The experts have spoken. Here are the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice critic reviews you’ve been waiting for.
Warner Brothers chose to make critics wait until Tuesday, March 22 to release their Batman v Superman reviews, which is worrying. Preventing reviews from being published until so close to a movie’s release tends to be a bad sign. So is this the case for Dawn of Justice?
We’ve rounded up reviews from prominent outlets who posted their thoughts after WB’s embargo lifted on Tuesday afternoon. These reviews have been a long time coming and finally answer the big question: Does Batman v Superman live up to the hype? WB needs it to be a hit at least financially, because this is the start of the DC Movie Universe aiming to compete with Marvel.
The answer in a nutshell is: Meh. There seem to be a bunch of problems with the movie, though some critics do give it credit for somewhat successfully taking on a task as large as putting Batman and Superman in one movie, while simultaneously launching a Justice League universe. I know, that’s not a great compliment.
‘Batman v Superman’ critic reviews
There probably could be a really interesting movie about the ideological divide between Batman and Superman, but on the basis of Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder was not the man to make it. He has no feel for the finer points of morality; the questions he asks are too straightforward and the resolution he arrives at after all that talk and too few setpieces is way too simple. Instead of playing up the differences between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, Batman v Superman flattens them. For all his high horsing about Superman’s transgressions, Batman mows down loads of people in his Batmobile and Batwing (both equipped with enormous machine guns), and he beats up bad guys with alarming ferocity (he paralyzes at least one guy for life, if the poor dude survives at all). At times, Affleck’s Bruce Wayne seems less worried about Clark Kent’s powers than jealous of them. This Batman may be right about this Superman, but he’s also a hypocrite. If he’d stop trying to kill him for two minutes, he’d realize how much they have in common. Batman and Superman have no reason to fight. These two “heroes” deserve each other.
You can feel “Batman v Superman” occasionally reaching out toward more than what its corporate interests have dictated — there are a few minutes of Affleck and Gadot verbally one-upping each other at a swanky society party, promising a sexy caper movie that never emerges, and Luthor occasionally stops being a cartoon when Eisenberg commits to some speeches about the nature of man and his gods, and how a being can be all-good or all-powerful, but never both.
Such moments are fleeting, however, and are mere filigree on Snyder’s real agenda of blowing stuff up. As in “Man of Steel,” great swaths of real estate get obliterated by our protagonists, but it would appear that he heard the criticism that the previous film glibly traded on the horrors of 9/11 by showing ash-covered survivors crawling out of the ruins of Metropolis. This time, there’s always a supporting character (or Anderson Cooper) to tell us that the big bad battle is taking place in an area with no innocent bystanders.
Too much of Batman v Superman‘s story is convoluted, and too many of the actions taken by characters seem to serve the plot but make no sense for the characters themselves.
It is never made clear what Luthor’s motives are other than that he wants Superman gone from this world. His convoluted plan seems to exist only to get Batman to fight Superman and nothing else. And I get it, we need a reason for these two heroes to punch each other. And we also need a way for Batman to have a chance against the Man of Steel. Luther facilitates both of these things, but with logic that would barely pass muster in a comic book.
Lois Lane also makes some choices later in the story that seem to make very little sense at all. It almost seems like the filmmakers needed a certain object and a certain person in a certain location and could not come up with a believable explanation of how to get them there. The actions of the character serve only to lead them to where they are needed for the plot’s purposes, and nothing more.
Tasked with colliding the two most archetypal of American superheroes while also answering critics of his last outing, “Man of Steel,” and perhaps most importantly, paving the way for an extended DC Comics universe of films on which much of Warner Bros. future bottom line relies, Snyder has set a Sisyphean task for himself. That this very long, very brooding, often exhilarating and sometimes scattered epic succeeds as often it does therefore has to be seen as an achievement, and worldwide box office should be sufficiently lucrative to ensure future installments proceed on schedule. But amidst all the grueling work of saving the world and shouldering a franchise toward the heights, it would be nice to see these heroes, and this series, take a few more breathers to enjoy the view.
The solemn, grandiose atmosphere is severely disrupted by Luthor, portrayed by Eisenberg as a privileged high-tech guru who would make the actor’s take on Mark Zuckerberg look like the epitome of style and manners. Loaded with vocal ticks and gushing with smarmy ripostes and threats, the character is loathsome without an ounce of insidious charm; if the legacy of the studio’s Dark Knight films might have suggested anything, it should have been in the area of great villains, but here there is just a great vacuum.
For his part, Batman is provided with plentiful backstory and psychology, but the mature character, as written, never comes into full bloom; all the same, one can look ahead with some hope to Affleck in the role in future installments. Cavill is also likeable enough but, again, hamstrung by the twisty, convoluted inventions designed to limit his abilities during long stretches.
One big element that does undercut the climactic showdown is Doomsday. The character’s visual effects are just awful, and they repeatedly pull you out of the movie at exactly the moments you need to feel most invested and afraid for our heroes. You can sense the “tennis ball acting” of the stars going up against a CGI effect to be added later, and this emotional disconnect is egregious given the stakes of the finale.
Unfortunately, finally seeing the trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman together on the big screen was rather underwhelming. None of them really know each other so there’s not a lot of emotional investment between them, and to a larger degree the film’s marketing essentially spoiled what should have been the most joyous and revealing moment in the movie. In hindsight, there was no good reason for Warner Bros. to reveal Doomsday, Aquaman, and so much of Wonder Woman beforehand.
There are some positive things to read about the film scattered across the reviews, but the overwhelming reaction appears to be that it doesn’t live up to expectations.
Finally, here are a few gems from Twitter:
As a fan of MAN OF STEEL I'm here to tell you, #BatmanvSuperman isn't as bad as most people will say. But it sure as hell ain't good.
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) March 22, 2016
Batman V Superman is a huge letdown. It's bloated, unfocused & dull with serious character missteps. A few good moments can't save the rest.
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) March 22, 2016
If you want to see a ten minute fight between Batman and Superman in a two and a half hour movie, Batman V Superman might be for you ☺️
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) March 22, 2016
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters Friday, March 25.