‘Superman Vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice’: Three movies crammed in one


Somewhere in this bloated hulk of a film are two interesting superhero stories. For all of the negativity I’m about to sling at this film, it’s worth noting that character development is well done.

By the final fight scene, I started to actually like Superman (Henry Cavill), something I thought would never happen after the “Man of Steel” finale spent an hour doing nothing but reminding viewers what the 9/11 attacks looked like in graphic detail.

It seems director Zak Snyder read some of the mountains of criticism for the film’s oppressively dark tone and his choice to turn Superman into a collateral-damage happy idiot with a heart of gold.

His solution to this criticism? Funnel it into one character.

Batman (Ben Affleck) no longer has chosen to fight crime purely to bring justice to Gotham City. Oh no, now the Dark Knight dons his iconic cowl purely because Superman knocked down a WayneCorp building 18 months ago.

Bat-fleck is, in a word, refreshing. With a new backstory and actor, we’re primed to see a Batman we’ve never seen before.

In the same way Superman is far more broody and less of a mouthpiece for pro-America propaganda, Bruce Wayne is a man driven to do good for the wrong reasons. A core feature of Batman is his one rule: Never kill.

Snyder’s Batman doesn’t give a crap, frequently offing nameless gunmen in his quest to defeat the alien menace that is Superman. While this new kill-happy Batman is bound to change a lot of how he operates as a character, such as his relationship with The Joker, a character built entirely around the fact that Batman never kills.

Bat-fleck would simply put a 9mm between Joker’s eyes and go about his day.

Ever write an essay for class that reads really well, but the assignment requirements force the author to sprinkle a ton of reference to an overarching idea throughout? SvB is that in film form.

Snyder loves him some symbolism, to the point where it becomes masturbatory in act three. As any professor who ever has mentioned a comic book during lecture will tell you, superheroes are the modern version of ancient myths.

Where ancient myths had gods to idolize, we have superheros.

Read the above paragraph about a thousand times and you’ll know what it’s like to watch SvB. I honestly don’t think there is an uninterrupted 20 minutes of this movie where a character doesn’t make a ham-fisted comparison to ancient mythology or reference a metahuman as a “god.”

It gets old fast.

Too bad his introduction to the world is in a movie trying to put three films’ worth of stories into two hours. I believed Zak Snyder when he announced a five-hour cut of this film exists.

In the end, there are three films trying to break out of this mess: What should have been the final two acts of “Man of Steel,” an origin story for Affleck’s Batman and a set-up film for the Justice League.

Oh, and for those of you going purely to see Batman and Superman duke it out, the “fight” lasts all of five minutes before what the trailers explicitly tells us is going to happen, well, happens.

An honest title for this film would be “Dawn of Justice,” as all SvB actually does is finish off Superman’s story arc from “Man of Steel” (see: he’s realized his actions have consequences), introduce a new Batman and then spend a good chunk of time setting up next year’s “Justice League Part One.”

If you’re a DC fan and open to some artistic liberties taken with the characters, you’ll enjoy “Superman Vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice.”

If you’re just a normal moviegoer, you might choke on all of the forced symbolism, metaphors, and sometimes confusing fight choreography.  Fun, but you need to go in forewarned.