There’s a lot of hate out there for Zack Synder and I’m a bit mystified to be honest. Apart from the misstep that was Sucker Punch, I think his body of work to date has been of good quality. Maybe it’s because the first film he helmed was a darling with the horror fashionistas and remaking a “classic” where the zombies can run really fast put their noses out of joint. While some may point to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as a fascinating treatise on modern society – the zombification of the masses so-to-speak – I’ve watched it again recently and would describe it as “of its time”. The difference between the original and the remake? The remake is a lot more fun.
Anyway, he started off on the wrong foot as far as the “geek brigade” were concerned and never recovered. An admirable adaptation of Watchmen was equally derided, so the perceived foundations of a director who adapts established material and produces sub-standard fayre was set.
Which brings us to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by way of Man of Steel. I loved Mr Synder’s Man of Steel and love this follow up. Henry Cavill is perfect in the role of Kal-El, while casting Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman seemed somewhat left-field, but is a triumph. Words such as “boring” or “failure” or even just plain “bad” have been bandied about but BvS:DoJ is none of those things. And let’s not get into the Marvel vs DC argument – that would be like comparing apples with oranges.
Warner/DC are clearly trying to tap into the level of gravitas lent to the superhero world by way of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, in an attempt to distance themselves from the nudge-nudge-wink-wink world of Marvel – and that’s not a dig either. I’m as much of a Marvel fan as I am DC. The accountability issue of such heroes fighting for the greater good but causing so much collateral damage is clearly valid and one which will also be addressed by Captain America: Civil War – but with more superheroes involved. Substitute Toy Stark and his “team” for Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch and her oversight committee and parallels can surely be drawn.
But this isn’t about “my Dad’s better than your Dad“. Like I said, apples and oranges. Where Marvel got to test the waters with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man – arguably two lesser characters on a roster of more well known and established offerings – Warner/DC are creating a DC cinematic universe with their two heavy hitters, so there’s a lot more at stake with the fan base. For me, it all worked. Any film which has to deal with giving enough time to a lot of important characters will need to jump around a bit to “please the most people” and BvS handles this with dexterity. I liked the use of musical cues as well – the Man of Steel refrain being a personal highlight – and if I were being ultra-critical I’d have liked to see more of Superman, but once again that’s just a personal thing.
Jessie Eisenberg seems to the relish the role of Lex Luthor Jr., playing him with a nice unhinged edge, while Gal Gadot establishes a good starting point for Wonder Woman and sets us up nicely to look forward to a standalone film in the “near” future (23 June 2017 to be precise). Jeremy Irons lends a sardonic tone to his Alfred Pennyworth – a servant to the Wayne family and “father figure” to Bruce Wayne – and is as close to a moral compass as Batman will encounter in a world of polemics. With Lois Lane getting down-and-dirty, Amy Adams’ diminutive stature belies stoical character traits that just as easily support Clark Kent/ Superman as he does the entire world. This ensemble cast of great talent – including Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane – provide genuine portrayals, ingraining the narrative progression with believability and genuine warmth to the characters they inhabit.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice provides us with the foundations on which this new DC Comics Extended Universe will be built. The jumping-off point for cinematic outings for the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman (27th June 2018) and The Flash (16th March 2018), together with a full-blown Justice League film (17th November 2017), we are well on the way to enjoying a superhero universe to (hopefully) rival Marvel’s high quality and well established output. In addition, the prospect of a Ben Affleck directed Batman film, with him in the title role is a mouth-watering one. Don’t be put of by the mainly negative press. This film delivers on a number of levels and is another quality production from Zack Synder, with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill working admirably at the centre of it all.
Thank you for reading 🙂