It's the battle we've all been waiting for: DC vs Marvel. With Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. finally enters the expanded universe blockbuster ring, on the backs of two of its most heralded heavyweights, Superman and Batman, household names long before Tony Stark and t he Avengers captured the zeitgeist. But with the excitement of a movie that promises a Justice League franchise also came trepidation, cynicism, and doubt. Most would generously call the movie from which it springboards, Man of Steel, Not Very Good. The same goes for returning director Zack Snyder and his overall talent level. Moviegoers, critics, comic geeks alike—we're all split.
We're split in the Complex offices too, which is why two staff members with very different expectations saw the movie earlier this week and agreed to have their own battle to determine whether this movie is indeed a trash pile or a solid new shift in the superhero regime. On one side we have esteemed Marvel Hater Chopz, who has been impatiently waiting for DC to fully body Marvel's factory-feel of overly witty heroes, talking raccoons, and often under-developed villains. On the other, The Summer Man, a.k.a. Frazier Tharpe, a lifelong Batman stan who nevertheless saw the writing on the wall once Nolan and Bale dipped, and fell asleep during Man of Steel, which he only saw once. Now that Dawn of Justice is finally out, who do you stand with?
Summer Man: Whoo boy, when news leaked that Ben Affleck, burgeoning triple threat of our time, would make re-writes to David Goyers' flavorless script on-set—still in costume!—I feared I'd have to take an L. After years of saying fuck optimism and steeling myself for Hack Snyder to ruin my favorite superhero and one of his best arcs, the impossible became probable. They might actually pull this off. Well, that didn't happen.
The best you can say about this movie is that it isn't a teeming garbage dumpster leaking sewer juices and Nolan fan tears. Instead it's a dull, tidy recycling bin. So recycled it actually starts with the Wayne parents murder. Again. Tidy or disgusting though, trash is trash. This movie is a C-, a 6/10, 3 Ben Affleck bachelor back tats out of 5. It's. It's not horrible. But it's not good. And there are no excuses.
Chopz: Where do we stand in the wake of seeing Dawn of Justice, which I've publicly caped for since it was announced? Well, nothing that you mentioned is necessarily wrong. But I wouldn't call it trash nor not good. Zack Snyder is not a great director and that was evident from the opening scene. However, for the DC Universe, the film did what it had to do, despite Snyder trying to bring it down in every way possible.
And still, anyone who doubted that Affleck could do this should be humiliated in a very public way. He not only pulled it off, but I wouldn't want anyone else to play a drunken, old and washed Batman. He was to me, the best part of the film. After sitting on it, this is a 8/10 film that had clear flaws, but was still enjoyable and accomplished what it needed to.
Summer Man: EIGHT? 10 hours ago when we saw this you were at seven, which was already too high and too forgiving. This movie has a laughable lack of rhythm and flow, especially in its plodding first hour. Is that made more painful only four years removed from the Nolan trilogy, each film of which moved through similar runtimes as this overlong shit like a shark? Sure, but that's the last time we'll bring up Chris and Chris Bale. This stands on its own, or about as much as a film expected to fast-track a 10-movie universe can.
Yes, anyone who doubted Affleck wouldn't steal the show is still stuck on Gigli. And that's where my props stop. What else was there to like? The third act is cool, but everything that came before it is messy and dull. Thinly drawn sketches all around, scenes that don't add up, etc. Lex Zuckerberg was interesting, but let's be honest: he's more just a collection of tics than a real character. And the actual mechanics of his plan were first-draft level boring. You're already pitting Batman versus Superman, the movie is inherently grand scale. There was a way to make Lex's maneuvering, plotting and framing just as intricate, engrossing, and grand. Lamest conspiracy ever.
Chopz: I actually thought that Lex Zuckerberg was a bright spot of the film. Yes, his plan was not very thought out and had holes galore, but that's because he's a young Lex Luthor. He's supposed to fuck up and not be perfect. You don't think he's about to learn while sitting in that jail cell? Drake didn't peak with Comeback Season. Give him time. And again, I bumped up my rating after thinking of the overall grand scheme of what this means for the DC Universe.
We obviously saw that Wonder Woman is ready to be the HBIC going forward and I'm quite intrigued by the Flash. Also, the brief look at Aquaman looked infinitely better than the Vinny Chase version, so they're already off to a good start. This was no Medellin situation, despite Zack Snyder probably being a worse version of Billy Walsh. But enough Entourage references, can we talk about how Superman really wasn't that bad and how that's kind of surprising?
Summer Man: It's always been funny to me that Man of Steel 2 turned into this whole thing much bigger than Superman, and how Henry Cavill basically had his thunder stolen from him. There aren't any Superman movies on DC's five-year plan, even. (Although maybe given the way the movie ends that's purposeful misdirection?) I was expecting BvS to be the Affleck show on a story level as well, but it really wasn't. The public's tension in reconciling a savior who inevitably causes more damage while he's trying to do good and also supersedes the UN for good and bad was interesting, as was his reaction to it, and Lois' guilt at inadvertently stoking the fires. With that said and without saying too much, I don't think it was properly resolved. I dug the way we leave things with Supes, but I'm not sure I buy the public un-turning their backs. He saves the world in a very private affair—the movie hilariously goes out of its way to right Man of Steel's wrongs with repeated affirmations that this fight is going down in an unpopulated area lmao. Was the world truly aware of his sacrifices? I needed one scene of him actually saving people. But that's a snobby quibble when this movie offers up so many easy targets. I give the title fight itself a B/B+.
Outside of that, was any action in this movie memorable? Zack Snyder's such a trash director that I'm not sure I even know what the new Batmobile looks like, even though we had a chase scene. I'm being harder on this because it'd be easier to dismiss if it was pure trash. Instead, there's a dope movie here ruined by a faux-teur. And his reign isn't over, which is just more depressing. He's trading in the Maybach of superhero movies for a family-sized Lambo station wagon—shooting on Justice League is already scheduled to begin next month. Who is satisfied with this guy's talent at WB? Who's mans is this? I can't even get excited about the handful of Justice League teases shoved down our throats at the expense of a streamlined movie.
Chopz: I won't fight you on Zack Snyder. He's bad and that was proved throughout this movie. Despite his ineptness though, this movie is still what it needs to be. Affleck is the answer as Batman and the rest of the roster is solid. With Suicide Squad on deck, this was nothing more than a primer for what's to come, even though you would like it to be better. I'm at peace with the film and can say that I'm a fan. Batman was drinking wine at 5 a.m. after a one-night stand; Superman wasn't corny and awful; Doomsday was actually cool. This isn't Fantastic Four bad, as some have suggested. It just wasn't as amazing as I, and most, had hoped. It was still good. Aside that, can we talk about how Jeremy Irons was a great Alfred? Dare I say he's Batman's OB OBrien?
Summer Man: Well, if he's twenty years deep, that'd make Alfred more like his TyTy. We can talk about the film's bright spots all day (it'd be a short day) but that doesn't change the facts. How can I be excited about a movie universe Snyder is the father of? Am I supposed to look forward to the remaining members of the Justice League versus Darkseid (whose looming presence is strongly implied here) when this $300 million franchise is currently getting bodied by its TV counterpart? As your fave once said, good ain't good enough. Let's hope Ben gets fed up and stages a coup on-set.