Karen: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has been out more than a week and I did go see it last weekend. The critics were not kind to it. Knowing this going in, I tried to both keep an open mind, and keep my expectations low. Honestly, based on the trailers, I was already feeling that this was not going to be the versions of Batman and Superman I was hoping for. But I was hoping to be entertained.
Karen: After seeing it, I felt that perhaps the critics had been too harsh. Certainly, visually, it has flair. On some level, I was entertained. But thematically, it was far from what I would have liked to have gotten from a film featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. It is -like Man of Steel and the Christopher Nolan Batman films -unrelentingly dark. It's obvious DC/Warners has decided they want to be as far from the Marvel movies as possible, and they've avoided humor at all costs. The movie is not only dark in tone but dark visually. The muddy appearance is disappointing.
Karen: But what's really disappointing for me is the direction they've gone with our two main characters. I'm getting into SPOILER territory here, so you may want to stop reading. After the massive destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel, we're told the public is divided over what to think of Superman -some worship him, while others fear him. But Superman himself is uncertain what his role should be and seems removed from humanity -after an incident in Washington, he visits Ma Kent and she tells him that he doesn't owe humanity anything. Really? He has a little existential hike where he sees the spirit/memory of Pa Kent, who relates a story to him about how he saved the family farm during a flood -and caused another family to lose their livestock. Really? So every good act is ultimately futile? This is the same 'let 'em die' Pa Kent from the first film and I have to say it was one of the things I couldn't stand about that movie either. Superman saves people. He is not above mankind, he lives among us and genuinely cares about people. He has hope. He IS hope. This movie makes Superman look like a miserable chump.I really would have liked to have seen a standalone Superman film where he deals with the consequences of the first movie, making restitution for the damage and essentially earning his place. But no dice, because Warners/DC was so hot to get to the other guy.
Karen: Batman may be worse. Yes, he is an older, disillusioned Batman. I get that. But would even that version of Batman go around killing people? Make no mistake, this Batman kills people. He has guns mounted in the Batmobile, and he uses them. He blasts away at Luthor's men during a car chase, and he uses the winch in the Batmobile to sling a car on top of others, surely crushing them. But even worse, in one fight sequence, he yanks a gun away from a bad guy and uses it to shoot other bad guys. Yes, Batman uses a gun. With bullets. To kill people. Oh, and he shoots a guy wearing a flamethrower, exploding his gas tank, setting him on fire. Oh, and he brands criminals. And this is the dude who thinks he has the moral high ground against Superman? Even Miller's Dark Knight Batman made a statement against using guns (see our recent review of The Dark Knight issue 4). There's the implication at the end of the film that he's changed his ways. I hope we see this in the next movie.
Karen: The whole tone of the film places these super-beings outside the human experience - they aren’t living in our world, they live in their own, and our needs and concerns are not theirs. It’s cold and unpleasant. Wonder Woman is actually a bright spot - she's the only one acting heroically.
Karen: The film is also over-stuffed, like a super-burrito, with elements from so many comics, that nothing has room to breathe, and much doesn't make sense. It's almost like they threw everything in because they thought they might not get another shot. I mean, they've got parts of the Dark Knight Returns, Death of Superman, the new 52 stuff, Red Son...there are little bits in the film that are meaningless, I'm sure, if you aren't a comics fan, and do nothing to help the film. Some times this is fun, but a little goes a long way. I like the Red Son story, for example, but the dream sequence or message here that Batman experiences doesn't seem to have a payoff -especially combined with an awkward Flash appearance (from Flashpoint or something else I haven't read apparently). I suppose maybe they'll be used in a future film? The vignettes with the other Justice League members were the worst examples of this.
Karen: The thing that's so maddening is the feeling that a good film could have been made. I liked the actors -with the exception of Jesse Eisenberg as Luthor, who seemed to think he should be acting like the Joker. Batman has never looked better. Much of the film is visually stunning (even with the muddy tones). But the story is so muddled, and the characters -I can't call them heroes -are so far from what I expect...I just feel frustrated, because I know we're going to get more of this from DC.