In full disclosure, I am primarily a Marvel fan. Always have been.
With that said though, I am very much a comic fan so there are many stories from the DC universe I like. The same goes for indie titles. If it’s a good story to me and I like the overall vibe, you will have a fan in me. Naturally, we all have our favorite superheroes and want to see them on the big screen but the reality is that some of these stories just won’t translate well from page to motion picture. There are many reasons for that from the medium isn’t right to properly tell the story to the characters may just be too obscure for a large movie audience outside it’s niche group. Also, there’s the very real problem of overexposure where the taste is lost. Hollywood has a real knack for overexposing genres just to exploit their revenues—fuck the fan base, fuck the audience.
Without question, I planned on seeing BvS (as I will almost all the comic movies slated to hit the screens over the next few years) and I did during the opening weekend. When the film was first announced along with its cast, I had some serious stomach flops. I mean we just concluded The Dark Knight trilogy which was outstanding (yes, The Dark Knight Returns was the weakest) and Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan blew me away with their interpretation. So to see another Batman cast so soon and it being Ben Affleck, I screamed. Why? Daredevil.
Then to add insult to injury, Jesse Eisenberg is cast as Lex Luthor. Who had the brain fart to suggest that shit? This dude is NOT, CAN NOT, WILL NOT be Lex Luthor. The unknown factor was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Now, I like Gal Gadot in the Fast & Furious movies but as Diana Prince, Amazonian Princess…. hmm, she’s missing a lot of muscle. Henry Cavill as Superman I have always thought was a great cast. No mistaking that. Then it was said cameos of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg were coming and I thought, “WTF! Here goes Warner Bros. jamming all this in just to play catch up with Marvel Studios and The Avengers.”
So the real test came when the lights dimmed and the movie began. My whole family went—wife, kids, my brother—none are into comics like myself so I instructed them all that I would not be answering any questions about anything until AFTER the movie. Two hours and twenty minutes later, the lights came back up. I was not jumping out of my seat like I thought I would. While the movie did not suck as some fans have said, it did leave me extremely unsatisfied and very worried about the future Justice League movie.
First, the positive aspects of the film. Ben Affleck redeemed himself. He was a great older Bruce Wayne/grizzled Batman. He very much the Frank Miller-styled Batman and was awesome. The fight scenes, the moves—there’s a scene where Batman is hidden against a wall that is both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. I would be interested in seeing a solo Batman film with Affleck based on like Death of the Family or The Court of Owls. Gal Gadot was the other surprise. Seeing her in full armor as Wonder Woman, I was floored and cheered when she came on screen. She bulked up a wee bit—I mean she’s naturally a lean woman—but it worked and I wished for more screen time but that’s what her solo movie is for. I like how they set up the nugget for her origin story. Really looking forward to seeing that. Awesome production design of the Batcave that really felt the most like what the cave should be out of all the Batman movies made. As a designer, I loved the split posters of the ripped opposite emblem of each superhero promoting the movie. Thought those were a really cool idea. Is that it? Yeah, I think that’s all the good stuff for me.
Second, the not so great aspects of the film. The story—it went all Frankenstein-like. What I mean by that is to say that writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer mashed up elements from the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Superman: Doomsday and parcels from other Batman and Superman comic issues. There really wasn’t a clear, explainable reason why Bats and Sups go head to head and the reason they reveal is so like ‘hghh?’ The length was too long—there’s no need to retell Batman’s origin AGAIN, all that fake buildup of pseudo tension/fear of ‘alien’ Superman and out of control Bat vigilante (Batman is crazy—that’s the point—he rides that fine line between criminal and hero) made the film drag. Guys—been there, done that, okay? Doomsday was a complete waste. Did they just reuse one of the Orcs from Lord of the Rings? Doomsday in not a being to be trifled with as he freaking kills Superman in the comics so how are a mega-pumped human and Amazonian princess going to help take down this creature when a Kryptonian barely can? Let’s be clear—Superman can take out Batman and Wonder Woman without breaking a sweat. As much as I love those characters in the Justice League, the reality is that Superman is the alpha dog in terms of pure power. The cameos of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg didn’t excite me as I have issues with their casting. Who the hell is this Ezra Miller? Can someone give the dude a bath and a shave? Grant Gustin is killing it in The Flash on the CW so I’m having a very hard time seeing anyone other than him playing The Flash. I’d prefer to see Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter than Cyborg. I’ll wait and see about Jason Momoa /Aquaman as I’m not sure how they’re going to handle this character on land and sea.
Third, the eye ripping awful aspects of the film. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. COMPLETY MISCAST AND A HORROR TO SEE ON SCREEN. All I saw was Mark Zuckerberg whining and ticking all across the screen. This dude’s performance is all the same from Social Network to Zombieland (at least in that context he was funny). He doesn’t have the performance power to play a strong villain as Lex Luthor. I saw the guy at Midtown Comics doing promo before the movie opened and I was just stunned to see him in person. He is quite small in frame, average height and honestly, very non-threatening. How did someone think he could play this maniacal tech genius? Bryan Cranston would have been a great cast from the age point of view but most importantly, performance (Lex Luthor is NOT some weak, ass millennial but a grown man). The overall bleakness of this movie was depressing not to mention that my eyesight went into overdrive. I strained so much just to make out shit on the screen. Why the hell was it so damn dark in lighting and mood? Especially since the emotions never felt that dark. Just because one movie does well as a dark and gritty tale does not mean that everything now has to be dark and gritty. That’s the Hollywood shit again. It was one of my issues with Man of Steel. Lastly, Lois Lane really needed to sit this one out as her scenes particularly towards the end just were so freaking ridiculous and laughable.
Yeah, that was a long review but I was really rooting for this to be a blockbuster setup for a great Justice League movie but it left me saddened. Are the creative teams for the DC films truly investing in telling quality stories or is Warner Bros. more concerned about making gobs of money? There’s a reason why the Marvel movies are so far ahead of the pack, make money and still tell a good story that doesn’t shortchange the source characters. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the slate of films going out through 2018 are good, solid but most of all—fun to watch.