Batman V Superman, A Brief Spoiler-free Review Summary

By Daniel Dern: Let me start by noting that I grew on DC comics… I wasn’t quite old enough to read when DC’s “Silver Age” began in 1954, with the creation of Barry Allen as The Flash… but I was still in the high single digits for Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Ray Palmer the Atom (“Battle of the Tiny Titans,” another iconic cover), and the creation of the Justice League.

And give or take a few half decades off here and there, I’ve stayed current (52, pfui and feh). (Also Marvel familiar enough.)

I liked BvS well enough, as did my 15-year-old grandson who’s been watching Arrow and Flash and Legends of Tomorrow on TV.

BvS starts up around the end of the most recent Superman movie, Man of Steel. You don’t have to have seen it, but it wouldn’t hurt. (And it wasn’t bad.)

Other than the Batmobile, I see little to none of the recent Batman trilogy, which is fine by me.

Yes, it’s a mostly grim movie. Fights, action, some blood, a chase scene, etc.

As long-time fanboy, I don’t feel unhappy about anything. (Which is how I felt about Iron Man 1 and Green Lantern, although as movies each had other problems.)

My grandson and I felt the movie played fair, kept moving, and was pretty good. It didn’t have the high-energy colorful highs of the Cap America or Avengers movies… but on the other hand, it picked a plotline and stuck with it and came to an ending… that clearly set the stage for several more/related movies.

If you’ve seen enough of the trailers or other advance chatter, you probably know a fair amount of the players and some of the “bits.” But odds are you will be (happily) surprised.

26 thoughts on “Batman V Superman, A Brief Spoiler-free Review Summary

  1. My own daughter just walked in from seeing it tonight and said she enjoyed it more then she expected to, and loved our new Wonder Woman, and how it set up what will follow now. Neither of us expected it to be as long as it was, to the point of dozing off during the two and a half hour movie

  2. ‘Fraid ’54 isn’t correct for Barry Allen’s debut. He didn’t show up until 1956, and his two possible predecessors as first DC Silver Age hero also weren’t ’54, with Captain Comet first appearing in ’51 and J’onn J’onzz in ’55.

  3. I’m grateful the reviewer mentions disliking the landmark first Iron Man movie, since it helps to place his evaluation of BvS in perspective. 😉

    It would be awesome if the thread itself here could be spoilerific BTW.

  4. I thought he said he didn’t feel unhappy with Iron Man — and rereading, that sentence is thoroughly ambiguous.

    (Says someone who managed once to call one of her favourite musical artists “horrible” because of a misphrase…)

  5. “Liked it well enough” is the best review I’ve seen. It doesn’t inspire me to spend $10.

  6. @Lurkertype: FWIW, it does have a big divergence between the critic and viewer ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: 29% to 73%. Now 73% isn’t a very high rating – it comes in around the Ed Norton Hulk movie and Iron Man 2 – but it’s way better than the 45% viewer-rating that Green Lantern got.

    I am with the critics on this one though.

  7. I just saw it tonight. It’s a better movie than the recent Star Wars, I rate it equal in quality to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Far, far better than Green Lantern.

    The critics, as usual, have no idea what to do with a movie based on a comic book. It’s a fun movie, long on explosions and short on angsty BS. Also the bad guy is some kind of freako atheist, so that was a nice change from the usual.

  8. Uh.

    I haven’t seen it, but all of the descriptions I’ve read seem to indicate that Bruce Wayne’s role in the movie is mostly angsty BS and that Superman is pretty angsty and brooding as well. Given that you’ve seen it, is this incorrect?

  9. > Re Start of Silver Age
    @Tom Galloway. I’ll cheerfully accept your corrections WRT “start of DC’s Silver Age, and who were their first characters.” I’d done a quick lookup to confirm my sense that my memory was wrong, I don’t think I was reading when Barry got struck by lightning.

    > Re Broody and Angsty in Gotham and Metropolis
    Aaron said:

    I haven’t seen it, but all of the descriptions I’ve read seem to indicate that Bruce Wayne’s role in the movie is mostly angsty BS and that Superman is pretty angsty and brooding as well. Given that you’ve seen it, is this incorrect?

    No… but keep in mind that B v S starts during the tail end of THE MAN OF STEEL where (spoiler alerts if you haven’t seen that most recent Superman movie) Zod and his motley fellow Phantom Zone escapees and their big honking rocket ship (with or without ray guns) are whacking Metropolis and the Earth in general. I’d be angsty and broody too. And it’s not like, with all due respect to Mark Evanier’s historical recap, Batman/Bruce Wayne isn’t a rather broody guy these days in most of the comics he’s in.

    >My dis/like of some previous super-movies

    Jim Henley on March 26, 2016 at 7:10 am said:

    I’m grateful the reviewer mentions disliking the landmark first Iron Man movie, since it helps to place his evaluation of BvS in perspective. ?

    and Lenora Rose on March 26, 2016 at 10:38 am said:

    I thought he said he didn’t feel unhappy with Iron Man — and rereading, that sentence is thoroughly ambiguous.

    I don’t recall _liking_ the first Iron Man movie that much. Or disliking it. What I did like/appreciate was that it was surprising faithful to the origin/continuity of Iron Man… tricky enough for a character created decades ago. Versus, say, what got done in the Catwoman movie, feh.

    I enjoyed Green Lantern somewhat more, but hey, I’m a Hal Jordan fanboy. Faithful enough. Unnecessarily stupid and explosiony, yeah.

    Making movies of much-loved book (or TV) (comic) characters is tricky. You want to please the hardcore fans… or at least, not annoy them. (That’s why I went to see the Star Trek reboot twice. The first time I was waiting for something to piss me off. Yeah, way plot holes and other stoopid stuff, bfd imho. You want to make a movie for (comic) fans in general. And you may try to make a movie for people who aren’t comic readers.

    E.g., THE WATCHMEN. Zack Snyder did an amazing job of making a movie that looked and felt like the comics. (See my review, I Watched The WATCHMEN (Movie, That Is).) Whether it was a fun or good movie, different question.

    I’d argue that the biggest problem with B v S is the title (and some of the trailers) which led us to expect a different movie which we would have been even unhappier about. But calling this “Fhcrezna naq Ongzna irefhf Yrk Yhgube’f cnenabvn naq Onq Znq Fpvrapr” would have spoiled the plot.

    (Those of us who had read Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS have seen B and S duke it out, of course.)

    Like I said, I enjoyed the movie enough. I didn’t want my time or money back. I would love to see a S movie that isn’t mostly villained by Lex Luthor or by Zod and the K-Gang. (Yes, I’ve seen the animated version of Grant Morrison’s ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. It’s quite nice. Yeah, Luthor again, but it’s not broody or angsty.)

  10. No… but keep in mind that B v S starts during the tail end of THE MAN OF STEEL where (spoiler alerts if you haven’t seen that most recent Superman movie) Zod and his motley fellow Phantom Zone escapees and their big honking rocket ship (with or without ray guns) are whacking Metropolis and the Earth in general. I’d be angsty and broody too. And it’s not like, with all due respect to Mark Evanier’s historical recap, Batman/Bruce Wayne isn’t a rather broody guy these days in most of the comics he’s in.

    Whether there is a reason for the angst is mostly beside the point I was making. Phantom asserted that the movie is “short on angsty BS”. But from what I had read (and what some people here have said), the movie is actually quite full of angst and brooding. It doesn’t really matter if there are valid reasons for such angst, the point is that it is there and the movie is apparently quite full of it, contrary to Phantom’s claim.

  11. Aaron on March 28, 2016 at 8:27 am said: Whether there is a reason for the angst is mostly beside the point I was making. Phantom asserted that the movie is “short on angsty BS”.

    As it happens, I went to see the movie this soon mostly because all the critics hated it and quite a few here said they did as well. When that happens, usually I find the movie enjoyable. Happened again this time.

    This movie is dramatic. There are emotions brought up. It is however not depressing, pointless angst which does not forward the story. An example of that would be the time travel movie “Predestination”, 2014 attempt at Heinlein’s “All You Zombies.” That whole thing was pretty much angsty bullshit from start to finish.

    Bad things happen to Bruce Wayne and Superman, (duh!) but they do not wallow or use the suffering as an excuse for poor decisions. The movie focuses on the power of the characters to fight evil, rather than mewl over the inhumanity of it all.

    Incidentally, they managed to make Gal Gadot look like somebody that could swing a sword instead of just a poofy fashion model with pipe-cleaner limbs. Casting like Angelina Jolie as Laura Croft tends to strain my suspension of disbelief a hair too far. Slim fashion models can’t hit.

    The only reason I mention it is that you, Aaron, would complain if I came on here and said the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

    Jim Henley on March 28, 2016 at 2:36 am said: Uh.

    Something wrong with a well turned explosion, Jim?

  12. Something wrong with a well turned explosion, Jim?

    I believe you missed the later post where he said: “The movie is a non-stop angst-fest.” At this point, I’m not sure you actually understand what the word “angst” means .

    Slim fashion models can’t hit.

    Such as Gal Godot, an actual fashion model?

  13. @Phantom, I am a huge fan of explosions and a noisy opponent of angst-ridden, brooding superheroes. Just so you know. I was told by my partner (who quite liked the movie), who has had to listen to my numerous and predictable rants about angst-ridden, brooding superheroes to not bother with Batman v Superman because it was everything I detest. Also, that (rot-13ing to avoid spoilers) Ongzna xvyyf crbcyr, which would make me leave the theatre right then and conclude that one of them, at least, made some really poor decisions.

    Maybe we mean different things when we refer to angsty BS?

  14. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that Phantom doesn’t actually like the movie, but is just saying he does so that he can virtue signal his buddies.

  15. Aaron on March 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm said: I believe you missed the later post where he said: “The movie is a non-stop angst-fest.”

    No. I just disagree with him. A lot, apparently.

    And yes, Gal Gadot -is- a slim fashion model. I note that they managed to make her -look- bigger. Do you not read English well, or is it more that you’ve already decided what I say without bothering to read it?

    Cheryl S. on March 28, 2016 at 1:50 pm said: @Phantom, I am a huge fan of explosions and a noisy opponent of angst-ridden, brooding superheroes. Just so you know. … Maybe we mean different things when we refer to angsty BS?

    Possibly. The tone is serious, and there are sad parts, but it doesn’t have that weighty, dismal feel about it where everything is pointless and the hero just keeps waiting for the next truckload of horror to get dumped on him right before he finally loses.

    Please see my example “Predestination” above, as the very acme of angsty bullshit. Deus Ex Machina would be another one.

    And you know, maybe you won’t like it. I did, that’s all I’m saying here. I liked Deadpool too. Lots of dandy explosions there, and even an exploding teenager. For Aaron I should explain that means a teenager who explodes repeatedly, not a teenager who gets exploded.

  16. @Aaron: I think it’s possible that the Phantom liked the movie sincerely because he was primed to do so by critics and filers hating it. It’s also possible he really genuinely liked it but just doesn’t have a shared vocabulary with us in which he can convey his approval.

    I am on record as insisting good fights are crucial to an effective superhero story. I didn’t think most of the fights in BvS were very good. (I can think of two exceptions.) There were also way too few of them. And I thought the 2D CGI was terrible. In the climactic fight I felt, all too often, like I was watching a video game.

    I love Batman and I hate it when he’s portrayed as a dope. I love Superman and I hate it when he’s portrayed as a mope. That’s two strikes against this movie. Perry White is completely unbelievable. The movie’s take on Lex Luthor’s motivations is actually pretty good, but the world in which he works through his Evil Plan makes no sense.

    But if Phantom enjoyed it, I’m glad. Movies are expensive, and presumably he paid good money. I’m glad one of us didn’t consider the expense wasted.

  17. Jim Henley on March 28, 2016 at 3:29 pm said: @Aaron: I think it’s possible that the Phantom liked the movie sincerely because he was primed to do so by critics and filers hating it.

    Seriously? You want to go there?

    Okay. Let’s go then. Over many years, in fact since the 1970’s in my experience, the critics have -predictably- panned things like any Clint Eastwood action movie. Any Schwarzenegger movie. Any comic book movie. Any blockbuster that blows the box-office out of the water. Most of the time a bad review is the sure sign of a movie that will be fun. Exceptions do exist, but sometimes even the weatherman gets it right.

    Conversely, critical acclaim is the guarantee of a dreary, depressing downer experience that leaves you wanting to get your money back. If the critics love it, if it got an Academy Award, if if made a big splash at Cannes and Sundance, it’ll leave you wanting brain bleach 90 times out of 100.

    Many here apparently share the same aesthetic as the critterati, as evidenced by the books and movies they laud and those they scorn.

    Herein lies the root cause of the discontent many of us speak about, the lack of anything good to read in the bookstores most of the time. Nothing on TV, nothing on Netflix, nothing at the movies. Just more of the same warmed-over bilge, poured into a shiny new bottle.

    It’s also possible he really genuinely liked it but just doesn’t have a shared vocabulary with us in which he can convey his approval.

    I think it more likely that your innate hostility toward a differing view leaves you unable to read the plain printed word, sir. I’m not writing in Cornish. “I liked it” means I liked it.

  18. @The Phantom:

    I think it more likely that your innate hostility toward a differing view leaves you unable to read the plain printed word, sir. I’m not writing in Cornish. “I liked it” means I liked it.

    We have differing opinions about who has an innate hostility toward a differing view. I’ve conversed with a few people who liked the movie. I said I didn’t like it at all, but I didn’t get angry about it. And whenever I’ve given my opinion on the movie – I think it sucks, as I mentioned – I didn’t preface it and postscript it and interleave my statements with carping about “idiot fans” or “lowest-common-denominator mass morons” or whatever. I just said, “That movie was utter shit.” Cause I think it was utter shit.

    You on the other hand could not shut up about The Critics(TM) and your various other betes noires (like us) while ostensibly telling us you liked it. Eventually, through the hostility, I can finally infer that you like it because the good guys win and it has some explosions. This does not make it unusual among superhero movies, but it does make it less of a downer than Predestination, so cool. But you jumped to the completely unearned, and wrong, conclusion that those of us who disliked BvS disliked it because it’s “not angst-y” and because the good guys win and because it has explosions. That’s just weird. You have to be really in the grip of your resentments to jump to a conclusion that silly.

  19. @Phantom – Please see my example “Predestination” above, as the very acme of angsty bullshit. Deus Ex Machina would be another one.

    And you know, maybe you won’t like it. I did, that’s all I’m saying here. I liked Deadpool too. Lots of dandy explosions there, and even an exploding teenager.

    I loved Deadpool, but haven’t seen the other two movies so I still don’t know if we share the same definition for angsty bullshit. I do suspect we share an appreciation for good guys winning, though.

    Anyway, I’m glad you liked it. My partner and our youngest child did too, but they’ve been picking apart the plot holes ever since.

  20. snowcrash on March 29, 2016 at 10:41 am said:

    The highly-anticipated (by me) io9 FAQ for BvS is out! Is super spoilery!

    And yeah, I agree with the bulk of it. That doesn’t change the fact that while I was watching the movie, I was enjoying it. The same applies to, say, the ” things wrong with…” videos for THE GREAT AND POWERFUL [Oz], and JJAbrams’ Star Trek reboot. Lots of logic lapses. A sadly compelling compendium of avoidable goofs, plot holes, etc. And yet I still enjoyed ST Redux. (G&P/Oz, not so much.) Call it a “willing suspension of dissed belief” 🙂

  21. On the fractal wrongness of the plotting, I thought Ben Dreyfus of Mother Jones put it amazingly well:

    We all understand that plots in these movies don’t make sense. Of course they don’t. That’s standard. But in this movie nothing makes sense on a scene level. In a lot of movies that make no sense on a plot level, the person will say, “I am going to rob this fruit store,” and you can quibble about why a person would rob a fruit store, but the characters in the movie accept it and go about robbing the fruit store and we go along with it. They have conviction and authenticity and they really try to rob that fruit store good, even if we in the audience think they are being ridiculous for robbing a fruit store, because when it really works, it doesn’t matter. In Batman v Superman the characters say, “I am going to rob this fruit store,” and then go into the fruit store, throw fruit in the air, paint the walls with fruit, pay for the fruit, use the fruit as puppets in improv comedy, have a dance party with the fruit, build a home in the fruit store, burn the fruit store down, exit the smoldering husk of the fruit store and announce, “I robbed the vegetable store.”

Comments are closed.