Newest superhero movie fails to rescue viewers from confusion

Dustin Gebel

Movies and television go through trends in topics. Some years it’s a leaning on the Young Adult genre, while others it’s zombies or vampires. This year, within the ever growing slate of superhero media, exists two different but connected themes: consequences and heroes pitted against one another.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is the follow up to the 2013 film, “Man of Steel.” Both films have been directed by Zach Synder, who is known for his spotty storytelling but beautiful visuals. The film is the second in the DC Extended Universe, referred to as the ‘DCEU’ an interconnected films series like the model used by Marvel.

“Batman v Superman” tackles the task of not only building up this DC universe, but giving the backstories of the core members of the Justice League, while also trying to provide an interesting and thought out story to bring together some of the key players of comics. The film at times feels stuffed and the pacing ultimately suffers because of this. Rather than one cohesive story, the film feels like a collection of stories merged together.

One large plotline the film follows on from the previous film is the collateral damage that these heroes bring. The core reason that Batman, played by Ben Affleck and Superman, played by Henry Cavill, are at conflict is the fear that Superman is too powerful. This is the primary motivation of Affleck’s Batman in the film, and it is only when he sees Superman’s humanity that he realizes his wrongs. The two then have to team up with Wonder Woman in order to defeat an alien threat Lex Luthor played by Jesse Eisenberg.

The downfalls of the film fall toward the characterization of Superman. He is supposed to be one that stands for truth, justice and the American way. Instead, Snyder makes him seem as some benevolent god, or another dark and gritty Batman vigilante. This takes away from the day and night conflict that has always been a staple of Batman/Superman interactions.

While there are serious problems from the directing side of the film, the new actors bring vital energy to their roles. Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman manage to steal the show, both proving they have what it takes to carry the mantle of these pop culture icons.

The film plays with the viewers knowledge of the tragic story of Batman’s secret identity, Bruce Wayne. In a manner of moments at the beginning of the film, we see the repetitious scenes of the Waynes being murdered in front of Bruce. Snyder recreates this tragedy in a beautiful way, using slow motion and cuts to convey the fracturing of Bruce Wayne’s psyche.

The other thing the film does well is world-building. Not only does the movie introduce Batman and Wonder Woman but is littered with Easter eggs and cameos. The most interesting one is a glimpse into a nightmarish future. Bruce Wayne is waiting for data to decrypt and falls asleep. In his nightmare, Superman snaps and takes control of Earth, instilling fear into all. The scene is full of evil creatures referred to Parademons and features the symbol of Darkseid, DC comics’ most threatening villain.

The dream ends with a flash of blue light, and a figurine giving warning to Batman. The Flash, played by Ezra Miller, is apparently one from the future, and instructs Wayne not to let Superman lose control. This only adds to the paranoia of Bruce Wayne and strengthens the resolve of Batman.

I would recommend the film to anyone who is a fan of the superhero genre, and can last through a two and a half hour movie. It might be a little hard to follow for now, but Batman v Superman is setting up DC’s movie slate between now and 2020 and is a necessary building block.