The superhero genre is alive and well to a degree that would have been simply inconceivable before the turn of the century and with so many films in the genre today, there are bound to be some that are better than others. Yet few, if any filmmakers in the genre have managed to craft movies that truly look and feel like a comic book come to life as much as Zack Snyder has and in that regard his latest film, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a comic book movie masterpiece.
Reprising his role of Clark Kent aka Superman from 2013’s “Man of Steel” is Henry Cavill. Ben Affleck comes aboard as the other of the film’s two title characters, the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne who, by night, dons the alter-ego of Batman. Amy Adams also returns as Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane along with Diane Lane as Clark’s mother Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White.
Jeremy Irons steps into the role of Bruce’s trusted butler and close ally Alfred Pennyworth, while Holly Hunter portrays June Finch, a United States Senator mistrustful of the Man of Steel’s activities. The world’s most iconic superheroine, Diana of Themyscira aka Wonder Woman makes her big screen debut with Gal Gadot assuming the role, while Jesse Eisenberg portrays the villain of the film, the sinister billionaire entrepreneur Lex Luthor.
While it must be stressed that their appearances in the film are mere cameos, DC Comics fans will nevertheless immensely delight in seeing Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher pop up in the roles of Barry Allen, Arthur Curry, and Victor Stone, or as they’re known to the general public, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg!
It’s been two years since Superman saved the world from total annihilation by the invading forces of his home planet Krypton under the leadership of General Zod. Since then, the world at large remains unsure of the presence of a super-powered alien living amongst them.
Some, like billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, view the massive destruction that took place in Metropolis that day as evidence that such a godlike being cannot be trusted. Meanwhile, Superman’s alter ego, Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, grows increasingly concerned about the activities of a vigilante in neighboring Gotham City known as “The Batman”, not knowing that the man under the mask is none other than Bruce himself.
As each hero grows more mistrustful of the other, the wealthy, twisted entrepreneur Lex Luthor begins hatching his own scheme behind the scenes involving the wreckage of Kryptonian spacecrafts and the corpse of General Zod, and uses the enmity each hero holds for the other to further his nefarious plot.
Whether it’s “300”, “Sucker Punch”, “Watchmen”, or “Man of Steel” we’re talking about, the thing that has consistently stood out about Zack Snyder’s filmography is that his movies always look and feel like they’ve got one foot in live-action and one foot in animation. He has a genuine gift for visually stylized filmmaking as much as he does for crafting insanely large-scale action, and more so than any recent comic book adaptation, “Batman v Superman” is a true visual wonder.
Just as in “Man of Steel”, he’s created a superhero movie where almost any individual shot looks like it could be a panel inside of a comic book, a two-page spread, or even the cover of an entire issue. Just to bask in the gorgeous, ethereal splendor of the film is a treat for the eyes unlike anything else in superhero cinema today. It’s as if Warner Bros. gave a special effects budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to a child playing with his action figures. In addition, Snyder clearly has the attitude of “go big or go home” and creates astonishing action sequences on an epic scale that must be seen to be believed.
Henry Cavill’s clearly grown into the role of Superman and continues to carry the mantle of the Last Son of Krypton beautifully. As for Ben Affleck, if he isn’t the best cinematic Batman we’ve seen thus far, he’s by far the scariest. Worn down after years of fighting crime in Gotham, he leaves any evildoers who cross his path with as many psychological scars as physical ones, and the voice modulator he adopts, which makes him sound decidedly un-human, is a really clever touch towards the end of using fear as his primary weapon (imagine hearing that voice in a dark alley in the dead of night!).
But perhaps best of all, especially for martial arts fans, is that after decades’ of Batman movies featuring fight sequences varying from pretty good to quite terrible, we at last have a Bruce Wayne who gives fighting like Bruce Lee a good shot! For all the anticipation of the actual Batman vs Superman fight itself, possibly the best Batman solo fight to date comes late in the film with The Dark Knight single-handedly taking down two dozen opponents in a warehouse.
This is truly the kind of martial arts’ skill we all associate with the Caped Crusader brought to life on such a visceral level. You can just imagine this take on Batman being set loose in the apartment complex in “The Raid”, and judging by this fight sequence, he’d clear the whole place down in about ten minutes!
Of course, superhero cinema history is made before our eyes with the duel between The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel. Rest assured, it lives up to the hype without shortchanging either contender. Batman finds a way to level the playing field in his favor, but Superman gets plenty of immense strikes in as well. The moment that ultimately allows them to find common ground is something that you don’t see coming but it sets the stage for a final battle that is the stuff of ancient mythology.
If you’ve been following the trailers, you know that Doomsday (a terrifying colossus of evil power) is Lex Luthor’s end game trump- card who, as Jesse Eisenberg portrays him is perhaps the most maniacal version of the character we’ve ever seen. The finale is where the “Dawn of Justice” subtitle really comes to life as well as where Wonder Woman makes her grand entrance, and grand it is. To see Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman join forces against Doomsday is to experience the fanboy dream of living in the world of superpowers and incredible adventure that is the DC Universe come true!
With astonishing action, a stunning visual style, a gripping theme on the nature of trust and absolute power, and enough Easter Eggs for five comic book adaptations, “Batman v Superman” is an incredible achievement in the superhero genre. Flipping through the pages of comic books, few of us could’ve possibly imagined the adventures of the heroes we idolize brought to life with such passion and grandeur in live-action, but Zack Snyder has does exactly that. And with the tantalizing flashes of the upcoming “Justice League” characters we get, THAT simply cannot get here fast enough!
- The film is partially inspired by Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns”, in which Batman and Superman come into conflict with each other. This is particularly evident in the armor suit Batman wears to fight Superman. Interestingly, Batman’s previous appearance on cinema screens, 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, was also partially based on “The Dark Knight Returns” (both feature the premise of an older Batman returning to Gotham after many years of retirement).
- The film marks the first adaptation of Batman in popular media in which Bill Finger, widely regarded as co-creator of the Batman mythos, has received screen credit alongside Bob Kane.
- Henry Cavill maintained his physique after ‘Man of Steel’ and for his return doubled the amount of his muscle mass. At one point Cavill’s weight peaked at 220lbs (100kg).
- During the production of the film Henry Cavill and Amy Adams took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge with Cavill getting extra buckets of ice dumped on him (and why not, he is Superman after all right?).
- On being cast, Ben Affleck worked out two hours a day gaining an additional 20Ibs (9kg) of muscle and reached 8% body fat.
- Ben Affleck asked the previous Batman Christian Bale, for advice in taking on the role, to which Bale responded, “Make sure you can take a pi** in that suit.”
- In preparation for her role Gal Gadot trained in Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Jujitsu and Capoeira.
- Gal Gadot will be seen again as Diana in the “Wonder Woman” solo movie, set to be released in June, 2017. She, Henry Cavill, and Ben Affleck, along with Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher, will also all reprise their roles in “Justice League” which is due in November, 2017. Affleck will also be seen as Batman again later this year in “Suicide Squad”.