Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: “Batman vs. Superman” Is the Marvel Killing Mega Hit DC Comics Fans Wanted


There are more Easter eggs in “Batman vs. Superman” than on the front lawn of the White House. Zack Snyder’s ultimate DC Comics movie is also the Marvel killing mega fans have longed for. After years and years of free standing “Batman” or “Superman” movies, the two super heroes finally meet, meet each other’s companions, duke it out, and come up winners.

The good news– it’s all good news– is that Ben Affleck is damn good as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Henry Cavill has improved tremendously as Superman/Clark Kent, and Gal Gadot is a welcome addition as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince.  Jesse Eisenberg is a phenomenal Lex Luthor. Jeremy Irons is a fun Alfred. This little ensemble plays well together, with a humorous pay off line toward the end of the film. (I don’t want to ruin it.)

Did I like this movie? I used to buy these comic books for 12 cents at Dubrow’s in Woodmere, Long Island. I had stacks of them. I never thought they’d amount to much beyond pre-teen entertainment. But I do think this movie is kind of my pay-off for years of devotion. It’s cool to see Lex Luthor introduce Clark Kent to Bruce Wayne. You can’t beat it.

Some of the story is a little convoluted, but that’s okay. Luthor pits the two “red capes” against each other and you’re not quite sure why they take the bait. But Gotham City and Metropolis are exploding, there’s a lot of fear and loathing, and someone has to save Lois Lane (the better than ever Amy Adams) from her latest exploits.

And what a coincidence: Bruce and Clark have something in common. Each of them had mothers named Martha.  It is a total coincidence in comic book history. But screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio seized on this, among other things, as a nod to fans. They will approve.

We do get mini versions of the Batman and Superman backstories, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 80 years. They’re handled economically, thank god, because how many times can you see Bruce Wayne’s parents die? Snyder plants two eggs– look for them– in that context. You’ll see a movie poster for “Zorro”– the inspiration for Batman long ago, and a movie marquee for “Excalibur.” You see, in the updated story, the Waynes only died in 1981. “Excalibur,” released that year, about King Arthur’s court, is supposed to show the transition “from despair to glory,” the movie’s set designer tells me. “Zack really liked it.”

These aren’t spoilers because you can find it all on the IMDB and other places: there are tons of cameos– from a bunch of broadcasters including Charlie Rose and Anderson Cooper- to a lot of other DC heroes. Ezra Miller’s “The Flash” — who hasn’t been on screen yet– is shown, as is Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. “BvS” you see is the beginning of a long launch of DC movies a la Marvel. (I’m thriller since I am sick of “X Men” and can’t listen to Peter Parker’s whiny history once more.)

There are also nods to Robin (where is he?), and Clark’s dead father Jonathan Kent, plus a nice little plot for Ma Kent (Diane Lane, who looks way too young and gorgeous to play that part). Lawrence Fishburne is a terrific Perry White in the age of newspapers dying, and Harry Lennix is back from “Man of Steel.” So is Michael Shannon, stiffly.

Basically, “BvS” is a far better movie than Snyder and Cavill’s “Man of Steel.” I can only assume this has a lot to do with Chris Terrio, who wrote “Argo” and seems to have sharpened the character development. In “MoS” I yawned through Superman’s endless fights with General Zod. It was just repetitive. Here, there’s a movie to latch onto. And I think fans will go back and back to look for more surprises. Very entertaining.




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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