Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Superhero Cliches


Director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” took its hype train to terminal velocity with a too-big-to-fail marketing approach that eventually crashed into a cinematic cacophony that might just be best to the deaf viewer.

Like dropping names of high-brow friends at a posh party, Snyder lobbed out a pitch some years ago to pin the world’s two most revered superheroes against one another in a sort of theatrical cage match that any unsuspecting moviegoer could sink his or her teeth into.

But that “v.” in the title fails to sate the yearning to see Gotham’s Dark Knight (Ben Affleck) pummel the crap outta the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) or — more likely — get bludgeoned or lazed to death, himself.

After a few brief — and admittedly gigantic — boxing bouts between these two ComicCon idols, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent become ‘frenemies,’ each hell-bent on saving the day a bit more than the other guy.

That whole battle of ethics regarding whether or not Superman’s omnipotent abilities render him a danger to Metropolis; — remember in the trailer when the Superman statue had “False God” tagged on it? — well, you can put that on the back burner, because once he/they saves the day everyone again forgets about all those thousands of people he killed when his laser vision wrecked a few city blocks.

Luckily, the cinematographers seemed to acknowledge the extent of the protagonists’ might, panning over swathes of Smallville or tracts of urbania during fights, rerouting viewers’ attention from the monotonous dialogue.

And to the effect that everyone was begging for after those gloomy trailers, “Batman v. Superman” darkened (literally) the setting of high school-esque drama developing into a tag-team beatdown of Supe’s arch rival, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) or, rather, the Kryptonian mutant he concocted.

In those gargantuan-scale action sequences, which tended to span miles because Superman would throw people so damn far, Snyder paints captivating scenes of infrastructure ablaze crumbling to the street.

Atop that imagery floats a somber score by Hans Zimmer and someone called Junkie XL. Their melodies are pleasant enough to complement the big scenes in which things go “BOOM,” but the combined efforts of all involved in the art direction don’t pack enough punch to override the dull dialogue, authored by Chris Terrio and David Goyer, which seems to keep slapping you in the face with subtext to obvious on-screen drama.

Picture a penthouse board room complete with too-tight neckties on grey-suited senior citizens. They’re not geriatrics, mind you, yet they don’t appear all that perturbed that Metropolis is burning before them.

Cue a phone call from Big Bad Bruce: “You need to evacuate the building NOW!”

The deaf viewers knew those dudes should have been out of that building long before then.

And albeit pretty, the scene of young Batboy embracing his peculiar affection for the winged nightcrawlers is a tired trope of post-comic book Batman renditions. And in Snyder’s flick, young Bruce literally ascends from the well he’s fallen into, lifted only by the strength of the bat colony that resides beneath Wayne Manor.

The plot failed to pronounce the totally palpable pitfalls of this super story. For example, obviously there’d be no movie without Batman and Superman. But, guess what? There would also be no terror attacks by alien forces if Superman just got the hell outta Dodge in the first place.

Way to go, Superman! You killed off the alien species that came to Earth for the sole purpose of killing you. Don’t mind the thousands of innocents killed as a byproduct of your interuniversal dick-measuring contest; your laser vision must’ve been on the fritz. Plus, your newspaper editor (Laurence Fishburne) is a total moron. “Every time something like this [chaos] happens, Kent’s nowhere to be found.”

Now Batman, who recently decided he’s game to kill people, swell job cogging up all of Superman’s efforts to clean up his own mess. That goodguy-on-goodguy distraction really helped contribute to the decimation of Metropolis.

Time to fly on back to Gotham. Good thing your car is also a fucking drone, Batman. Good thing there were no scenes of city councilmembers bawling their eyes out after seeing their civic initiatives and infrastructure torched by an alien — a god? — and a latex-wrapped trust fund kid with an affinity for bats.

And the cherry on top of this cinematic sugar sandwich was a terrible dream sequence that derails the story for about seven minutes, taking the viewer down an alternate plot path and leaving misplaced memories of events prior.

All of the damn sudden, WHACK! We’re in post-apocalyptic Metropolis with a duster-sporting Batman scanning the horizon of a smoldering cityscape. The Mad Maxish Bruce Wayne struts his way into a bunk drug deal from which he expected to stock up on Kryptonite, Superman’s chemical crux.

But after a rip-roaring gunfight between — Wait, really? — Superman’s militia of machine-gun-wielding mercenaries and the Gotham Knight, and an awkward torture scene with Batman in chains, Wayne awakens.

Also, Wonder Woman is in this movie. But her intro seems only a plot device to encourage head-scratching.

Essentially, “Batman v. Superman” would serve well as the background projection at some wonky dubstep music fest. But an excess of poorly chosen wording and a plot to drill holes in your head truly taint any redeeming qualities that survived the film’s production.

Words were this movie’s Kryptonite.