BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE REVIEWED
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is one of the few movies that is completely saved by an extended cut. While there are still issues with characterization and plot, the extra thirty minutes allows Snyder to address some of the glowing problems in the narrative. More than anything, it shows that Affleck was born to play Batman. Moving away from the earlier Frank Miller take, his Batman becomes something a lot closer to what Conroy’s take would’ve evolved into if made in live-action. Even that feels like I’m under-selling the improvements. But, something still nags at me.
There’s a thing called tonal authority. When you’re piecing together a larger entertainment masterwork, it takes an insanely strong hand. The Silver Age of Comics had Julius Schwartz at DC and Stan Lee at Marvel doing just that. Cut to 55 years later and we have Warner Brothers seemingly spitting in that concept’s eye. Editorial control whether in film, publishing or points beyond helps a brand to stay consistent and hit the marks needed for audience response. Sometimes, an artist or other partner goes rogue and tries to bring their vision to the world. In a blue moon, you might get Frank Miller defining Daredevil for generations to come. More often than not, you get movies like this.
“Dawn of Justice” improves upon “Man of Steel”, but just barely. “Man of Steel” was a tone deaf approach to revamping Superman by trying to make him seem adult in the way that appeals to a 14 year old kid. There’s a subtle understanding of the political, a need for the physical and unchecked aggression allowed to free form based on slightly Randian philosophies. “Man of Steel” was a Superman taking a toe into the pools that made despots such as Zod, Black Adam and Vandal Savage happen in the DC Universe. All the while, Snyder as action auteur kept using “Man of Steel” as a repeated narrative of Superman can do whatever he wants because the world isn’t entitled to his power. Well, Superman unchecked isn’t entitled to his freedom either.
The influence of Frank Miller on the film is to be expected. This is a slightly older Batman who has gone through the usual Bat mythos touchstones that fans expect. He’s left the Mansion, he’s lost a Robin and no one can help dissuade his vigilante mission. If the film had a stronger Miller tone, we’d have Affleck narrating ever other scene ala Harrison Ford in the original cut of “Blade Runner”. So, what happens when aged vigilante meets Objectivist alien semi-deity? A prolonged slap fight that ends with the most compromised fight outcome since “Freddy vs. Jason”. There is a strong lifting from the Superman vs. Batman fight in The Dark Knight Returns. But, it seems like Warner Brothers was never willing to quite go for straight adaptation. Batman aspects of the story are tied to Superman, while Batman is shown to be practically invulnerable considering the pounding he took.
The extended cut improves upon the lacking nature of the theatrical cut by giving Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman a purpose. You can now see what will lead to Justice League and why everyone came together. Plus, it gives Lois Lane a better purpose than being girl that Luthor uses for greater purpose. Martha Kent still doesn’t get enough to do, but Diane Lane got old. Sorry, lady. That’s the modern world for you.
- Both cuts of the film
- 2.40:1 1080p transfer
- Dolby Atmos