Gotham’s dark knight picks a fight with Metropolis’s resident tights-wearing alien in this bombastic, lengthy superhero adventure from Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder.
While Marvel Comics groups together its heroes as the Avengers, DC Comics has the Justice League – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern etc – and this is first in a series of planned movies to bring them together on screen (there are two Justice League movies planned as well as solo outings for Wonder Woman and Aquaman).
The premise is simple – Batman/Bruce Wayne (Affleck, buffed up, chiselled of jaw) is not very happy about the destruction caused by Clark Kent/Superman’s (Cavill) fight with General Zod at the end of Man Of Steel. While Superman may have got the bad guy, there was quite a bit of collateral damage around Metropolis that leads Bruce to think that Superman isn’t quite the perfect hero, and a later rescue of Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Adams, dull) that leaves people dead confirms his suspicions.
Add into the mix a senator (Holly Hunter) who wants our Krypton pal regulated and baddie Lex Luthor (Eisenberg, just silly) meddling for his own incomprehensible reasons, and the stage is set – sort of – for a battle between the two men in capes. Except not really. Throughout, you get the niggling feeling that one Skype chat between Clark and Bruce would have sorted everything out without the need for any fisticuffs at all – and when said punch-up does eventually happen you do wonder why Bruce doesn’t just go back to Gotham and get on with his vigilante brooding at home instead.
In fact, there is a lot of angst and pouting from both Batman and Superman in this dark and lacking-in-laughs movie. Clark doubts his mission on Earth as he’s constantly being analysed on TV talk shows, while Bruce has nightmares involving a red-eyed Superman, bats and explosions. And director Snyder doesn’t signpost these dark dreams very well, either – it seems his attitude was to throw as many ideas as possible onto the screen and only let us figure out the scene we’ve just seen is a dream when we get a clip of Bruce waking up at the end looking a bit dazed. (A feeling many members of the audience will experience while watching this, too).
Of course, all of this nonsense is leading up to the fight of the movie’s title, and when it does come, it certainly looks impressive, as does a later battle in which (SPOILER if you haven’t seen the trailer) the pair put their dead daddy issues aside and team up with the help of Wonder Woman (Gadot) to get rid of a creature bigger than all of their egos put together. It’s these scenes that finally deliver the spectacle we’ve waited more than half the movie for, and they don’t disappoint.
The performances of both Cavill and especially Affleck are a plus, too. Despite being saddled with a Bat costume for most of the movie that looks like it was borrowed from the Iron Giant, Affleck hits the right note as the man who’s embraced his dark side so well that he now brands the criminals he catches. And the addition of Gadot going full Wonder Woman at the end with her golden lasso is a treat and a hint of some fun (yes, please!) to come in later movies.
Lacking humour and a coherent plot, this clash of the titans is a disappointment overall, but the main event when it comes is so explosively bonkers it almost does the impossible and makes up for the muddle before. Almost.
Is Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There are frequent violent moments including fist fights and gun fights. Photos are also shown of a character’s scar from being branded. Little blood is shown in the movie, however.
An early scene of the young Bruce Wayne falling into the cave of bats may scare younger viewers as the bats fly towards the screen.
The creature that appears later in the movie may scare younger children, especially when he emerges from his cocoon and roars at the camera.
Young viewers may find the kidnap of one character upsetting, and also a scene in which Superman attacks, shooting fire from his red glowing eyes.