It should go without saying that I will be delving deep into the film, spoilers and all, so if you haven’t seen the film yet and want to avoid plot details, then turn around now. Still here…all right. Let’s dig right into it!
I’m a positive guy, so I’m going to start this off with a discussion on the things I felt worked the best in the film and how they were handled. I have a strong feeling not everyone is likely to agree on these points, but I have some reasoning behind my madness here.
The Batman/Superman Showdown
Since the film’s initial announcement, and long before we even knew the title was Batman v. Superman, fans knew the iconic heroes would have a showdown of some kind. By and large, the marketing for the majority of the film was geared towards the battle. #WhoWillWin was a popular hashtag, despite the fact everyone knew they’d team up at the end.
The problem, however, is that these type of showdowns very rarely end in any form of definitive conclusion. Even when these types of battles are teased in comics (Marvel or DC), the end result doesn’t leave an actual victor. Instead it’s more of a draw or something happens that prevents the superhero fight from finishing, but even at the point in which it stopped, no one could claim to “win”.
We knew Doomsday would unite the heroes (and even bring in Wonder Woman), so I was expecting much of the same when Batman and Superman came to blows. While the team up was inevitable, I was overjoyed with the fact that there was a DEFINITIVE end to their battle. Batman had most certainly won, and there’s no denying it. While the argument can be made Superman went into the fight with no intention of trying to win, there’s no doubt he was defeated by the end of it.
Not to mention how incredible looking the battle actually was. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, but the man knows how to craft amazing action sequences, and he did these titans justice. It was just as thrilling the second time around as it was the first. Through all the effects and choreography, however, I still find myself smiling about the battle’s conclusion. They didn’t take the easy way out in order to appease ALL fans…Instead, they made a clear statement.
Lex Luthor’s Plan
I mentioned this briefly in my review, but I will vehemently defend Lex Luthor’s portrayal in this movie, which has been dividing fans pretty significantly since Jesse Eisenberg was cast. Personally, I think he did a great job with the character and gave us a different iteration of the iconic villain that’s no less dangerous or intelligent. In all the ways he’s different from the Lex we know, he’s similar in a lot of important ways.
Most importantly, his fear/hatred of Superman and all he represents is firmly intact and rooted deep within his character. On top of that, Lex is still making far reaching and intricate plans to further his own ends. While his plan this time around in Batman v. Superman isn’t nearly as clear as one would hope, but it’s no less impressive. At its most basic level, Lex’s grand plan this time around, is to manipulate Batman and Superman into battling each other with the ultimate goal being the elimination of Supes. It’s a little convoluted, and requires a little bit of luck (much like all big supervillain plans do), but it’s pretty great.
It’s clear that Lex has been keeping tabs on all potential superheroes throughout the world, and his dark obsession with them is a big part of what makes him feel dangerous. Lex uses Batman’s fear to drive him towards the confrontation, while tugging on Superman’s good-nature to bring him into the fray. By the time Lex’s full plans are revealed the level of thought and manipulation he put into it all is staggering.
From forging letters to make Bruce feel guilty, to planting bombs and making Superman seem complicit to terrorism, and orchestrating an international event (Superman’s interference in Africa) to get the ball rolling…Lex has it all mapped out. He’s basically playing with the emotions of the world’s most powerful beings, which takes a lot of balls to contemplate, let alone pull off. When watching the film for the second time, it was easier to pick out the clues and hints in the first act that I had missed initially, which is neat. I only wish it had been made more clear from the outset, rather than having to pull together a bunch of pieces near the end.
The Death of Superman
One of the things I enjoyed most about Batman v. Superman, was how absolutely brazen the filmmakers were in embracing the comic book nature of the story. They went hog-wild with the lore in a way many comic book films try to skirt around. As such, it felt like a film that was willing to take risks, which is something I hope to see the DCEU continue to do.
The biggest risk in the film, of course, would be killing off Superman. When the film’s second trailer revealed Doomsday as part of the story, many were shocked. Surely, they wouldn’t use the Death of Superman storyline so soon into DC’s cinematic universe. As such, many figured the “Trinity” would be able to take care of the villain and lead them all, intact, into Justice League.
I think the majority of audiences going into the film, expected this to be the case…I know I did. So imagine my shock when Superman was stabbed through the chest. I wasn’t alone either. Both times I went to the film, the entire theater gasped and fell silent. You could have heard a pin drop; everyone was so still and couldn’t believe what they’d seen.
While some are bummed about it happening, despite the obvious hints at his return, I was elated at seeing them go all out with it. In a world where comic book movies have been dominating screens for the last several years, we need to see one of them die. It sounds cynical, but the majority of comic book films follow a very cookie-cutter path where the outcome is assured and any real tension feels wasted.
With BvS killing off not just a superhero, but THE iconic superhero, they’re making a statement. People aren’t necessarily safe in their films, and even if you think you know what’s going to happen, surprises can happen. It’s an interesting prospect and something I hope to see explored better in future DC films.