As a lifelong comic book fan, director Zack Snyder’s 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel left me saddened—especially with the the Kryptonian snapping the neck of the main villain. Superman doesn’t kill, and with this one act the movie threw away any possibility of salvation, betraying an icon that has evolved over decades.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (more like Yawn of Justice, as numerous critics are calling it, including Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune) is one big, overcrowded mess about a disgruntled Batman going after an unchecked, omnipotent Superman. Instead of sticking with just this source material, Snyder finds a way to also butcher key elements from the best-selling The Death of Superman, which I adored and reread endlessly as a kid. I’m not giving much away by saying that Snyder kills off Superman at the end of the film, or that he does so in a much less meaningful way than in the 1992 graphic novel.
Snyder also shamelessly steals from Frank Miller’s seminal 1986 Dark Knight Returns, a comic miniseries that redefined Batman as a gritty, grieving and aging superhero. In Dawn of Justice, Superman’s life is saved by a poorly developed Lois Lane, played adequately by Amy Adams, who just happens to locate the exact spot of the battle, at the exact time Batman is about to deliver the killing blow, to let the dueling gladiators know that they both have mothers named Martha. Somehow, this leads to a ludicrous and instantaneous twist that not only spares Superman’s life, but it also forms a strong friendship between the two iconic superheroes. Sloppy, lazy storytelling.
Who knew that Metropolis and Gotham City were twin cities, or that Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg in a horribly miscast role, could so easily manipulate Ben Affleck’s surpassingly effective Batman, the world’s greatest detective—and arguably the most intelligent superhero in the DC universe? I was also left flustered by Batman’s mysterious dream sequence, a lame way to tease future installments while having no relevance on shaping the movie I waited almost three years to see.
The film’s attempt to serve as a sequel to the “Justice League” by introducing eventual members of the upcoming installment falls flat. In a minor and seemingly unrelated plot point, Batman steals a secret drive from Luthor, with surveillance footage of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. The Green Lantern, a founding member of this legendary super team, is mysteriously missing in action. Perhaps DC is still reeling from the abomination that was the 2011 film adaptation starring Deadpool… I mean, Ryan Reynolds. Either way, this absence is another disappointment.
Of course, no amount of negative reviews can deter fans from flocking to the theaters. Just don’t expect too much going in.