Mr. H and Alex Discuss: Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice
What started as Mr H and Alex talking about their Batman #49 mini reviews quickly evolved into a full blown discussion about Scott Snyder‘s entire run on Batman from the outset of the New 52 all the way through to the fiftieth issue.
This last week saw the release of the critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and before the weekend was done the Batmaniacs had seen the movie three times in three days between them. Do they have something to say about the movie?
Of course they do!
As always with these features, there will be spoilers from here on out, but they’ve tried to limit them a little bit just in case you haven’t seen the movie yet.
Alex: Well we’ve both seen the movie now, and in a nutshell, what did you think?
M. H: Well it’s so hard to put into one answer what I thought of a movie that I have waited in some form or fashion since my childhood for. I would sum it up using an overly used words these days: epic. How could it be anything but? It had two of my favorite comic book/ literary characters of all time, and definitely one of those is my absolute unequivocal favorite.
Let’s start with the large Kandorian sized elephant in the room. The casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. I know you had very strong feelings on this so I will let you start off. What say you on the subject sir?
Alex: Heh, well it’s absolutely no secret that I was vehemently against the idea of Affleck playing Batman. I was quite vocal about how he’d ruin the entire DC Cinematic Universe and at one point (I think) I even said I’d refuse to see the movie because of his casting. Cutting a long (and already posted) story short, I eventually came around to the idea he may not be a horrible Batman before the trailers dropped. After watching the movie, well, let’s just say I think I prefer maple syrup on my hat.
Affleck was amazing. He captured everything I love about Batman. I’ve always felt that Bruce Wayne is the mask, and Batman is the real man, and there were times when a maskless Affleck shifted between the two on screen. It was jaw dropping. I suspected that my mental list of Greatest On Screen Bat Actors would be revised after this movie, but I expected the middle of the list to shift around a bit. I never thought that Ben Affleck would be far and away the top of the list. He just gets Batman in a way that nobody has before.
I can’t wait till he gets his hands on a solo movie.
Mr. H: He was stellar in the role. Already quite the star. Now he’s one of the Super variety. I was so happy we got a grizzled, war tempered Dark Knight. He’s been at this for over twenty years when this takes place. His suit has all the battle scars and I love the gritty and unpristine approach he took to the character. His Bruce Wayne was decisive and unapologetic. To see Batman come alive that well on the screen was breathtaking.
That being said Affleck‘s performance was only strengthened by the choice of the man who was chosen to play Bruce‘s closest (and mainly only) ally: Alfred. Jeremy Irons was fantastic. I could watch him chew the scenery with Affleck all day. They had a very antagonistic relationship and you felt like they knew each other like the back of their hands. Now in the comics Alfred is a father to Bruce. Here he was much like an older brother. Alfred‘s sardonic wit was the highlight of the film. I also liked how they made him very mechanically and strategically inclined. It was a very military chain of command approach to the classic relationship between Alfred and Bruce. So very happy we will be getting more of this in the follow up films.
Alex: I completely agree with you, there. I’m going to move on to the other major draw for fans before we turn this into a Ben Affleck as Batman lovefest (which would be easy to do). I’m sure the folks reading this will have seen reviews complaining that Henry Cavill‘s Superman wasn’t great, I’ve read that some critics felt he was too depressed and not as happy as Superman should be in this movie, and while that’s true, it actually makes more sense in this movie than a happy Superman. Batman v Superman spends pretty much the entire movie calling Superman a god. And maybe if we lived in that world we’d do the same thing, but you’ve got to think about the pressure that he must feel. He has the power to do almost anything, and you can see the weight of that responsibility getting heavier upon his shoulders. Of course he’s not going to smile a much; despite having godlike power, this is just a man from Kansas with a heart the size of the state he was raised in.
I think that Cavill captures that brilliantly in his performance. Is he the best onscreen Superman? That’s tough, because he’s always going to be compared to Christopher Reeve, but they both played totally different versions of the character. Reeve‘s Superman was an ideal representation of his time, and so is Cavill‘s. The scene with him and Luthor, and I know you agree with me here from our chat earlier, is one of the best scenes in the movie that doesn’t include a certain character. When Superman does lose control, you can almost understand why Batman was so determined to try and preemptively stop him, and without Cavill I don’t think we’d have that. When he and Affleck were on screen together I never felt that one performance drastically over powered the other.
You know, I’ve hogged the mic for a bit here, mate, what are your thoughts?
Mr. H: You chimed that perfectly. Cavill as Superman was definitely darker than the last film but you’re right he has so much weight in his performance but not everyone can flash that heartwarming smile as good as Christopher Reeve did. Cavill‘s Clark was much more brazen and steadfast in his ideals. I like that he had the intrepid reporter streak in him. Besides that scene on the helipad, any scene that had the lovely Amy Adams as Lois Lane made the Superman scenes better.
On the talk of it. Lois Lane really was the only light in this movie. This was a dark, dark, dark movie (don’t bring the kiddos) and she manages to brightly break through the cracks. Lois was fearless and tenacious to help exonerate the man she loves from public hate. She spared no lengths and it was good to not have her resorted to a damsel in distress.
Lois wasn’t the only tough as nails female performance though. Introducing Gal Gadot as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. All I can say about her performance is, enchanting. She sucks you right in. She plays the mystery card at first with Bruce and then you see there is much more to her. As a Israeli actress she had the perfect look for Wonder Woman. I especially enjoyed the nod to the past with Lynda Carter when she was in the white jumpsuit. It’s nice when franchises pay homage to previous incarnations.
The great thing about Gadot though is that she felt right at home between the Super Powered boys club. In fact the huge fight scenes at the end is where she shines. She plays Diana‘s warrior side to a tee. Especially that wry smirk and gleeful smile she makes after she gets her butt kicked and jumps in the fray for more. I thought to myself yes THAT is Wonder Woman. Someone finally got it. Her outfit was a warriors garb and practical for battle without being over sexualized. Plus they had her use the lasso of truth! When did you ever think you’d see that on the big screen??
Alex: Honestly? Never. I figured that it would be one of those things that just didn’t make the jump from page to screen. You mentioned already that Lois Lane was the light in the darkness here, but so too was Gal Gadot. Despite being cast against two strong actors, she more than held her own and I felt she truly did justice to Wonder Woman‘s character (and that smile? Amazing!). She wasn’t in the movie as much as the two title characters, but she was brilliant when she did appear.
But somebody who, perhaps, is a bit more divisive is Jesse Eisenberg. When I heard of his casting, I was actually pretty confident he’d be great… but that wasn’t exactly the case.
Mr. H: Yes as a big fan of his work I was thrilled [at the news of his casting]. Then I saw the first released footage and I was not as excited. He had some cringe worthy dialogue in the trailers. “The red capes are coming, the red capes are coming.” He played Lex Luthor a little too manic at times for my taste. His normal fast talking jargon was distracting here. I won’t lay it all on him however. The script never delves into why he hates Superman so much. We are just to assume it’s a mix of jealousy and contempt. It was off putting.
He wasn’t all bad however. His wardrobe was provided for some good moments and I loved the heavy musical score when he was on screen. One thing is for sure, without getting into heavy spoiler territory here, he implemented the most devious plan against Superman we’ve ever seen on screen. That was fantastic. His scene on the Helipad with Superman even after seeing the movie twice, gave me chills.
Alex: Yeah, I agree with you there. Despite some scripting issues – which may well be solved in the inevitable Directors Cut – his performance was very energetic. He felt, at times, like a little less violently crazy than Heath Ledger‘s phenomenal Joker, but with much more devious intellect. His character was an interesting opposition to the grim leads, and I think that given another chance, Eisenberg may give us a far better performance because he certainly gave us glimpses of one here.
Mr. H: This is a world where it’s brutally honest and people don’t just swoon because of some handsome being in a red capes flashes his pearly whites at them. Also its a world where a man who is so tormented and damaged enough to dress up like a giant bat isn’t the most stable individual traipsing across the rooftops.
Alex: I think that, honestly, the characterizations that we’ve gotten in this movie are generally fantastic. There are a couple of moments that aren’t great, but by and large the performances are spectacular.
There are certainly flaws to the movie, I’m sure we both know that, but unlike the legion of critics who panned the movie I can look past that and enjoy the movie we’ve received. The critical panning, honestly, was incredibly harsh – and I think now it’s cool to hate on the movie.
Mr. H: I completely concur. Again I have almost no problems with the performances (Eisenberg inconsistencies aside) as it was a daunting task to do this story ahem.. justice. No way everyone was going to be happy but the visceral hate it’s received by critics is staggering. It’s a super hero film people. Not Schindlers List. It’s not going to be a 10. To take these fantastic character icons and put them on the big screen in a way that is both true and new is a gargantuan task. I thought Snyder did very well. People complaining that the film was dark, well you knew it was going to be dark!
Look at Man of Steel. That was the blueprint for this. That’s like saying oh, water is wet (Thank you Perry White). If any issues arise it’s with the pacing at the beginning and maybe the overly CGI ending. However I give mega props to that ending which I never thought I’d ever see on the big screen. Bryan Singer attempted it in Superman Returns but Zack Snyder had the guts to do it here. Now I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Alex:You know what astounds me more than anything? Is that the ending not only happened but that nobody is talking about it! I think that’s awesome. It’s an ending that
I never expected to see that on the big screen, and especially not at this stage [in the DCCU], but it’s such a fantastic catalyst to pull the Justice League together and turn Batman back into the hero he used to be.
And yeah, I may not have been overly happy with the cgi ending, but I didn’t hate it (and I have heard the “the port is abandoned” line is flimsy justification for the destruction at the end), but I actually liked the pace at the beginning [of the movie]. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think.
To hear some people talk about this movie, you’d think it was another Fantastic 4, but that’s just not the case.
Mr. H: For better or worse it looks like we will be getting this rendition of these characters for a long time. One of the biggest gripes I heard was the tone of the film. I had no issue with it. The first time I saw it, I was in a bit of shock but upon the second view I quite liked it. I think it’s refreshing we finally got this type of movie rather than a retread of the same ol’ same ol’. Director Zack Snyder shows us that it’s certainly a brave new world and we better have the courage to take the ride.
Alex: If you were to give the movie a score, what’d it be?
Mr. H: Without Affleck, a 6. With? I’d give it an 8. You?
Alex: About the same, actually.
Next time on Discuss, Mr. H and Alex are going to be talking about a classic Batman story. You may be able to guess which one, if they offer a hint or Two. So join them on the same Bat-channel, at the same Bat-time and find out just how much they have to say about a graphic novel that may (or may not) have inspired part of the movie they just finished talking about!