Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The first step in the right direction?

After a tireless year of promotion and anticipation, DC Entertainment’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BVS) has finally premiered. The highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s mildly entertaining Man of Steel debuted this past Thursday, and with a $170 million opening weekend box-office take, BVS is already projected to surpass last summer’s Age of Ultron in revenue. Directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Jesse Eisenberg (to name a few), the second installment in the DC Extended Universe sets the stage for future Justice League-related films, and introduces audiences to two new key players, Batman (Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).

Expectations have been high for BVS since the release of Man of Steel, and whether or not it could live up to its cinematic Marvel counterpart. After announcing a projected film schedule similar to Marvel’s in 2014 (which will continue this summer with DC’s Suicide Squad), fans of the blockbuster superhero films have been on red alert for BVS, especially after a handful of nasty critical reviews appeared online following the film’s initial unveiling (BVS currently holds a 29 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). And while fans of Marvel will definitely have to readjust their viewing scope to soak in DC’s darker content, the film stands on its own as a solid introduction into the future films of the universe.

BVS takes place 18 months after the events that unfolded in Man of Steel, with business mogul and masked vigilante Bruce Wayne (Affleck) blaming the casualties on Superman (Cavill) and his inability to take responsibility for his actions. After a series of missteps that are framed to look like being Superman’s fault, the world starts to mirror Wayne’s sentiments, fearing that Superman views himself as a god who is above the law, and must be held accountable for the deaths he causes.

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavil, Gal Gadot /  Forbes.com

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavil, Gal Gadot / Forbes.com

In BVS’s defense, the movie is really not that bad. Critics are unfairly trashing it on a few flaws rather than taking into consideration the film as a whole. Sure, there aren’t as many funny moments as a Marvel movie, but that’s not what DC is about. They get real dark and serious with the genre, and it’s refreshing to watch a superhero movie absent of silly playground humour.

However, the movie did fail to find proper pacing, and it seemed to be trying to do too much in too little time. BVS runs almost two and a half hours long, but still managed to make the first hour or so seem rushed and squished – they simply tackled too much. The movie struggled to connect scenes together, which left it feeling jumpy and all over the place. Although it was a movie that was meant to function as a stepping-stone into the DC Extended Universe, there were too many introductions to be made before the narrative could get into full swing. There was so much going on that any inclusion of Clark Kent/Superman in the first hour seemed like an afterthought.

As well, the iconic Lois Lane (Amy Adams) spent the entire movie needing to be rescued by Superman and pursuing a ballistics test that resulted in nothing except being a plot filler. What happened to the bad-ass reporter who has more balls than Superman himself? The Lane/Kent relationship also seemed like an afterthought that the BVS writers inserted on a whim. Their chemistry was lacking in Man of Steel and it was still lacking in the sequel: they had about as much romantic chemistry as two pieces of paper blowing in the wind, and it actually made scenes where they kissed feel awkward… no thanks.

Outside of the flaws, BVS’s strong points rested in the action (duh) and Eisenberg’s incredibly creepy and psychotic performance of Luthor. The final battle with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman fighting against Doomsday was a spectacle that had me wishing it had been the entire movie instead, and the brief introduction to the other members of the Justice League was the perfect tease.

Overall, despite the rushed pacing at the beginning, and a lack of connectedness between particular scenes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a significant improvement over its predecessor and an excellent preview into exactly what the DC Extended Universe will look like.

Laura Sebben
Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

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