I believe director Zack Snyder is onto something. It was felt in the first hour of 2013’s “Man of Steel”, but I grasped it more here. This is not a great film, it’s a flawed film–so, let the record show that I’ve stated that. But “Man of Steel” grew on me in repeat views. Once, it was difficult to divorce myself from the Christopher Reeve quartet. It’s getting easier now. Henry Cavill is not Superman the way Reeve was–but that’s just fine. Mr. Cavill has found his character. He’s great in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Ditto Ben Affleck, as an older, world-weary Batman. Zack Snyder appears to have taken the “Man of Steel” criticisms to heart, concerning the destruction of half of Metropolis, with very little attention to the human casualty factor. Zack atones with 9/11 imagery that’s loaded with dread–and the loss of humanity on full display. And Ben Affleck nails the tone of this. He’s a superb Batman. This may be the cinematic super hero battle you’ve been waiting for, but who could’ve predicted it would be pulsing with such portent. One thing is clear: after the opening scenes, you’ll grasp why the man in black is pissed off at the alien in blue.
Not only does Batman/Bruce Wayne (Mr. Affleck) view the Man of Steel as a threat to humanity after his skyscraper tumbling battle with General Zod (a briefly returning, Michael Shannon) of Krypton, but Superman/Clark Kent (Mr. Cavill) considers the Dark Knight a dangerous vigilante. Meanwhile, crazed scientist billionaire, Lex Luthor (a very good Jesse Eisenberg) envisions a way of eliminating them both, and he starts by trying to retrieve some kryptonite from the bottom of the Indian Ocean. When Bruce Wayne attends a Luthor fundraiser, he encounters Diana Prince (an absolutely spectacular Gal Gadot), a mysterious art dealer, who he soon finds to be much more than she appears. Once the glowing neon green rocks are brought into the mix, the possibility of Batman and Superman’s powers being on more of an even keel becomes likely–and Batman may even have the upper hand. But not so fast, as Lex Luthor instigates the pitting of our heroes against each other by kidnapping Superman’s earth mother, Martha Kent (a returning Diane Lane), and ordering him to kill the Batman to ensure her release. But it may take Lois Lane (Amy Adams is back), and a certain gal with a golden lasso to rescue them ALL.
Sure, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is so heavy with the aforementioned dread, that it can be stultifying. Yes, the 3rd act monster baddie is kind of goofy, and I wish they didn’t include it. And was there any way that the clash of the caped ones COULD have lived up to the massive hype? But a sizable amount of this gigantic, expensive, 151-minute blockbuster worked for me. Like when Wonder Woman shows up. The excitement in the theater was incredible. Or the nifty little cameos for Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash. And the gods and devils metaphors are potent, as are the images of destruction and desolation. Finally, this film serves up a finale so bold, that I had to applaud the filmmaker’s chutzpah. This is likely the darkest, most adult comic book movie ever made. I salivate at what this team can accomplish with the Justice League, and the DC Extended Universe. This will be a potent rivalry with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Heck, “BvS” is already superior to last year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer penned the muscular “BvS” screenplay, and Oscar-winner Holly Hunter appears as a corrupt Senator. Also, Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons is our new Alfred Pennyworth. Zack Snyder is ahead of us, methinks, and good outweighs bad here. This teaming of the titans delivers.