Skip to content

8 Reasons Why “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Was Misunderstood

16 November 2016 | Features, Other Lists | by Red Stewart

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (which shall from this point on be denoted as “BvS” for convenience purposes) was one of the most anticipated films of 2016. Featuring the Dark Knight and Man of Steel together on the screen for the first time, as well as being the live action cinematic debuts for Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, there was a lot riding on its success among audiences.

Unfortunately for fans, all that buildup ended up being for naught. The film opened to negative reviews, scoring a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and 44/100 on Metacritic, and, while financially successful, failed to reach the $900 million milestone e, let alone the projected $1 billion prediction one would expect from a superhero film of this caliber.

The months following “BvS’s” release have been some of the most interesting, with it being one of the most talked about superhero films of all time. While reception continues to be, at best, polarizing, we at “Taste of Cinema” have re-examined the film and decided that, despite all its negative aspects, there were key components to it that were misunderstood.

 

1. The studio cuts were made shortly before release

zack-and-henry

It is well reported that the Ultimate Cut of “BvS” was more than just a “Lord of the Rings-eque” extended edition. Not only were scenes integral to character development added back into the film, but scenes were also rearranged in a way to make the flow feel better and less jarring.

The reason behind this loss of 30 minutes in the theatrical cut was simple: Warner Bros. wanted to fit in more show times per a day, and you cannot do as much with a 3-hour movie. But what makes this situation different from other reported instances of a movie being trimmed for punctual reasons is the time given to do these edits.

In an interview with “Collider” about a week after “BvS” was released, director Zack Snyder revealed that the 30 minutes had been there “until very recently”. While refusing to name a specific timestamp, the use of the phrase “very recently” more than implies that the director was not given an ample amount of time to decide how to edit this film down in a way that would make it feel like jumpy.

While this reason has nothing to do with the expectations of critics or audiences, having the knowledge that the filmmakers were not allowed to present their true vision of the film theatrically is worth keeping in mind.

 

2. It didn’t merge as many stories as people think

tdkr-2

One of the biggest criticisms of “BvS” was that it tried to do too much, and this complaint can be broken down into two distinct parts: the combination of various source materials, and the narrative purposes relegated to the DC Extended Universe. We will look at these separately starting with the former.

Many fans noted that the plots of various comics were adapted into the storyline of the film, including, but not limited to: “The Dark Knight Returns”, “The Death of Superman”, “Superman: Birthright”, “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel”, and “Justice League: Origin”. Because of all these conjoining narrative threads, people have asserted that the film was overstuffed, and should have limited itself to one or two stories.

To start off, it is worth noting that almost every superhero film has adapted elements from different comics over the years, changing things for better and worse. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of all time, took from Stan Lee’s “Spider-Man No More!”, “Amazing Spider-Man #18”, “Amazing Spider-Man #95”, and the “Ultimate Spider-Man” series. Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” combined the original Avengers storyline by Jack Kirby with Mark Millar’s “The Ultimates”. Most of these characters span decades, and when you are scripting these movies, it is wise to pull from everything.

Secondly, “BvS” did not merge as many stories as people think. Snyder, and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio, have gone on record to say that the main thing they took from the aforementioned comic books were character moments and aesthetics.

Looking at “The Dark Knight Returns”, the most cited example, one can see that the plot of “BvS” is nothing like that of Frank Miller’s esteemed work: it is not set in a dystopia, mutant gangs have not overrun Gotham City, Superman does not work as a government stooge, and the Justice League has not even been formed.

Same situation with Dan Jurgens’s “Death of Superman”: Doomsday is created by Lex Luthor rather than dropping to Earth from space, numerous characters like Booster Gold and Bloodwynd are not in the film, Doomsday’s reactive evolution manifests itself in EMP blasts, and so forth.

“BvS” did what every other comic book movie did; it took certain elements from several storylines/issues over the years that worked best for the narrative they wanted to tell. They were not the straight-up adaptations that you often here people chastise the creatives for, but instead visual inspirations for a very original story.

Now, to address the second part of this overarching critique….

 

3. It accomplished what it set out to do

batman-v-superman-trailer-lex-luthor-wonder-woman-dug

“BvS” has been compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Iron Man 2” in that it set out do numerous integral tasks for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). It had to: deal with the political aftermath of “Man of Steel”, introduce Lex Luthor and his background, introduce a new Bruce Wayne/Batman merely four years after Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, introduce Wonder Woman, set-up the existence of the Justice League, and develop Superman’s character, both as a superhero struggling with being perceived as a god, and as Clark Kent the journalist.

It is easy to say that the film was obese with expositional strains, but when you look at the results of these individual assignments, one can see that the film…actually succeeded. Let us analyze each one individually:

Political aftermath- the largest sideswipe directed at 2013’s “Man of Steel” was the destructive battle in Metropolis during the third act. As a result, Snyder revealed that “Batman v Superman” would explore the geopolitical consequences this had on the world at large, and we saw this.

A diverse group of news pundits are shown discussing Superman’s role in the world; a specific committee has been created in the US Government about affairs related to Superman; three sets of people have emerged in response to Superman: those who see him as a threat (represented by Luthor, Batman, and Wallace Keefe), those that worship him as a God (the participants at the Día de Muertos celebration), and those who see him as a cautious ally (Senator Finch, Secretary Swanwick). Each of these relationships are built into the fabric of the film, tying together plot threads and character motivations.

Introduction of Luthor- Lex is Superman’s archenemy, and integrating him into a “Man of Steel” sequel was inevitable. While Jesse Eisenberg’s performance has received a mixed response, the character was, without a doubt, given many subtle scenes that developed him.

He developed megalomania after being abused by his father as a kid, similar to Nicolae Ceaușescu and Saddam Hussein. He holds vast socioeconomic influence throughout the country, evidenced by his lobbying of the senators in the beginning of the movie, and is clearly knowledgeable in biochemistry and technology. The shaving of Luthor’s head at the end of the movie indicates his full acceptance as the Machiavellian madman known in the mainstream comics.

Introducing a new Batman- As many people know, Ben Affleck’s casting was one of the most derided aspects of the film during pre-production, and subsequently one of the most praised parts after its release. His Batman was world-weary and cynical, having fought crime for about 20 years and not perceiving any noticeable change.

The presence of a vandalized Robin suit in his Batcave indicates that he had a tormented history, and the emergence of Superman only degrades that mentality further into an existential crisis. Even Wayne’s origin story was retold in a refreshingly beautiful way. By and large, one of the best re-introductions of a character, especially after only four years since the last incarnation.

Introducing Wonder Woman- Similar to Affleck, Gal Gadot was chastised by the fan community only to receive considerable acclaim. While most of her background was deliberately left hidden for the sake of preserving material for her solo film, Wonder Woman was very well assimilated into the story, taking the form of an espionage subplot that intertwined with both Luthor and Bruce Wayne’s plans. Bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen was a huge effort by Snyder and co., and it was an effort that succeeded tremendously.

Setting up the Justice League- It is no secret that DC is playing catch-up to Marvel, and one of the methods to do this was avoiding having to do solo movies for each member of the future Justice League.

While the use of an online video to give fans their first glimpse of the superheroes was seemingly lazy, it served a bigger thematic purpose than people realize. For one, the surveillance-heavy world we live in indicated how hard it can be to keep one’s identity a secret, especially against those with the wealth and reach.

Second, it broadened Luthor’s character by indicating how his paranoid “metahuman thesis” was actually accurate, and gave him a trump card against the inevitable conflict he will have with the Justice League. And the third is that it gives Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince a starting point for their “Seven Samurai” search and recruitment for the rest of the members of their superhero team.

Developing Superman’s character- This is one thing that is, admittedly, reliant on the supplementary scenes provided by the Ultimate Cut, but as we indicated in the first reasoning, the UC represents the original director’s vision for the project, and thus stands as fair game.

In it, Clark Kent is shown having become the de facto sports writer for the Daily Planet (much to his chagrin), which he subverts to actively search out for information pertaining to his role as both a journalist and caretaker of the world. As Superman, he is shown to be conflicted about both people worshipping him as a God and hating him as an alien.

We see this when he expresses sadness over the Día de Muertos’s participants reaching out to him and Wallace Keefe defacing the Superman statue in Metropolis. He muses with both Lois and his parents about his confused role in the world, with the ghost of Pa Kent helping him come to the conclusion that everything he does will have far-reaching consequences, but so long as he has Lois to anchor him, he will be able to move forward.

As Mark Hughes, a writer for “Forbes”, beautifully put it: “Because however dark the world becomes, however hard it can be to accept consequences of our actions when we know we’re doing the right thing but the world will blame us for it, we can have someone who makes it all worthwhile, someone who represents the good we know exists in this world. And that good is always, always worth fighting for.”

Thus, we see that “BvS”, in its three-hour runtime, tackled every undertaking it was given mostly successfully. There can certainly be debates about whether it was right to cram all of these responsibilities into one film, but the fact is, when you actually analyze it, any criticism derived from this is meritless.

 

4. Superman’s death served a unique purpose

image-2

“How can you kill off Superman after only the second movie?” “They should have saved the Death of Superman for a later film!” These were just two of many statements, from both fans and critics, berating the divisive ending of “BvS”. And these claims certainly hold some water as there were many people who were hoping to see Kal-El break from this indecisive stage of his life and become the exalted leader of the Justice League.

However, what makes this whole conclusion misunderstood is that Superman’s death served several vital purposes within the context of the DCEU. This was not shock value as a few film connoisseurs have tried to shape it.

Let us break it down like this: to set up a world ready for the Justice League, you have to have these situational factors in mind: a world in imminent danger, heroes ready to step out of the shadows, and people full of hope. Without these, there is literally no point in having a faction of superheroes overseeing the Earth.

Superman’s death does just that. Without a powerful “deity” to protect the planet, it sends a very clear signal to outside threats (*cough* Darkseid *cough*) that the world is ripe for the taking. By having a godlike hero willing to cede his life for the protection of mankind, you have the creation of a martyr, or a symbol of inspiration to the many metahumans out there unsure about publicly revealing themselves. And of course, you have the two gatherers of this league being completely changed for the better.

For reasons we will not know until her solo film next year, Wonder Woman had left humanity for good. Batman, on the other hand, had lost faith in men over the decades, seeing them as prolonging an indefinite crime spree that only resulted in hate and violence. The death of Superman brought both these characters back into the light, where they now have the inspiration to find the other heroes and unite as one.

Having Superman die for the purposes of fulfilling other character arcs is very experimental, especially in a genre that had seemingly developed a formula. But choosing to misunderstand clear intents on the part of the filmmakers, especially with blatant evidence, is simply unforgiving.

 

 

Pages: 1 2


   

Other Brilliant Movie Posts On The Web
   

Like Our Facebook Page and Get Daily Updates
   
  • Nikos Ikonomidis

    Nice article,although maybe too long.I agree, especially with the point number 5. Znyder has been trying again and again to bring something special to the comic adaptation in cinema- apart from being well placed adventures with recognisable heroes- and I believe this is his best effort. It’ s a beautiful movie that captures the essence of comic imagery very well, instead of using good old boring cinematic techniques that may seem more familiar to the spectators but do not score high creatively ( and I really was impressed by the praise that a movie such a Civil War received, not to mention the success it had, since I found it flat and uninspired).

    • Matches Malone

      Yep. Ultimate edition of BvS is easily the best superhero film of 2016. Every other comicbook film this year was very underwhelming.

      • residentgrigo

        I liked (EE) Squad, Deadpool and X-A a lot too, but the 2 MCU films were just making films by the numbers. I didn´t even bother with TNMT 2 though, the one actual comic flop of 2016.

        • Matches Malone

          I actually enjoyed watching extended cut of SS last night more than I thought. But it’s still a 6,5-7/10 movie that had potential to be something special. X-men:A was a downgrade from the last 2 great X-men movies. Civil War after all the reviews and hype felt like I’ve watched a different movie than anyone else. It was coherent but mediocre. But it was better than Age of Ultron for sure (which is not saying much). Deadpool was ok, but imo the potential was wasted in the movie (not in the marketing which was brilliant – similar case to SS). BvS was clearly the most bold and thought provoking movie this year which unfortunately was butchered in the editing room for the theatrical realease.

  • Rudi

    And still it’s a terrible movie.

  • I loved the Ultimate Edition so much…
    didn’t like that butchered theatrical cut…

  • Ted Wolf

    I actually enjoyed the theatrical cut (at least the cut I saw in the cinema). I really thought Affleck was a perfect choice for the older Wayne. I kind of stopped reading comics in the late 1970’s so there are a few things I knew nothing of, but for the most part it connected with the mythology I remember from my youth.

  • Bucket

    BvS is the greatest CBM of all time, with all its flaws and short comings.
    THE GREATEST

  • D Train

    An unconvincing and overwritten list.

  • Bezet

    Good article. In comic book movies genre BvS always be remebered – unlike many well-revieved but forgettable Marvels movies

    • razorstar90

      You’re right BvS will always be remembered more than say, Dr Strange or Thor. BvS was the most discussed Superhero of 2018. It will always be remembered in the same way Batman and Robin is remembered. In the same was Star Wars The Phantom Menance is remembered.

      10 years from now people will say “Remember that terrible Batman and Superman movie that came out and everyone hated it? God that movie was bad”. It will be remembered as being a dud. It will be remembered for being one of the worst movies of the year maybe even of the decade. It will live in infamy as a complete disaster. But yes it will be remembered so it must have done something right

      • Bezet

        Pain in the a**, that’s clear 🙂

  • razorstar90

    Can we cut the BS. The book on BvS has been written, it was a dud. The most disappointing movie of the year, maybe even of the decade, hell the last 2 decades. The meeting between the two most popular superheroes of all time met in a movie that was so bad they had to release the ultimate cut to show that it wasn’t a complete and utter failure in terms of storytelling.

    To all yall that say it was “A masterpiece” wake up. In order to be considered a masterpiece it has to have critical acclaim. BvS is the Twilight of Sperhero movies, made even more apparent when it’s direct competition completely blows it out of the water. Before you say MArvel Shill, I generally don’t like the Marvel movies, they are boring as hell IMO. But at least they are competent. BvS is a dumb movie that thinks it’s smart which makes it’s dumbness even more frustrating. It’s not misunderstood, it is what it is; one of hte worst comic book movies of all time.

    • Nick Owens

      Not all masterpieces need to have critical acclaim. Especially at their initial release. There are plenty of films that are considered masterpieces now that opened to either mixed or mostly negative reviews; ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Fight Club’, ‘Psycho’, ‘The Night of the Hunter’, the list goes on…

      • razorstar90

        I can guarantee you sir that Batman v Superman will NOT be in that category. And yes in order to be a masterpiece a picture or a song, album, art work, film needs critical acclaim at some point, that’s what makes it a MASTERPIECE. Such as the name master piece. That happens when other masters accept you into their master’s guild. Snyder aint Kubrick, he’s not Fincher, or Hitchcock, Ridley Scott. He’s Michael Bay who read a book once or twice. That’s who he is.

        Don’t hold your breath on BvS. People said the same thing about Snyder’s Watchmen, guess what? It’s still considered a dud and always will be considered a dud.

        • Nick Owens

          I have no doubts that BvS will never be on the level of Kubricks films, but I’m sure after a while it will be more appreciated for what it actually *is*, than what people *expected* of it.

          Are you serious in saying Snyder is on Michael Bay’s level? Snyder actually has passion in what he does, meticulously organises his shots, and works intently with his actors with the intent of getting the best possible performance out of them, whereas Bay knows that he makes movies for 12 year old boys, and all he really cares about is making money.

          P.S. Watchmen wasn’t and isn’t considered a dud, it began with a more polarising response and in now widely more appreciated than it was in 2009.

  • Ga5ton

    ”While Jesse Eisenberg’s performance has received a mixed response, the character was, without a doubt, given many subtle scenes that developed him.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but to me he was simply terrible in that role. Now, what is subtle about directly explaining the symbolism on a painting and going mad in a speech in front of a bunch of people and start ranting about how much of an asshole your father was while also bringing up the myth of Prometheus OBVIOUSLY referring to him/mankind and Superman?

    ”Batman, on the other hand, had lost faith in men over the decades, seeing them as prolonging an indefinite crime spree that only resulted in hate and violence.”

    It was a good choice to go for this version of Batman in my opinion, but i don’t think they did it very well. Sure, Batman is a bitter son of a bitch now, but that doesn’t mean he’s conflicted, we see Robin’s suite and that’s it. Alfred could have talked to him about him being so violent or something, i don’t know, but there is a lot of development missing for what his motives are, including fighting Superman. Of course, you could say it’s because he believes Superman is too powerful but in the end of the day the movie portrays them as the same fucking thing: two guys using everything in their advantage to fight for their perception of justice, which honestly could have been a good parallelism, but they never develop it properly, they hate each other because the script says so, and Bruce Wayne loosing a friend while earth was being invaded in Man of Steel is still not a believable reason.

    ”“Batman v Superman” would explore the geopolitical consequences this had on the world at large, and we saw this.”

    Yes, it did, with the subtlety of a kick in the teeth. The themes in this movie were not presented in a clever way, and that shows a lot in the dialogue.

    ”Imagery is more important than you realize”

    As in many other movies, sure, and they achieved a very good looking movie, but it’s still not enough. There were much more beautiful movies this year.

    • X Y

      *some of those much more beautiful movies being?

    • jaxon

      Eisenberg’s performance was Oscar worthy. Yes it was. He is the only character ever put to film that rightfully can hold the moniker, supervillain. Eisenberg’s performance was the most frightening villain put to screen. And get this, stands above Hopkins Hannibal Lector.

      • beth

        good for his attempt but nowhere near frightening., seemed more like he had trouble getting into character or was just given bad lines, either way could of been done better. No one other than a troll lookin to stir the pot would say he wad better than Hopkins as lector. Not even equal. He gets an e for effort tho.

  • Eva Flores

    still, almost no one likes it, dc fans doesn’t, critics doesn’t, marvel fans doesn’t, capeshit lovers doesn’t. Why I feel that it’s a small influx of people that are trying to make DC extended universe happen and pushing to tell us that their movies are truly kino, marvel is shit, ans snyder is the path to real enlightment? Does not matter how many christian imaginery, good color saturation or darker charaters you out it in DC eu still feels dull and soulless.

  • Brilliant article! I hope one day, more and more people will begin to see the movie as the cinematic masterpiece it is.

  • TheDeadFellow

    Coming from someone who loves Watchmen and thought Man of Steel was pretty good, I thought this movie was boring as hell. Bad pacing, too many subplots, obnoxious villain, vague character motivations – Just a real drag. And yes, I watched the Ultimate Edition. I have yet to see Sucker Punch but I can easily say this is easily my least favorite of Zack Snyder’s work.

    And no, I ain’t no Marvel shill. God, I hate that excuse. Can’t people just dislike a movie without being accused of some bias or some crap like that? Sheesh.

  • J.O. Logan

    Enjoyable discussion of one of the most unique big budget films ever made. I enjoy art that challenges me on many levels and BVS is art that does. I consider the film a work of art and not just a disposable piece of pop culture because true art elicits real and visceral reactions across all spectrums. BVS has done that since it was announced and has continued to do so nearly eight months after it was released which is much more than anything a simply bad or serviceable movie could ever do. Some people look at a Picasso and wonder why the eyes are one side of the face while others see a masterpiece of Cubism; some can read Tolstoy for insights on the human condition while other readers are bored senseless by Russians stumbling around in the winter; some music lovers consider Prince a short pervert whose eccentricity overshadowed his music while many others like my late humanities professor swore up and down he could do no wrong in the studio or on the stage.

    All that to say that real art will always have its supporters and its detractors. BVS is art because it ticks those boxes as a truly unique work that marries high adventure and indelible imagery with topical but timeless human issues such as xenophobia and tolerance, hopelessness and faith, expedience and brotherhood. That’s a heady brew that may be too strong for some tastes and again that’s just fine because true art doesn’t beg or expect everyone’s indulgence.

    I have no problem classifying Zack Snyder’s DCEU work as art because he and his crew have done with MAN OF STEEL (MOS) and BVS what real artists do and that is push their chosen medium further than it was when they came to it. Richard Donner did that when he and the Salkinds decided to respectfully translate a comic book to the big screen. It was pushed further by Tim Burton, Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi, and Christopher Nolan. Those were the artists and visionairies who seeded the ground for this unique genre and I’m certain they would agree with me that stagnation will kill that same genre quicker than bad reviews and poor box office.

  • Indira Iman

    I can’t believe we’re still discussing this shit

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    the movie is amazing, by fans for fans, unlike the mcu, also it has artistic content, also unlike the mcu, people just need to stop waiting for every super hero movie to be childish

  • beth

    recently just watched this n was disappointed. Too much going on with not enough explanation. I hate that we get a new batman every other movie. But it’s the story that is frustrating. I thought superman it’s supposed to be part of the jsa, so how does that happen if he’s dead? There were other ways to bring the heroes together via another immanent enemy or danger etc. If batman is the best detective why he didn’t even have a thought he might be getting manipulated,..a death of a friend not being enough motive as that must happen alot. Superman is a boy scout, he wouldn’t get that close to almost killing batman. The article say this film was made for the fans, but then why did they purposely show almost no blood so it could be rated pg13 ? Likely to ring in more general audience. That would be hypocritical for thm to make a movie geared towards fans but at same time make the movie acceptable for a younger audience i.e. general audience to boost box office sales. Sounds like just away to defend a movie made halfbad, at least the theatre edit.