There’s some minor, minor spoilers involved in this article but I largely stay as vague as possible so you can experience the film for yourself. So shit gets put out there, and might ruin your enjoyment, but I feel confident in saying the minor spoilers I reveal won’t damage an already damaged movie.
From the onset, it’s clear what Batman/Superman wants to accomplish: it wants to reach The Avengers’ level in a third of the time. DC has tried for years to find superheroes the public can embrace as they do Marvel’s, but so far only Batman has found that critical acclaim, and it’s not the same Batman they would prefer. Superman, DC’s golden child, can’t seem to catch a break. 2013’s Man of Steel has been the closest thing to a reprieve Superman has been able to attain, and it’s the platform on which Batman/Superman is built: WB has finally reached a level of desperation and understanding that people like Superman, people really like Batman movies, maybe Batman can finally save a Superman film.
What WB wants so badly is to have films it can just chuck characters at and make shit work. Some what in the same sense you could watch Ant-Man and still get the same sense it takes place within an established world, but embrace a new film and a new character. Batman/Superman is meant to establish that world but there’s too much incongruity. There is too much the film wants to highlight and is able to get none of it to work together. We’ve sat through a dozen Marvel films already, we get these characters already and where it takes place.
Two and a half hours is a lot to request of the audience when the film acts like it has so much to say, but says absolutely nothing. It’s especially hard when we’re introduced to so much shit, yet see none of it come together to make cohesive sense. Wonder Woman is teased throughout the film for the majority of it, but has no value or even exposition until the last possible minute when she’s meant to act as the film’s deus ex machina.
Batman/Superman tries to establish a new world separate from every single past film (except for Man of Steel which seems to act as the start of “Phase 1” as Iron Man did), and in that regards it works. Maybe that could’ve worked, but it doesn’t because we only have a grasp on Superman. The Batman of Batman V Superman is unlike what we’ve seen in previous films. The most descriptive way I can put it is Batman’s an enormous douche bag, content to resort to murder, bribery and extreme collateral damage to get the job done. Superman is naturally still a naive man-child wishing only to do good (though consistently in the film being blamed for an inexcusable amount of collateral damage deaths) and bang Lois Lane. The yin and yang element to the film is balanced by Wonder Woman, who is totally mysterious and totally happenin’, though isn’t introduced until we realize the film’s true final boss needs an extra foot in their ass.
Batman/Superman wouldn’t be so much a struggle to watch if it just stuck to its two titular heroes. Batman versus Superman, while creatively weak, isn’t a hard premise (or maybe it is, given its been in production hell for years). What is a lot to ask is to jam the film with as many characters as possible, as weakly as possible, in a hurried attempt to build an established universe. Oh shit, is that The Flash? I guess it was. Aquaman? A super fucking weak cameo, but sure whatever. Oh was that…Cyborg? Why the fuck is he here? There is a solid ten minutes where the film stops the plot entirely to let you see who else they plan to add to the upcoming Justice League film. Then just as promptly as they appeared they return to the ether, only to be brought up at the very end of the film as an inevitable need in the future in the same sense Nick Fury announced The Avengers in Iron Man.
Look, it’s cool. Let’s really take the situation in for a second. Did anyone think for a second Batman/Superman was going to be an Oscar nomination-worthy film? No of course not. It’s a summer popcorn flick porn meant to be ogled. And ogle you shall, believe me, at all the expensive looking CGI. You want explosions? Guess what buddy, you’ll get more explosions than you wanted to deal with. By the end, you’ll be begging for a still shot, as the ending credits will be the sweetest releases.
Even I can sit back, look at this wall of text, and think why the fuck did I just spend time trying to dissect a movie like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? What was I hoping to discover? I’m not quite sure. But again, two and a half hours is a lot to dedicate to a story with no real story to tell, no satisfying conclusion or point to it. We get our Batman versus Superman fight alright, in all of its extremely CGI’d glory, and sadly it wasn’t satisfying. Instead the film saves it’s CGI load for its final fight sequence against the film’s “real” bad guy, which devolves into a thirty(?) minute orgy of hilarious destruction.
Look, I’m not a professional. I’m some asshole sitting behind a computer, half drunk on Buffalo Trace whisky trying to understand what happened to the last three hours of the my life. I think it was best summarized by the look on my girlfriend’s face after the film. After she spent the last three months talking to me about the film, excited to finally see Wonder Woman in action. After she sat through two and a half hours of film, finally seeing the fruits of her patience. I can’t give it justice through text, but sadly I didn’t take a picture of the moment. But I think I learned from observation what disappointment objectively looks like. It’s just sad that I can’t relate to the expected.