Batman V Superman: Dividing Fans and Breaking BoundariesAn underrated gem or a bad adaptation?
By Matteo Di Giovanni - Arts & Culture Editor
"Who Will Win?" The repeated question was plastered over thousands of ads during the marketing for "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice". Fans of DC Comics were thrilled. For Warner Brothers, this film was intended to be an epic start to a cinematic universe by introducing Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League. The anticipation to see their childhood fantasies come to life was exciting. Except, once the heroes punched their way into theaters, the result was a flop amongst critics, producers and audiences alike. The audience was primarily disappointed but the film still garnered a following from passionate fans who love the ambitious comic book movie. While BvS (Batman V Superman) did set up a larger DC universe, director Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio had a very different type of story in mind that they set out to make.
Laurence, a fan of movies and superheroes, was disappointed when she watched BvS in theatres. She felt that the marketing and trailers dishonestly advertised the film. She shares that: “We expected an epic battle between Batman & Superman because of what was shown in the trailers. But when I saw the movie, it really wasn’t about that. The result was slow, boring and ultimately, bad”.
BvS has a different approach to the superhero movie genre. It strays away from the superhero traditions and deconstructs the characters instead. It follows an anguished Batman who breaks away from his moral codes as he tries to kill Superman, who he believes is an alien threat to humanity due to his “Otherness” and danger his power possesses. Superman, on the other hand, existentially struggles throughout the film as he becomes a target of the media and public. He also uses his Clark Kent journalistic skills to investigate how cruel Batman is towards criminals and how his bias disrupts the justice system. But, both characters are being manipulated by the psychologically complex billionaire, Lex Luthor, who tries to undermine their powers.
Initially a Dawson Cinema Communications student, Sam, didn’t enjoy the film in theatres. He states that: “It tried something new and audiences don't respond well to new things so quickly and abruptly, especially with a title with the word "versus" in it, which promises action. That title probably sold better but didn't fit the narrative that well”. However, when the three hour cut was released, he grew a love for it “since it fleshes out the main character's ambitions and rivalry”, explains Sam. He also believes that the theatrical release failed because Warner Bros “chopped off essential pieces of the story to please the audience with a shorter runtime”.
Enrico, a Health Sciences Dawson student, thinks that Batman V Superman is a flawed movie. Some of his problems with the movie is that he feels it is “gratuitous”, ruined by “typical Snyder tropes and Affleck’s subpar performance as Batman” and that the “story could have been further developed”. He further explains that “the theatrical cut was a mess and a half but, I am satisfied with the changes made in the Ultimate Edition. I am overall ambivalent about the film”. He praises the film for such things as its visual beauty stating that “there are multiple moments where I can pause and gaze at the scene as if I were looking at a piece of art”. He also likes how the movie “paints Batman as an anti hero”, particularly in the scene where Clark investigates in Gotham and “experiences firsthand the citizens’ fears of Batman” and, he admires Jesse Eisenberg’s manipulative version of Lex Luthor.
Sam appreciates how BvS is character driven. “It gives more screen time to its characters. It does what comic book movies are too afraid to do, which is doing something outside the basic redundant narrative that makes every Marvel movie feel similar. Zack Snyder tried a different narrative with BvS, choosing to flesh out Kent, Luthor, and Wayne's characters and their exchanges rather than just being a basic superhero movie”, says Sam. He continues: “The movie definitely changed my views on comic book adaptations. I respect how Zack Snyder presented these god-like heroes in the most relatable and grounded way possible. I will defend this movie because it proves how source material can be adapted and altered to any vision.”
Enrico thinks that Cavill’s performance as Superman is much more relatable than Christopher Reeve. Sam explains that BvS “humanized Superman by showing how his weakness is not only kryptonite, but his emotions too, and how that also affects the people around him”.
All in all, Batman V Superman will endlessly continue to be a subject of discourse. Hopefully over time, audiences will eventually appreciate the film’s uniquely original approach and deconstructive take on superheroes. And if you watch it, make sure it’s the 3 hour cut.