When I first heard the news of this film coming out, I was ecstatic. After all, these were two of my favorite comic book heroes growing up. On one hand, you have, a god, Superman who is the star of the first comic book movie that I ever saw, and then of course you have my favorite superhero of all time, the very mortal Batman.
For me this movie was a match made in heaven because I had already seen and loved Man of Steel, in fact I loved it so much that I’ve seen it some 12 times now. Yes, I get the criticisms, that it’s a little dark and heavy-handed with its imagery of Superman clearly representing Jesus (something I wrote about here), but the movie still stood as one of the best portrayals of the character on screen. Needless to say my anticipation grew as we got closer and closer to the movie. Many have complained about that second trailer that was released, saying that it showed too much, and having now seen the movie I’ll say that’s a fair assessment; they probably should have withheld much of what they showed to leave some surprises for the audience. That being said let’s get into the actual film itself.
The movie starts out with an excellent action sequence both depicting the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, and the massive fight between Superman and Zod, but this time from the perspective of the ground, more specifically from the perspective of Bruce Wayne. This gives the audience a far better understanding of the sheer amount of destruction that two gods fighting on Earth can create.
From there we are reintroduced to Superman and introduced to a far more interesting and new incarnation of Bruce Wayne / Batman, which Ben Affleck does an absolutely amazing job of portraying both characters. In fact, Affleck seems quite at home as the tortured and grizzled billionaire Bruce Wayne but at the same time a slightly more violent version of a Batman who’s tired of seeing all his works go for naught in Gotham City. Although this movie was originally thought of as a direct sequel to Man of Steel much time is spent developing the character of Batman. And in an extreme twist, instead of Metropolis and Gotham being on opposite sides of the United States here they’re only separated by lake or river very much like Oakland and San Francisco, which in my opinion makes for a very interesting dynamic in which Metropolis is kind of the upper-class city whereas Gotham seems to be a little bit more in the slums.
Now the filmmakers do a good job quickly highlighting Bruce Wayne’s past and in the Batcave we see a couple of little Easter eggs: we see the uniform of Jason Todd, a former Robin, with the words “ha ha joke’s on you!” written on it implying that the Joker’s already killed Jason Todd which is something that we have not seen in a Batman film before. The Batcave also is a lot more technologically savvy than we’ve seen in previous films.
The film starts to get interesting when both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne show up to election party, yes a party that was featured heavily in the trailers which kind of spoiled it a little bit, but still we see that Clark immediately figures out that Bruce Wayne is Batman. At the same time we’re introduced to a mysterious woman who of course the audience knows is Wonder Woman. This is where the filmmakers made it been interesting in terms of making Wonder Woman that mysterious. We know that she has her own film coming and there’s definitely hints to that film throughout the movie, but at the same time she becomes easily one of the brightest moments of the film especially towards the final battle sequence which is handled a bit roughly but still serves its purpose.
The rest of the film plays out like a typical joint superhero film, with our heroes facing off against a greater enemy. The ending although somewhat satisfying obviously is designed to open the door to the greater DC universe as a whole.
Now, this film has received a lot of hate over the last couple of months, some deserved, but most of it not. Yes, this film shoehorns a fair amount of setup for the upcoming Justice League films, but at the same time, it remains incredibly true to the two central characters and has a fair amount of action to boot. If I was to give any criticism, I would tell them to lighten up just a little. I think that the Justice League film will still be incredibly strong.