Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review
This movie… I wanted to like this movie. I love Batman, I love all the animated DC shows and movies, and even though I didn’t think a vs movie was a good idea I had hoped they could make something good out of it. Even though it was Zack Snyder directing again I thought that he at least would bring some fun visual fight scenes through out the movie. I had thought, I had hoped, I had wanted to see the DC universe that I love to be made into live action movies. But I was in denial when all the warning signs came in, the rumours, the trailers, even when the first reviews came in I thought they we too crazy to be true. The movie couldn’t be that bad. No one at Warner Brothers could let sure an appealing movie get made.
I was wrong. Everything you’ve read online is true, every crazy thing about this movie is true.
Spoiler free review: Nothing happens for two thirds of this movie. It’s boring, dull, and incoherent. The things we do see do not matter in the end, the things that do matter are so nonsensical that you’ll be left trying to figure out why they happened because no reasons are given in this movie. The big “V” in the title, that big fight, is about eight minutes long and could’ve been entirely avoided if Superman had told Batman what he said he was going to tell Batman but didn’t bother to until after the fight. It’s not even an interesting fight. The “hints towards the Justice League movie” are also nonsensical, pointless, and will leave you wondering how the hell those people knew about all that.
Do not go see this movie. I don’t like saying that because people are allowed to have different opinions than mine and I don’t care if you like something I hate, enjoy whatever you like. But this movie is just not worth it. It’s a bad movie that’s not entertainingly bad. The only entertainment value after watching it is telling other people about the crazy nonsensical plot of this movie.
Instead of watching this movie here’s some recommendations for Batman/Superman things better than it. The Dark Knight Returns (the movie rips so much off from this story you might as well watch the animated movie, plus it has a better Batman/Superman fight), Batman The Brave and the Bold Season 3 Episode 1 ‘Battle of the Superheroes’, The Batman season 5 Episodes 1&2 ‘The Batman/Superman Story’, Batman/Superman Worlds Finest (compilation movie of the Superman TAS episodes). Batman Mask of the Phantasm (best Batman movie ever made), 60s Batman, All Star Superman, Superman Unbound, Superman vs the Elite, Superman/Batman Public Enemies, Superman/Batman Apocalypse, Batman Under the Red Hood. And that’s just movies and stand alone episodes. Watch anything Batman or Superman related and it’s better than this movie.
Very spoiler filled review down below. I spoil everything.
The movie starts with the death of the Wayne’s, because why start with something interesting when you can do something that’s been done to death. But it gets better, at the funeral young Bruce runs away and falls into a cave full of bats. The bats start to circle around him and then lift him up and into the light. Zack Snyder was not content in making Jesus metaphors about Superman he’s now making Batman Jesus. That all turned out to be a dream, but for a good minute and a bit it was confusing and bizarre as we saw Bat-Jesus Bruce lifted into the light. Bruce has three dream sequences in this movie, all of them pointless. They do not add to his character or to the plot of the movie. All they do is take up time and confuse the audience.
The third dream sequence you might have seen in the trailers, trenchcoat desert Batman. Pretty much all of that sequence is in the trailers. What’s confusing about it is the nonsensical hints at the forthcoming Justice League movie. Batman sees Darkseid’s Omega symbol burned into the ground, Darkseid’s Parademons carry Batman away for Superman to execute. At no point is Darkseid mentioned, at no point is it ever explained why or how Batman could know about Darkseid. Even better after that dream ended we get the cliché ‘fake-out wake up, but he’s still really dreaming’ bits but it’s even more nonsensical. The Flash shows up in a wormhole, except he’s in armour and doesn’t look like the Flash so unless you’ve seen spoilers online like me you won’t know who he is. He tells Batman he was right about everything and some other incoherent stuff. None of which plays into the movie in any way. Unless Batman has suddenly become a prophet there’s no reason whatsoever why any of that dream sequence happened.
Snyder also had to get one more 9/11 reference into Man of Steel, because the hundred other ones in Man of Steel weren’t enough. At the beginning of this film we see Zod’s terraforming of Metropolis from Bruce’s perspective. He gets in a car and drives to his Wayne Enterprises building in Metropolis, all the while on his phone to the guy in charge there. Just like in Man of Steel this guy is looking at the destruction going on and only after being told by Bruce does he suddenly go “let’s get everyone out of here” before then no one though to evacuate the building. Then Bruce races through the carnage going on, explosions happen and buildings collapse, then the spaceship Zod was in crashes through buildings that Bruce is driving past. So those buildings start falling down around him. It’s so overplayed it’s downright laughable. Bruce blames Superman for the people who died there, but it’s clear that they died due to their own incompetence. They failed to evacuated the building and got killed by Zod because of it. When the city’s being destroyed you don’t look out your window to watch it, you run away.
The “plot” and I’m using that term very loosely here, is that Superman is framed for some crimes and there’s senate hearings about it. At the start of the movie we see Superman save Lois from some terrorists, and he puts one through at least two walls. He has been framed for killing them when he says he didn’t. Now this is stupid in the movie for at least two reasons, a) the movie fades to black after he saved Lois leaving it supposedly ambiguous what happened after that, except before then we see some unknown parties shoot all the terrorists so the audience already knows what happened. b) The terrorists were shot, by guns and bullets, and in no way is it ever implied that something happened to them that only Superman could do. Anyone with an ounce of sense could see that Superman doesn’t shoot people, he has heat vision and can snap their necks, why would he ever need to shoot people. The movie makes it a “plot point” of Lois finding a bullet from the shooting that is a mysterious bullet that is so cutting edge only the US Military uses it. So they are waving it in the audiences faces that this “plot” just does not work on any level. Also Lois investigating this takes up a good chunk of her scenes in the movie, and it goes nowhere. It’s literally dropped without a word.
The whole “plot” is that people are distrusting Superman now, and asking if we really need a Superman. That too is dropped like the Lois “plot” and everyone loves him at the end because he’s a martyr. The Batman “plot” is not really tied into the senate hearings “plot”, the only connecting thing is Lex and I’ll get to him eventually. After the Lois and distrusting Superman “plot” stops Superman just decides to quit, he goes hiking in the mountains and sees the ghost of his dead father. Why? So he can give a pointless speech that does nothing and changes nothing. Does Superman quitting have any sort of character moments? None. Any scenes with him are mostly him complaining about Batman doing stuff in Gotham. Very little is done with Superman as a character in this “distrusting Superman” “plot” there’s no arc, no real characterisation, nothing. He decides to do stuff and there’s no on screen moments that show why he decides on those courses of action. Superman is not a character in this movie, he’s a stand in for Jesus, or God, or something metaphorical. There’s not even a reason why he goes after Batman now. He just wakes up one day and just hates Batman. All of the scenes which could have been used to add some character and have him question himself are instead scenes of him hating Batman.
Those are also Daily Planet scenes, these scenes show that a) Clark Kent is a terrible reporter, because he keeps getting assigned stories that he doesn’t write and instead writes about Batman despite his editor telling him not to. b) The Daily Planet is an awfully run newspaper. Clark is assigned a sports story, then he’s at the gala thing where he meets Bruce Wayne and he was obviously assigned to do that since he didn’t just randomly show up there. Newspapers have Sports and Society sections with regular journalists that report on those topics. The Daily Planet just has Clark Kent do those jobs and then doesn’t fire him when he failed to deliver a single article.
Batman in this movie… I don’t even know. He’s crazy and thinks Superman could kill them all, and just because Superman has that power but hasn’t shown any indication he’s going to do that. But that doesn’t deter crazy Batman. A good chunk of his scenes are him looking for some criminals and someone called the “White Portuguese”. Now you’d think since this is Batman and also Zack Snyder (who has a lover affair with popular 80s comics like Dark Knight Returns) this would involve lots of action scenes. There is no action scenes for a long time, him investigating is either done as Bruce Wayne with the Batman stuff mostly off screen. The hunt for the “White Portuguese” is not shown to be connected to anything for quite a while, in fact it’s not until after his third crazy pointless dream sequence does it actually become connected. Bruce reveals that he’s not hunting a dirty bomb like he told Alfred, but Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite. That revelation does not retroactively make the utter disinterest in the earlier scenes disappear, they still felt just as pointless when I watched them. The revelation was actually spoiled by the dream sequence, where he was looking for Kryptonite there too. Except it was weird because at that time the audience didn’t know that he even knew about Kryptonite and made him seem like even more of a prophet. Then he finds out the “White Portuguese” is the name of a boat, which means he could’ve found it quicker and easier if he just Googled the damn name. It’s an odd name so the boat would’ve likely shown up, especially since it’s one of Lex Luthor’s boats.
Batman also kills people in this movie. It’s not small things like in the other movies, they aren’t incidental kills that he accidentally had a hand in, he just straight up kills people. There’s a car chase, the Batmobile has guns on it, he uses those guns to shoot and kill the people in front of him. There’s a scene lifted right from Dark Knight Returns, where he bursts through a wall, K.O’s a goon and takes his huge ass rifle, then he shoots another goon who has a hostage. In this version that other goon has a flamethrower pointed at a hostage, so Batman shoots the gas tank on the flamethrower instead of the goon. This blows up the entire room and would have killed Batman and the hostage if not for the plot-armour that Batman has.
Gotham and Metropolis look like adjacent cities in this. Batman shines the Batsignal in the sky and Superman can see it from the LexCorp building in Metropolis. But the dialogue keeps implying that Gotham isn’t just across the river. And if it is so close than how can Superman be a beacon of hope and yet Gotham not actually be affected by it at all. Gotham is still a crime ridden city that Superman doesn’t bother with. He also stood in front of the Batmobile at one point at the end of a car chase sequence where Batman killed a bunch of people, and then flew off completely ignoring the truck with a Gatling gun on it that was shooting at Batman.
Then there’s Lex, the worst Lex Luthor ever to be put on screen. You will long for Kevin Spacey’s performance like it was a nuanced portrayal of the character. Lex is just crazy, he says random and crazy things, and everyone acts he didn’t. He doesn’t hide his craziness. He makes a speech at his gala and it is a rambly mess that just trails off and then everyone politely applauds. Nothing prompts him to go off speech, he just does because he’s crazy. Somehow this crazy lunatic is a leading businessman with high-up contacts in the government, and not someone most people ignore and pretend doesn’t exist. There should be a Daily Planet column every week about the crazy shit Lex Luthor has done, but that’d require the Planet being a competent newspaper.
The problem with the craziness is that the script says he’s a smart man, the man behind all the evil goings on in this film. But because he’s played so crazy you can’t believe he could possibly do all of it. Though the other reason why you can’t believe it is because the script is terrible. Lex just knows things, randomly, out of nowhere. He knows Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman. How? Not answered. Hell it isn’t even addressed until he kidnaps Martha Kent to force Superman to fight Batman, which he then reveals he’s been secretly prodding Batman for two years so he’ll snap and fight Superman. He just knows because the script told him. Part of this “plan” involved Batman finding out Lex had Kryptonite and then stealing it, and just hoping he’ll use it to kill Superman. Why he didn’t just make some Kryptonite bullets and shoot him I don’t know. Kidnap his mother, Superman will show up thinking he’s invincible, and then shoot him. He says he spent two years prodding Batman, for what? Why would he think Batman would be able to kill Superman better than he could?
Then there’s the fight, this thing the movie is named for, the thing in all the trailers. It lasts about eight minutes. It felt less than ten and more than five so I’m guessing at eight. The fight was ok, but honestly it was really pointless and not even that great on a pure spectacle level. Lex tells Superman that he has to kill Batman within a time limit or else Martha dies. Superman says to Lois he’s going to either reason with Batman or kill him. So he starts off trying to talk to Batman, who has set up traps for Superman. Then when he’s past the traps and can talk to Batman to explain Lex kidnapping his mother, but he doesn’t bother. He punches Batman and then flies him through a building, after which he tells Batman to “stay down, if [he] wanted it he’d be dead already” and then he still doesn’t explain the Martha thing.
At this point Batman uses Kryptonite gas on him. It weakens him for Batman to have a beatdown, then at some arbitrary point he gets his strength back so he can beat on Batman. That’s the back and forth for those eight minutes. Then Batman knocks him down, grabs a Kryptonite spear he placed in the ground earlier (somehow knowing the fight would end in that part of the building) and nearly stabs him. But then Superman finally says “save Martha” which causes Batman to have a PTSD flashback to the start of the movie where he sees his mother getting shot and his father’s last words are “Martha.” So Batman starts yelling “why’d you say that name!” over and over at Superman, till Lois randomly comes in and tells him that it’s his mothers name. Then everything’s hunky-dory between the two. Somehow their entire conflict is solved by the fact that coincidentally their mothers both have the same first name.
Then Batman goes to find Martha. He saves her, while nearly killing her in that flamethrower explosion. Just in time for Superman to go see Lex and for Lex to unleash Doomsday on him. Did I forget to mention that? Well that’s because it’s another few scenes of Lex just doing things supposedly beyond his comprehension yet he just happens to know them. He gets access to the crashed Kryptonian ship, which is still in Metropolis two years later and somehow not in a secret government lock-up, there Lex gets access to the computer and it tells him “the knowledge of 100,000 planets.” So using that he makes Doomsday using Zod’s corpse. Why? Not answered. If Batman did kill Superman then Lex would’ve been killed by a rampaging Doomsday. But if he knew Superman would win the fight then why bother setting up the fight at all? And doesn’t creating Doomsday mean he created an out of control monster that’d kill everyone on the planet unless Superman and other powered beings that Lex hates could stop Doomsday? All of this is crazy and nonsensical.
Superman fights Doomsday, he takes him out into orbit, then the US government decides to nuke him for no real reason. A monster shows up so they nuke it, seems to be the only reasoning. The only point to this is so Snyder can make another Dark Knight Returns reference. This time it’s the ‘Superman gets hit by a nuke and goes skeletal till he’s recharged by the sun’ just like all the other Dark Knight Returns references in this movie it is pointless, does not service the “plot”, and would have been better cut out of this movie.
So while Superman was powering up by the sun Batman sees Doomsday, randomly guesses its a Kryptonian, and says his plan is to lead the monster back into the city to where the Kryptonite spear is. Yes he said that out loud to Alfred. His plan was to get the monster into a place where it could kill more people. Instead of going to get the spear in his Bat-plane and coming back, which is a five minute job. But he goes there, Superman comes back, Wonder Woman shows up, they all fight Doomsday. Lois randomly out of nowhere goes to get the spear from when she dropped it into a random pool of water in the building. No one tells her to do it, the script just told her to. When she gets it Doomsday knocks down the building, trapping her underwater.
Superman has Lois-Danger-Sense in this movie. No matter what, with out explanation, he can just sense she’s in danger. He just appears out of nowhere at least three times in this movie to save Lois. Here he stops mid-fight with Doomsday to do so. Then, instead of getting Batman to do it, he dives into the water to get the spear made out of the thing that weakens and kills him. Then, instead of getting Batman or Wonder Woman to use the spear, he charges at Doomsday with the spear. He impales Doomsday, Doomsday then stabs him through the heart. Both of them die.
Superman dies at the end of this movie. He becomes a martyr and everyone loves him again. The funny thing is, despite this being the iconic Death of Superman reference, it still feels more like a reference to the end of Dark Knight Returns. Except with Superman in the grave instead of Batman. Something about it ending on them burying the body and the graveyard talking scene made it feel like that. But Superman is not revealed to be alive though. No, of course not, that’s not stupid enough for this movie. Instead it rips off the end of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where the film ends with a shot of the grave and the music implying that we could see that the main character is really alive. Then fade to black leaving only the implication that he might come back.
And now any Justice League movie will be shackled to this rotting corpse of a film as it has to make a plot out of bringing Superman back and also something that’d bring together the League. Well done Zack Snyder, you’ve screwed over not only this film but the one set after it too.
Despite this film’s dedication to pointless scenes of irrelevance there is literally no explanation of the Bat-Armour he has during his fight with Superman. The film just jumps to Batman in full armour setting up for the fight. Not even a montage of him making it, like they had for him making the Kryptonite weapons, he just had the armour in his closet I guess. It just feels so jarring that it just appears out of nowhere. There’s not even a suiting up scene.
Now wasn’t there someone else in this movie that I haven’t talked about yet? Oh yeah, Wonder Woman. She’s the best character in this. By that I mean she’s an enigma in this so they didn’t give her much character to ruin. She steals Batman’s stolen Luthor data, somehow knowing he was stealing it. Then, despite saying he knows nothing about her, Bruce tracks her down to a museum and confronts her. She then says some crap about sharing and boys, then tells him she left the data in his glove box.
This data also has more pointless Justice League hints. It seems Lex not only found out about Bruce and Clark but also about Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman. Despite them not being heroes he’s made all the folders have their logos, since he can predict the future now too. They literally add nothing to he film, it’s cameos for the sake of cameos. That’s almost all of her scenes, talking to Batman, twice, and looking at cameo footage. There’s a small hint of a story from her solo movie, where she says she fought in World War 1 and quit being a hero for… reasons. Meaning her solo movie will have a downer ending too.
She decides to fight doomsday for no adequately explained reason. She just sees him on the news and there’s a bit of false tension of ‘will she go help’ and all I’m thinking is “surely an alien invasion is a bigger threat and reason to become a hero again.” She’s certainly the most heroic one in this movie, going to help out just to help out and nothing else motivating her. She could’ve just left the fight to Batman and Superman, but goes out and be’s a hero. No motivational pep-talk, no angsty parental issues, no push like the other characters need. But she clearly didn’t feel like helping out in Man of Steel.
Her fight with Doomsday did look cool, I guess. But honestly she was superfluous to the movie. Sure this helped raise her profile for her solo movie next year, but in this movie she’s just another hint at another movie. It’s wasted time and effort instead of using that to make this movie something approaching competently made. But if there had been some story, something, anything, instead of the lack of plot that we got then it wouldn’t matter about the pointless cameos.
For other pointless things, Mercy Graves is in this movie. She’s Lex Luthor’s badass assistant created for Superman The Animated Series. She dies pointlessly in an explosion to get the public to hate Superman more, despite the bombing is easily tracked back to a public Superman hater and therefore not Superman’s fault. So Lex kills his own assistant for no reason. Then there’s Jimmy Olson, who is actually in this movie. He gets shot at the beginning when the terrorists grab Lois. Snyder said Jimmy was planned to be a “surprise death” since they had no plans for Jimmy in future movies. Then they cut out his introduction so his name is never spoken on screen. So the audience has reason to be “shocked” by thi no name character’s death. Another example of the competence of this movie and its makers, they can’t even fake out the audience right.
It’s a testament to the film’s “plotting” when things that don’t matter take an hour, but then in a jump cut half of an entire films worth of content can go by. This is a movie that feels like they cut out all the relevant scenes and left in the irrelevant ones. I’d compliment the acting, except for Lex, as all of them seem to be putting in what they could. But honestly the script did none of them any favours. Is Gal Gadot a good Wonder Woman? Well she wasn’t awful here, she held her own against the others. But she was given little to actually work with. Afleck would make a great Batman, I have no idea what character they wrote for him here but at some point I’d like to see him play Batman. Jesse Eisenberg was crazy pants McGee as Lex, he was just baffling to watch. He certainly made the role his own, and then pissed in a jar and gave it to a US Senator. The blame for this movie is not on the actors, they did as well as they could. The movie’s awfulness is the fault of the director, the writers, and the editors, they all failed to make a coherent narrative with consistent character motivations, and anything resembling a competent plot.
I hope, I beg, that Snyder and anyone else responsible for this mess be removed from future DC movies. I’d like to not see then screw up another DC movie. Here’s hoping the Wonder Woman movie can redeem things. Suicide Squad too, but that certainly doesn’t look much better than this bloated dead corpse of a movie.