward spiral, and in that condition it’s easy to understand how Darkseid could manipulate him into “seeing things his way.”
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—7.1 English Dolby TrueHD, 5.1 English Dolby Digital, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital—English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai.
Extras included . . .
- Uniting The World’s Finest (15:05)
- Gods And Men: A Meeting Of Giants (12:28)
- The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonderr (21:16)
- Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (22:46)
- Superman: Complexity & Truth (7:08)
- Batman: Austerity & Rage (3:15)
- Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (6:48)
- Batcave: Legacy Of The Lair (7:12)
- The Might And The Power Of A Punch (5:15))
- The Empire Of Luthor (12:33)
- Save The Bats (4:37)
(Note: There are three discs, two blu-rays each for the Theatrical and Director’s Cut versions and a DVD that holds only the Theatrical Cut. All extras are on the Theatrical blu and all extras have been ported over to the DVD as well).
I think Jeremy Irons makes a better Alfred than Michael Caine did in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.