Author’s note: contains spoilers
Non-comic book fans may feel lost watching “Batman v. Superman,” a film that DC Comics hopes will hold its own against the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, despite the presence of three iconic heroes, this epic showdown was a confused, disorganized mess of bad storytelling
Director Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”) should have known better, but like “Spider-Man 3,” this piece contains too many classic storylines competing for attention. The plot should have been laser-focused on Batman confronting Superman and forming the core of the Justice League. Batman’s obsession with creating a deterrent for Kryptonians was a little out-of-control here for sure, but it is the one thing that advances the story.
Ben Affleck does a nice job as the Dark Knight, but his character enjoys killing way too much. Bruce Wayne became Batman after witnessing the brutal death of his parents. He follows a policy of bringing criminals to justice, not gutting and shooting them in gory street fights. This Batman also has a penchant for branding criminals with his symbol.
The question of whether the world needs a Superman actually belongs in another movie, not this one. In the comics, the Guardians of the Galaxy, organizers of the Green Lantern Corps, questioned whether the Man of Steel was doing more harm than good with his heroics. They even planted a seed of doubt in his mind in the hopes of changing his ways. Snyder could have filled 90 minutes with that ethical question on its own instead of stuffing it into this plot.
Throwing Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman into the fray also was an exercise in bad timing. This film is meant as a smackdown between the two biggest kids on the playground. Trying to work in Wonder Woman simply doesn’t work in this context. Snyder, who is producing several other DC movies, should have waited until the Amazonian warrior appeared in her own solo movie.
The most grievous Snyder sin is the appearance of Doomsday, the character that apparently beat Superman to death. In the 1990’s, this was a huge event in the comic book world: fans put mint condition copies of the 75th issue of “Superman” into safe deposit boxes as a potential investment. Once again, this is an event that deserves its own feature film.
Why Lex Luthor was credited for the creation of Doomsday still remains a mystery. As portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Superman’s arch-enemy acted more like the love child of the Joker and Riddler than a ruthless businessman and cunning scientist. Here, Luthor gets unprecedented access to Kryptonian technology and knowledge in order to create a monster.
Zack Snyder has plenty of superhero movie experience, so his failures with “Batman v. Superman” don’t make sense. If he continues on as director of “The Justice League,” here’s hoping that he learns from his obvious mistakes with this film.