One of the year’s most anticipated movies opens today, and those who have already seen “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” have given it reviews that veer from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s below 40% at RottenTomatoes.com so clearly those who were depressed by the clash of titans are outweighing those who were impressed by it. Sadly, the movie has some very large plot holes that make it even more disappointing.
Indeed, there are far too many head scratching moments in this DC Comics outing to let slip as just poetic license. Bad writing is bad writing, and director Zack Snyder should have been more diligent about what he placed on the screen. And no matter whether you like your superhero movies dark or light, and this one is as dark as a dirge, it’s hard to argue with some very misbegotten plotting that mars so much of the storytelling here. Here are 20 blunders that should’ve been cleaned up after the first draft, and will be quite evident to fan boy and even casual movie watcher alike. (Warning: major plot spoilers are about to be revealed.)
1.) Let’s start with the very big set piece towards the end of the film. When Superman (Henry Cavill) must confront the Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck), he could tell him he’s being forced to fight by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s kidnapped his mom (Diane Lane), and it would simply avoid all chaos afterwards. Instead, he fails to get the words out, even though there is plenty of time to, and the big battle royal thus ensues. The screenwriters, Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and Snyder should’ve found a better way to engage the two in their fight without tossing logic out the window.
2.) And speaking of tossing, despite Batman’s kick-ass body armor, his jaw is still exposed and there is a normal human being underneath all that metal, so why is he able to withstand being thrown through buildings like a rag doll? He’s not General Zod (Michael Shannon). His open-aired jaw should be broken as well as just about every other bone in his body.
3.) Plus, Superman isn’t a fighter anyway. He would not be so ready to pummel an inferior like Wayne, and it’s woefully out of character. Did the writers realize this?
4.) To that point, it wasn’t in Superman’s character to level buildings fighting Zod either, obliviously killing thousands in their wake in “Man of Steel”, and yet the filmmakers make the same mistake here with Superman creating all kinds of collateral damage everywhere he goes. Heck, he can’t even land without blasting the pavement to smithereens. Superman has more control than that, why don’t the writers?
5.) And when Superman stops Batman from stealing the Kryptonite from Lex Luthor, why doesn’t he also thwart his henchmen? They’re shooting at Batman, after all. So Superman stops vigilantes, but he won’t disarm or round up bazooka-toting criminals?
6.) Luthor equip his thugs in Africa with unique, one-of-a-kind bullets that are then traced directly back to him. It’s convenient for one of the story’s “Aha!” moments, but it’s too dumb logically for a supposed criminal mastermind. He’d know regular bullets could not lead back to him.
7.) And why would anyone think Superman took out the rebel forces in that African gunfight? He doesn’t use such weaponry. In fact, his body is his only weapon.
8.) And why does Luthor set off a big explosion in the congressional hearing that kills everyone except Superman, including his comely assistant Mercy (Tao Okamoto)? It doesn’t implicate the Man of Steel because Wallace Keefe’s wheelchair is identified as the source of the bomb. And again, Superman wouldn’t kill like that, nor would he need a bomb, so all that bloodletting on Luthor’s part serves little purpose to the narrative other than for shock effect. Cheap shock effect.
9.) One could also argue that the wheelchair detonated with the explosives would never have made it past security checks either, but that is the least of that scene’s ills.
10.) Perhaps the dumbest thing Luthor does is create the Doomsday monster. How does he know it will go after Superman and not just run away in fear after being birthed into a foreign planet?
11.) And why does Luthor put his blood into the mix to create Doomsday? Does he think his DNA will inflict his vengeful will on Doomsday’s psyche who’ll then be driven to destroy Superman and Batman? How convenient that it turns out exactly that way, but not due to any logic, merely the screenwriter’s whims.
12.) Why is Luthor tracking those others who have super powers, like Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg? It’s never explained and plays unfair in this movie if it’s merely designed to tease the coming Justice League film.
13.) Batman has a lot of bad dreams here, so perhaps he should take some NyQuil PM, but the real reason the nightmares exist here is so Snyder can psych out the audience with a couple of scenes where Batman dies. That’s wasteful storytelling.
14.) And why does the Flash (Ezra Miller) appear in Wayne’s last dream? He doesn’t know him, or vice versa, and he’s warned about the safety of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) which then never comes up later between Wayne and her character.
15.) And since when is Gotham a mere stone’s throw from Metropolis? These aren’t the Twin Cities. Instead, it’s perhaps the height of lazy screenwriting as the scribes here couldn’t figure out a way to get the heroes in each other’s cities without traveling across multiple states and time zones, so they conveniently have it play like Newark to New York City.
16.) When Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, in a sly and welcome break from all the testosterone) shows up to fight Doomsday, she manages to wound him quite effectively, as well as hold her own against him without sustaining injury herself. So why don’t Batman and Superman let her defeat him by delivering the Kryptonite spear to his heart? Having Superman do it is only there because it redeems him in the screenwriters’ minds, but it makes no sense logically since it weakens him to fly with it in tow.
17.) And speaking of that spear, how did Lois know that it could kill Doomsday anyway? She’s never told he’s a monster created from Kryptonite DNA.
18.) There are little flaws that stick in one’s craw too, like the fact that Superman doesn’t use his X-ray vision to see what Wayne is up to at Luthor’s party. Instead, Kent follows him on foot.
19.) And why is Luthor’s hair shaved at the very end? It’s certainly not normal procedure in most prisons, even maximum security ones. So is it just to make him finally strike that iconic baldheaded look of the Luthor we all know. Yes, that’s the only reason.
20.) And why does Daily Planet editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) assign Clark Kent puff pieces when there is precious little about that reporter’s persona to suggest that he’d be a natural for such light fare?
The real issues, beyond these 20 mistakes, are more big picture. Why does Superman feel like a supporting player in what is essentially his story? And why is there no connection between the DC movie universe and that on TV? (Grant Gustin, who plays The Flash on TV, doesn’t reprise the role here, so I suppose the twain shall never meet even if it’s as fast as a locomotive.)
The real question for most fans is why DC continues to do brilliant work on the small screen and yet repeatedly has such struggles on the big one. Yes, Christopher Nolan succeeded spectacularly with his first two Batman films, but the Caped Crusader films have been marred by the two tone-deaf Joel Schumacher versions, as well as a revolving door of actors playing the lead. And the two attempts to re-launch Superman before this outing were both plagued by excessive violence and a dour tone that belies the essence of the sunnier superhero that Superman is.
If only these Superman reboots could exhibit some level of joie de vivre like one can find in the DC television programs. Even the dark “Daredevil” on Netflix is still a ton of fun, and very funny. There’s a big funeral at the end of “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and it’s almost ironic, considering the whole of the film is just as glum. Perhaps the biggest question for Snyder and his writers is, as the Joker queried, “Why so serious?” It’s a good question to ask before they start filming the Justice League movie, as well as asking if the writers have run it through the typewriter a few more times to erase lapses in logic.