We should go ahead and start everything off by saying: SPOILER ALERT. You can’t say we didn’t warn you.
While many of us nerds and geeks were looking forward to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we can’t say it held a lot of promise. As soon as the creative team was set and the cast was chosen, we had our doubts: Zack Snyder was directing again and Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. Huh? Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman? Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Double huh. Our gut instincts screamed, “This isn’t going to work!” And guess what? Our guts weren’t entirely wrong.
Though it didn’t explode out of the gate at the box office as the studio was hoping it would, it has done fairly well, making about $800 million to date. And for us apprehensive nerds, we weren’t totally disappointed- there were moments when the movie was very enjoyable. And then there were moments where it really wasn’t. It’s never good when you’re watching a movie and something is so unbelievable or ridiculous that you turn away from the screen. That’s what writers call audience alienation, and it means that you, the audience member, are no longer engrossed in the world of the movie. It is a very bad thing, and it happened a lot in Dawn of Justice.
So where exactly did they go wrong? Well, here are ten embarrassing moments in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
10. That Terrible Dream Combat Scene
“Batffleck” (the popular Internet name for Ben Affleck’s Batman) has a dream in which he is subdued by a bunch of soldiers in the desert and then held prisoner for Superman, who’s suddenly rather menacing and evil. It’s shown as just a bad dream, revealing Batman’s deep mistrust of Superman; really, we clever audience members know that it is a heavy handed premonition-type dream, likely to be referenced at some later point in the DC Justice League franchise.
The poor writing isn’t the embarrassing part, though, at least, not the one we’re discussing right now. What’s embarrassing is the combat choreography in this scene. Batman resists his captors in a typical superhero-kicking-everyone’s-butt fashion. Instead of watching Batman during this scene, watch some of his attackers before they strike – they literally stand there with their guns at their sides, waiting for Ben Affleck to hit his mark so they can move forward. It is absolutely terrible.
9. Superman’s Visit with Dad on the Mountaintop
After congress is blown to hell when Superman comes in for a hearing, which Superman never actually got and certainly should have gotten, he gets moody and flies to the top of a mountain where he meets up with the ghost/hallucination/whatever of his Earthly father. There, his dad tells him this story about how, as a younger boy, he was partially responsible for flooding a barn and drowning a bunch of horses. The point he’s trying to make with this allegory is that good intentions may still have negative consequences, and Clark is just going to have to deal with that.
It’s a poorly told story and an obvious lesson, one Clark should have learned after he killed half of Metropolis in his fight with Zod (seriously, how many times does he have to learn this lesson?). What’s even more interesting is that Kevin Costner, who plays dear old Daddy Kent, hasn’t seen the movie yet. He was apparently told to come in on the last day of filming to “stand on top of a mountain,” and he doesn’t know “how the scene came off.” That leads us to believe that this whole sequence was an afterthought and was sloppily assembled as well.
8. Batman Signaled Himself
The Bat-Signal was always used as a distress signal, largely used by the Gotham police to get Batman to help them solve crimes or end a crisis. It only appeared once in the new movie: once Batman had completed setting his trap for Superman and was ready to confront him. He then turns on the Bat-Signal and stares into the sky in anticipation of a fight.
Except that’s not really what the Bat-Signal means. The Bat-Signal is basically someone shouting, “Hey Batman, someone in the city needs your help. There’s a crisis. Do your job.” It does not mean, “Yo, Batman’s over here, if anyone was looking.” Essentially, Batman was calling himself. Superman should have seen that signal in the sky and thought, “Oh man, there’s a crisis somewhere in the city? I should help solve that first, Batman will be wherever that is anyway.” The logic of this moment is quite fallible.
7. Martha: It’s a Common Name. Get Over It.
Superman and Batman each have their share of mommy/daddy issues. Clark’s biological parents died when he was an infant and his home planet of Krypton was destroyed. Then his Earthly father died in a natural disaster. And we all know Batman’s story: his parents were gunned down in front of him as a child when a mugging went awry.
By happenstance, both Clark’s and Bruce’s mothers were named Martha. Zack Snyder must have thought he was the first person to catch on to this minor detail and he used it as a pivotal moment in the fight between Batman and Superman. Superman utters his mother’s name, saying, “they’re going to kill Martha,” and Batman freezes. Suddenly, he doesn’t want to kill Superman – because their moms shared the same name.
Batman was absolutely prepared and willing to kill Superman, and he changes his mind because of a coincidence this minor? What, has he not heard of any other woman with the name of Martha since his mother? This is the coincidence that inspires them to team up, forging an alliance that will forever change their universe?
6. Aquaman’s Mega-Chill Cameo
First of all, when it was announced that Aquaman would appear in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we were expecting him to be in a few scenes, or maybe just appear for the big fight. It was quite disappointing when he really just showed up for a brief cameo that lasted all of fifteen seconds. Batffleck gets videos from Lex Luthor of a few different Meta-Humans (superheroes, in layman’s terms). We see a quick snippet of Wonder Woman after a dusty and bloody battle, Cyborg being created in a twist of pain and scientific ingenuity, Flash saving a clerk from an armed robbery, and finally, Aquaman… swimming.
Seriously, Aquaman swims into the shot with his trident, looks at the camera (like a fish would look at a shiny object), then smashes it. There’s no dialogue, obviously (because they’re underwater), but if Aquaman spoke, he’d say something along the lines of, “What is that? Is that a camera? Oh crud, I’ve got something in my teeth. Please turn the camera off.” It is an utterly laid back introduction to Aquaman, which is the last thing this odd superhero needs.
5. Doomsday Not Living Up to His Name… At All
In the comics, Doomsday is not to be trifled with. He is the one super villain that is capable of matching Superman’s strength. He is, of course, the character that kills Superman in the comics. However, when this happens in the comics, it’s after decades of Superman fighting alongside other heroes and defeating foes. The first Superman comic was released in 1938 and he died in 1992 (he was shortly thereafter resurrected by greedy comic writers that realized there was still profit in the Superman franchise, but that’s another story…). It took fifty-four years of fighting for Superman to die in the comics; it only took two movies. Film Superman is a wimp.
Doomsday is supposedly one of the greatest foes Superman or the Justice League has ever faced. Yet, while Superman had to “die” to kill him, Wonder Woman looked like she was just finishing her warm up. Doomsday looked like he could’ve been beaten fairly easily. In fact, he was beaten easily – one Kryptonite stake to the heart was all it took (Superman could’ve just thrown it, you know). He wasn’t really a “Doomsday;” more like a slightly bad day.
4. Batman’s Dream About His Zombie Parents
Batffleck’s dream about Superman trying to kill him wasn’t the only dream he had. In fact, Batman spent a fair amount of the movie dreaming. His less clairvoyant dream was about visiting his parents’ mausoleum and his dead mother punching through the granite wall and grabbing him. It’s a fairly typical horror movie scene: Everything is quiet, Bruce Wayne senses something odd, and BOOM! Everyone in the theater jumps in their seats and their hearts flutter over the surprise.
And that was it. The dream had nothing to do with anything else in the movie. If anything, Snyder might have been trying to show that Bruce has a fun form of post-traumatic stress disorder after his parents’ death, but the audience pretty much figured that out when he put on a cape and started fighting crime in a bat costume. A creepy dream sequence wasn’t necessary. The scene was likely added just to get the audience back on the edge of their seats and keep their heart rates up.
3. Zod’s Got His Head On Straight
In the beginning of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we return to the ending of Man of Steel when General Zod and Superman are duking it out in Metropolis, destroying most of the city. Superman eventually breaks down and snaps Zod’s neck, finally killing him and ending the massacre. We can assume, based on events that follow, that the government confiscates Zod’s body in the name of science and research. Later, Lex Luthor gains possession of the body, which is very dead but seemingly untouched.
Ummm… problem. The way that Superman killed Zod was twisting his head so hard that his neck broke. When a neck is broken in this fashion, the skull is essentially lifted and separated from the spine, resulting in death. It’s not very pretty; a coroner can tell without even touching the body that the neck was broken, usually by vertebrae protruding from the skin. Yet, Zod looks fit as a fiddle. Beside being dead, Zod looks like he’s in the best shape of his life.
2. What Happened to Superman’s Powers?
In Man of Steel, we got a small look into Clark’s past. One scene in particular shows him in class and suddenly unable to control one of his powers: his x-ray vision. He’s basically a walking TSA body scanner. It’s strange, considering this, that he then failed to notice the bomb in the Capital when he comes in for his hearing.
Snyder tries to explain this briefly, saying that Superman didn’t see the bomb because “he wasn’t looking for it.” That’s a cop-out excuse and we all know it. If we aren’t listening for sirens but they become present, we still hear them; if we aren’t looking for guns but someone walks in with one, we’ll still see it. A bomb is certainly something that Superman would notice, even if it was just in his peripheral x-ray vision. Yet, he didn’t. Because it was convenient for the plot that he didn’t.
1. Lex Luthor. All of Lex Luthor.
There’s really no explaining how terrible he was. Whether Jesse Eisenberg made bad choices, Zack Snyder gave bad direction, or the writers just didn’t know what they were doing, the character turned out horribly. It really almost seemed like the creative team wanted Lex Luthor to be The Riddler, the way he jittered and giggled and attempted quirky jokes. Did the creative team even read the comics?
For those of you unfamiliar with the comics, know that this movie’s version of Lex Luthor is nothing like the real Lex Luthor. Lex is supposed to be a corporate big shot that’s genuinely trying to do right by his world; he just has a really messed up perception of how that’s going to happen. The Lex Luthor in this movie feels like the kid from The Social Network decided he wanted to kill all the superheroes. Maybe the writing team can make up an excuse that Lex Luthor will gain some sanity while imprisoned…