Cary, NC — I believe I stated in my review of Man of Steel a few years ago that I am, first and foremost, a Batman fan. Always have been and always will be. But Superman comes a close second and still means a great deal to me as a character.
Batman v Superman
The two are polar opposites, of course, and Superman’s blind optimism and heroic nature is the perfect balance to the dark and brooding Batman. I thought what director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) did with Man of Steel was a great reintroduction of our favorite Kryptonian. They didn’t quite get the character right, but I could see what their endgame was – or at least I thought I could. That’s what makes Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so disappointing.
Batman has been pushed front and center in Superman’s own sequel, and, while Ben Affleck proves himself more than worthy as the caped crusader, I can’t help but wish they had given more focus to the man in blue.
Affleck Makes the Caped Crusader His Own
But first, let’s talk about the good, of which there is quite a bit.
Like I said, Affleck makes for a great Bruce Wayne/Batman. Here, Batman is well above 40, past his prime even, and he is angry about the devastation of Metropolis in the previous film. He doesn’t trust Superman for a second, and he uses his detective skills to carve out a plan to take him out. I’m proud to say that I’ve been a fervent Affleck fan through even the worst *cough* Gigli *cough*, so it feels extra good to have seen him take control of his career with films like The Town and the Oscar-winning Argo. Honestly. I think people will be surprised at how good he is here.
He is easily the best part about the movie, and I can’t wait to see him wear the cowl again.
Wonder Woman, Brief but Memorable
Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) also manages to leave quite an impression as Wonder Woman, despite having a very limited amount of screen time. It’s been a long time coming for this character to make an appearance on the big screen, and it seems the first time is the charm, even if it is just a tease.
Thankfully, she has a solo film coming out next summer, and, based on what I’ve seen here, I can say that I am very excited. Jeremy Irons pops up as Wayne’s butler/confidant Alfred and couldn’t have been better. Amy Adams reprises her role as Lois Lane, but, unfortunately, doesn’t have much to do this go round. And the less said about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor the better.
Superman Gets the Short End of the Stick
But the real letdown is Superman himself. Odds are, if you try to picture Superman in your mind, Christopher Reeve pops up. The guy just got Superman right. And, for better or worse, every actor donning those tights is going to be compared to him. In Man of Steel, Henry Cavill was able to carve out his own version of the character, and I really liked his take. I think he has the right presence, albeit a bit more stern than I’m used to, but still, with the right script, Cavill could absolutely kill it in the role. In Batman v Superman, though, he relegated to an angry pawn – always reacting and never setting the example.
Again, this isn’t Cavill’s fault at all, he’s just working with what he’s got. It’s a shame, too, as I think Superman is as rich a character as Batman, but Hollywood can’t quite figure out what to do with him as well as they did 40 years ago.
Only for the Fans
No matter how this film is received by audiences, more movies are coming with these actors in these roles. I definitely believe that is a good thing. I just hope the next films give every character their due, especially one as iconic as Superman.
For now, though, I must say that, even with all the good in the movie, I can only recommend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to the hardest of fans. Every one else can skip it.