There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ben Affleck‘s more comic-inspired take on The Dark Knight, the bold premise, the rapid expansion of the shared canvas upon which DC’s superhero films are set to take place.
However, there are also a lot of reasons to be concerned. Reasons for fans to be concerned and suspect that final film won’t end up being the home-run Warner Bros and DC expect (and kind of need) it to be.
Dark Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Superior
Okay. We get it. DC comics are dark. DC Comics have always been dark: even Batman The Animated Series, a television program supposedly aimed at children, was a twisted, bleak work of art, full of grimacing cadavers and leering psychopaths. But DC’s tonal simplicity is starting to look a lot like all out stubbornness these days. The supposed ‘harshness’ of the universe is neither fresh, nor challenging, nor inventive. Indeed, it’s almost boring.
From Batman Begins onwards, every one of the films featuring Gotham’s viligilante crusader and his red cape clad pseudo-nemesis have gotten progressively bleaker, culminating in Zack Snyder’s bizarre decision to leech the colour from Man Of Steel like a celluloid vampire.
None of this bodes particularly well for Batman Vs. Superman, a film that already looks like a pseudo-Nietzchian exercise in brooding nonsense. Cause here’s the thing: treating a comic book with respect and dignity is all well and good, but it’s all too easy to start leeching the enjoyment and sense of wonder from the experience.
After all, it’s possible for a comic book adaptation to be both ferocious and farcical – one need look only as far as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, a Netflix original series that understood you could mix the suspenseful with the slapstick.
And hey, I’m just going to come out and say it: where’s Sam Raimi when you need him? Trash Spiderman 3 all you like, but at least that film tried to be enjoyable.
Jesse Eisenberg Seems To Be The Only Actor Having Fun
Sure, this is more a veiled compliment than anything else, but early trailers indicate Jesse Eisenberg is the only actor who actually enjoyed his time on set. Affleck’s gurny, lockjaw-afflicted Batman seems about as much fun as an anti-drug lobbyist at Woodstock, and the eyes of the usually charismatic Jeremy Irons seem to be screaming out for relief, while his tight thin lips wrap around lines he can barely bring himself to say.
Gal Gadot seems stiff and Henry Cavill apparently plays a Calvin Klein model with fewer brain cells than dimples; a dullard who happens to dress up in a red cape now and then. Helen Hunt enjoys a prominent place in the trailer, but you can bet your life that she’ll barely appear in the film, meaning audiences searching for a good time will be forced to relish every single moment Eisenberg hams up the screen.
Snyder Has A Habit Of Overdoing CG
Again, this is all speculation (don’t you love reading an article based on less than twenty minutes of promo footage?) but given Zack Snyder’s predisposition for turning his films into glorified video games, one can be reasonably certain that BvS will be heavy on CG. Rather than following the direction of his predecessor and co-collaborator Christopher Nolan, a filmmaker who embraces traditional cinema whenever possible, Snyder has a reputation for largely ignoring practical affects, choosing instead to churn out digital farts like Sucker Punch, a cinematic waste of space with ideas far more complex than the director ever seemed ready to handle.
It’s so dull one could be forgiven dreaming of Batman Returns; a movie with the healthiest prosthetic-fetish around.
There Are No Real Stakes
From early reports and promotional material, Batman V. Superman looks less like a film and more like a franchise run up: a frenetic, capitalistic exercise in spawning sequels. It’s a glorified Justice League setup, nothing more, nothing less, and one can rest assured that at least half the film’s running time will be spent lining up characters that will never be afforded a single human moment. Chances are it’ll be all rigid stiff plotting and very little actual substance: an architectural blueprint rather than a cathedral.
Even worse, the trailers are already suggesting that BvS will suffer from the same problem as The Avengers: given how early in the cinematic franchise game we find ourselves, one can be fairly certain that no major character is going to die. Hence the essential disappointment of BvS’ title. Though we’re already being prepared to expect the battle of a lifetime, virtually every audience member will walk into Snyder’s upcoming snorefest already knowing that neither Superman nor Batman will lose.
So what’s the point? If there’s nothing at stake and no character ever really feels like a human being, we might as well be watching the struggle between the two paddles in ‘Pong’.
Of course, this is all mere hypothesis. There’s always the possibility that Batman Vs. Superman could succeed on every single level. But even now as you read those words, isn’t there a niggling little worry in the back of your brain? A worry that can barely formulate into a sentence; a strange, sinister notion along the lines of: “what if it sucks?”
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice releases on March 24th 2016.