THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. Dont' get lost in the sauce and try to blame me.
The dust had well and truly settled on the Batman franchise when the reigns were handed over to Christopher Nolan and Batman Begins was released in 2005. George Clooney’s 1997 Batman & Robin was a journey into Gotham most people wanted to forget. Except me. I do not hold that film in as much contempt as others, I was 8 year old at the time of its release and I wanted to be BatGirl, are you nuts? Furthermore, I wanted to be Poison Ivy too! That film was camp fun and it is such a shame it was also the ruiner of many a career (pours out liqour for Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’Donnell’s silver screen ambitions). I digress.
Christopher Nolan had the legroom to redefine the Batman story and put his own stamp on the franchise. The Dark Knight Trilogy was a well planned, well written character analysis of the damaged psyche of Bruce Wayne. When Christopher Nolan introduced us to a Gotham where Christian Bale was Batman and Michael Caine was Alfred, we’d had nearly a decade to forget Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze and forgetting wasn’t a great feat to achieve. It’s comparable to asking music lovers to forget Javine Hylton to make way for Beyonce. I mean like Batman & Robin, Javine happened so long ago, without the evidence we do have, we’re not even really sure she was actually a thing that happened. In comparison, it is a much harder task to ask that film lovers to forget Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight and replace it with Zack Snyder’s vision. The Dark Knight ended a mere 4 years ago and was a cinematic tour de force that redefined the entire superhero movie genre. Christopher Nolan told us to ask more of our superheroes. A post Nolan Batman had to have hubris and humility in equal measures, he had to be intelligent and vulnerable, he had to be self-sacrificing yet powerful, masculine but tender. Poor ting, Zack Snyder sure had his work cut out for him.
There was a collective “really doe?” when Snyder revealed Ben Affleck was to become The Bat. To me Ben Affleck didn’t possess the gravitas necessary to play the role. You can always see he’s acting. And true to form in the film I never saw Bruce Wayne dressing up as Batman, I saw Ben Affleck dressing up as Bruce Wayne dressing up as Batman. Many would say that’s on me and I brought my prejudice against Affleck into the cinema. Have a seat, babe. It is the actor’s responsibility to force me to suspend disbelief, that’s why he gets paid millions, that’s his job.
It’s well documented (omg, everyone and their chicken are running to tell you how bad the film is) that there were a lot of questionable casting decisions in this movie. For instance, while on paper he is 67 years old Jeremy “abortion harms women” Irons does not look old enough against Ben Affleck’s Alfred. Affleck himself is a quite mature Bruce Wayne with grey hair at his temple and salt and pepper beard, it was just not believable that Irons would have been old enough to take care of Master Wayne after the death of his parents. That being said, in Zack Snyder’s world Alfred has to be sprite enough to be the IT department for Batman and I guess a man who looks well into his Freedom Pass years would have been less believable? Jesse Eisenberg wanted to give this unhinged performance as Lex Luther but it was underdeveloped and lacked the roots that would have us saying, yes! This is a man who is truly insane. The bar that Christopher Nolan set with The Dark Knight affects not only the director but the actors alike of any Batman film to come. Heath Ledger’s Joker was so iconic that while we are not expecting Jesse Eisenberg go so method that he accidentally kills himself with sleeping pills, we are expecting it to be authentic and it wasn’t. We saw what you were trying to do there but you didn’t quite reach.
I could go on and on, pointing out every single flaw with the film, but there are plenty of other people out there getting their jollies off by trashing this film. The film is not even on the road to being trash. Zack Snyder is being asked to set up the entire DC universe. It is a tall order. It's true, the script wasn’t as tight as it could have been. It is clunky in parts. However, it's to bad enough to warrant the level of vitriol it's receiving.
There is so much foreshadowing about this great battle between Batman and Superman that no one cares when it happens, the film is called Batman Vs Superman for heaven’s sake. Skip all this nudge nudge wink wink and get to explaining
- the real reason Batman inexplicably hates Superman (clue: dick size).
- Talk us about why all of a sudden Metropolis is across the river from Gotham.
- Help us understand why Batman now resembles the Michelin Man?
- How come Wonder Woman is so instrumental in defeating Doomsday but gets so few lines?
- Why is everyone in Metropolis so easily fooled by a simple pair of glasses?
- How come not one of these seasoned journalists at The Daily Planet clocked that Superman’s funeral was the same day as Clark Kent’s?
- Why was Olivia Pope’s dad in this?
- Why was Kahl Drogo rolling in the deep?
- Why does Lex Luther want to raise Doomsday?
- Why did Lex Luther feed that politician a cherry candy and then lick his fingers?
- What did Lois Lane hope to achieve by throwing the spear in the water?
None of this was explained but you want to spend 60% of the film on exposition like Christopher Nolan didn’t do that for you only recently? Okay boo. This is all Christopher Nolan's fault. Let's go a step further and blame Bryan Singer, Joss Wheddon and Jon Favreau while we're at it. If it wasn't for the success of The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Avengers Series and the Iron Man Trilogy we'd all just accept this film for what it is; the beginning a franchise of superhero movies that are going to do well at the box office regardless of the terrible reviews.
Bless your heart Zack Snyder, just know if you were an Asian woman whose film was this poorly received, you’d never work another day in Hollywood. Take solace in your privilege and in the words of our dearly departed Aaliyah, dust yourself off and try again.