I’m beginning to think I saw a different film than the majority of the media so far commenting on Batman V Superman. So divided has opinion been and the vitriol so mean that I thought I would take a moment to consider just what had impressed me so much.
Like others I went in with the fear – the casting of Ben Affleck was the biggest risk for this film. Henry Cavill had already succeeded in bringing his Kryptonian loner to the screen in Man Of Steel. Safe pair of hands second time out. But Ben Affleck – a tricky notion. An older Batman, jaded and scarred physically and emotionally from two decades as the Caped Crusader. A different take on Batman and one that Affleck completely makes his own. Not only is he one of the most physically impressive Batmans (a tall, broad shouldered, hulking muscular mix of brawn and wits) but he also draws the audience in close to him making him one of the most engaging Batman’s we’ve seen on screen. His dilemma, as a protector of mankind, on what to do about this “alien” that could ultimately destroy earth with his powers is managed by Affleck beautifully and shows the weight on his shoulders to do the right thing at any cost against a foe that could easily crush him. We’ve never seen Batman like this before and it is this moral see-saw between him and Superman that I found fascinating to watch. I didn’t leave my brain at the door, I engaged it.
The first hour has taken a bashing critically for short scenes, jumping along, switching locations and characters and sides in general but there’s a hell of a lot of story to tell and a moral compass to be established for our heroes. It’s our job just to keep up as it pulls the many story strands and characters together. I for one, loved that you can be in the grounds of Wayne Manor one moment and the Kansas cornfields the next. It’s like a 2-for-1 special, all the things we love about both worlds colliding into one and when those worlds meet its magic. There’s a crackle of electricity you feel when Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent meet for the first time and a giddy power surge when they’re joined by Lex Luthor. As a Smallville fan, I loved a younger Lex and here Jesse Eisenberg perfectly embodies him as a twitchy tech genius/mumbling lunatic. He masterfully portrays the fine line between eccentric and unhinged, easy to get away with when you’re a billionaire with more money than morals. It’s one of his finest performances and was completely on the money for me.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman stood out from the first sight of her in the trailer and she is truly mesmerizing in this, especially in battle but also out of costume. There’s a lovely chemistry between her and Bruce Wayne, the air around them spritzed with Thomas Crown Affair allure and she is as intriguing and majestic to us as she is to him. In battle she is unlike any female super hero we’ve seen thus far and I can’t wait to see what she can do with her own standalone film.
Among these key players, Snyder has peppered the film with star support, again from those already established in Man of Steel to newcomers like Jeremy Iron’s Alfred. A far cry from Michael Caine’s father figure like portrayal in Nolan’s outings, Irons plays him as almost a fellow mercenary, an able support and wingman to the Dark Knight and it works brilliantly.
The showdowns are terrific and while I admired Man of Steel, I couldn’t take to the endless CGI cartoon-like battle with General Zod at the finale. Here Snyder perfectly delivers the action. The fight between our heroes is faultless, brilliantly choreographed and realistic in the world in which they exist.
You may think differently and that’s cool. We are all welcome to our opinions but this is not the disaster that some would have you believe. It’s far from it. It’s the first glimpse of a universe and tease of characters to come that has me positively salivating for Suicide Squad.