Batman & Superman v. The Audience

Batman-vs-Superman-2016I’m about to give away the biggest spoiler imaginable regarding this multimillion dollar movie: it sucks. That’s not a word I usually employ but I can’t think of a better way to describe my reaction to the overblown, overlong, poorly written film awkwardly titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s built on the foundation of a bad idea (pitting two larger-than-life superheroes against each other) and goes downhill from there.

My biggest complaint is that the brain trust behind Batman v Superman has managed to drain all the fun out of these characters and their world. I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun.

I don’t even understand the premise, which has Bruce Wayne/
Batman blaming Superman for the cataclysm at the end of Zack Snyder’s previous
movie…and spending the rest of the picture finding a way to destroy him. Affleck
spends the entire film expressing one emotion: unrelenting anger.

Henry Cavill cuts a fine figure as Superman/Clark Kent but
he too has little to work with. I was trying to figure out why he doesn’t “own”
the role, as others like George Reeves and Christopher Reeve have in the past.
Then I figured out the problem: writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer haven’t
imbued him with any personality. It would take a superhuman actor to breathe
life into such a two-dimensional part. And, as usual in a Christopher Nolan
production, there is virtually no humor to be found…except in the dryly witty
portrayal of Alfred by Jeremy Irons.

Jesse Eisenberg-Amy Adams-680

I usually like Jesse Eisenberg but I found his portrayal of
the psychopathic Lex Luthor to be utterly monotonous. There is no color,
shading, or nuance: just one note over and over again. Other good actors,
including Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Harry
Lennix, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Joe Morton are wasted as well.

I feel sorry for kids and families who will be sucked into
seeing this blockbuster. Parents will have a hard time explaining the grimly
dark, confusing story to their children. Don’t kids deserve to cheer for a
superhero in this kind of movie? Director Zack Snyder and company don’t seem to
think so.

My daughter just asked me if there was anything I did like
about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
and I had to answer, honestly: no.


  1. C138 says:

    For what it’s worth, it’s a bit unfair and misleading to call this a "Christopher Nolan production" since he didn’t have any creative input on the film (he took the backseat this time as an executive producer). I think this film is more the result of the filmmakers and Warner Brothers trying to (unsuccessfully) copy his style.

  2. Anthony Perry says:

    How many stars ?

  3. Herbert says:

    This sounds like one of your BOMB reviews.

  4. mike schlesinger says:

    This was the same reaction I had to MAN OF STEEL: Where’s the fun? (The desaturated color should have been the first tip-off.) This looks like just more of the same, though I will probably be fair and give it a shot. I simply can’t understand why Warners keeps putting its faith (and treasury) in the hands of Snyder, who long ago proved that he’s nothing more than a road-company Michael Bay.

  5. Ed and Harriet Griffith says:

    As with Marvel’s upcoming one on a civil war between superheroes, it just is not that interesting. Sure heros should argue and maybe even have brief scuffles, but they should not have wars between each other because they are heros or at least basically decent people.

  6. Norm says:

    DC has been phoning it in for years, in comics and film. When you have sSuper Hero eho is so far above life, then you have a problem. Cinsidering Marvel Comics only disconnect is a Mask covered Spiderman the DC world has asuper-duper one. A hero who has a supet disconncet with the film audience. BTW there is a silver lining to this film it does have an end, sort of..

  7. Orlando says:

    @Ed And Harriet Griffith – I wouldn’t make he mistake of foolishly and wrongfully lumping "Civil War" into this like you seem to be doing. The battle lines in "Civil War is very fascinating and has good valid reasons on why the heroes see things from different perspectives. Just wait and watch the movie, you’ll be singing a different tune likely.

  8. Mark Whelan says:

    There is no, nor has there ever been, rule to suggest that superhero films are "supposed to be fun." Many have argued that comic books are a reflection of the times…this is Superman and Batman for a post-9/11 world, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but at least a reference point for the darker more cynical tone these films adopt. These are not the same characters we grew up with, nor should they be. Times change, movies change, and so do iconic characters.

  9. Jody Morgan says:

    C’mon, Leonard, tell us how you really feel. Personally, I didn’t have much hope for this movie even before the first review was published, but having read two reviews so far I’m already worried that WB/Nolan/Snyder will wind up ruining the planned Wonder Woman movie, which is the one I’m really hoping they get right.

  10. John Kestner says:

    The problem I had with the Christopher Nolan Batman pictures and MAN OF STEEL was…they didn’t do any super hero stuff in any of them! We continually have to see their backstories–which most Americans know better than their own actual history–but the scenes of their introduction to Gotham City or Metropolis are discarded. That was a big part of "the fun" that’s missing, I think.

  11. arvind says:

    I felt the movie was great until the point they point they brought on doomsday.Dont you think doomsday was unnecessary and instead they should have prolonged the fight scenes? I felt that tried to put in too much into this film.

  12. DBenson says:

    Actually, the friction between the idealistic Superman and the darkly cynical Batman has been made to work elsewhere. The old Warner animated series of Batman, Superman and the Justice League did it very well, even when both were on the same side. In fact, I regard those shows as definitive adaptations.

  13. Vincent says:

    Warners is so afraid of 1966 Batman camp that it has forgotten what drew us to the characters in the first place. How sad.

  14. robert says:

    If only Henry could return to Napoleon Solo in another Man from U.N.C.L.E.

  15. Daniel says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. I went into both this film and Man of Steel with no preconceived notions or expectations of what the film *should* be. I accepted both of them on the terms with which the filmmakers presented them and I loved both films. A film doesn’t have to be "fun" (as I’m interpreting you to mean it) to be entertaining or worthwhile. I don’t think the "Godfather" films are "fun." I don’t think the "Bourne" films are "fun." But I love both of those trilogies nonetheless. MoS and BvS (I have trouble separating them since they are really one long story) are unapologetically dark. They had a very specific story that they wanted to tell in a very specific tone, and under those circumstances the filmmakers told it exceptionally well in my opinion. I enjoyed it. I want to see more like this. Marvel will continue to offer a lighter, brighter alternative which is valid in its own way, just too glib and not as interesting for my tastes.

  16. Colorado says:

    My opinion is that this movie has sort of the atmosphere The Watchmen had. If you don’t like those "tortured heroes" movies then of course you will not like this one. This movie isn’t so much a Marvel superhero movie with witty and cool dialogue. This is deep and not actually made for little kids…Sorry about that, but I just loved what he did here. I enjoy the tortured Batman and the tortured Superman…And they are both feeling like that for a reason. If you can watch Unforgiven and see the drama and the pain the main characters are going through, and enjoy it, try doing the same thing with this picture and you will love it…

  17. Colorado says:

    Daniel, love the way you put it…Thanks!

  18. Herbert says:

    So I saw this movie last night after reading bad review after bad review after bad review. I realized while watching the film that it reminded me of being 8 years old when the comic series that introduced Doomsday was published. I was so shocked as a child by the outcome that I couldn’t stop talking about it for the next three years as the story was explored. It officially made me rock solid Team Superman.
    That being said, this was the movie I always wanted. It had the fight sequences I wanted to see, a little bit of comic campy-ness as only certain movies can dole out. And by the end I had tears rolling down my face.
    That being said, I realized about 20 minutes before the end, during the climactic Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman/Doomsday fight, that non-followers of the source material would find this film loud, boring, and dragging.
    I don’t agree that "it sucks" but I will say that those unfamiliar with the source material would think it sucks.
    I recall your lambasting review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a movie that to fans of the book was an incredible adaptation.
    bottom line – some stories just do not translate well from page to screen to an objective audience such as yourself.

    Keep up the good work! I miss buying your books every year.

  19. Paul Paron says:

    Heck, they can’t even make a decent Lone Ranger movie! The powers that be need to rachet it down a bit, and focus on telling a good story in an entertaining way.

  20. Jorge Peña says:

    When I first read the article I thought that the author was someone close to the comics, close to the characters, someone who really knows the stuff. But the fact is that he doesn’t. Maybe it sucked because people thinks that heroes have to be fun, DC heroes are not fun. They aren’t around smiling to people and being happy, telling jokes, or any other thing like that. They are born from tragedy, from dark things, from things that are very far from funny jokes.I have to agree that the movie is very far from Nolan’s touch, but not because of that is bad, it’s because that it has to be that way. We’ve seen batman in a dark touch with Tim Borton, a realistic humanitarian touch with Nolan, this movie its like a comic put in the big screen. That feeling is unique. That being said it’s not like it’s a perfect movie, but the most similar to the comics so far. The fact that is no humor in it is the biggest proof.

    Now if you want some more laughs and cheers I strongly recommend the author to see maybe Ironman, the first one of course, the other weren’t that good. But if ypu just want laughs in a superhero movie that has been well done, I suggest you see Deadpool. The movie was good and the character uses the jokes you’re looking for. But as I said before, read some comics first, the good histories, the ones you really can see the characters in their prime and you’ll get the idea.

  21. Jeffrey says:

    In the unlikely event that this would be well-received, I still think this flick would get trounced at the box office. Big, dumb blockbusters are no longer the safe bet that they were just a couple of years ago. A film’s commercial success is no longer ensured by the sheer scope of its production.

  22. Thomas H. says:

    "I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun."

    They are. Only Marvel figured that out. All of the DC films have decided to be dour and dark…..and it ain’t workin’ too good.

  23. Gkiss says:

    can you please clear-up your use of the word ‘fun’? What are you using to define it? By the sounds of it you are completly accustomed to the way Marvel do things and refuse to accept a comic book film to be anything different than that. Why does this film have to be a family film? The film pulls it’s aesthetics from the more adult graphic novels… None of which are aimed at children.

  24. Brad says:

    Since when did super movies have to be comedy light hearted action adventures? I almost bought in to the critic BS but seriously this movie is not the train wreck they are all making it out to be

  25. James D. Whitfield says:

    If you guys new anything about the DC comics and the back story of these super heroes and villains you guys would know it’s dark and serious this is not marvel Disney movies. I’m tired of hearing it’s not humorous go to a comic book store pick up a DC comic book the new 52 series and read it. To the fans of dc comics they will love this movie with its flaws and it does have them but it’s not enough to really complain about.

  26. Dennis says:

    Hopping on the bandwagon too, Leonard?

  27. steve says:

    Yeah, for real, why isn’t the story of a man who becomes a hero because his family was murdered in front of him as a child fighting an alien whose entire planet was destroyed just after he was born any FUN?!

  28. Luy1982 says:

    "I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun." This is not a comedy. For comedical superheroes movies go watch any of marvel studios.

  29. Valeria says:

    In Affleck’s defence, Batman is mostly anger. I didn’t found his acting that dissapointing as I expected. About the rest, I agree completely.

  30. demoncat_4 says:

    glad i am not the only one who thought superman had no character what so ever. plus the fact that at first i thought jesse was really the joker pretending to be luthor getting superman to do his work of destroying batman. proably the only good thing of this is dc fans at last got wonder woman back in live action who like alfred seemed to be the only character using their brains and had a personality

  31. Deadpool says:

    How do i say F*** you, without spoiling too much? F*** you.

  32. John says:

    It’s sad how many of these critics can’t have "fun" with a serious and dark movie. They said the same thing about Man of Steel and Watchmen. Batman v Superman is actually much more fun than any of Nolan’s over serious attempts at the franchise. If the critics had their way we’d have George Cloony sporting batnipples and telling jokes again.

  33. Matt Murdock says:

    Hey Leonard, may I ask you. Could you please go fukc yourself

  34. Elliot S! Maggin says:

    The thing to like about it is its pedigree.

    But that’s pretty much it.

  35. Zach Weaver says:

    Uh… You think the foundation of this movie is a bad idea? It’s based off of the comics. So, in turn, the comics leading to Justice League are a bad idea? Maybe you’re a little too old for this and out of your element.

  36. Alex says:

    Superhero movies should be fun. Unfortunately comics, mainly superhero comics in the year 2016 are anything but fun. The main two superhero comic book publishers in United States have taken the wide eyed adventure, the death defying feats, the simple yet effect morals and fun COMPLETELY out of comics. Comics are now about social engineering and messaging. There is no hope in any of these comics, it is a never ending litany of angst, nihilism, political correctness run amok, and the unnecessary obsession with death. I’m not surprised this movie is receiving terrible reviews. There is no such thing as fun anymore when EVERYTHING needs to have a "message."

  37. Joker says:

    Spoiler alert your reviews suck stick to driving miss daisy type movies.

  38. Gary Meyer says:

    I watched the trailers for this hoping to find a reason to want to see it. I grew up loving it when super heroes jumped books to have a story together, usually fighting for the common good but possibly with different positions about how to approach it. So obviously I was excited by the concept of BvsS. But the trailers were boring and I felt an insult to the intelligence of viewers. Dumb arguments between Clark and Bruce. A guy claiming to be Lex Luthor who has none of the menace we associate with that villlan. It was only the appearacne of Wonder Woman that got me excited but I feel I will just wait for a movie where she has something to do other than promote such a future picture.

    As to "fun" in movies… interesting discussion. While the "Godfather" and "Bourne" films are not fun in the laugh or thrill ride sense, the pure joy of such excellent filmmaking is what I call the ultimate fun! I come out of such movies with a smile on my face. They are fun.

  39. RXR says:

    "I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun." Marvel movies are the fun, lighthearted ones. DC for some reason decided it was going to do nothing but serious grimdark instead, and it doesn’t work at all.

  40. callum hall says:

    this review failed to answer the question pitted in the title and also failed to address the more important question of when it was decided that a superhero movie should be fun!!(needs referendum to back point up)

    Also a little puzzled at how in a fight to the supposable death is there meant to be a jolly fun side? clearly this reviewier is unclear on what they wanted from this movie which is a shame :/ a review of a movie should critically analyse whether a movie achieves the merits it targets not the targets of the reviewer.

  41. In Fairness says:

    Well, most of us don’t like anything about your daughter. Talk about nepotism city! Agreed on this film tho. Whew!

  42. James says:

    Since when was it decided that ALL superhero movies should be fun?
    Clearly this "reviewer" has had no research into the comic books this movie is based on … It’s like me going into an interview with the president and not reading up about his standpoints and views.

  43. Kenneth says:

    Who ever said superhero movies had to be fun all the time. Just because Marvel basically throws in every dum joke that only makes 8 year olds laugh does not mean that’s what superhero movies are all about. DC comics have always been about the story and the drama about the reality of having superheroes living among normal humans and the relationship between them. Just because marvel does it one way does not mean is the right way it just means it’s their way. No one should ever compare the thrilling and in your face reality of life stories of DC to the happy, everything is always gonna be ok because we are superheroes, joking haha fun for 8 year olds stories of marvel.

  44. John Ottaway says:

    "thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun."

    And there in, lies your problem, you have zero understanding of the genre and base it on Saturday morning cartoons, or Disney/Marvel films. I love the Marvel films, but they aren’t the only way of telling Superhero stories. Look at Daredevil on Netflix

  45. Brian says:

    You got it 100% right: pompous; self-important; protracted; dull; the list goes on.

  46. Billmunny says:

    Where is the fun? This is a comment made by a simpleton. Read Frank Miller’s "Dark Knight Returns" and couple that with a reading of " the death of superman" and come back to us with a review that addresses whether or not this film is an adequate remediation of those two graphic novels.

  47. It was great film says:

    This is the reason why I hate film critics so much. Bunch of arrogant people who get paid for criticizing films. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who read their crap. Some of them even publish books about films they’ve seen and tell us – stupid viewers who are according to them not so intelligent and experienced of watching films as they are – which films they should watch and which not. I liked Batman v Superman. Of course, It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a great film. Critics, please go to hell and take rotten tomatoes and other shitty sites with you. Thank you.

  48. Will corzo says:

    Apparently this buffoon didn’t read the dark night returns, the darkness should be there. All comic book movies shouldn’t be mindless fun for three-year olds.

  49. Rob Hern says:

    Leonard–for me, the truest part of your review is that you "don’t really even understand the premise." That’s because comics are a unique genre, and an uniquely American cultural expression that grew out of Depression era and WW II dark times. It is an allegorical Universe where the premise is imagination…have any? Of course, without imagination no such movie will ever be entertaining to some people!

  50. Gerardo Valero says:

    If I’d seen as a child a movie where Superman is mourned in a coffin and lowered into a grave it would have broken my heart. As things stand today, I just want to forget this movie as soon as possible.

  51. Terrell says:

    I don’t have a problem with the tone of this movie. In the fan community, that’s so that gets thrown around a lot. "Well you’re just a Marvel fan so that’s why you don’t like DC’s dark tone." The tone of the movie is not the problem. It’s the execution. It’s how the story is told. Marvel does tend to get a pass. Age of Ultron could have been better. The Thor films were lacking. They still get a pass because they tell a better story. I’m not saying that the story of those movies are better. No, the storytelling is better. The story telling in BvS just fell apart. A strong story, told well, would have everyone eating this movie up. What we’re left with are just ideas and poor execution of those ideas. If I feel anything for this movie, it’s great disappointment. It was hyped up to be more than your average superhero movie. Like last year when Ant-Man came our. What did Snyder say about it? Something about it just being the new flavor of the month? As generic of a villain Darren Cross was in Ant-Man, I understood his motivation more than Lex Luther’s.

  52. David G says:

    I think the question should be why do DC and Warners keep putting their faith in Goyer as a screenwriter. It seems clear that Nolan didn’t want to work with him ( he gets story, but not screenwriter credits on the Batman movies) and most of his work in the last decade has bombed. His work is awful, yet he keeps getting to determine the destiny of DC. Why?

  53. Lupe Walker says:

    "I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun."

    This sounds like your problem, not that of the film. When was it decided that Superhero movies should be anything, and by whom?
    Do you walk into a the Revenant expecting it to be a comedy or into Whiplash expecting it to be a horror film or Django unchained expecting it to be a Sci-Fi film? No, you walk in with no expectations then analyze what it is in terms of genre AFTER the fact. Or you come to that conclusion via the trailers.
    Not every superhero movie is going to be a comedy or a jokefest. The problem is that Disney has flooded the market with their Disneyfied MARVEL content that’s comedic and kid friendly, it has ruined expectations of how diverse and unique these properties have the potential to be.
    The fact that YOU ruined the movie experience for yourself by having false expectations based on being a Disney conditioned film watcher is entirely your fault, not that of the movie.
    Therefore I cannot take this review seriously and I advice anyone reading it not to as well.

  54. Greg Huneryager says:

    The first part of the film would have been okay if not for the glacial pace, the long pointless dream sequences and the horrible faux Wagnerian music. It just gets worse when Doomsday shows up. I dubbed it Prelude of Crap.

  55. Charlie Ryan says:

    If you don’t like the movie or think it wasn’t successful in what it set out to do, that’s fair enough — but, respectfully, I’m not sure that it’s fair to say, "I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun?" Superhero movies are a genre like any other category of film. Why can’t they come in all shapes, sizes and tones?

    I enjoy the lighter touch of the Marvel films (though the two Avengers installments had as much violence and ‘disaster porn’ as Batman v Superman — they just had brighter colors and — what would you call it — disaster repartee?) But I also like the more serious themes in these DC movies: How would mankind react to gods in their midst? Could we trust them to be altruistic? How would society cope with the aftermath of their feuds?

    I’ve always been entertained by the winking George Reeves TV Superman and the earnestness of the Christopher Reeve version of Superman I and II. This new movie with its’ darker take on Superman doesn’t replace my fondness for those past versions. They’ll always be on my shelf to enjoy again. But the direction in Batman v Superman was also worth the price of my ticket. It was a spectacle that immersed me in an amazing, exciting, dangerous world. I wouldn’t want to live there, but I was fascinated by the opportunity to explore it.

  56. Christopher Paduano says:

    Just stick to Marvel movies if u want bright and shiny Disney-Land. This is D/c, this is dark, depressing, gritty, and action packed, it shows how Dark and Depressing the D/c Universe is, and if you would pick up a comic and actually read somthing, you may have more of a basis to know what your talking about, its honestly like a football scout at an ice-hockey game, he may know a good athlete, but when it comes to the sport, he doesnt know what specifics to look for in a good player.

  57. kim says:

    completely agree with your assesment, leonard. this movie was a boring mess.

  58. Jody says:

    Agree 100 percent.

  59. Ben Winfield says:

    BATMAN V. SUPERMAN is the inverse of Joel Schumacher’s BATMAN & ROBIN. Whereas one was too goofy and inane for its own good, the other is too morose and po-faced to be taken seriously.

    "You can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a "graphic novel," but comic books are still incredibly stupid." – Bill Watterson

  60. Jay Noel says:

    So, you don’t understand how a business owner is pissed at the guy who brought death to thousands of his employees?

  61. spencer says:

    I don’t think it’s as bad as a few of these over the past 35yrs or so though

    "Superman III" "Superman IV"

  62. spencer says:

    & I agree, where are the usual 4 star ratings?

    as w/your marvelous book(s)

    Which I truly miss BIG-TIME!

    (P.S. The annual Movie Guide that is)

  63. spencer says:

    I barely rate this (**/1/2-out of four stars) myself

    7 all they care about in this era of moviemaking is the $$$$ & for the most part, not quality 1st & foremost
    Of course there are still a few genuinely original flix ("The Revenant" *"Birdman"
    Pixar & others) but it’s mostly sequels, remakes & comic books

  64. Lucas Han says:

    When I think about the Batman Vs Superman, I thought it would be more intriguing in the movie than the comics since there was once a rivalry between Batman and Superman. But when I first saw the Batman and Superman team up in the cartoon series, it doesn’t became epic for many battles but the movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" does became more epic including the soundtrack battle music. And I heard that Ben Affleck is going to direct his own Batman movie which is great, but If he will continue playing Batman, then I want to work along with him to play the character called "Nightwing"

  65. spencer says:

    This cgi epic represents everything that’s wrong with cinema today!!!

    Where is "Jungle Book" does everything RIGHT!!!

    "Batman vs. Superman" (**-out of 4) & "JB" (4stars!)

  66. Chipster1212 says:

    I find that most critics,who didn’t like this movie, want all superhero movies to appeal to children. This is what animation is for. Some of us no longer want our superhero movies to be funny and childlike. My generation has matured. Batman vs Superman was a really good movie.

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