‘Batman v. Superman’: crowded, underdeveloped plot leaves movie lacking focus

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Sean O’Brien, Contributing Writer

This should have been great. This should have been the one to unseat The Dark Knight as the greatest comic book movie ever made. With over 70 years of source material for both titular characters and the sheer amount of on-screen talent, this should have been nothing less than fantastic. Should have been.
Despite having almost everything going for it, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice fails on almost every level, resulting in a dull and nonsensical mess that’s mildly entertaining at best and laughably awful at its worst.
The main issue with the movie, among many others, is that it doesn’t feel like one movie. There are four distinct movies present in this one film, each with its own individual tone. The first is Man of Steel, 2 a political thriller that deals with the repercussions of the events of Man of Steel. The second is a Batman film, a dark character study about a man who has been broken by the tragedy that surrounds him. Thirdly, there’s a Justice League set-up movie that plays as a mystery and serves no other purpose than to make room for the multitude of sequels scheduled. And finally, the movie everybody came to see, Batman v. Superman, which is nothing more than Zack Snyder gleefully smashing action figures together in glorious slow motion without an ounce of character development or depth to be seen.
However, there are a few positives to this film, namely that of Ben Affleck as Batman, who is undeniably fantastic. He’s tortured, smart, brutal, menacing, and everything else Batman should be. Affleck is the one ray of light in this abysmally dark film, and the prospect of a solo Batman movie directed by him, which has just been confirmed, is quite exciting.
Also, the movie is shot well, as Zack Snyder is indeed a solid cinematographer. The action is choreographed phenomenally, as the film thankfully avoids the shaky-cam epidemic plaguing modern action movies.
Actually, the action in this film may be some of the best Batman action ever put to film, as it fully encapsulates how agile and ferocious Batman really is in combat. While Christopher Nolan’s films succeed in virtually every other area, their action scenes feel slow and clunky, none of which are present in the scenes in this film
Although Snyder definitely knows how to line up good shots, where this movie fails is in its storytelling. This movie tries to cram in as much as possible so that there’s barely anything holding each scene together. Many scenes in the first two thirds of the film just end with a cut to black with no transition to the following scene, meaning the narrative flow of the film is pretty much nonexistent.
Things just happen and characters do things just for the sake of advancing the plot, and it results in characters not having believable motivations and the plot not making sense. This is especially annoying because there are many times where the movie hints at greatness, and then it’s immediately crushed by absurd plot developments or decisions made by characters that baffle the audience. A prime example of this is a montage of people on the news talking about Superman and a question that’s brought up is, “Should there even be a Superman?” This is a question that deserves its own movie, as it can be taken in so many creative directions. Unfortunately, it’s thrown away quickly in a montage so we can get back to Superman moping about how sad he is or Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor monologuing about gods for the tenth time. The worst part about this movie is just how many missed opportunities there are for this movie to reach the potential it should.
Simply put, this movie’s overcrowded. There are too many characters and too many subplots for it to work, and this is most likely because of Marvel’s success with its cinematic universe. Marvel is now 12 movies into its cinematic universe, and with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC is now two movies in. Clearly, DC is panicking to establish its own cinematic universe, as seen by the rushing to get everything in, which is the movie’s biggest problem. Marvel has been so successful because it gave characters their own movies and developed them before teaming them up. In trying to cram everything into this movie and to set up the tens of planned sequels and all this other excess, the filmmakers forgot to do one very important thing: to actually make a good movie.