Serving as both a follow up to his Superman reboot Man of Steel whilst also having to launch a cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s, director Zack Snyder, for the most part, succeeds on both fronts.
Picking up during the climatic events of Man of Steel, we are shown how the world reacts to the introduction of Superman (Henry Cavill), and it’s not all positive; in fact there are many who deem him to be a threat after experiencing first-hand what destruction his powers can do. One such person who holds this belief is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), and after seeing what Superman is capable of decides to suit up as the Batman and take him on. It’s an interesting perspective not many super hero movies use: what if instead of cheering for the heroes the world struggles to accept them instead? It’s this core theme that drives most of the movie towards the climatic showdown between the two title characters. Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) serves as the primary antagonist, a megalomaniac hell bent on using the heroes for his own needs, with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) also making some brief appearances throughout the movie.
Those expecting a movie full of non-stop action may be disappointed: much of the film focuses on the drama between the characters and progression of the various sub plots with most of the action taking place in the final third. Whilst this works to a certain degree in providing a suitable build up for the climatic moments, many of the sub plots feel underdeveloped with not enough time devoted to really fleshing them out and make you feel invested in what is happening. To its detriment, it feels as if the movie tries to stuff as much as it can within its running time. The worst offender of this is the introduction of Doomsday, a mutated monstrosity created by Lex Luthor whose appearance feels rushed and tacked on towards the films conclusion.
The action scenes themselves prove to be superb. Like Man of Steel, Zack Snyder once again shows his skill as a visual director with some impressive cinematography and special effects combining to make some exhilarating sequences. The title fight itself feels disappointingly short given the build-up, but what we do get is enjoyable to watch none the less. A scene with Batman taking down a warehouse full of goons is a particular highlight, and makes the prospect of a solo Batman movie all the more tantalising. Less impressive however, is the Doomsday fight during the film’s final act. As well as some questionable CGI, the fight feels slightly anticlimactic, particularly as it comes right after the showdown between Batman and Superman. However it does provide a nice look at all the heroes together in action, with Wonder Woman’s introduction in particular being a stand out moment.
In terms of performances, most of the cast do a great job. Ben Affleck proves to be a fantastic Batman, showcasing how emotionally distraught this incarnation of the character really is. Henry Cavill gives a good performance as the conflicted Superman, and Gal Gadot seems like a natural fit for Wonder Woman despite only making some brief appearances. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor however is hit-and-miss. The characters motivations are not always clear, and despite having a menacing presence at times he often falls too much on the side of maniacal.
Batman V Superman, whilst not a perfect film, provides a good enough starting point to the DC cinematic universe. Whilst the various subplots may not always work, the movie still manages to be highly entertaining, and the experience of seeing two of the world’s most iconic superheroes go toe to toe doesn’t disappoint.
By Taran Sidhu