With at least eight different comic book stories to cover, themes that range from simple human revenge to gods fighting amongst humans and far more plot than any movie could ever handle….. people are still wondering why I am saying this movie is a hot mess?
Depending on which side of the fence you want to stand on, Warner Bros. Pictures and DC comics big gamble didn’t quite pay off the way it was expected. A movie that was supposed to lay down the groundwork for the future of its DC comics extended universe (DCEU); BvS: Dawn of Justice was an up and down, mishmash of trying to force too much content into one little tiny box. On the other hand, you still have another blockbuster superhero film that appeases the taste of many other different fans. There is no right or wrong answer, just opinions and here is mine.
BvS: Dawn of Justice is a frigging cool action movie, not a great comic book film and a mess when it comes to movie making standards. I am not telling people to not watch BvS, as I’ve said from the very first overview I wrote of the movie, I just personally would have done things very differently.
Coming into BvS as a comic, a movie fan and a current screenwriting student, I have lots of different views on this film. I was hoping to see what was promised, a live action showdown of dueling heroes with opposing views of ideologies on what it means to be a hero. Also, watching for what was hyped, as this movie would showcase “Unite the Seven.” Another way of saying “you’re going to get (at least a glimpse of) the Justice League.” After watching the film, days before the nationwide premiere opening date and now having had time to digest what was seen where the movie failed to achieved in its delivery, I think I can at least separate the good from the bad.
Man of Steel 2 was a movie that was supposed to continue the human emotional aspect of a lost boy who becomes a Superman. Continuing the question of “what if I was an alien from outer space with infinite powers on this new planet?” And being confounded from all normal expectations of that question by having this person turn into someone who is driven by the morals and values he was taught from his loving adoptive parents that found and raised him. A man with all the power in the world and he chooses to use it for the betterment of all humans. That was the writing in the beginning of the movie that made Man of Steel a success in my eyes. But the controversy that mired the rest of the film was certain creators felt it was necessary to place Superman in situations for shock of story rather then letting the character be who he has been for decades. He is a Superman for a reason other than his powers, he is a Superman because of the sacrifices he takes in holding back his awesome powers. Protecting those fragile humans he shares this world with, he holds back, even at great detriment to his own being. A notion completely lost by Man of Steel writers by the end of the that first movie.
Superman didn’t have to kill General Zod. The writers felt it would just be cool and shocking to put him in that situation for a darker tone. Man of Steel is either loved or hated for what Superman was forced to do at the end of that movie. That was to have Superman make the decision, when saving humans, is he also willing to go as far as taking another life or not? A very risky theme and tone to take with such a classic symbol of America’s heroism. So when the sequel came around they were most likely already going to keep playing heavily on the undertoned aspect of Superman being a symbol of hope to some and a symbol of God to others. You could argue killing Zod makes way for Doomsday in part 2, to me that makes no sense either, since Star Labs or a Cadmus creation would have been easier and more instrumental for future DC franchise films. Missed opportunity I say, but more on Zod later.
The WB’s Conference Room – Dramatization
To describe this next situation, I am taking a page from how Kevin Smith explained his dealing with WB in his attempts at a Superman script 25 years ago. Where he was asked to come back into WB’s Studios on successive visits, only to have more and more studio people brought into the room to hear his pitch on how bad the (at then current) Superman movie script was. So here’s how I envisioned the Man of Steel sequel meetings and how it all went wrong at WB Pictures, in this mini-written dramatization.
Picture this; we have a conference room with maybe two creative guys, one studio head, Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan all sitting in chairs at the table……
-When all of a sudden some Big Wig from up above all these guys’ pay-grades, sends a note down from above; saying he has a great idea. He wants a Batman vs movie! Everyone goes crazy and the idea is green-lit.
-So a Big Wig signs Ben Affleck as Batman, the room goes crazy. (Half the room’s people are hiding their apprehensions)
-Some other Big Wig has another idea to add Wonder Woman to the movie! Everyone goes crazy and that idea is green-lit as well.
-Someone says let’s add Aquaman (Everyone in the room tosses their note pads into the air saying “WTF?”)
-They sign Jason Mamoa as Aquaman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the room goes bonkers crazy! Aquaman is COOL again, green-lit!!
-Then someone says let’s add that popular kid from Zombieland as Lex, the room goes crazy! Green-lit.
-Someone else says, how about Doomsday, the room goes crazy! Green-lit.
-Well if Doomsday is in the movie, how about “Death of Superman?” The room goes INSANE!! Green-lit!!
-Then another Big Wig has the idea to start a Justice League franchise with Metahumans in this BvS movie, once again everyone goes bonkers crazy and THAT idea is ALSO green-lit.
-Then someone from DC Comics is like hey!!! We got this thing called New52. The room goes crazy, green-lit.
-How about we really mess with their minds and introduce Earth2 Multiverse, WHOOOOOA says the room, green-lit.
-How about we make a Darkseid reference, OOOOOOH, green-lit.
-What if Doomsday could shoot laser beams out of his freakin eyes, that idea is green-lit
-How about we put Clark and Lois in a very awkward almost porn-scene where kids almost catch some boobies…..GREEN LIT!!
Finally we find the same conference room now FILLED wall to wall with studio heads, creative people, pitch people, yes men, screenwriters, DC Comics heads, comic book creators who all are wanting a piece of this little Hollywood movie pie. The whole time this is going on, we find Zack Snyder now sitting in a corner, on the floor, everyone looking at him to film all this and all he wanted to do was just make a sequel to his Man of Steel.
Not only that, Ben “I’M THE BATMAN” Affleck already wants to place his imprint firmly stamped on this movie for his upcoming Batman franchise. So basically, what has turned from a Man of Steel 2 movie has been turned into what we now have as the insanely long name for a movie, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
I don’t blame Zack Snyder or any single person for what happened to BvS, you have to blame the process of movie making as a whole on this one.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne was very convincing, Ben Affleck as Batman took a bit more of a stretch to the imagination. Even with the voice-box, he was still too much Affleck for my taste. Bruce was a bit more vengeance focused than normal in this film, but that’s just going along with the darker tone set by Superman in this film. Other than nitpicking, not much more can be found at fault with the Batman persona. I did notice that BvS’s Dark Knight took a class from the same school as Daredevil does in his Netflix series for those ‘mano a mano’ brutal hand-to-hand combat fighting scenes.
What was hyped so strongly was the showdown between Batman v Superman. That part of the movie, I absolutely LOVED! The World’s Finest tale of Batman and Superman’s first meeting has been told in many incarnations. The best to me has always been the ones that play on the light and dark side of how both characters perceive what a hero is to represent. In some instances it is Batman who figures it out first that a team is needed for bigger problems no matter the personal differences. Or in other stories it is Superman who is trying to convince Batman, the normal human crime vigilante, that only works alone, to come join the almost godlike forces of superheroes in order to stop a bigger more deadly menace. Whatever way the story is told, the best ones ALWAYS have light vs dark. BvS seemed to me as a story of who of the two DC characters could be more willing to take the first step of crossing the line of what it means NOT to be a hero. Not once did I hear any dialogue between the two about who had the better moral code; it was more about who had the most physical power over the other. Not absolutely perfect in storytelling aspects but the fighting was one of the best damn highlights of the movie, watching Batman beat the crap out of Superman when the kryptonite dust would take its effect. Priceless!
Batman v Superman battle I thought came across flawlessly, that was until the realization moment. While the idea of using the names of both superheroes’ mothers (which was a brilliant move), I don’t think anyone, even in 75 years of comic books, has ever thought of doing. But at the same time I felt its reversing effect on the Dark Knight was way too easy in forcing Bruce to have a moment of recognition and decision of giving up his own agenda of revenge (which Batman is NOT about anyway, mind you) to help save the life of another man’s mother. The entire movie Bruce feels so strongly focused on taking down a God-like figure who destroyed one of his buildings and all the lives that were inside of it. Even after Superman was talking to the Batman like he was a God (“If the light turns on again, don’t answer it, I am ending the bat tonight!”). So with one word Bruce is able to just switch off that much rage in just a few seconds to now becoming an instant ally? That was a hard pill for me to swallow in plot and theme writing.
As for hard pills to swallow, Lex Luthor and Doomsday’s creation using Zod was the biggest let down for myself and many other fans. A scrawny, winey little man with massive daddy issues, as a mastermind villain, was indeed a huge disappointment. Too close to wanting to be like a Joker, a chaotic character rather than a confident human able to stand up to Superman knowing fully well that the “Boy Scout” would never hurt him. This sniveling coward of a spoiled rich kid who had anxiety and social issues was no real adversary. Everything that was written for Luthor was annoying, unrelateable and most unusual…..he was just a typical raving mad-scientist turned lunatic you can find in any bad story. Superman Returns had a better Lex Luthor and that is one of the worst comic book movies ever made. So this has to be the worst villain ever in my humble opinion.
Doomsday was just as badly constructed as the first Deadpool was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Frickin Laser beams out of his eyes, are you kidding me? A Doomsday that looks like a Lord of the Rings cave troll and laser beams! Powers of energy absorption?! A power force field! Really? It took awhile for the bones to begin to appear on his body, but not nearly ominous looking enough for an adversary meant to kill off the most powerful hero of all time.
For me the creation of Doomsday from DNA of a Kryptonian falls in the same origin as the recent DC Comics New52 “DOOMED” storyline, where Superman was transformed into a Doomsday with unstoppable new powers. So that’s another plot idea mixed and added to BvS: Dawn of Justice.
Another plug-in moment that didn’t feel right, was when Bruce Wayne had the Earth2 Multiverse dreams. Even as a comic book fan who knew what was going on, I still felt way too confused. I could just image how the layman superhero movie watcher must have been feeling. Forget the less than 10 year olds who have no clue why Batman is killing people with a gun and Superman is melting men with his eyes.
Here we have multiple elements from different multiverse lines found in DC Comics, all crammed into this one “Inception” dream sequence attempt. DC’s New 52 – Earth2 World’s End seems to fit the dream sequence Bruce had of an Apokolips-transformed Earth, fighting flying creatures and being captured by Superman’s army. But when this ‘evil’ Superman burns down his prisoners, rips off Batman’s cowl to reveal Bruce (not Thomas Wayne; the Earth2 Batman) and says that Batman was the reason for the only thing he loved dying (Lois), another Multiverse comes to mind. The Injustice Gods Among Us Multiverse, has a Superman-led world where he is after Bruce Wayne’s Batman for tricking him into destroying the only person he cared for. Or even the Multiverse tale when Superman is adopted by Darkseid in becoming his son. Who knows?!
Bruce wakes up from that dream to be astounded by a Earth2 Flash who is somehow magically relaying a message in time (for non-comic fans, this is called using ‘flash force’) in which he is warning Bruce that “Lois is the key” that he “was right all along” he “must stop him.” I’m sorry folks but at this exact moment in movie, I literally found myself shaking my head, slapping my forehead, at how terrible this CGI and acting was.
Bruce wakes up again with the dreams haunting him, more as ominous visions rather than just simple nightmares. So if you could keep up with anything I just said here, that’s what happened in that little dream scene. And as cool as it was to look at, it was such a mishmash of stories. I don’t know what to think of where WB’s going with all this unknown plot, right now in the middle of this movie. Of course this is signaling Darkseid, with his flying parademons and a mother box seen later in the movie, but all of this is just not needed yet, and felt too forced in this film.
In my overview I also pointed out that DC Comics had a much harder time trying to translating their comic book material into “real world” based movies. DC Comics movies need “rules,” but unlike the “rules” Christopher Nolan constructed for the Batman: Dark Knight series, which he never broke. The same realism rules cannot be tossed into the Superman universe. So some form of adding what is known in filmmaking as “mystical-realism rules” would need to be created for WB’s Pictures DC films. A sort of “Superhero-realism rules” have need to be established first, the way they were established in each separate solo Marvel Studios film before they could make their team-up Avengers movie. BvS never establishes its world rules to be followed and that can be seen all over the script writing. So when we get Batman’s grounded real world rules, with Superman’s alien superpowers rules, Wonder Woman’s God legends mystical rules, Lex Luthor’s alien/sci-fi rules and mix them all in one superhero team movie with a badly written, overpowering monster that smashes all the rules at once, nothing interacts precisely the way it looks on paper when its transferred onto film. What the hell am I talking about? Did you all notice how useless Batman pretty much becomes once Doomsday appeared? The only way to interact him now was to make him a lucky sniper who hid behind a brick wall……not very Batman-like was it.
The whole ridiculous reason of Lois Lane tossing the kryptonian spear into a pool of water in one scene, only for her to go back to the same location to swim it out just a scene later, was a waste of script time. So was wasting characters like Lex Luthor’s bodyguard and most faithful assistant in crime, Mercy (who was blown up in the senate hearing). Also a really good comic-style looking Jimmy Olsen, that had a second of screen time. Snyder has already gone on record saying that we won’t be seeing Olsen ever again. Damn shame if you ask me.
As first pointed out, this film is a groundwork movie for a much larger scope cinematic universe for DC comic books line of characters and stories. So I am open-minded enough to let the tiny unanswered cliffhangers slide. But introducing the greatest team in the DC universe with little snippets of video located off secret Lex Corp files on metahumans. All this while the action was about to get intense on screen, they cut to Diana Prince sitting at a laptop watching what amounts to YouTube videos. This folks was such a lazy afterthought, copout way of script writing. Sure Aquaman looked kinda cool coming out of a sunken ship and then swimming away causing a sonic boom, but that was it?! Really!! The Flash blur coming from a costumer in a convenience store robbery video, that horrible CGI video of a doctor experiencing technical problems due to alien technology that is repairing his son and finally a picture of Wonder Woman in World War 1. That was your grand intro to the Justice League on screen. If you blinked or went to get popcorn, you missed it all.
Ironically the picture of Wonder Woman is the only one in the Lex Corp files that felt proper enough for an introduction of an origin to a character in a major motion picture. In the end we never get a fully ‘United Seven’ as it is left as a mission for Batman and Wonder Woman to go on now.
Wonder Woman was by far the best thing to come out of BvS: Dawn of Justice. If Warner Brothers Pictures and DC are any kinds of intelligent, they will make her the face of the Justice League Extended Universe. Everything about Wonder Woman is elegantly perfect and at the same time independently powerful. This is the direction that WB needs to look at closely in future projects, not what brings in curiosity seekers who do not know what they are really missing.
At least the movie ended off on a fantastic high-note! First with the unspoiled surprise of adding another part of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Slightly different now as Superman and Doomsday are both targeted by a nuclear weapon from the United States. But almost like the comics, Superman has to recover from nuclear radiation with the rays from the yellow Suns.
Then we end with the Death of Superman. The media hyped event of the 90’s. The climatic battle between Superman and Doomsday in which Superman pays the ultimate price. In the movie BvS this battle is extremely gruesome, as Doomsday impales Superman in the chest with his chopped off hand now becoming a bone spear (this is not in the comics). So if you’re wondering if Superman is dead and the floating soil over his grave at the end of the movie with the music was not confirming enough for you. NO, Superman is NOT DEAD.
Was Man of Steel made to inspire, like the films of old used to be made? Of course not. Films now are made to look cool, get people talking in one way or another and to ultimately make lots and lots of money. That’s why we have such a mess when it comes down to BvS: Dawn of Justice.
Was it a decent movie? Sure. Was it a great movie? Absolutely not. Could it have been better? Without a doubt!
That’s all my opinion is saying. Go watch the movie and enjoy it any way you want and come up with your own valid opinion if you don’t like mine. There is nothing wrong with everyone having an opinion.
PopCultHQ Rating: 3 out of 5 – Mediocre
What to read from DC comics if you want to be caught up with BvS: Dawn of Justice
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4
In this final legendary issue, it’s Batman vs. Superman with the fate of the Earth at their feet. Nuclear Armageddon stands just within reach as the two biggest heroes on earth battle it out a
Superman (1987-2006) #75
Superman and Doomsday go toe-to-toe in Metropolis, and this is it–the Man of Steel falls! The Death of Superman is right here!
“Death of Superman” Part Eleven!
As a part of the monumental DC Comics–The New 52 event, comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee bring you an all-new origin story for the Justice League!
In a world where inexperienced superheroes operate under a cloud of suspicion from the public, loner vigilante Batman has stumbled upon a dark evil that threatens to destroy the earth as we know it. Now, faced with a threat far beyond anything he can handle on his own, the Dark Knight must trust an alien, a scarlet speedster, an accidental teenage hero, a space cop, an Amazon Princess and an undersea monarch. Will this combination of Superman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Aquaman be able to put aside their differences and come together to save the world? Or will they destroy each other first?
In one of the most game-changing titles in comic industry history, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee re-imagine the classic heroes of the DC Universe for the 21st century. This volume collects issues #1-6 of Justice League, part of the DC Comics–The New 52 event.”
Wonder Woman (1942-1986)
The original adventures of Wonder Woman, the Amazon Princess! These classic stories–written by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston–feature the first appearance and use of many of the identifiable elements of the character, including her longtime sidekick Etta Candy and her magic lasso!
Written by Eddy Barrows
In the infinite vastness of the Multiverse there exists a world much like our own, with heroes and villains different from the ones we know, yet strangely familiar. Together, the heroes of Earth 2 battled the forces of Darkseid and the New Gods of Apokolips. They thought they’d won.
They were wrong.
Apokolips has returned, its four Furies of War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death unleashing unspeakable evil. And that is only the beginning. The god-planet itself is on a collision course with Earth 2, preparing to feed on all life and leave only the void in its wake.
Superman. Batman. Green Lantern. The Flash. Power Girl. Huntress. Hawkgirl. John Constantine. Mister Terrific. Mister Miracle. Doctor Fate. Lois Lane. Jimmy Olsen. Dick Grayson. Barbara Gordon. Only they can save their world-and the worlds beyond…
Writers Daniel H. Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, and Mike Johnson lead an all-star alliance of artists in EARTH 2: WORLDS’ END VOL. 1-the first chapter of the sprawling saga that will change the Multiverse forever! Collects EARTH 2: WORLD’S END #1-11.
Earth 2: World’s End (2014-2015) Vol. 2
The saga of Earth-2 reaches its cataclysmic conclusion!
The heroes of Earth-2 have been brave and bold in their resistance to the forces of Darkseid, but some enemies cannot be defeated. Sometimes the inevitable can’t be stopped-and now their Earth is being devoured by Apokolips.
Humanity’s only hope is escape. But with Darkseid’s legions descending on Earth, it will take the combined might of every superhero on the planet just to give humanity a fighting chance. While Batman and his granddaughter Huntress go searching for Bruce Wayne’s secret doomsday contingency, the last survivors of Krypton-Power Girl and Superman-must face their own powerlessness in the face of Darkseid.
While an entire planet fights for survival, the fate of the human race may ultimately come down to one man: Alan Scott, the Green Lantern, chosen Avatar of the Green. But in humanity’s final hour, will Alan have what it takes to wield the power of all the Avatars and fulfill his true destiny?
Features writers Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse), Marguerite Bennett (SUPERMAN: LOIS LANE), Mike Johnson (SUPERGIRL) and Cullen Bunn (GREEN LANTERN: THE LOST ARMY), along with an incredible team of artists including Robson Rocha (BIRDS OF PREY), Tyler Kirkham (ACTION COMICS) and many more! Collects EARTH 2: WORLD’S END #12-26.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) Vol. 1
Mike S. Miller
From the makers of Mortal Kombat comes the critically acclaimed prequel comic to the smash hit fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us!
Things in the DC Universe have changed after Superman is tricked into destroying the one thing he loves the most. Now unwilling to let crime go unpunished, the heroes of our world must choose if they are with Superman or against him. But not every country will submit to his new world order and neither will Superman’s greatest threat-Batman!
Collects #1-18 of INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US (issues #1-6 in print).
The super-event you have been waiting for in The New 52: Superman vs. Doomsday in a way you’ve never seen before! Doomsday’s deadly new abilities, in this battle there can be no winners. The Man of Steel must unleash insane levels of power in order to do the job, only to terrify the world he’s saving. Beating Doomsday is only the beginning of this never-ending battle! Collects SUPERMAN #30-31, ACTION COMICS #31-35, ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #3, SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #8-12, SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1, SUPERGIRL #34-35, BATMAN/SUPERMAN #11 and SUPERMAN: DOOMED #1-2 with select pages from ACTION COMICS #30 and SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #7.
Cyborg (2015-) Vol. 1: Unplugged
David F. Walker
The fan-favorite Justice League hero headlines his own solo series from rising star writer David F. Walker (Shaft) and superstar artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado (BLACKEST NIGHT, JUSTICE LEAGUE).
Victor Stone has had his share of near-death experiences—it’s part of what made him the cyber-enhanced superhero Cyborg in the first place. But after his latest brush with death, something has changed with Vic’s cybernetics. They’re evolving, and no one can explain why!
But there’s more to Vic’s evolution than a new look and new powers. Something in his technology is calling out between worlds—and the message has been received by invaders who will stop at nothing to possess it. These Technosapiens aim to absorb all of humanity into their collective if it means a chance to get their hands on Cyborg.
Collects CYBORG #1-6 and the DC SNEAK PEEK: #1.
Aquaman (2011-) Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis
Atlantis attacks! Aquaman, long having since severed ties with his people, watches as as armies rise from the water and attack the surface world. The Justice League–Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Cyborg–answer the call, defending the shores from the invading Atlantean hordes.
But whose side is Aquaman on? With his brother Orm at the head of the undersea army, will Aquman choose to side with his Earth-bound superteam? Or his own people?
From the critically acclaimed creative team behind BLACKEST NIGHT Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier, AQUAMAN VOLUME 3 is the newest chapter in this best-selling series. This volume collects issues #0, 14-16, and Justice League (2011-) #15-17.