Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman” is a prequel to “Justice League,” a spiritual reboot for his version of Ben Affleck’s love child iteration of Batman, and just one big amalgam of “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Rises” in one big messy unpleasant plate. Basically, Superman is Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias, while Batman is Rorschach and Nite Owl. Snyder doesn’t really have to pull much footwork with his clashing of the titans, as he just instills a lot of the same themes and ideas from Alan Moore’s graphic novel, while spending the duration of the movie riffing on Moore’s work, along with Frank Miller, Alex Ross and everyone else he can. This results in a tonally uneven, and virtually fun free movie that has no respect for the Superman lore and an obsession with Batman’s, and it’s apparent from minute one. Did we really have to see Batman’s origin again?
The narrative literally doesn’t start until forty minutes in to the movie, where a new obnoxious kind of Lex Luthor seeks to take both icons and make them destroy one another. Jessie Eisenberg’s iteration of Luthor is like nails on a chalkboard, as he is also an amalgam, but of The Riddler, the Mad Hatter, and Howard Hughes. It becomes gradually more and more far fetched to beiieve he could get the leg up on these two massive heroes. But then again he is apparently the man who discovers the rest of the Justice League, keeps their profiles on a digital format, and even goes so far as to name them. This makes Lex Luthor DC’s Nick Fury, I’m assuming? It’s very disheartening that Zack Snyder is the man DC has entrusted to handle their DC Cinematic Universe. This is a man who clearly hates Superman (The photographer executed in the first twenty minutes? That was Jimmy Olsen), completely misunderstands him, and makes both the assembly of the Justice League and the battle against Superman a journey from Batman’s point of view.
And even with Snyder depicting Superman as an oafish bull in a china shop, not even Batman comes off very well in this new reboot of the character. Hey, Christian Bale’s Batman may not have been Sherlock Holmes, but he didn’t have to have someone from the future come to him in a dream and say “Hey, you know, you’re uh, making all the wrong moves. Let me connect the dots for you.” Meanwhile, Superman is so dumb and clumsy he has to be scolded by Lois Lane like a doting mother for saving her from terrorists. “Thanks for saving me, I really appreciate it, but try not to wreck so much shit and murder people next time, okay, honey? Now come give mama a kiss.” This is a Superman so infinitely moronic, he literally makes Batman crash during a pursuit to stop criminals from taking a hunk of Kryptonite he may or may not know about (Is it ever confirmed?), if only to let him know “I’m not the power mad maniac you think I am. By the way, stop what you’re doing, or I’ll murder you with my eye beams.” To which Batman replies, “I’m not the murderous vigilante you think I am. Oh and I’m going to make you bleed and kill you.” And there’s Wonder Woman who is in the movie because she wants a picture.
In “Batman v Superman,” Batman and Superman are pawns in the deadly game being played by Lex Luthor, who wants to murder both heroes by making them murder one another. He does this by playing on the mass hysteria enacted by Zod’s invasion and staging a series of catastrophes that seem like the work of Superman. Through this, Bruce Wayne is the unwitting player who, rather than second guess Lex as normal Batman would, deduces Superman is a bad god-like being who has to stop him once and for all. Meanwhile, Lex uncovers Kryptonian technology which he hopes will help him engineer the utimate weapon that can murder both heroes, and perhaps help him rule without obstacle. So why does he posit both characters to hate one another when he could simply just have spent his time in the shadows building the weapon he ultimately unleashes? Your guess is just as good as my own. Meanwhile, Batman begins garnering a ton of nightmarish visions that will, let’s face it, make the impending “Justice League” movie about him and his quest to save the world and begins picturing an apocalyptic wasteland, an evil version of Superman, and some kind of desert wasteland because apocalypse and stuff?
So rather than Batman meeting Superman and going over certain ideas, and plans, and coming to reach a common ground, he decides Superman has to die because he might just be a weapon waiting in the wings, posing as a false God. There’s just so much rambling incoherent logic to “Batman v Superman,” that the screenwriters can never seem to decide one reason is enough to set off the film’s narrative, so they throw about three or more at the screen to see what can ultimately stick and allow for a doorway in to the “Justice League” film. Zack Snyder has never been a subtle storyteller, as every element in “Batman v Superman” is so on the nose and clubbed over our heads time and time again. Even as a fan of the concept, and a lifelong fanatic of Superman, “Batman v Superman” is just such a tedious and plodding shipwreck that crams in so much in under three hours and never sticks the landing gracefully. With the chore “Batman v Superman” inevitably becomes, I have little faith the actual “Justice League” film will be any better.