This was a deeply disappointing movie for me to watch. I’m a practically life long DC and Batman fan, I was born in ‘88 so I didn’t get to see the ‘89 movie until it was shown on TV. My earliest memory of the Batman is watching it on a rainy Saturday afternoon at my Grandparent’s house and having so many questions about this mysterious dark knight.
I was also the perfect age when Batman: The Animated Series started in ‘92 and this excellent portrayal is what I consider to be my Batman. Brought to life by the voice actor Kevin Conroy, this Batman was kind and altruistic but knew when and how to dispatch thugs when he needed to. Batman was a true role model for our generation and he’s been a constant presence in my life. But that’s not the Batman I saw on screen in Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice. What I saw was my childhood hero turned into an unrepentant murderer and that’s not okay with me.
Batman kills a lot in this movie. Just off the top of my head: he blows up multiple cars full of people with mounted machine guns on the Batmobile, shoots multiple people with pistols and heavy machine guns in a post apocalyptic dream sequence, knocks a thug’s grenade out of his hand and leaves them to explode and shoots another thug’s flamethrower tank with an assault rifle again resulting in a fiery explosion.
To me this felt like complete betrayal of everything the character stands for and I want to go into a bit more detail on that.
As a character Bruce Wayne’s defining moment is undoubtedly the mugging turned murder of his parents. They were shot and killed in front of him which is what started him down the path to becoming Batman. He wanted to rid the streets of the kind of scum who indiscriminately destroy human lives figuratively and literally. He values human life and is always ready to give people a second chance to leave their life of crime behind. No one man should decide who lives or dies and Batman does everything in his power to ensure criminals are caught and sent to jail alive.
Weapons on the Batmobile aren’t something new, over the many incarnations he has used projectile weapons but they are usually used to disable a vehicle or destroy obstructions. He should never use them to shoot a car until it explodes.
Fair enough, the post apocalyptic Batman we see is a dream sequence but in my opinion it adds nothing at all to the story. It was a pointless inclusion. There should not be footage of Batman in a major movie gunning down hordes of soldiers with an assault rifle. It’s just not right.
In the final Batman scene he infiltrates a warehouse full of thugs which was their big chance to make it right but again he murders some of them. Now granted the thug with the grenade was mostly responsible for his own death but the Batman I know would have at least tried to minimize the damage caused by that situation. The last guy he comes to is pointing a flamethrower at the hostage Batman’s trying to rescue so it’s a desperate moment but a better Batman would have used his knowledge to disable the weapon hopefully without blowing the guy up.
Maybe it does sound unrealistic for Batman to dispense vigilante justice without taking a life but that’s the point. Batman is supposed to be the best of all of us. The pinnacle of humanity. A man who over his comic history has faced down god-like beings from other worlds and bested them. He should never even want to pick up a gun in the first place after what happened to his parents. By avoiding killing he can also ensure that he doesn’t orphan anymore of Gotham’s children himself.
This is what happened when my Batman was forced to pick up a gun in desperation:
He quits. Because if he let himself slip down that path there would be no coming back and the symbol of the Batman would lose its meaning.
With Great Power…
Director Zack Snyder not content with just destroying Batman also drags the Man of Steel’s good name through the mud too.
Superman never shows any remorse in this movie for the events of 2013’s Man of Steel movie. We find out that he never made any statement or public apology for levelling a good chunk of Metropolis in the 18 months between movies. He doesn’t show and remorse or internal conflict over the murder of General Zod on screen.
Superman is another character that famously doesn’t kill because he is basically a god compared to a regular human. He knows that if he kills a human people would be terrified of him because he’s so powerful. So when he snapped Zod’s neck in the climax to Man of Steel a lot of his long time fans felt their character had been betrayed too. They had hoped that in the next film he would take responsibility for his actions and be held accountable but that does not happen.
He just emotionlessly flies through the whole movie and again in the climax a lot of buildings get levelled except this time they cram in some clumsy lines about the areas being after 6pm so nobody is at work in the financial district.
They do set up a scene where Superman is supposed to appear in front of congress to explain himself but just as he’s about to talk a bomb planted by Lex Luthor blows up the entire building. Then Superman just flies away and this is never addressed again! Snyder literally substitutes much needed dialogue for an explosion, it’s ridiculous.
On top of all of this it was just a mediocre movie for me. It hits nowhere near the highs of Marvel’s Avengers but it’s not as bad/boring as Green Lantern either. All I was feeling was disappointment while watching this. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Bruce Timm’s excellent animated universe but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a good Justice League movie in my lifetime. Sadly Zack Snyder is directing the future DC movies and they’re due to start filming soon so I guess I’ve got a few more years to wait.
Ending on a positive here are some shows I would 100% recommend over this movie if you’re curious about the DC universe: Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice, Arrow, Flash.
(Most of these animated shows are on Amazon Prime Video right now)