DCEU Film Retrospective: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) by Zack Snyder


  • Directed by: Zack Snyder
  • Starring:
    • Ben Affleck as Batman | Bruce Wayne
    • Henry Cavill as Superman | Clark Kent | Kal-El
    • Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
    • Amy Adams as Lois Lane
    • Diane Lane as Martha Kent
    • Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
    • Gal Godot as Wonder Woman | Diana Prince

Synopsis: Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. (IMDB)

** this is a review of the Ultimate Edition, by the way **

The Good:

  • Batfleck: Ben Affleck, the casting choice everyone was worried about, was the best part of this movie for me. He was suave, charming and secretive as Bruce Wayne and he was probably the angriest and most efficient version of Batman that I’ve ever seen. I’m not the world’s biggest Batman fan, I tend to only enjoy stories where he’s with the Batfamily but this film actually made me want to read more about him. I loved this older, angrier, Dark Knight Returns version of him and I like that they showed more of him as a protector of the city. He was not only protective over Gotham, the movie opens with him running through the destruction of Man of Steel and pulling civilians out of the line of fire. I won’t lie, this is also the most attractive Bruce Wayne. He had a semi compelling reason for his actions in this film and Affleck’s performance is responsible for what I feel is the best scene in this movie:
  • The Warehouse Scene: This was the best Batman fight I’ve seen in a Batman film. The fight choreography wasn’t just engaging – it was believable. There weren’t any impossible shots, it wasn’t sped up to impossible speeds for a human being and I actually got a hint of personality from Bruce as this was happening. It had a creative use of the grappling hooks and it was filmed in a way that actually let us see what was happening. This was a fantastic scene!
  • Alfred: I’ve seen 3 or 4 versions of live-action Alfreds. I really liked Jeremy Irons’ alcoholic, nagging parent take on the guy. While it was kind of a bummer that I think they’re not doing Lucious Fox for this universe, I like that Alfred’s the one making the tech and I liked that he runs a control center from the Batcave. I also really enjoyed him making despairing comments about Bruce never getting married or continuing the Wayne family line. Also, it was awesome that he was trying to get Bruce to see reason and stop chasing Superman.
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman was in this film for like 10 minutes total but the little she was here, she was great. I really like that she shows up to save Batman – they’re not damsel-ing her at all. I loved the little smile on her face when Doomsday tossed her aside. This is a character like that likes the thrill of a good fight and that was wonderful to see.
  • More of Clark Kent: Oddly enough, I feel like I got to know Cavill’s Superman more in this film than in Man of Steel. This film is full of Clark standing on the outside looking in as people judge whether he’s more of a hindrance than a help. The whole while he’s saving people from floods and earthquakes (I think?) and he’s actually getting to be a hero here and people are on television calling him a threat. The ultimate edition shows him self-conscious and self-reflecting as he wonders if maybe they’re right and he is a danger. There’s a scene (possibly only in the ultimate cut) where he calls his mother just “to say ‘hi'” and he sounds so upset and it really was quite endearing and I actually felt for him. With that scene in mind, it makes the end of this film a little more significant to me. Also, Clark got to be slightly sassy in his first meeting with Bruce Wayne so I enjoyed that too. Also, as with Batfleck, there were some glory shots to prove Henry Cavill worked his ass off (literally) for this role.
  • Batcave: I wanted to see so much more of it! I loved Bruce’s house, actually. He always has the coolest houses and the coolest toys. I loved the Batmobile and the Batplane, as well.
  • Cinematography: While I think Man of Steel had some better shots, this film had several great ones, as well. I loved the shots of the Batcave, the way Lex’s party was shot and Clark’s funeral.
  • Score: I really liked the score in this one, as well. Particularly the iconic Wonder Woman theme, “This is My World” which plays during the flashback of the Wayne’s deaths and the end sequence has undertones of Clark’s theme from the first film. At times in the theater, it was kind of overwhelming with the “BWAHM, BWAHM BWAHM BWAHM BWAHM BWAHM” inception sounds but for the most part, I enjoyed it.

The Bad:

  • Jesse Eisenberg: He did an interview where he said he never watches his own films and this one shows that, unfortunately. This performance was an example of no one telling an actor “no”. I’ve heard fans say he was playing Lex Luthor’s son so he didn’t need to be cold and chilling – he was his own character. Okay, he was still an over the top, annoying original character.
    • Lex: The bell’s already been rung. They heard it; the creatures among the stars. They’ll come… He’ll come. He’s angry… Ding-dong… Ding-dong… Ding-dong…

    • I’ve heard fans say haters are just comparing him to previous iterations – Okay, that’s not false. I compared him to Michael Rosenbaum’s performance in Smallville and I really wish Jesse had played it more like that. When I heard the rumors about Bryan Cranston almost getting the role, I got so sad. He would have been perfect but instead we got a villain that shoved Jolly Ranchers in other’s mouths and
  • Lex definitely didn’t need to be here: My biggest problem with this film is that I don’t even understand why Lex Luthor is in it. We had enough of a reason for Batman to v. Superman: the events of Man of Steel. Bruce sees the wreckage of a city, his employees have died (for kind of a dumb reason by the way) and he blames Superman. There was no reason for Lex to come up with this convoluted plan to shoot up a town in another country and pin it on Superman. There was no reason for him to send Clark on the hunt to take down Batman. There was no reason to kidnap Ma Kent to try to force Clark to kill Batsy. We already had a good enough reason for them to fight.
  • Why did Congress think Superman killed those people in Africa?: They know he has laser vision, super-strength and he’s super strong. Why would he need to use guns to kill people? Why would they investigate that attack and attribute it to Superman in any way? Yes, there was a testimony but common sense says Superman didn’t do it. It made no sense.
  • I don’t understand how the Flash can time travel into a dream?: There’s a theory that you can’t dream about a face you’ve never seen and I wonder how Bruce was dreaming about Barry if they’ve never met. I’ve read some Flash and seen the CW show so maybe I’m just ignorant of his abilities but since when can he time travel into someone’s dreams?

  • Ultimate edition explained a major plothole: People were wondering why Clark didn’t see the bomb when he looked right at Wally because the theatrical version removed Lois finding out the chair was lined with lead. Yet another sign of the studio not paying attention to what they were cutting out of these films.
  • Jimmy Olsen: Jimmy Olsen was a footnote. They made him into some kind of spy or double agent and then they shot him in the head. Probably because he was too light of a character to fit in this unnecessarily dark universe. C’mon, guys!
  • Dialogue: Some people don’t talk like human beings in this movie? Some of them talk like bad fortune cookies Lex spoke as if he was in a completely different film. The religious symbolism was so over the top in this film.
    • Lex: If man won’t kill God, the Devil will do it!

  • Batman v. Superman: The fight was five minutes long and what a strange fight it was. How long did Bruce sit on that rooftop waiting for Clark to show up? Why did he grab Clark’s cape and swing him around like a rag doll? Why did he start the fight on the roof on the off chance he’d be able to toss Clark down the pit near the spear? It seemed like a chance he didn’t have to take. On top of that, Clark comes there to try to reason with Batman but after a couple hits, he decides to just fight him instead. Okay.
  • Martha: Oddly enough, my complaint isn’t that it seemed like the name itself stopped the fight, I have a completely different take on that*. My complaint is that this film thinks it’s viewers forgot the first five minutes because they insert a needless flashback to the deaths of the Waynes? Why? We all remembered and even if we somehow forgot his mother’s name was Martha after that intro and the shots of their graves, Bruce’s reaction would be enough of a context clue that the name held significance for him. It wasted time we could have spent developing Clark a little more giving Mercy lines. Just my opinion though…
    • * I actually think it wasn’t the name that stopped Bruce from killing Clark; I think it was what the name represents. I think the name made Bruce realize that Clark had a family and a mother, just like Bruce once did and it made him realize the weight of what he was about to do. It’s been my theory since I saw the film and I didn’t get why everyone assumed it was just the name Martha.
  • Martha’s advice: Martha’s supposed to inspire Clark to keep going or… something in this film. I’m not really sure. Her advice to Clark is:
    • Be their hero, Clark. Be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be… or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did.

    • Thanks, Mom? I’m not sure how this was helpful or inspiring at all. Then Pa Kent tells a story about the Lang family’s farm flooding. He talks about how he thought he’d helped save it, Grandma Kent baked a cake and as he was eating it, the horses drowned. I’m not sure if this was meant to tell Clark that no matter what he did, things would slip through the cracks? Then he goes on to say that the nightmares of that day only went away when he met Martha. So was the lesson that getting married is the only way to keep going? I’m… unsure.
  • Why is Batman in the final battle?: Sure, he had a kryptonite gun but he was kind of useless once that ran out. Maybe just to have him watch Clark die and get inspired?
  • Doomsday: I don’t often rag on CGI because that’s not something I’m super knowledgeable about so if I’m noting it, it’s pretty bad. He looked like a giant blob in this movie and, similar to Lex, I don’t know why we needed him in this film. He added nothing to it and even on Blu Ray, this doesn’t look good.
  • Lois Lane: Her actions were kind of stupid in this film? She runs after Clark in a helicopter because she thinks she can help in a fight against Batman? Then she tosses the spear only to chase after it later and nearly drown? I can’t imagine why she did these things unless they thought we needed one more person to tell Clark not to die. It’s strange but brings me to:
  • Why did Clark have to take the spear?: It seemed like he could have easily given it to Wonder Woman to kill Doomsday with? I don’t understand why he thought he needed to take it.
  • Superman’s death was not earned: We had one fairly terrible film with about 40 minutes of Superman. And in that 40 minutes, he wasn’t particularly super. This film finally scratched the surface of a charming, endearing Clark Kent just in time for him to die for a world that was pretty ungrateful. His mother is telling him he doesn’t owe this world anything and, while terrible advice in a superhero film, I kind of agree with her. There weren’t really moments where Clark had great interactions with people. Of course, it makes him even more of a martyr but wow. Anyway, we were just introduced to him and then they kill him off before he got any real development. I will say this, it was certainly surprising.

Is it a recommend?

Hard to say but… yes? In a way. At least watch Ben Affleck as Batman. It was a really good performance in a pretty terrible movie. Even outside of the Warehouse scene, I had a good time watching him be Batman and sneak into Russian fight clubs while chasing the White Portuguese. He looked great driving the Batmobile, he was suave and charming and I loved the Batcave. So, watch it for him and just read through the bad parts like I do when I rewatch it.

A note, Suicide Squad seemingly confirmed it was Jason Todd’s suit and he was murdered by the Joker (and Harley Quinn???). But Alfred makes a comment about Bruce never continuing the Wayne family line. So, either Alfred’s being a dick about adoption or Nightwing doesn’t exist in this world? I hope that’s not the case because I love Dick Grayson.

Score: 6.5/10


4 thoughts on “DCEU Film Retrospective: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) by Zack Snyder”

  1. LOVE this review! All of your points are well thought out and, sadly, fits with my perception of the film. This version of Lex Luthor was, for the most part, very difficult to tolerate. Not in a “good villain that you love to hate” way… but in a “poorly conceived, don’t feel he’s a real threat, he’s utterly annoying” way. I get it, they were trying to do something that hadn’t been done before. In their quest for originality, however, the overall film seemed very disjointed and forced. This Batman seemed awfully dazed and confused at times and Superman was way too emo. The saving grace of the film, for me, was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I was saddened that the studio chose to spoil the most awesome, gasp worthy scene in the film (the “drop in” appearance of WW) over and over again in the trailers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!

      I think the story was that they wanted Cranston but he turned it down. It’s a shame because I would have loved to see his Lex Luthor. Or maybe Kevin Spacey reprising his role would have been really cool to see.

      Yes! I 100% agree with you on the Wonder Woman thing. I kept thinking about how amazing it would have been if we didn’t know she was going to show up in the fight against Doomsday! I honestly think it would have made the theater experience a lot more exciting if they’d kept it a secret. It was 1/3 cameos that year that would have been even cooler if they’d been kept a secret. (Spidey and Wolverine being the other 2)

      I do think the Ultimate Edition is a tiny bit better but it’s still way too long and a very odd jumble of ideas. I’m not sure what could have saved it. On the bright side, I think JL is shaping up to be a better film but I’m not sure how much, if any, Clark we’ll get in that film.

      Liked by 1 person

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