It was interesting watching the fans split after Batman Vs Superman‘s opening weekend and the continuing arguments over whether or not the film performed well. With worldwide sales nearing $700 million after its second weekend and owning the slot as the fifth top-grossing opening for a superhero movie, it’s hard to say it was a failure – but people still are.
Warning: Spoilers for Batman Vs Superman below.
In my first podcast last week I talked about how baffled I was that critics hated this movie straight out. It seemed as if because Zack Snyder’s hands were on it, some critics and fans were already at odds before the movie even opened. While I kinda thought Suckerpunch was great as a standalone despite almost across the board pans for the movie and loved the visuals of 300 and Man of Steel despite the latter being a tad bit less interesting for me, I Snyder as a director isn’t someone directly on my radar as a fave, but I certainly don’t have a bias against him. I don’t know anyone who went into the movie expecting to be blown away only to come out disappointed and cursing the fact that they’d spent money to see it. There have been disappointments in characterization, but that seems to be a common thread anytime a new Batman is cast – and this movie had a lot of other aspects of the DC Universe to contend with besides the audience having to get used to Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne – a much different but completely palatable and believable version than the Christian Bale Batman we may have gotten a little too used to in the Dark Knight series.
Teaming up with screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, who wrote for the Snyder-directed Man of Steel (and my favorite television show gone-cancelled Constantine), Snyder followed the DC formula in his own way – heavy overtones of darkness and melancholy with a ton of action. The screenwriters handled a large volume of information that needed to be fed to audiences who weren’t familiar with the two opposing sides and introducing the Justice League characters while also trying to please the easily disgruntled fanbase as well as your average Joe. That’s a lot to try to manage, and I think they accomplished what they set out to do successfully.
Some people may have gone into the theater expecting a movie with more of a Batman feel and were disappointed when they realized it was more of a Man of Steel sequel and a Justice League layup – a segue between the previous Superman film and the superheroes that are to come. Coming at it from that perspective, I didn’t have a whole lot to dislike. Superman and Batman have never been my favorite superheroes, so that may have narrowed any disappointment I would have had if I were a huge fan, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed by the movie.
Arguably the best part of the film is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and the immersive use of Lois Lane. Complete bias on this, but Diana Prince was more than well-cast and well-acted, and the Hans Zimmer score (while sounding a hell of a lot like the Mad Max theme, which again in my case lends itself to a bias because I love that theme) was invigorating and energizing in a movie that did have a lot of lulls in interest [read: dark and broody movie is dark and broody].
Certainly there are the benefits the movie had with its release date; it was spring break for a lot of students, and pushing through Easter weekend with no real competition, the film had to be a success – to have not performed well in those circumstances would have been a tremendous failure. I’d have liked to see the movie pitted against Captain America: Civil War to see how it really performed, but that’s what made the release timing kind of genius. Beyond excuse of a no-competition release, there are only a few other aspects of the film that were off-putting; at the end, Lex Luthor is a little too Joker-esque for my taste, and the overabundance of CGI is something I never enjoy seeing. Other than that, I definitely can’t say I hated the film. I didn’t love it, but I certainly didn’t hate it, and it made me excited for the Justice League movies – something I didn’t think would happen.
Batman Vs Superman didn’t suck half as hard as the critics said, and I think a lot of fans may have had expectations for the story that fell flat. And the only thing that truly mattered about the movie?