Batman v Superman (2016)

Top line: it’s far from perfect, but it wasn’t as bad as Fantastic Four* all that!

Update: I actually liked it better on second viewing (yes, I went twice! :P) – knew the story was daft, so could enjoy just the spectacle.

DC are desperate to do a Marvel and churn out movie after blockbuster from their own stable of superheroes. The problem(s)? Well, for one, they haven’t got the strong cast of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, et al, already entertaining folk. Previous outings for the Green Lantern and Superman didn’t capture the audience’s imagination, and the Batman franchise has been and gone, in a couple of iterations. But hey – why let that stop them starting backwards, and getting the ensemble piece out there anyway?

BvS, then, picks up where Man of Steel (2013) left off – which is with a Metropolis more or less levelled in the fight between the Kryptonians, and Superman (Henry Cavill) publicly battling injustices wherever he spots them. But can we trust to the benevolence of a literally ‘super’ man, when he could just as easily wipe us all off the face of the planet?

One man who has his doubts is billionaire playboy philanthropist (urm… wrong universe, sorry!) Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). The battle of Krypton demolished one of his office buildings, killing and maiming many. We see the disaster from his perspective here, leaving him determined to use his alter-ego to put down the threat that is an alien among us.

So far, so good on the setup! Alas, the scriptwriters/director/whoever weren’t content to just stop there – with some added Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, making me think LL could be Mark Zuckerberg in another universe…!) doing his best to fuel the animosity. With just that, I think you could have had a really good story, with both leads questioning their own actions in the quest to do good.

But, no. Sadly we have so many other ingredients thrown into the pot that we lose the chance for a decent flavour in lieu of a bit of a sludge. Some (Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)) could work well. Others (the baffling dream sequences, the ‘big bad’) are just messy. As for the ‘forthcoming movies promo-trailer’ midway through (‘introducing’ Aquaman! The Flash! Cyborg!!) are just pointing out where the DC franchise is getting it all backwards: yes, we know just from the title (Dawn of Justice) that this is the set-up for the Justice League ensemble piece(s), but that should have been utterly irrelevant to making this one a good, solid movie.

On the bright side, despite the fears of the whole internet, Ben Affleck actually impressed me as Batman. He’s an older, more cynical and broken version, but Affleck’s bulky frame fills the suit well. The action is kept high – perhaps overly so? – too, and the look did manage to hit the gloomy atmosphere I think the production was going for.

I would have wished for a better, clearer, story. What we got instead is kinda messy, but with little moments done well amid the chaos. Given the number of future movies already announced for the franchise, I’m at least willing to give them a go – and hope a few lessons are learned from this on sticking to the one story at hand!

Released: 25th March 2016
Viewed: 25th March 2016
Running time: 151 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 6.5/10 – Marvel needn’t be worried, but it wasn’t awful

(* nothing  is as bad as Fantastic Four!)

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