“Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” opened to poor critical reviews and fan reception, garnering a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes as of Tuesday, April 5. In an obvious attempt to play catch up to the whirlwind success of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers,’ DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. pitted their two most iconic superheroes together in a grudge match that sparkled with CGI, but failed to give any an emotional depth to the characters.
“The movie is a misrepresentation of Batman and Superman for those who grew up with the heroes, and stands as a terrible introduction of these characters to newcomers,” said Tristan Wagner, a junior from Utah studying English. “It was hard to care about their struggles because the movie didn’t try to make me care about their underplayed, horribly generic personalities.”
Camron Sharp, a freshman biology major from California, said he agrees. “The movie depended too much on the viewers already knowing all the versions of all the comics,” said Sharp, who works at Laie Palms Cinemas. “The movie felt forced. An example is the implementation of Wonder Woman. Yes it was an obvious buildup for the Justice League, but there was no tie in again for the movie. I feel that if a movie is 2 1/2 hours long it should be able to take some time to explain the storyline.”
Paul Bacera, a senior studying business marketing from California, said the biggest disappointment was the story. “It was all over the place and had plenty of unnecessary scenes. It was extremely confusing, especially Batman's dreams. The viewers had no idea what was going on. I know [the director] was trying to use the dreams as a way to display Batman's irrational fear of Superman, but all it did was serve to confuse the audience,” said Bacera.
This movie marks Ben Affleck’s first portrayal of Batman on screen. He succeeds Christian Bale, who played the Caped Crusader in the incredibly successful Dark Knight trilogy. “The viewers already have this image of Batman in their mind,” said Bacera. “Bale was so cool, so mysterious, and so awesome. Bale is most people's favorite Batman. So a new Batman is just going to have a hard time comparing.”
Bacera said he disapproved of Affleck’s portrayal of Batman. “Batman's change of heart was really weak and not convincing,” he said. “Batman has been planning for a long time to kill Superman. I understand [the director] wanted to show how losing his parents was a traumatic experience for Batman. Because of this, he felt sympathy for Superman. But the transition was really weak and unrealistic.”
Student viewers said it was inevitable for the DC movie to be compared to Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Wagner said, “There’s a reason Marvel is doing better with their live-action films than DC. They care about who the characters are, how they handle their struggles, and how each character bounces off of each other. With Superman and Batman, we don’t get that. DC is much more focused on how dark and edgy the atmosphere is, so they forget they’re telling a coherent story.”
Students said the emotional connection seems to be the biggest draw to superhero movies, something “Batman v Superman” lacks. “‘The Avengers’ was so successful because the audience already had an emotional connection with a lot of these characters before the movie came out,” said Bacera. “They all had their own separate movies and the audience had already fallen in love with them. With ‘Dawn of Justice’ you have Superman, who you know, but then a whole bunch of new guys. You don't really care for Ben Affleck's Batman or Wonder Woman. If this had been Christian Bale's Batman, it would be another story. But it's not, so that emotional bond isn't there.”
According to Box Office Mojo, “Batman V Superman” is the first of nine films in DC’s lineup of superhero movies between now and 2020. “The whole movie was just poor setup for a sequel,” said Wagner. “Each time a cameo of a Justice League character came on screen or a foreshadowing reference was made, it was a kick to the teeth reminding you that you could be watching a much better movie, but instead you’re watching this.”
Uploaded Tuesday, April 5.