Based on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (1987) and Dan Jurgen’s Death Of Superman (1992), Gotham’s Caped Crusader goes head-to-head with The Man Of Steel in the second movie of the newly established DCEU (DC Extended Universe). Superman has devastated his city Metropolis, in a battle with fellow Kryptonian, General Zod (Michael Shannon). Superman (Henry Cavill) is going by the alias Clarke Kent and many citizens of his city, your average joes and authoritative figures alike believe that he needs to be held accountable for his actions. This includes billionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), also known as The Batman who has been branded as a dangerous vigilante and a criminal. These two forces soon find themselves manipulated into fighting each other by the spidery Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). But before long, Batman and Superman must face a bigger threat and put their petty feud aside for the greater good.
This sequel to Man Of Steel begins with the repercussions of Superman’s fight with Zod. We see an older Bruce Wayne in this movie. I predict that he’s around fifty-five years and one of the first scenes in the movie is when he is in Metropolis witnessing the destruction of Wayne Tower at the hands of Superman and Zod. Dozens are killed. The company his father created is leveled by this alien and from that day, Bruce has a personal vendetta against The Man Of Steel. Powered beings like Superman are dangerous and powerful. Bruce wants to end Superman, to stop him from hurting anyone else. What makes it worse is that Superman is loved by millions. Every time he saves a cat out of a tree, The Daily Planet writes a puff piece editorial about an alien, who could bring the whole place down.
Is it really surprising that one of the most experimental films in the history of the blockbuster is a figure of controversy? We are talking about the beginnings of another comic book franchise that pits two heroes against each other. Two heroes who haven’t always seen eye to eye. Two heroes who are polar opposites in terms of ideology and methods used to fight crime. We are talking about two of the most iconic superheroes in comic book history and two of the most iconic characters in popular culture. Batman (since 1939) and Superman (since 1938) have been in our lives for over seventy-five years. But also, these two heroes are always fighting in the comic books. This is a movie for fans made by a fan, Zack Snyder (Watchmen). We’re talking about a film that challenges our very sense of priority thus the critics, MCU fanboys (why not like both?), people making biased opinions on this film based on their hate of Zack Snyder but also the ratings from sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.
The critics panned this movie but the common consensus among comic book readers is that it’s one of the best comic book movies of all time. DC has a reputation for being dark, morbid and gritty. What’s so bad about that? Despite the excessive hate, it’s been a box office success. The movie lacked jokes and funny moments because Snyder wanted a darker tone for the movie, especially for the scenes set in Gotham. I didn’t hear any complaints about the dark tone of the Marvel-Netflix series, Daredevil where people’s heads were being smashed with car doors…but that’s none of my business. This film is dark, gritty and we were subjected to another rendition of the iconic murders of Thomas (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan) played by stars from AMC’s post-apocalyptic horror show, The Walking Dead.
Watching this film was like flicking through the pages of a comic book. You can tell that plenty of the source material had gone into this movie. The writers and the director read the comics thoroughly, even down to implementing minor details like when Superman gets hit by a nuclear bomb and the flesh is stripped from his bones. He’s floating in space for a while and we all know that he gets his power from Earth’s sun. We see him floating, looking rather horrific until he begins to flesh out again. This scene is wonderful to watch in 3D and it really hits home as his temporary frail look in space, and that whole scene is straight out of The Dark Knight Returns. Also, the constant appearance of horses…also Dark Knight Returns. Even the fight between The Bat Of Gotham and The Son Of Krypton was from that same comic book from Bruce’s iron costume to the fight’s location which looked uncannily like Crime Alley. Many viewers didn’t like the Batman’s representation in Dawn Of Justice due him breaking so many of his “golden rules” like not using guns but Batman’s MO doesn’t excuse using guns or lethal weapons.
He uses guns in the comic and he uses guns in Dawn Of Justice. In the teaser trailer and in the movie we are witness to the great “Do you bleed? You will” line which could be compared to Bruce’s boastful talk in the Dark Knight Returns right before he collapses at the end of the same comic book. Finally, the large clear glass case that holds Robin’s costume. The loss of Robin at the hands of The Joker haunts Bruce and he blames himself for not being able to get there in time to rescue him. I hope this story will be told in the infamous A Death In The Family/Under The Red Hood storylines in the solo Batman movie, written and directed by Ben Affleck. I truly hope that at this point Bruce was retired and Superman’s actions in Man Of Steel forced him to don the mask once again. This would be cherry on the cake and it would truly be an adaptation, but we won’t know this until the Batman solo movie is released.
Zack Snyder with Ben Affleck (Argo) and Henry Cavill (The Tudors) have created the best depiction of their characters in live action form as well as the live action movie debut of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Ben Affleck as Batman is a tour de force. This is the Batman from the The Dark Knight Returns; gritty, dark, horrifying and scary. This Batman will haunt you in your dreams and in Dawn Of Justice, he’s been Batman for twenty years. After Jason, he’s stopped caring. I believe the killing is warranted. This is Gotham. You kill or be killed. You can’t afford to show weakness or show any form of emotion. He’s described by reporter, Clarke Kent as “a one man reign of terror”. He’s not wrong and I don’t believe this description does him justice. The Batman here is a hybrid breed between the Batman from the Arkham games and from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman is also excellent. We are witness to a darker take on the character straight out of the pages of The Death Of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns. It shows his mental torment that he can’t be the hero that world needs. People are afraid of him and what he can do but he also has to come to realise that he can’t save everyone. Some people will have to die because he can’t everywhere all the time and he will have to kill at some point save lives, as we saw in Man Of Steel with Zod and what he was willing to do to save his mother from Lex Luthor.
The fight scene between our two heroes is truly awesome, and Superman should know better than to give Batman prep time. I only wish it could have been longer. It would have been cool to see Oliver Queen shoot a Kryptonite arrow, but Kryptonite gas is just as cool as well as the Kryptonite spear. It seemed like a weapon worthy of The Amazons which brings me onto my next point. This is the first time we have seen Diana Prince/Wonder Woman on film and she delivered. Gal Gadot has also been a figure of much controversy since the announcement of her playing the role in DCEU. I kept my mind open and didn’t lower myself to belittling her until I had seen the movie and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the movie and she stole the whole movie away from our main protagonists. Wonder Woman in a live action comic book movie was truly astounding. Gal Gadot is perfect for the role as Wonder Woman. She’s battleborn and a true warrior. One shouldn’t expect anything less from the Princess Of Themyscira. Her character is hard, godly and I am glad they choose this look than the iconic stars and stripes.
We also see Gal Gadot as Diana Prince. She’s cool, collected, charming, sexy, seductive and it’s really impossible not to fall in love with her character. Gal received so much hate from DC fanatics and buffs alike, and now I believe they are eating their words. Wonder Woman is the Thor of this universe using archaic dialogue in the world of modern technology, although she’s more well-versed to this world than Thor is. Both come from legend but both have parents who aren’t fond of mortals and needed convincing of their usefulness in the universe. Seeing Gal Gadot play Wonder Woman and Diana Prince has truly got me hyped for Wonder Woman (June 2017) and I think she’s going to be even better in her own movie. Wonder Woman will make history next year, not only as the first female standalone comic book movie but she’s also an inspiration to many girls and women. Let’s not to forget to mention that she’s also a feminist icon too, even more so seventy years after her debut during The Second World War.
Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network) as Lex Luthor was the wildcard. When he was announced as Lex, I was on the fence. I wasn’t entirely sure if it would work out. Predictably, we had the people who began to hate it before seeing the movie. I have now seen the movie three times and I believe that it works. I really enjoyed his quirky and weird take on Lex Luthor. We have to remember that this is Lex as a young man. Brash brazen and still eager to lash out, although the psychopath begins to leak through his businessman image in the scenes with Senator Finch (Holly Hunter). Lex gets the cringeworthy yet comical lines throughout the movie in reference to “red capes” but I really like Jesse’s take on the character but really, I think he’d make a better Edward Nygma/The Riddler. I also enjoyed his religious ideologies and metaphors to Superman and with Finch. “We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us, no, they come from the sky.” As we see at the end of the movie, when all his hair is shaved off, I think the shaving of the hair could mean the death of the boy and the emergence of the man. I hope to see him again in another Superman movie or even Justice League.
All through the movie there are easter eggs. I remember seeing one pointing to The Riddler in the form of question mark during the Batman V Superman showdown. Then there’s Bruce’s reference to “freaks dressed like clowns” at Lex’s party when talking to Clarke. This is a nod to The Joker and more subtly Harley Quinn. We also have the Robin costume in the Batcave inscribed with “HAHAH JOKES ON YOU BATMAN” which is from the Death In The Family” when Jason Todd was murdered by The Joker. Then there was Darkseid and the cameos from Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) under the collective term, metahumans.
The film has no shortage of entertaining supporting cast including Superman’s love interest Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Daily Planet editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) and Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) as well as the big bad boss Doomsday. British actor Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) was born to play Alfred. Every line he has is witty, meaningful or intelligent and he couldn’t have done it better. Amy and Laurence are great as Lois Lane and Perry White but Doomsday was something colossal. The fight between The Trinity and Doomsday was nothing short of epic especially if you saw it in 3D or IMAX 3D. That being said, Bats was near useless in that fight. Leave it to the gods!
“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men…cruel”
In conclusion, Snyder with the cast and crew have really created something awesome here. It’s very harsh and it’s frightening. That’s what films like this are supposed to be. I enjoy the Marvel movies because they’re mostly lighthearted and fun. I watch DC movies like this for a more realistic approach to the comic book genre. I will always love Marvel and I will always love DC. Affleck and Cavill are the best portrayals of their said characters in my opinion and this is a great comic book adapted movie. I think people are focussing too much on the ‘Batman V Superman’ elements of the movie and not enough on Dawn Of Justice. Dawn Of Justice means of Dawn Of The Justice League (November 2017). Dawn Of Justice sets up the Justice League movie much alike what Civil War will do for Infinity War in the MCU. We’ve been asking for a comic book adapted movie for years now and we finally have one. The minute we are given one, everyone starts complaining; from the stellar performances to the comic book easter eggs, Hans Zimmer’s score, great fight scenes to staying faithful to the source material as well as creating a great popcorn movie.