Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Review: An Emotional Roller Coaster That Does Everything Right

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Tweetable Takeaway: #BatmanvSuperman presents a compelling story of two heroes finding their place in defending the world  


Last night I attended a screening of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. As a person who regularly reviews comic book-based content for both Marvel and DC properties, and as a fan of both studios, I was excited to see this film. I was also nervous. The internet has been rife with speculation about the Zack Snyder-directed film for months. People were either really hyped about watching Batman and Superman duke it out, or they were apprehensive, tearing the film to shreds based purely on the trailers and clips. I found myself in the middle of both points of view, not completely sold on the premise, but also not willing to discredit the film without having seen it first. I will be honest, when the lights went down I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the film be a disaster? Would there be any heart behind it? Would Superman kill again? Would Ben Affleck be able to pull of a brooding Bruce Wayne? Would their reason behind fighting be believable? With completely certainty I can say that all of these questions were answered, and I loved it! Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice exceeded all of my expectations, and I am excited to share my in depth and mostly spoiler free review with you.

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Warning! Mostly spoiler free… mostly…

The film starts out where most Batman stories begin: with the death of Martha and Thomas Wayne. While some viewers may say this is a tired trope that we’ve seen all too many time before in other Batman films, this scene is actually important to something that happens later, while Batman and Superman are fighting. You’ll want to pay attention to this moment. Then the films jumps to the last intense moments of 2013’s Man of Steel. Zod’s terraforming machine is demolishing Metropolis, and Superman and Zod are engaging in their final showdown. In the middle of the chaos stands Bruce Wayne, portrayed by Ben Affleck. Bruce has gray in his hair, he is professionally dressed, he has business in Metropolis, but none of that matters now. All Bruce knows is that his employees are in danger and he must rescue them. Instead of running away from the devastation, he drives into it, head first, in a scene that is reminiscent of the first responders during September 11th in New York City. Bruce is too late to save his people, and is left holding a crying child who just lost her mother. Bruce Wayne just learned that Kryptonians have the power to create orphans, and thus begins Bruce’s hatred of Superman and any alien who can wield his level of power.

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Fast forward 18-months to present day. Metropolis has been mostly rebuilt, a huge statue has been erected to Superman, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill) are still working at the Daily Planet for Editor-in-chief Perry White (Lawrence Fishburne), they are together and in love, and Batman is back in Gotham on his estate with Alfred (Jeremy Irons.) The world is still weary of Superman, but overall they are grateful that he rescued them from Zod during what could be called “The Battle of Metropolis.” The film does a brilliant job of telling two stories simultaneously. While Batman v Superman definitely feels more like a Batman film, both characters get pretty even screen time, and each man is forced to make decisions about their own morality, and what to do with the power they have been given. Bruce Wayne spends a large chunk of the film going on a rampage of vigilante justice in Gotham, and he attempts to track down the man he believes is a terrorist. His discoveries lead him to a plot against Superman, where Bruce is forced to decide if he will let the plot play out, or get involved. Superman is continually questioned by the government for his ability to fly around the world un-checked. When men die during a rescue operation, Superman is blamed, and he is called to a Senate hearing meeting to state his innocence. Holly Hunter plays a pivotal role in the film as Senator Finch, the woman who calls for Superman’s presence at the Senate hearings. She also single-handedly pisses off the antagonist of the film, Lex Luthor (Jess Eisenberg) when she denies his petition to create weaponized Kryptonite.

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Through an intense series of events that I won’t give away here, Batman ends up challenging Superman. Superman answers the challenge, but only after he is given no choice but to take Batman down. Both men go into the fight for different reasons. Batman believes he is stopping future terrorism by removing a Kryptonian from the planet. Superman goes into the fight because a powerful adversary has leverage on him, and his only way of achieving the safety of his loved ones is to kill the Bat. My biggest fear going into the film was, will the fight be believable? Will Batman and Superman both have justifiable causes for picking a fight with each other? In my opinion they do. They were both lied to and pushed to the brink, and the only course of action they can see is war. I also wondered if there would be any heart in the film, if in the midst of chaos and destruction, there would be room for levity? Would there be a moment where I would grip my heart from being so moved? And there was. In the middle of the battle a revelation comes to light that changes everything. I’m not sure if it’s been addressed in the comics before, but it blew me away, and it made the entire film worth it.

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The film ends with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) finally joining sides to take on the film’s real villain: Lex Luthor and his creation Doomsday. Doomsday is completely nuts. Their war with him outpaces any battle I have ever seen on screen before. When the battle is finally over, the team is left in ruins, and not everyone makes it out in one piece. The film takes a turn at the end and makes a choice I did not see coming. I left the theater feeling both exhilarated and sad, as Batman v Superman left some real consequences on the table for future films. Despite leaving the heroes in a place of uncertainty at the end of the film, Bruce Wayne does ask Wonder Woman to find the other people “like her” — the three members of the Justice League which did have cameos in the film. I won’t spoil which three members are seen, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the surprise as much as I did. All in all I thought this film was incredibly well done, and I recommend it to anyone who likes films driven by action, political intrigue, stunning visual fight sequences, a killer soundtrack and three amazing heroes who are all trying to find their place in the world. Creating a film where two of the world’s most recognized and celebrated comic book heroes — Batman and Superman — fight each other, is not an easy task, but between David Goyer and Chris Terrio’s script, Zack Synder’s directing, and the acting of the entire cast, this might just be the best DC Comics movie adaptation to date. I hope you all go out and see it this weekend, and I hope that is exceeds your expectations like it exceeded mine.

I give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 5 Bat-branding tattoos out of 5

Score:  5 out of 5

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Entertainment journalist who’s passionate about science fiction, superheroes, and all things nerdy. Regular Comic Con attendee, co-founder of The Marvel Report and co-host of The Flash Podcast and the Peggy Carter Podcast. Assistant editor at CBR and contributing writer to HitFix and The Tracking Board. Obsessed with British accents, strong female characters, Sherlock, and Steve Rogers.
Follow her on Twitter @LaurenGallaway

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6 Responses to Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Review: An Emotional Roller Coaster That Does Everything Right

  1. Refreshing to see a honest review

  2. So good to read a review without useless hate.
    Congrats. ^^

  3. Thanks for a review that details the plot of the film without spoiling it, and being passionate about something when other “reviewers” just pile on the hate.

  4. I went into the movie with pretty low expectations and while the opening scenes hooked me immediately, I was bracing myself for the moment when it would all go south per the negative reviews all over the web. That moment never came. I truly loved the movie. It’s not a Marvel movie and I think people are confused by that. I don’t know. I don’t understand the vitriol. I was frustrated by Snyder’s take on Watchmen, disappointed in MoS, but after seeing BvS, I’m looking forward to the rest of the DC movies. I feel like I have a better understanding of what WB/Snyder is trying to do, and I might even watch MoS again with fresh eyes. Also Batfleck was fucking awesome.

  5. Finally! A review I can actually relate to.

    I adored the movie. Everything about it from the setup to the characterizations. There is a ‘heart’ at the center of the movie, a soul.

    I’m not a ZSnyder fangirl,so coming from a casual cbm fan, this movie is now my top fav followed by Winter Soldier.

  6. I completely agree with this review. It was an amazing film, and the complexity of the plot and characters was so well served by the episodic structure, which made the movie feel like a mosaic that let all the themes percolate without needing to spell them out. It was a brilliant way of handling the style of DC, and even the non-comic fans in my family loved it.

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