If any of you have followed me or this site since it has been around, you are familiar with me saying “*squints*” as a reaction to things. I often use it as a form of shade, to signify something that I think is ridiculous and deserving of little to no further examination. There’s probably a photo accompanying it. It’s rare that I am actually squinting at the computer, so to tell you that Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice had me legitimately squinting at the screen, trying to understand what I was witnessing should tell you something about the quality of the film.
I don’t even mean that as conjecture, I was literally sitting with my head resting on my fist, squinting at the screen, trying to comprehend why the movie was doing what it was doing. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy parts of the movie. In fact, I’d argue that there is enjoyment to be found in the complete go for brokeness of Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor, the best portrayal of a cinematic Batman by Ben Affleck, the glee you’ll get seeing Wonder Woman come in and battling, or the sheer balls it took to have THAT happen during the climax of the film.
The problem with Batman vs Superman is the fact that you have to wade through so much shoddy plotting and repeated character beats and endless montages, that you can’t even enjoy what I’ve highlighted above. Every time this movie does something interesting, the movie hits you with like 20 minutes of things you could care less about. It says a lot about my Superman loving heart that I didn’t even get mad when Batman was mollywhopping him in the third act but immediately after had to watch the ridiculous Doomsday sequence. The movie could have easily been half an hour shorter, and would have played much better.
This movie sets itself up as the Dawn of Justice, and in many ways it is (there are cameos by Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman, along with Wonder Woman’s supporting work). But there’s no real connective tissue other than a Meta Human theory. Furthermore, DC and WB attempt at world building is so incredibly shoddy, throwing magical realism and dream sequences into a narrative with no kind of explanation or reasoning. Audiences have no trouble suspending disbelief for heroes in capes, but this audience member, with limited comic book knowledge, felt the strain of all the ridiculous set ups they were trying to do.
Lauryn Hill said it best when she wrote the lyrics “it could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard” as Batman v Superman just tried to do too much and in the end couldn’t muster anything like enthusiasm from me.