Batman v Superman is a hot, steaming heap of trash. You'd think that a film with a title like this would be fun popcorn fare. But it carries itself with a laughable level of solemnity. The problem is that the film isn't smart enough to justify taking itself so seriously.
Director Zack Snyder sets the grim tone right away with an attack on Metropolis that conjures up memories of 9/11. After Superman (Henry Cavill) battles the Kryptonian warlord Zod and leaves the city in ruins, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) runs into the rubble, which is cloaked in a cloud of ash — just like the streets of New York 15 years ago. Wayne looks up from Ground Zero, angry at the flying crime-fighter who caused this destruction.
Wayne then impulsively launches a sort of "war on terror" aimed at Superman. He believes that killing the Man of Steel will be his greatest achievement as Batman, leaving the longest-lasting impact.
"Criminals are like weeds — pull one up and another grows in its place. But this could make a difference for the whole world," Batman says.
He spends the rest of the movie brooding and trying to steal a big hunk of kryptonite that falls in Lex Luthor's possession. Essentially portraying the industrialist as a talking chipmunk, Jesse Eisenberg delivers the worst performance of his career as Luthor. He's a goofy, grating cartoon in the midst of the serious yet shallow commentary on terrorism.
What starts as an ambitious political allegory quickly turns into a sentimental mess. Wait until the moment in which Batman and Superman find themselves on emotional common ground. It’s one of the silliest scenes in recent memory yet it plays out like the climax of a heavy Greek tragedy.
This film's dead-serious tone and bloated sense of importance is completely Snyder's fault. (Remember, this is the guy who turned Superman into a reckless killer at the end of Man of Steel.)
The Batman films have offered several unique visions over the years: Tim Burton brought his quirky, gothic sensibility and German Expressionist influence to Batman and Batman Returns; Joel Schumacher infused Batman Forever and Batman & Robin with ’60s-esque flamboyance; and Christopher Nolan grounded the Caped Crusader in gritty reality with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Each director molded the Batman mythos to fit his personal taste.
Unfortunately, there's something insincere about Snyder's style. While Nolan earnestly delivers intimate, emotional moments, Snyder puffs his chest out and shoves them in your face. Batman v Superman reeks of arrogance. It's like the type of dude-bro you see at the gym who grunts loudly and looks at his muscles in the mirror. (Affleck and Cavill also seem like such tools — on and off screen.)
Batman v Superman has the pieces for a great movie. Hell, it has the guts to pit the two most iconic superheroes in the world against each other. But it doesn't leave you with the same childlike wonder that those characters evoke. This leaves you dizzy and irritated. It's one of the worst superhero films ever made.