BvS: Does it Shine a Light in the DC Cinematic Universe?

Spoilers!

“Dawn of Justice” ushers in the cinematic DC Universe. Continuing the somber feel he set in “Man of Steel,” Zack Snyder’s comic world is serious and dark.

Gritty and in some case more realistic than the Marvel Universe, we are introduced to a Gotham and Metropolis reeling from the battle between Superman and General Zod which caused catastrophic damage. We first meet a grown Bruce Wayne as he rushes towards the battle. Billowing debris and smoke in the city streets remind us all of the twin tower attacks. 

Fast-forward 18 months and Bruce Wayne is determined find a weapon or a weakness against this alien who he feels will eventually turn against humans. At the same time, reporter Clark Kent is determined to expose the Batman for the vigilante he is. 

Enter Lex Luthor determined to defeat both heroes and prove his maniacal might and sets up the “biggest gladiator match,” and unleashes the Kryptonian monster Doomsday.

Let's chat!

Wonder Gal - There are some things I liked about set up of Bruce Wayne. His darkness is justified. He witnessed the Superman/Zod battle and has seen the death of Robin. This is the world post “Dark Knight” - some of the scenes take place in buildings destroyed in “Dark Knight Rises.” Adding to this darker world, we see a wounded Wayne Enterprises' employee with a Vietnam vet look - wheelchair amputee in front of a memorial, reminiscent of the Vietnam memorial wall. We also see anti-alien protesters - a hot button issue from our own country today.

Snyder pulled a great deal of look and feel from "Injustice: Gods Among Us" comic title where Superheroes are actual gods and not friendly to humans. This is echoed by Lex Luther who says "Gods among men" more than once, just to hammer the point.

Clark Justice - Here is the thing that doesn't work for me with these DC films - aside from the “Dark Knight” series, they are just not fun to watch. I don't want to feel depressed or darkness when watching superheros. I'm not saying that it needs to be silly comedy, back to the 1960’s version of “Batman,” but let me feel some type of hope that they have a bit of a happy life. Was the sun shining at all during this film? Were we just dealing with nighttime scenes the whole time?

This is my main gripe with this Superman character. These heroes are supposed to be light and dark. Superman is the character of reason, justice and hope - filled with color and light. Batman lives in a cave and has a vigilante dark side to him - fight first and ask questions later. This Batman was much more violent than Christian Bale's Batman. But Superman geez… smile a little more when you are saving humans or something.

WG - Superman being dark doesn't work for me. That was my main complaint about “Man of Steel.” Snyder has painted the whole DC world with the same “Dark Knight” brush. That will backfire. Not all heros belong in the same tone. Marvel has started setting different tones for their characters, most recently with “Deadpool,” which received the first R rating for that very adult character.

Batman and Superman are supposed to be yin and yang. They balance each other out - day and night. Which I guess made sense why they would be fighting in their first movie encounter.

CJ - The fight between them was good. I love Easter egg nods to the pages ripped right from the “Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel.

WG - Maybe if the rest of the movie wasn't so dreary, their fight woulda been ok for me. But the reason for the fight was so stupid. Bruce Wayne and his mightier-than-thou attitude was ridiculous and way over the top. Gimme a solid reason, then I might be able to get behind the epic duel.

CJ - The actual fight the best part for me. I even liked the fight with Doomsday. However, I didn't like the look of Doomsday - a giant turd-looking thing.

The movie as a whole shines a light on the DC universe to come. I saw a glimpse of sun rays on a very, very dark cloudy day. I liked the teases of the characters to come, however they have to make it brighter for the Justice League film to work. There needs to be more light in general - The Flash is bright, Aquaman is bright, even Cyborg is bright. Brighten it up damn it.

WG - I don’t yet have faith they will bring in that lightness. We will find out next year with the solo Wonder Woman film. Speaking of which, let’s talk Wonder Woman.

CJ - Wonder Woman was a lot better than I thought she was going to be. She was strong. A goddess and looked good in her costume.

WG - Speaking of costume, I love me some long legs, but when I can see from here to heaven, then that skirt is just too short.

Seriously tho, my main concern with this movie was how they were going to introduce Wonder Woman. But her entrance brought in a breath of energy right when I was beaten down from the testosterone. I loved how electric guitar ripped into the soundtrack as soon as she joined the fight, and suddenly there was a change in the whole movie. Unfortunately, this change didn’t happen until the last 20 minutes of a 150 hour movie. 

CJ - I'm glad she wasn't in it longer because it was supposed to be Batman versus Superman.

WG - Except that their fight was a long steroid induced slug-fest. In fact, she was the only one who could hurt the Doomsday monster without the aid of kryptonite. She’s fierce. 

And it's called “Dawn of Justice,” so bring in more Wonder Woman! 

CJ - One good aspect to me was the death of Superman. I told myself that if Doomsday is in this film for more than five minutes then Superman is going to die. That's how it happens in the comics and that's how it happens in the film. I don't necessarily like that he died in the second film of this universe. It's a little too early. He should have died in Justice League. 

WG - Odd pacing to kill off one of the main characters in the first chapter. Even if he comes back to life.

Other parts of the movie didn’t work well. The editing around Wayne’s dreams was confusing. At one point, I had no idea what was going on. It felt like someone had ideas for scenes and just tried to make them fit in the movie. 

CJ - It was very disjointing. You want to confuse someone? Good job! The only dream sequence that I did like was the flash forward to The Flash talking to Bruce. That was awesome!

WG - And I had no idea that was The Flash. Again, confusing.

CJ - I feel the Superman and Clark Kent need to be more defined - they need to be two individual characters. Clark is basically Superman with glasses. There is no other difference. And the chemistry of between him and Lois Lane doesn’t work at all.

If they actually killed Lois I wouldn't have even cared.

WG - Lois and Clark lacked chemistry in the last movie and even less in this one. Lois exemplifies the "damsel in distress." 

CJ - But that's not Lois Lane!!! Geez

WG - No kidding, they have stripped her character down to nothing. She is something for Clark to react to rather than a character in her own right. 

This is quite a common trope in comics. Women who are there only to advance the plot of men. It is very disappointing that Snyder has taken the strong character of Lois Lane and made her wallpaper.

Her lines were juvenile - “I’m no lady, i’m a journalist.” Equally juvenile were lines addressed to her - “If I had balls as big as yours…” and “You’re wearing slacks.” 

The Lois in the TV series “Smallville” was a much stronger character. She proved herself Clark’s equal and thus their relationship made sense. But if Lois only exists to bait Superman into traps (twice), distract him from a fight, or stare longingly up at him, she is just a cartoon stereotype.

CJ - Now on to Lex Luthor. How many times did I cringe when when was speaking? I thought he was the most annoying thing of the film. His motivations were so unclear and his personality was too close to a psychotic Joker with his little puns and jokes. Weird and horrible!

WG - Lex was the most comic book like character in the film - unfortunately comical and really irritating.

CJ - I liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred and the relationship between him and Bruce Wayne. He was also more than just a butler. He played a pivotal role in Batman's character and was most often helping Bruce with his tech.

WG - Even tho he had a small role, he was a full character. And he brought the funny - as much as you can for the such a dark film.

Other than Jeremy Irons, all attempts of humor fell flat. The dialog was truly terrible. Everyone spoke in speeches and sound bites. There were very few actual conversations.

CJ - One last peeve, Superman and Batman movies should be superhero films that the whole family can see. I'm not saying campy, but something that kids can look up to as justice holders. This is not a film that you can take a child to see and that is kinda depressing.

A moment I will never forget is when I saw “The Avengers” for the second time and this kid next to me that died with laughter so hard when Hulk grabbed Loki and smashed him into the ground. The joy in that kids voice is what i'm talking about.

WG - That is good movie making magic. Unfortunately, the first time I saw the trailer for BvS, a kid in the theater turned to his mom and said, “I thought Superman was a good guy.” That says it all.


Final Ratings

Wonder Gal - Ouch!

There was just no magic in this. It was overdone. Superheroes on steroids taking themselves way too seriously. I am glad to see Wonder Woman finally taking stage, but I’m hesitant to see her solo film if the tone remains the same. I’m equally worried about the Justice League films. All I can think is, thankfully there is a new Avengers flick coming out soon

Clark Justice - Ouch!

It just wasn't fun to me. I struggle so hard to like these films, but end up folding my arms questioning why it has to be so hard to make a good DC film. If they are trying to make these films fit today’s world and society, they must see the world different than me. I try to see the good in the world. Yes, the world is messed up now-a-days - with the most recent tragedy in Brussels - but it's not like that all the time.