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'Batman V Superman': Better than You Think?

It sure is.

Controversy methinks 

So. Not many people like this film. In fact, some would call this the worst thing Warner Bros. have done to DC. But is it? I remember watching this film for the first time in the cinema. The hype was real. The trailer had me pumped. I was ready for this. And I was not remotely disappointed. Finally, an adult alternative to the glitz and glamour of what Marvel have done with their own heroes.

Now I know people are ready to tell me I'm wrong, or that I don't understand the characters enough to have an opinion. And if I'm honest, my knowledge of the comics aren't what you would call professional. But I do love Batman. Who doesn't? And I do love movies. And I know movies. And one thing this film does, although it fails toward the end of the film, is set itself apart from Marvel and make something clever. And this film, despite its shortcomings, is certainly well thought out. The film does suffer in certain artistic choices. Most costly to the film is the infamous "Martha" scene. But as I will get to later, this scene could have been saved with a more creative edit. 

Now everyone hates the idea that Batman kills in this movie. Let's not forget he has killed in other films. But yes, his code is to not kill, I agree. But I feel that this version of Batman we are seeing is meant to be a Batman we haven't seen before. The film establishes at numerous points that Bruce has, and is currently, dealing with trauma. He literally sees his company, with his employees, destroyed at the hands of fighting aliens, 9/11 style. That burnt up Robin suit isn't just an easter egg in the film, it's information as to why this Batman is so dark. He's seen some s***. Alfred even calls him out on how much he's changed. That snappy dialogue about good men turning cruel. This is everything we need to know to understand that Bruce is not the man he once was. I actually think that the movie relies on your knowledge of who Batman is in order to make this choice all the more effective. It ain't bad. And let's face it, it's the best live action version of Batman we've had. And Ben Affleck. He is a guy whose love for comics is no secret. And he gets to play Batman! I'm sure he couldn't believe his luck. But I know that Ben takes his career seriously, at least for the last 10 years, and there is no way he would have done it if he didn't think it was a good idea. 

Now it's time to anger you, especially you Superman fans. I don't like Superman. Never have. Those Christopher Reeves films I find almost unwatchable. I'm sorry. Don't hate me. Even the gravitas of Gene Hackman can't keep me interested. But I do concede that the animated DC films I've bothered watching that feature Superman are actually worth watching. I like an animated Supes. But live action? No no no no no. In this film he barely says a word. This is really more of a Batman film with Superman acting as an antagonist. But we needed more from Superman to get a sense that they are both right and wrong for different reasons. That is what could have made this film great. They both stand as parallels for different ideologies. Batman is ground level. Grittier. The crime he fights is less glamorous. Superman is a more corporate hero. Waving the American flag as he saves people from natural disasters, and catching planes out the air. Batman stands for a class that is often forgotten about by our political leaders. We all know how it feels when a country worries about its deficit, or its economic responsibilities, before its populace. Batman saves those that Superman hasn't got time for. But Superman's presence is still required in order for the world to not plunge into chaos. This feels like an allegory for the necessity of Capitalism for a better tomorrow, but its downright failures to serve everyone it should. So Batman is a Marxist figure, and Superman is a Capitalist one. What's interesting about this is that if they were to work in tandem the future would be bright. And they realise this at the end of the film when they join forces. This film is much more intelligent than it gets credit for. But of course, a film isn't just about the subtext you can decipher, it needs to be entertaining. And not enough people where entertained. I certainly was.

Lex, Lex, Lex. Jesse Eisenberg didn't go down well for many of you. He plays that character from every Jesse Eisenberg film, except now he has money and power. But. Why this isn't talked about as a GOOD departure from the comics Lex, I really don't know. Let me explain why Jesse's Lex is actually quite good. Not amazing sure. But good. For a moment let's talk about James Bond. For a long time, since Goldfinger, most of the Bond plots involve some unbelievable megalomaniac that has more money and resources than God and way too much free time on his hands. Now this format grew old and tired and it almost killed the Bond franchise, until it re-branded itself with the Daniel Craig era. Going back to Lex, he falls under this unrealistic, megalomaniac caricature.  Lex is such a dated concept (although with Trump around classic Lex might be more believable now than ever), and is one of the more unrealistic characters in a comic about a flying alien with x-ray vision. So why do I like Jesse? It feels more real. They establish in the film that the "Lex in LEXCORP" has died and left his empire to his son. A young, adolescent, spoilt brat. This, in turn, fully justifies the character of Lex, and grounds him as a believable character. Every choice he makes, every leap of logic, that act of a spoilt child. And that's something I can believe. Why do people not like him? He's annoying. No question. He's REALLY annoying. The character is such a numpty. But it works. Don't let an annoying character stop you enjoying a good film. You can put up with Chris Tucker in Fifth Element, so put up with Jessie.

Let's not forget the bad in this film though. A random encounter with Superman's ghost dad. Emails setting up the future of the films. Even Wonder Woman before she gets all heroic feels pretty shoehorned in. How much better would it have been if she just shows up for the final fight? Just explain it later. There's your opportunity for world building. Provide the audience with questions that you can answer later down the line. Don't just jam some footage captured on an iPhone in, playing at low resolution in a email. Yes. These bits suck. But the Flash moment I really liked. When he comes back to warn Bruce. But unfortunately, for those who don't know the Flash, they had no clue what was going on, and that is bad storytelling. Everyone should be able to follow, not just fans of the comics. But I think what Snyder was doing here was setting up something he can explain later. Which I like. Sooo bite me. 

But the biggest bad that this film has. The one thing that will go down in history as stupid, awful, and dumb. The "Martha" scene. And yes. It doesn't work. It REALLY doesn't work. But the idea of the scene is actually genius. And with a few tweaks, the scene could actually work, even without re-shoots. Just a re-edit. So what's clever about this scene? Well. This scene is the moment Batman realises that he has grown to be cruel. He has realised that he is a Batman that he shouldn't be. He realises that he has become that which he has fought against his whole life. He has become that man in the ally that killed his parents. He's become a problem. And what sparks this is the mention of his mother's name. This scene could be so good. But it isn't. The reason for this is that none of this is made clear in the exchange between them. Why bother showing the Wayne deaths at the beginning, YET AGAIN, if it wasn't important to the plot? But it is. It's important for this moment. So in order to fix this scene, I would inter-cut moments in the ally with the exchange. So when Supes says Martha, we can get a flash of the ally. The bang of the gun. Then you could sync up Thomas Wayne saying Martha with his dying breath, with Supes saying it. All of this is in the opening credits. But if it were used here, the scene would make sense and the moment would have more impact on the audience. And show this character arc for Batman. This should be a cathartic moment for him, that he realises he is just as bad as the villains he fights. And it's because he's allowed his hate for Superman to blind him. And viola. The scene is fixed. The moment lands. And now we're super friends in time for the final fight. Which unfortunately, is just a basic fight. Nothing special. Just another punchy punchy action scene. CG of course. Yeah, the last scene isn't good. Oh well. Better than most.

This has got to get 7/10. Standard. Don't hate on this film. It's infinitely better than Justice League and Suicide Squad, and more original and courageous than Wonder Woman. And it's the only one that doesn't have any confusion about the tone they are going for. The others are a mess. God, I hope Aquaman doesn't suffer. I'll take this film over most of the other DC films any day. And a lot of the Marvel ones. Show the love.

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