"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2106) is the epitome of a movie where the end result is less than the sum of its parts. The three-hour Ultimate Edition, when watched at home in about six sittings, is better than the theatrical edition, but it still has problems at its core. It also has some cool stuff – when separated from the movie's overall context. In advance of this weekend's "Justice League," here are six cool things and six dumb things about last year's DC Extended Universe blockbuster:
COOL: Wonder Woman. The threat of Doomsday inspires Diana to end her 100 years of just sitting around while humanity gradually destroys itself. She steps in and lands key blows backed by a kick-ass theme song while Batman runs out of ammo and Superman gets weakened by Kryptonite. Her arc makes sense now that we've seen "Wonder Woman" (2017), which should've come out first.
DUMB: Doomsday. He's just a big CGI feces monster, and although the fight is more entertaining when watched at home rather than when you really have to use the bathroom after 2 hours in the theater, it's still one exhausting act too many.
COOL: Batman and Superman fighting. Leaving context out of it, this is obviously cool at its foundation.
DUMB: The reason for Batman and Superman fighting. It's the hoariest of TV drama reasoning: They misunderstand each other, based on manipulations by Lex Luthor, a frame-job on Superman and a weird dream of Batman's. On top of that, the reason they stop brawling is dumb: Batman realizes Superman has a mom, and that anyone with a mom must be OK. (The writers' preoccupation with the heroes' moms being named Martha is an extra layer of dumb, because why would Clark call his mom by her name?) Because Supes (supposedly) dies, the two heroes never do get to iron out their miscommunication.
COOL: The performances of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck. Cavill is the perfect Superman, even looking somewhat like Christopher Reeve. And Affleck's brooding turn is appropriate for the cynical, 40-something Batman. Affleck will always be Daredevil to me, but I've accepted him as Batman, too.
DUMB: The decisions and actions of Superman and Batman. I don't mind Batman being judge, jury and executioner, as he's in a dark place after two decades of throwing madmen into Arkham only to see them escape. But branding people so they'll later be killed in prison? That's a weak passing of the buck; he should have the moral conviction to do the killing himself. And Superman should be a bit more bothered by the amount of collateral damage in Metropolis at the end of "Man of Steel" (2013).
COOL: Taking Superman to task for destroying Metropolis. He and General Zod were a two-person 9/11 in "Man of Steel." Zod is dead, so it makes sense that the American citizenry – including Batman – would be somewhat bitter toward Superman, fairly or not.
DUMB: Framing Superman in the Middle East. Superman destroying Metropolis to save the world is enough of nuanced nugget to turn over, but the writers also throw in a confusing scene of Supes being framed (by Lex?) for some deaths in the Middle East , presumably to generate more audience sympathy for him.
COOL: Lois Lane, cool reporter. Hey, we journalists don't get many on-screen heroes, so I'll take it. That's the saving grace of the Middle East sequence: It shows the lengths Lois will go to dig up facts crucial to her readers' lives.
DUMB: Perry White, dumb editor. His vision for the Daily Planet is bizarre, to say the least. On one hand, he gives Lois free rein to pursue stories of worldwide significance. On the other hand, he doesn't allow Clark to go next door to Gotham City for what looks like a juicy story about Batman's exploits. (Yes, it's bizarre that Metropolis and Gotham make up a single metro area in the DCEU, but they do, so Batman would definitely be of interest to Metropolis readers.) Also, while small papers have sports/news combo jobs, it seems unlikely that the Daily Planet would have Clark on both the library fundraiser and football beats.
COOL: Wonder Woman teaming up with Batman and Superman. From the spark between Diana and Bruce to the "I thought she was with you" moment, it's fun to see the roots of the Justice League.
DUMB: The other Justice League stuff. But the filmmakers should've held off on the other stuff, or at least waited till an end-credits bonus scene. The computer files of the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg halt the narrative flow. And Batman's dream of an evil Superman and a warning from the Flash may be another reason for him to distrust Superman, but it's too confusing and jarring to be worth including.
What were your favorite and least favorite parts of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?" Share your thoughts below.
My other DCEU reviews: