While I didn’t hate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I didn’t exactly love it, giving it a measly 6 out of 10 in my review (which is more generous than most). I did, however, love elements of the film, so I thought I’d cover the best of BvS, countering with the film’s worst elements for a nice and balanced 2nd look at the film.
Warning! Unlike my review, this post will contain SPOILERS!
In this edition I’ll cover the cast, from the title characters down to Alfred Pennyworth and other supporting characters.
Best: Batffleck & Bruce WayneWhile every review for Batman V Superman loves Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman, nearly as many praise Ben Affleck for presenting what most are calling the best Batman we’ve ever seen on the silver screen. I would agree 100%; it is possible to have the best Batman in what is far from the best Batman movie.
Actors in the past have been great at Batman but less stellar at Bruce Wayne and vice versa. Ben Affleck didn’t just deliver the best Batman, but also the best Bruce Wayne (which is probably the more difficult of the two roles). This Batman may kill… and kill… and kill… but what else is new? Batman on the big screen has been a downright serial killer, from 1989’s Batman to even the Nolan films. The latter tried to make his “One Rule” a thematic element… while allowing Bats to kill all the same. BvS never apologizes for this choice; the version of Batman that Snyder and co-writer Chris Terrio choose to use is a grizzled vet who has fought crime in Gotham for over twenty years, destroying his patience and reducing his faith that “Men Are Good” in the process. If man is not good, why not murder baddies? (I do someday want a Batman movie where he doesn’t kill… for real).Batffleck is imposing in every way, from his stature (Affleck was partially picked because he was taller than Henry Cavill’s Superman) to his terrifying voice that uses a modulator in order to avoid Christian Bale’s worst Batman trait: The Bat Voice. He’s gigantic, with Thor/Captain America sized muscles that make every Batman actor before look scrawny, even Bale. This Batman’s fighting style is smooth, fast, yet brutal in a way that seems to emulate the amazing combat of the Arkham video games and capture the feel of the comics in a way that Batman movies never have. His training sequence looked mind-boggling difficult. And his aforementioned dark(er) outlook on life completes the package: one badass, brutal Bat. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has more depth than any before. He’s not awkward like Michael Keaton or a half assed-cover story for his true Bat Identity like Christian Bale’s version. He’s charming when he needs to be, brooding like any good Bruce Wayne (but not too brooding, another poor choice made by Bale) and… a hero. Even when he’s not in the Batsuit, hidden under the curtain of night, Bruce Wayne is just as much an action hero as his alter-ego, from his heroics at the opening Battle of Metropolis to perusing the criminal underground to steal data from Luthor’s lead henchmen (you know, that Russian Dude).Long story short: Ben Affleck is the first actor to rock the roles of Batman AND Bruce Wayne.
Worst: Superman & Clark KentSuperman continues to disappoint, maintaining the weaknesses that made his character feel “off” in Man of Steel. In fact, Henry Cavill seems to have gotten worse at the role, making decisions that seem completely off the mark for the character, especially considering Superman is supposed to be less brooding and have more faith in humanity than Batman.Cavill’s worst offense? Clark Kent is downright cocky. While Cavill said in interviews that he felt that Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Clark Kent was so downright clumsy that he would draw more attention to himself than is smart when you are a superhero by night (correction: in Goddamn daylight) who doesn’t bother to wear a mask. In an effort to fix what he sees as a problem the character has had, Cavill over compensates and completely misses the mark, making Clark Kent waaaay too cocky and not the humble man he should be when he’s not wearing (dull) red and blue.
It’s as though Cavill forgot to leave the cockiness of Napoleon Solo on the set of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Best: The New Supporting Cast – Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal GadotBatman V Superman must have had a different casting director than Man of Steel because the difference in casts are night and day, day and night (Thanks, Lex luthor, for that).
Let’s start with the Batman Universe’s 2nd most featured character, Alfred Pennyworth, played by Jeremy Irons this go around. With an older Bruce Wayne/Batman than ever before, and the 1st big screen Alfred without White Hair, the age gap between the damaged boy and his butler (now, more of a guardian, mechanic, and even sidekick) has never been slimmer. And while Michael Caine made a fantastic Alfred who was far less conventional/clichéd than Micheal Gough in the two Tim Burton and two Joel Schumacher films, Jeremy Irons does it even better. He’s more hands on from designing/fixing up the helmet under Batman’s cowl (complete with voice modulator that even makes Alfred sound terrifying) to piloting the Batwing remotely during the warehouse fight.Again, while Michael Cane’s Alfred and Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne had great chemistry, it doesn’t hold a candle to the relationship of Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and Affleck’s Bruce. They really feel like an old married couple who have been doing this crime fighting thing for 20 years, with Alfred no longer trying to talk Batman out of being Batman. But do not fear, he but is just as sarcastic about the whole situation as Caine. Though most people would disagree, I also found Jesse Eisenberg’s younger, unconventional Lex Luthor just as enjoyable as Skyfall/SPECTRE’s twenty-something Q; a real breath of fresh air. I love how he played the character, cocky at moments (like his introductory shot where he makes a basket 1st try), condescending (feeding a Military General a cherry Jolly Rancher or addressing Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch), awkward (stumbling through that speech at his Gala), and downright psychotic (Lois Lane was right!). Unlike the usual Genius-Billionaire-Rea- Estate-Mogul we are accustomed to, Eisenberg’s Luthor is not a stable man… at all. And it works!
It’s not Jesse Eisenberg’s fault that the script makes Luthor’s plans unfollowable. Finally, while I wasn’t as gaga for Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as most, the character was a welcome addition to the film. Though I know little about the character, it seems like Gadot nailed it.
Worst: The Man of Steel Returning Cast – Amy Adams, Henry Lennix, Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin Costner I hate to speak in absolutes, but NONE of the returning cast from Man of Steel brings anything interesting to the Batman V Superman. Maybe the reason isn’t a different casting director, but character fatigue (already) as we’ve seen all these cats in Man of Steel. Of course, it’s also possible (and very likely) that Luthor, Alfred, and Wonder Woman are just more complex characters than the following two dimensional place holders. Amy Adams may have been the victim of a bad script, but she didn’t save the role of Lois Lane like Jesse Eisenberg did with Lex Luthor. She’s the victim most the film (Superman saves her 3 times!) and her lack of investigative reporting skills make you wonder how she figured out Superman’s identity in the first film! How long does it take to track a bullet back to Lex Luthor and LexCorp, really? Worst of all, her performance doesn’t add any weight to Superman’s death at the end of the film. Somber Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince lingering the background carry more emotion than Clark Kent’s girl.Everyone else is also just so “Meh.” Henry Lennix is great on NBC’s The Blacklist, but is the world’s most boring Military General in Batman V Superman. Lawrence Fishburne plays Daily Planet Editor Perry White as though he has never read a Superman Comic, but once watched J.K. Simmons as Daily Bugle Editor J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man nearly 15 years ago and said, “I’ll do that!”
Worst of all is Kevin Costner who gets to appear as the figment a dream (in a movie full of them). A farmer telling a story about a farm incident that has little to do with the plot, unexplainably on the top of a mountain? This does seem to be a theme as there are a lot of stories/metaphors that don’t make any sense in BvS. The role is certainly a stretch (not) for Costner , who often plays farmers and doesn’t seem to realize he’s in a move in which someone invested $250 million dollars.Michael Shannon as Zod is actually the best cast member to return…and he’s just a corpse!
But that’s not all the Best and the Worst of Batman V Superman! Yes, we all know there is a lot to cover in the “Worst” department, but there is actually more in the “Best” column as well, I swear!