I just finished watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the first time. I watched the extended version via digital download subtitled The Ultimate Edition.
I have no major gripes or grievances about this film. I know since its release in theatres many months back it’s been a polarizing affair. The pop culture zeitgeist is filled with tepid fan pontification regarding its ultimate quality in relationship to the many facets of canon the fan base hold in high regard.
With this being stated I will admit that I never swam as deeply in the DC pool over the past 30 odd years as I did (and still do) in the many other speculative fiction universes available to us in the many mediums they transit. My one main and consistent loyalty to DC was The Invisibles (I’d argue some of Grant Morrison’s finest work albeit a bit dated in our current global climate) and later Fables.
However, those are Vertigo imprints so in the context of my experience with the vast mythology of DC superheroes I’m still not quite as submerged as a loyal fan, but I’d argue a bit more aware than a casual fan or neophyte; a self-described occasional tourist but not a resident, if you like.
I preference this viewing experience with the above qualifications because my reaction to the movie was surprisingly opposite to what I had anticipated it to be. I liked the movie; I’m entitled to like it. Just as I was entitled to like The Dark Knight Rises which I have been playfully chastised about regardless of the mortal sins the passionate seem to think I am committing.
I think the film has its faults. It doesn’t necessarily suffer but it does pigeonhole itself in Zach Snyder’s modus operandi: A bit dark in tone and visuals a bit gratuitously. It has the DNA of Sucker Punch and Watchmen. But, having seen Man of Steel I knew where I was going. I am well aware it’s a style that many have taken issue with but as an artistic choice I ultimately feel it sets a succinct aesthetic which other DC films will resonate and allows DC films to draw a clear distinction from the Marvel films of the past decade.
This was the extended version which contained 30 additional minutes or so of footage not contained in the theatrical release. I had no issues regarding the run time. In the world of serialized television and binge watching apparatus I don’t take issue with long film runtimes. I think films need to allow themselves to explore layered plots and nuances even if there are no direct payoffs because it helps to subtly build the world in which the film resides and reinforces our suspension of disbelief. If sequels are ultimately forthcoming than I am grateful for spending the extra time to get to know where I am and where I am going.
I liked Ben Affleck as Batman and hope he reprises the role again. I am still on the fence when it comes to Henry Cavill as Superman. I have spent two movies with him now in the role and there is a coldness to his performances through-lines that just never allows me to warm up to him. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman seems like a good fit but was disadvantaged with less screen time and the enigma the film attempted to wrap her arc in. we need to spend more time with her and I’d like to see where she takes the role in future films because she does have command of the screen when present. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was a refreshing take on the arch villain and his performance was just unstable enough to allow me to believe both his genius and skewed depravity. Laurence Fishburne, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Irons felt comfortable in their respective roles and their performances felt right for the world Zach Snyder has built.
I think DC have a solid foundation upon which to build their very own cinematic universe. All in all, I dug it.
But, I wouldn’t consider myself a stakeholder in this enterprise so my opinion holds the weight of someone who will revisit this world again only with the emotional investment one has when one’s passion is casual.
Until next time I bid thee love and merriment.