By David Cinnella.
Alright, so here are my thoughts on “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. (SPOILER ALERT). You’ve been warned.
There’s so much to talk about this movie. So, where do we start? The answer is clear and obvious…
The Batfleck. I said it from the very moment he was cast and announced. He is one of the best choices there could have been for the character, and I stand corrected. He is the best Batman/Bruce Wayne I have ever seen in live action, to date. Michael Keaton was great, but the writing of his character was off. I don’t even remember Kilmer or Clooney (in fact, many would prefer to forget Clooney in the historical flop that was “Batman & Robin” ). Bale was a bit more authentic, but after Begins I couldn’t stand him, nor the choice of his voice, which has been famously, and justly, parodied time and time again. Ben Affleck has been the best one we could have gotten, and I just want to laugh, and laugh, and laugh at the articles that said people actually sent letters to the actual White House, two-to-three years ago, begging for them to change their casting decisions. Yes, that actually happened. Also, his normal fighting against thugs was what the way TRUE Batman would fight! It was like seeing the Arkham games come to life, in all their ninja creativeness! Even the whole fact that Batman actually uses guns, in this movie, didn’t really bother me at all, despite he is famous for never using one in popular lore. Why? Because his very first comics, way back in the 1930’s-40’s, saw him shooting guns and murdering people. Here in the movie, he’s clearly further ahead in his years enough to realise that letting people live isn’t a good idea, and even then, breaking and shattering bones and leaving them there might as well be a death sentence on its own, so why not just finish the job and put them out of their misery? It’s not like he did it to anyone, anyway. Only to those who deserve it, and when it’s absolutely necessary. If I *absolutely* had to nitpick on him, it would be that his posture and shoulders were a touch hunched. But, then again, who cares? Because he was believable in every aspect.
Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He was great, too! He was someone who actually understood engineering, medicine, etc. enough to basically be an assistant mechanic and healer to Bruce, as well as a hacker, with the definite sarcastic tone that the world’s most famous butler should have. He didn’t look or feel like a butler? Not important. He’s there as Bruce’s support, and that he did in spades.
Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman. It was a roller coaster ride in terms of opinions on her. At the first announcement, I was ok with her. In fact, the more I thought of it, the more it made sense that Diana Prince herself should look a little more middle eastern, or at the very least not purely pale white, considering she was literally given life out of clay from an island of genuine greek amazons who turned out to still be alive and thriving to this day, hidden in plain sight from modern society. The fact that she wasn’t as curvy as the comics was a bit unusual at best, but if she could pull it off with her performance and writing, then that’s all there was to it. Then, when the trailers came out, there were only a couple of clips of her. That’s when I got worried, because she looked, there, like she was just a model who got real lucky with the role, without knowing how to act. But, now, I saw her in the movie, and she was perfectly fine. Mysterious, beautiful, alluring, and with the true badass warrior within.
(EXTRA. The soundtrack for Wonder Woman. MY GOD that was awesome. Every other track was ok, but this gets automatic props on the “Good” section. It was as if the greek Gods of old themselves had erupted in glorious chanting at the arrival at their greatest champion, to warn the world that their ancestry and history has not been forgotten to the sands of time, and that it was time for a legendary awakening. Everyone, go listen to it right now!)
Henry Cavill as Superman. I was fine with his casting choice from the start. In “Man of Steel” I wasn’t too satisfied because he was a bit too stiff in his acting, but that clearly fell on the direction of Snyder, as in other roles I found out Cavill did just fine, and this time he was certainly given more layers in terms of a fully realised three-dimensional character. This was most evident during the scenes where he was put on trial, in which he was clearly trying his best to appear as calm and harmless as he could so as not to scare off anyone – despite the raging muscles — , and when he was listening to the news in his apartment of how people were viewing his Superman persona. The weight of all those comments, when all he wanted to do was just genuinely help people, was clearly evident and palpable. In terms of the writing for his persona, there’s a particularly wonderful scene of news reporters and celebrities discussing about Superman’s place in the world, rather he was a threat or not, juxtaposed with beautiful slow motion images of him saving people around the world. It gave a true weight as to how much hope his heroic figure can actually be for the world. (Special props for the appearance of Neil Degrass Tyson in that scene, as well). His whole kill factor, despite the fact that even he doesn’t kill in the comics? Still not a problem. Because, even if he killed Zod in “Man of Steel”, it was out of sheer desperation, and there wasn’t a prison in the world that would (or could) have held him there for good. And now, he spent this movie learning his lesson on doing his best not to kill, giving him a learning curve that’s the catalyst of his personal growth (despite having to do it one last time in the end). In other words, he could have been slightly better in “Man of Steel”, but I was always fine with him, and this time he proved himself. He’s no Christopher Reeve, but he is indeed worthy to be the new last son of Krypton.
Kryptonite. The famous glowing, green rock that’s the main weakness of Superman (and synonym of a weakness for anything, in popular media). Invented actually during Superman’s radio show, in the 1940’s-50’s, as an excuse to create some tension, Kryptonite was originally dubbed merely as radioactive pieces of his home planet, Krypton, which proved deadly only to Kryptonians like himself if in close proximity. The usual problem with Kryptonite was that it was always a rather big coincidence that it ended up travelling across space until it reached Earth, but this time there was a clever twist. Instead of simply floating in space and crashing on Earth for villains to find, Kryptonite was used as a sort of fuel for the Kryoptonian spaceships, in this case namely the one belonging to Zod. It was literal radioactivity, parallel to how we humans use nuclear energy for power, and how it’s dangerous to us humans. Quite clever, indeed.
The courtroom scene. No music, finally a tripod for the camera, all clean and pure dialogue, an interesting discussion, actual colours (gasp), with a tiny jar on a table that alone helped build up an unexpected tension and confusion to the scene, which then literally ended with a bang. What else can there be said? It was GREAT. There should be more scenes like this in the future of the DCU.
Costumes. As far as Superman goes, he’s definitely fine. The missing red underwear is, once again, a relief, and his chainmail-like texture is overall still fine. Batman’s? His is also fine. A bit too bulky for his normal suit, sure, but considering that this movie is a direct inspiration to Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel, and he looked even bulkier there, this was more than fine. Plus, it’s bulky just this one time. For the Justice League movie, we’re obviously all expecting longer ears and a more classic look. So, here’s hoping for the best on that. His mech suit? LOVE it. It’s badass, it shows more superheroesque muscles and forms, and best of all, it found a way to insert the classic white glowing eyes that have become such a signature for the Dark Knight himself. Thank you, costume department! For Wonder Woman? She was also fine. Nothing too patriotic, at long last. In fact, it could be argued that the stars on her outfit are more stars of a plausible Themyscira (the island of the Amazons where she’s from) flag. Plus, the more earth-like color tones helped that all the more.
Batman VS Superman. The specific fight the title promised us. My only complaint is that, admittedly, it was a little short, there could have been a bit more destruction from it, and it would have benefitted by not being all in just one building. It would have been nice if those tiny details were fixed, seeing as this might be the only chance we’d see the two duke it out in this current DCCU [DC Cinematic Universe]. But, with that said, those are incredibly small nitpicks. Why? Because the fight was still grandiose! While the motivations fluctuated a bit (more on that later), their actual fight had visual logic to it, which was amazing! It’s official (and naysayers should yield to this as well) that Superman would beat Batman, and that in a fair fight, Batman should have some extra impediment as well, if his best shot is basically poisoning the Caped Crusader first. Because, despite that awesome mech suit of his, the Bat of Gotham was still easily knocked away by a mere gentle push from Clark. Still, it was fascinating how Snyder visually depicted the effect of the Kryptonite on Superman, especially when Batman was punching him repeatedly, where right then the green effects wore out, and Clark’s face became as immovable as steel again (Special props for Batman’s honest reaction, right after).
Batman v Superman v Wonder Woman VS Doomsday. A mouthful, but you get the ideal. The actual big fight. For all my micro nitpicks on the previously mentioned fight, they’re still invalid for the fact that they had to be toned down to contrast with this. Doomsday (one of Superman’s greatest foes, here being explained as an abominable fusion between Zod’s body and Lex’s blood) is in live action format, and the disaster and epicness from it is great! Plenty of explosions and, this time, not only is the movie showing the consequences of the extreme collateral damage of “Man of Steel”, but they learned their lesson again by having Superman actually doing his best and getting Doomsday out of the city, away from the citizens, by first launching him into space, and then having him crash down on an island in the Metropolis bay, leaving plenty of room for destruction, without actually harming relatively anyone. Yes, Supes was thrown into a skyscraper, but the key word here is “thrown”, meaning it wasn’t his fault. Also, three superheroes battling a huge monster, with freedom to break things without hurting anyone? How could this NOT look epic?
The director. Zack Snyder is an absolutely amazing visual director. Out of all the modern ones, he has arguably the best visual sense that there can be, despite his usual cliché’s. From the beautifully shot opening of Bruce’s origins, to the action packed fights, to the great touches that his inner nerd put into this for all us fans. Examples? When Martha was shot, her necklace broke and spilled outward, mimicking in a subtle way what her blood would have done (the R rated cut better not replace at least that). When Batman swoops in the warehouse to save Martha Kent, before breaking the window, his whole form creates a very clear Bat Symbol shaped shadow on the windows. All the ACTUAL slow motion fight scenes from Snyder that I was so heavily anticipating finally coming to life, since they were almost completely absent in “Man of Steel”. And there’s plenty, plenty more where that came from. Best of all (Nolan fans, plug your ears) it finally stopped looking and feeling like a Nolan movie, and more like a Snyder one. Sure, there’s some shaky cam still where there didn’t need to be, but it happened far, far less, giving us the chance to actually SEE what was going on, and Snyder was allowed to express his own visual sense as well as distance himself from the Dark Knight trilogy and allowing it to respectfully be its own thing as well. Extra points to the visual nods to Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” in terms of not only Batman’s costume, but his pose when he landed on the side of the building to avoid Doomsday’s lasers, with a lightning behind him, giving us a two-frame-long pose resembling the poster of the comic itself. And the fact that, when Superman and Doomsday are nuked, Superman is seeing floating in space, skeleton-like from the radioactive blast, only to be refuelled by the Sun’s light, again just like in the comic. There are also further winks to the fans of the comics, such as Perry White mentioning “This isn’t 1938 anymore”, a reference to the year Superman was first published and introduced to the world, starting the entire superhero genre; the “S” symbols on the shoulders of the soldiers in one of Batman’s dreams, the one in the desert, which is a mirrored reference to the various members of the “Sons of Batman” in Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”; and, frankly, so many more to count that I can’t even keep them in my head at once.
“The Death of Superman”. Yes. You heard it right. Taken straight out of the titular comic, Superman actually dies while fighting off Doomsday. Funeral, coffin and all. True, the very last shot is the dirt on his coffin slowly rising, showing he’s actually still alive in there and will return for the Justice League (you just can’t have the team without the original trinity, now, could you?), but still, it was great. It would have been very brave to just not even include that last shot, but considering the studios were going to chicken-out and give pressure on this anyway, I’m still perfectly fine with this choice, because at least the attempt was there, and it was admittedly highly inspiring to see not only the sheer inspiration he brought to the world, but also the incredible subtle and humbleness of putting his actual body in a small, simple, wooden coffin, and bury him near his home in Smallville, in the middle of Kansas. For all his might and power, the true Superman is exactly and specifically one of kindness and humbleness, who doesn’t just fight the strong, but does it to help the weak and needed. Nothing could have been a more perfect metaphor than that. Let’s just hope “The Death of Superman”, though, won’t become a trend for other superoes in movies, like they did in the comics (you can find out more about that online).
DCCU Setup (the good parts). The big bad man himself, Darkseid, the greatest and most powerful being in the DC Universe, is going to be the first major villain of the Justice League. This is now official. Small teases were released here and there during the promotion for the movie, but now it’s absolutely confirmed. How do we know that? Three things: 1, during Batman’s desert dream, while he’s fighting off all those Supermen soldiers, the sky becomes filled with none other than Parademons. For those who don’t know, Parademons are the winged minions of Darkseid, similarly to how the Wicked Witch of the West, from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), had her flying monkeys. Only, these creatures will actually and easily destroy you on sight. 2, again in the same dream sequence, Batman goes on a cliff, and far off into the distance we see, immense and engraved on the ground before a destroyed city (Metropolis? Gotham? Doesn’t matter), the Omega symbol, Darkseid’s own calling card. 3, at the end of the movie, Lex clearly says that “He is coming. The bells can’t be unrung.”
EXTRA: This wasn’t in the movie itself, but a few days after its opening, a deleted scene was released online called “Communion”, in which we see military soldiers enter Zod’s ship, and within we see Luthor, half-deep in the liquid sustaining Zod’s corpse, speaking to an enormous creature with a large, axe-shaped head, as he holds three Motherboxes, before disappearing. This creature (its identity still unconfirmed) was a messenger of Darkseid himself, warning the young millionaire of his arrival. That’s how Lex knew he was coming. Also, it’s a good thing this scene was deleted, as considering all the events happening in the movie, it would have simply been overkill. But more on that later.
Robin’s outfit, with the Joker’s writing on it saying “HAHA JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN”. That’s it. Just one shot. It builds up mystery, doesn’t require dialogue, it’s the setup of an entirely different movie prequel (“Suicide Squad”, coming out this August in theatres), and is only a few seconds long. Small, subtle, and enough to expand upon in the future. More like that, please.
The “Martha” line. Lex Luthor blackmails Superman, saying that if he doesn’t kill Batman, he himself will kill Clark’s own mother, Martha Kent. After the fight, Batman is about to kill Superman with a Kryptonite spear, when Superman says “Save Martha”. Only, instead of understanding Martha “Kent”, Batman understands Martha “Wayne”, his own mother. It did cross my mind a while back how it was peculiar that both have a mother named Martha, and here it was actually used as an ingenious plot device to justify and solidify the similarities between the two heroes. Not in terms of heroism or morals, but in terms of their origins. Their “selves”. Both having mothers who did their best to teach good moral values to their sons, adopted or not — except that, for one of them, it’s a special nerve to hit, seeing that it’s the entire reason they went on their heroesque crusade. Maybe not as logical a subject for the Bat to stop on the spot, but an emotional for him one nonetheless. Brilliant!
There were moments that were just… ok.
Doomsday. When he first appeared in the trailer-that-admittedly-showed-too-much, I was relatively ok with it. He didn’t look like a full Doomsday yet, but considering we’re talking about Hollywood studios making this picture, I figured that somewhere they would have looked down on the original design, thinking more in terms of “That’s stupid” rather than “That’s what the fans want”. They even sort of fixed it by having Doomsday actually visually evolve, letting his bones stick out of his body with each of his improvements during the fight. I would have preferred more of those bones, even the bony beard, but at least we got something, and I’ll take it for what it is.
The story and structure. Admittedly, it isn’t the best. At all. Why? Because, seeing the vast success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, every movie studio is following the trend, trying to create its own “Cinematic Universe”, even DC (at least they’re entitled to want to do that, though). Because of this, a good chunk, if not even half of the movie, is dedicated to build up the entire “Justice League” movie in this singular one first. Understandably, and predictably, it’s a mess, with great moments being tarnished by this form of peer pressure. But, despite all that, I still don’t put this in the “BAD” category of this review because they actually did their utter best to try and make the cogs work together, trying to give a reason for everything. It could have been way, way worse, and at least I felt like they did the best with what they were given. Did it work? Not entirely, but points for effort.
Colours. While I understand DC and Warner Bros. wanted to differentiate themselves from Marvel by making themselves much darker, especially considering it’s a style that has financially been proven to succeed in Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, this was both called for and uncalled for. Called for because, for the night scenes, and those with Batman and Gotham in particular, they fully give an idea of the tone of the Bat’s dark world. Uncalled for because, much like in “Man of Steel”, it’s mostly a color correction filter that, while good in certain parts, in others, like full daytime, they just make it look unrealistic, which is counter-intuitive for a style that’s trying so hard to be grounded and realistic in the first place. I’d say that they should just embrace a bit more brightness and color (without necessarily going campy) in the future, especially when there’s clearly no need for an absence of it. But, overall, in this one it was expected by now, and at least they played more with their colours and lighting much like the Marvel and Netflix “Daredevil” tv series. So, for that, it’s at least passable, as long as they don’t overdo it.
No Batarangs. Big nitpick, which I’ll let slide because they technically were there as Batman’s calling cards, and because they admittedly wouldn’t have worked at all against Superman and Doomsday. Still, would have been nice to see him throw a few more, against humans (at least, from what I could tell, unless I missed them).
Justice League setup. This is the focus of the just-mentioned incoherence, with this movie, with specific examples. Batman, first off, has several visions of immense dangers to come, all focusing on the oncoming arrival of one of the League’s greatest villains, Darkseid. The question is, why is he (and why he specifically) having these visions in the first place? It doesn’t explain that. Maybe the “Justice League” movie will, or maybe the “R” rated DVD cut will, but so far it was quite out of place. The biggest attempt at building up the team is when Diana Prince/Wonder Woman receives an email (originally made by Lex Luthor) from Bruce saying he figured out who she is, and along with it are files regarding each of the League’s future members: the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and herself, each with their own symbols as icons on the files. The problem? Despite the admittedly disappointment of them via introduced via email, of all things (but oh well; could have been worse) if they were left just with the icons, that would have been subtle and fine enough. But, instead, we’re shown videos for each of them. Security camera of The Flash stopping a store robbery, underwater footage of Aquaman floating (awkwardly) out of a coral reef before (awesomely) bursting away like a torpedo, and test recordings of Doctor Stone experimenting with Darkseid’s Motherbox to try and save his son, Victor Stone/Cyborg, as he lays literally half a man on an operating table. This last one in particular didn’t work, as the direction made it far too detached from the audience to relate or feel like there was any build-up (despite the admitted logic of the security camera). But still, while these could have been cut out, overall they were just ok, because they were a predictable choice made from the studios, who don’t understand subtlety.
Motherboxes ***SPOILER WARNING of for the NEXT MOVIES***. Speaking of unexplained setups, it’s time to talk about these. Appearing in the earlier-mentioned “Communion” deleted scene section, and right above during the description for Cyborg, these are large cybernetic cubes used by Darkseid himself to run and control his mechanical world of Apokolips. These will be of great importance because one of them will end up in the possession of Doctor Silas Stone to try and heal his half-destroyed son Victor Stone. We even see, in the recorded video in Lex Luthor’s forwarded email, that a very evident Motherbox is suddenly fused into Victor, slowly transforming him into the next League member, Cyborg. The importance of the Motherboxes is particularly focused on Cyborg, for it will be his fusion with the technology that will enable him to hack into Apokolips’s system to help bring down Darkseid. The problem with all of this? While raising mystery is great in movies, even those that will be explained in sequels, considering the already large amount of random elements present in “Batman v. Superman”, the Motherboxes just appear as further randomness, rather than a proper mystery. Still, I’ll leave it in the “LUKE-WARM” section of this review, as it still has a little bit of mystery. Very little, but enough.
Bruce’s Origins. In the beginning, during the flashback to explain young Bruce Wayne’s origins, when he falls down into the cave, and the bats fly around him, he slowly soars into the air, as if lifted by them. I was previously told by a friend that this scene was going to make zero sense, but Bruce Wayne’s/Ben Affleck’s narration right after dismissed it as just a dream. So, it’s ok, in that case. It’s at least justified. I just decided to put it here because it admittedly did throw me off a lot, at first.
These parts. Oh, these parts…
Back real quickly to the Justice League setup. During one of the visions/dreams, we see Bruce in the Batcave, where suddenly a portal opens, and Barry Allen himself, aka The Flash, tries to come through from the future, warning Bruce that “he was right all along, Superman is a danger, and Lois Lane is the key” (or something like that). This scene is, first off, completely out of the blue, it doesn’t work well because the outfit of the Flash is nearly unrecognisable because it looks more like a mechanical suit that could be mistaken for Cyborg (I only figured it out because I recognised Ezra Miller’s face through a pseudo Flash-y mask, and I imagine this costume choice was perhaps because he needed a special suit to time travel), and finally, it doesn’t work because we haven’t been introduced whatsoever to the Flash, yet, so we didn’t have enough information to appreciate this.
Lois Lane. Superman’s very own love interest. The writers seem to really not learn their lesson with her, because, much like in “Man of Steel”, in the first half she’s actually pretty fine, almost a true asset to the plot and for Superman. Then, in the second half, or at the very lest the third act, she’s there as a very obvious and forced plot convenience. This time, it got worse. While it was fine that she was there to explain to Batman which Martha Superman was talking about, right after the heroes are gone, she throws Batman’s Kryptonite spear into the water, to sink. Understandable enough, seeing it was the one thing that could kill the person she loved (although she could have tried to just break it). Then, when it’s needed as the key to kill Doomsday, she goes back after it. But she gets trapped. So Superman has to go in and get her out. She’s knocked out. So he has to go in the water to painfully get it. It’s a forced back-and-forth mess, clearly meant for Lois to have a reason to be there, as well as keep some focus on the spear. I actually thought it was all because Aquaman was going to appear from the waters with the spear, as if it were his own trident. That would have been badass, and explain the awkward throw in the water. But nope. I understand why the writers did it, but it was still unneeded, and once again, shows how Lois can’t be written as a serious character during important moments of a live action movie, nowadays.
Pacing/editing. Again due to the sheer amount of crammed up setups for the DCCU, the pacing was quite off sometimes, but not as off as the very beginning of the movie. It starts off with a flashback of Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed, and while the shooting itself was beautifully shot and paced, the rest of that entire flashback was edited and paced way too quickly.
The title. What a waste. The title of a movie is the way to properly rev up the audience’s Harley [get it, fans? *nudge nudge*], but here, it’s just written in the same font and size as the rest of the opening credits, and thrown at the corner of a screen, only to be swept away almost immediately. If there was really no room for the title itself, at least put the damn symbol of the movie somewhere instead, or at the very least put it at the end credits. It’s a Nolan cliché that I can’t stand, and has become far too popular for too many years, but at least it’s something! This, instead, was just downright bad.
Secret Identities. True, Batman and Superman have their own secret identities (which, believe it or not, is actually the personas of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, not the other way around), and they later are supposed to know about each other. But the problem is we never see them actually discovering one another. It’s like they knew all along. True, Superman could just use his X-ray vision to see behind the mask, and only an idiot wouldn’t see behind the glasses, but we’re never truly shown any of that. So, when or how did they find out? I don’t think it was explained.
Glasses. Speaking of which, despite all the re-imaginings, despite all the modern updates, no one has given a genuine reason to explain how Superman manages to keep his identity with just a damn pair of glasses. Sure, in the early comics faces weren’t that detailed, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, especially since they were just meant to be comics for kids. In later years, they furthered the excuse by saying Clark keeps a lower posture, baggier clothes, etc. to hide his attitude as the Kryptonian. But that’s still all ridiculous, especially on film. No matter how one “hides” oneself with just glasses, a slightly different haircut and clothes, faces are still easily recognisable. And I’d allow them the mistake if Superman’s face had never been fully photographed, but it has, and was even recorded! In fact, even in “Man of Steel” it was never clear if even Perry White was aware (although, I guess not, seeing his reaction in this movie). So, since no one will say it, I will propose my idea of how he manages it: Clark’s glasses are actually engraved with small, Kryptonian technology that alters the visual perception of whoever looks at them, meaning that every time someone looks at him, they’re seeing a different face. It can even be just very slight, but it’ll be enough. A sort of mix between Sam Witwicky’s grandfather’s glasses in “Transformers” (2007) and the Doctor’s TARDIS key in “Doctor Who” (2005 – present). You’re welcome, world.
Kryptonian language (technically called “Kriptonese”, I found out, but it doesn’t make sense to me, so I’ll still call it “Kryptonian”. If Chinese [person] = Chinese [language], or Russian [person] = Russian [language], then this counts, too). Lex Luthor cuts off Zod’s fingerprints with a small kryptonite knife (couldn’t he just cut off the hand?) to access Zod’s spaceship, which has a built in A.I. The problem with that? It’s a huge coincidence that Kryptonian technology has the same language as Earth’s English. I wouldn’t nitpick on this so much, especially when one could argue the fact that Superman himself should know Kryptonian, and it could just be for convenience for the audience. But here’s the thing, and it’s a theory of mine. Clark Kent, Kal-El, grew up on Earth, learning English. He wouldn’t know Kryptonian, unless he later on went to specifically study it after Zod invaded Metropolis. The reason Zod and the other Kryptonians are able to speak with him in English is because they actually either learned it, or had translators for themselves. On what grounds am I assuming this? Because, in “Man of Steel”, when Zod first arrives on Earth, he sends a glitchy video message to ever television on the planet, telling the inhabitants they have 24 hours to hand over Kal-El. When this is shown in the movie, specifically when it’s shown being transmitted in other countries, the language actually chances depending on where it’s being transmitted. Chinese for China, Spanish for Mexico, etc. It was clearly there. This means that they know how to translate, and simply switched to English for Kal-El himself, knowing he wouldn’t know his own native language. As far as the scene with Lex Luthor goes, the ship was recognising Zod’s fingerprints, meaning that it was speaking to him, meaning that it should have been speaking the language of Krypton first. At the very least, there should have been an attempt at speaking that, and then switching to English after hearing Lex trying to speak in English instead, to accomodate him. This is a nitpick, but one I couldn’t help but notice being a giant coincidence.
Where’s the body? As mentioned before, Superman dies (or seems to die), and there are two funerals in his honour. One is a grandiose parade across Metropolis, with thousands of people, military soldiers, guns, bagpipes, a black coffin with a silver “S” symbol and the American flag itself, all for the Man of Steel. A true spectacle. The other is a small, private, humble funeral for Clark Kent, in his hometown of Smallville, attended by his mother, Bruce and Lois Lane and a few other people, before being buried in the fields of Kansas. Now, seeing as the body was clearly shown to be in the latter funeral, it’s easy to assume that the military was just using an empty coffin, just as a symbol of appreciation. But, then again, after Superman died on the island, didn’t the military come in to take the body? If so, they would have most likely kept it. But then, how did Martha Kent have Clark’s body? Did she ask for it? Does that mean the government knew who Superman’s real identity was? I’m probably just not fitting the pieces in the right order and it’s an easier answer than I’m thinking, but still.
And now, on to the worst thing in the movie…
Alexander “Lex” Luthor, the most important villain of Superman, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Oh, where to start with this? I suppose, first off, by what I and many others thought was the reason for this casting choice. Many, many fans begged openly to DC and Warner Bros. to cast actor Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor, seeing that he had achieved a glorious status as a badass for his performance as Walter White in the hit TV show “Breaking Bad” (2008-2013). And I was on board with that decision. Take out the beard, leave him bald, and he would have been a phenomenal and properly menacing Lex Luthor. The true, single, normal, mortal, genius human being who could defy the Man of Steel himself. However, what many think happened instead was that the studios, instead of hearing the fans shout out “Heisenberg!” (Walter White’s alter ego name in “Breaking Bad”), they heard “[Jesse] Eisenberg!”. And so, Jesse was cast. Now, I also thought it a weird decision, seeing as I always saw Lex as a full adult who was cold blooded and badass, but seeing that Jesse has proven himself to be a very good actor, I let it slide, thinking there was maybe something to it that I wasn’t seeing. When the first official image was released, he looked a bit weird still, and not threatening, but I still let it slide. Then the trailers came out, and he was acting in the most peculiarly awkward and annoying way possible. With a raised eyebrow, I let it slide, deciding to judge upon the movie itself.
Well, it happened. I saw it, and Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor was the definite worst thing in the movie. Not the messy plot, not the pacing, not the title, not Lois. This. I don’t want to blame the actor per se, but I don’t even know if this was all Eisenberg’s decision, if he was directed to do this by Snyder, if the producers didn’t know what a good performance was, or if the editor accidentally put in the worst takes, but Lex Luthor, in this, was far too fidgety, stuttered too much (without his character being an actual stutterer to begin with, because that would have at least justified it), was way too manic, and acted too much like a crybaby, or a spoiled brat. I could even justify the brat part, since Lex has inherited a multi-billion-dollar company, but I’m not kidding in the crybaby part, seeing as at the very end he’s put in jail, shouts out at Batman, and there’s actual snot running down his nose. How anyone didn’t notice that, or decided to approve that, is beyond me. I can’t even properly express how bad and un-threatening his performance as Lex was. You’d just have to see for yourself to believe it. There are only two saving graces, of him. One, that his name is Lex Luthor JUNIOR, giving me hope that in future movies the real Lex, played at last by Bryan Cranston, will come in, slap him in the face, and take over as the main villain for Superman; and that the one scene where he did something truly badass was the courtroom scene, if nothing else because he wasn’t actually present in it.
With all of this said, in a much lengthier detail than I previously anticipated, for all of the problems, and for all of the faults and issues of this movie, I still heavily enjoyed it. Why? I’ll put it this way, with a bit of film history:
These are iconic characters that have surpassed the testament of time and will continue doing so in decades to come. We have wanted to see their personas, their trials, their fatigues, their victories and their morals on the silver screen for actual decades. In their early decades, they were seen as just kid stuff, with audiences not understanding their full potential (admittedly, they were much more simply written). Then, in 1978, the first “Superman” movie, starring the one and true Caped Crusader, Christopher Reeve, came out, proving to all that there was indeed an “S” shaped hope for these characters to be taken seriously all over the world, and for them to inspire us much like the Greek figures and heroes of old have inspired humanity for millennia. Aside from one good sequel, there was almost nothing good for a good long while after until Tim Burton took the reins for his first “Batman” movie in 1989. The success of the genre grew a little more before hitting a huge wall with the great commercial and critical flop that was “Batman & Robin” in 1997, nearly severing the genre. It was then Marvel’s turn to prove their worth, giving us a small taste of decent potential with their first “Blade” (1998) film, followed by “X-Men” (2000) — with the compromise that they look more like the “Matrix” (1997) than their true personas –, and finally to Sam Raimi’s first “Spider-Man” (2002) movie. It took all of those to jumpstart the genre again and prove that it still had great potential. For over a decade, now, Marvel has taken the scene by storm, with occasional falls along the way, until they were proven worthy enough to attempt to do the first Cinematic Universe thanks to Disney’s faith in them. The best that DC had been able to accomplish was Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, which, successful as it was, was (with “Watchmen” in 2009) relatively the only success they had. But, despite even initial rumors and attempts, the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton themselves had never been able to come together on the silver screen. Until now. The reason I, and others, didn’t like “Man of Steel” was that it was still just one of numerous attempts of the legendary hero. If we didn’t like it, we could rely on the previous ones that we did. This time, it’s different. We never had the two pillars of DC stand together in the same movie, much less with Wonder Woman. And now, after all those decades of attempts and begging, we finally achieved it.
So, again, why do I like this? Because, for all its faults, it’s still as close as we could get to what we’ve been craving for so long, and in the end, the parts that were good were far too good and too much of a love-letter to the fans to complain about, and reawakened within me the sheer nostalgia and youthfulness that even I, a hardcore fan, occasionally felt dimmer as I grew up. Much like a child of our own, we’ve been waiting for this movie for years, it hasn’t come out exactly as we wanted it to be, but with some struggle and guidance, we have made it something unique to be proud of, and in not too long from now, it will repay us for all the hard work with something even more grandiose. We just have to wait and struggle a little longer, and these modern versions of Greek mythology will be officially and finally embedded on the stones of eternity as one of humanity’s proudest achievements.
By David Cinnella.