‘Batman v Superman’ battle; audience loses

Kyle Smith, Editor in Chief

Sometimes when a movie is created and executed poorly, reviewers liken the movie to watching a train wreck. In the case of “Batman v Superman,” a better metaphor would be watching a pile of garbage that is sitting on a train that is about to derail in slow motion.

To make this metaphor even more accurate, imagine if you fell asleep while watching this train with the pile of garbage, only to dream about a completely different train about to derail, then waking up to the same train completely and utterly confused. That is what watching “Batman v Superman” feels like.

Are you confused at all by that opening paragraph? If so, you just got your first frustrating taste of what it is like to watch the latest entry in the DC Cinematic Universe.

“Batman v Superman” is a series of loosely-connected scenes that include a really confusing scene that made no sense in context, several dream sequences that were not differentiated from normal scenes and a couple flashbacks. All of this is muddled even further by at least three different, yet competing, narratives that manage to fail to convey the characters of the movie accurately and adequately.

Now it should be said that “Batman v Superman” is not all bad. Most of it is bad but not all of the movie failed. The visuals in the movie are great, the action scenes feel well executed and Ben Affleck plays the role of Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman) superbly. Affleck is perhaps my favorite actor who has played Batman, even if I did not like the overall portrayal of the character in the movie.

One of the things that bothered me greatly was the way that the director (Zach Snyder) portrayed the characters of Batman and Superman. Batman is the most egregious offense because the director seemed to have missed an integral and well established part of the character. In effect, he missed the last three movies and the last 77 years that the character has existed. Snyder completely ignored the whole drive and reason behind the way Batman operates in a way that feels jarring.

There are a couple scenes that feel like they get the character right, such as when Batman invents a host of gadgets to battle Superman and when he did some investigation. In the original comics, Batman is an inventor and the world’s greatest detective, yet no movie before “Batman v Superman” has portrayed either of those aspects. I am glad that this character at least has these integral aspects.

A similar misread of the character occurs with Superman. A character who is supposed to represent hope and what we can be as a society, is portrayed as a grim and uncaring character. Superman is meant to represent a bright future but he feels muted in the movie. There are flashes of the Superman that should be in between the scenes where Superman does not feel super at all.

The main thing that holds “Batman v Superman” back is the lack of focus in the movie. The story jumps from character to character, moment to moment, in a way that feels incredibly jarring because they are not connected in a cohesive way. But it is not the lack of clear focus that will really make most viewers confused, the strange dream sequences and flash forwards that will only make sense to fans of the comics will lead to a lot of confusion. I am a big fan of the comics and their history, yet I did not immediately understand what was happening in the story at times.

I should note that I do not have anything against the darkness of the film, I think that such a tone can set the DC Cinematic Universe apart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe but Snyder almost overdoes the amount of dark and muted colors in the film. For a movie whose whole purpose is develop enough of a disparity between Batman and Superman, such that the two feel the need to fight, there is little to no contrast between the two characters. Sure there are reason presented within the movie that add a marginal pretext as to why they should be fighting but it is not backed by anything visually or story wise. Superman feels muted to the point that he almost feels like the same character as Batman, just with powers and a different design. There is not contrast between light and dark, color and grey, as there was in the comics. The lack of juxtaposition of these elements mutes the film and undermines the point of it.

Furthermore, the movie “Batman v Superman” has very few moments where Batman fights Superman. There is a lot of set up to the fight, a lot of random story bits that do not add to a whole and there is an almost overwhelming amount of blatant set up for sequel. The latter is perhaps the worst offender on that list as the way the movie sets up for a sequel is so uninventive and out of place that it almost feels as though the filmmakers were rushing to create an elaborate world within a few scenes. The setup is not even done in a post credit sequence, which would have been slightly more excusable, it is done in a scene that does less to build the world of the movie than a single sentence that names a bunch of characters who have not been introduce in the story and will have no bearing on the plot.

Do not watch “Batman v Superman” in theaters. Wait until it comes out on DVD and then rent it at the most. Save your hard earned money for something a little more entertaining (and less frustrating) than “Batman v Superman.” I recommend buying some gray paint, painting a room that color and then watch the paint dry. That would save you the heart ache of watching a movie that had so much potential, fall into incompetent hands, as was the case in “Batman v Superman.”