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Batman vs. Superman defies the monotony of the genre

By Sabrina Pond

Section: Arts

April 8, 2016

In a long series of superhero movies that have come out in the last few years, it would seem that there is no originality left in the genre. Pinning superhero against supervillain in a rather predictable storyline that every audience member saw coming, these films typically incorporate fight sequences that involve a series of testosterone-fueled scenes that lack any sort of realism. “Man of Steel,” “Iron Man 3” and “The Amazing Spiderman” are three among a barrage of poorly crafted and executed superhero movies that leave little to be desired.

Not so out of the ordinary, then, DC Comics’ most recent release, “Batman vs. Superman” would appear at first glance to actively feed into the monotony. I also thoroughly doubted the integrity of the film, which seemed like a cheap attempt to merge two superheroes whose universes should never touch. With a 29 percent Rotten Tomato score, everything seemed to validate that instantaneous inclination. If I wasn’t forced to go to the movies, I most certainly would have never gone on my own.

I was wrong. Not completely wrong, of course—”Batman vs. Superman” is by no means a flawlessly wrought film—but it was more than mildly entertaining and showcased some genuinely good cinematography. Far from the disappointing and pointless “Man of Steel,” Zack Snyder’s directive vision showed a more visually conceived film, as this time it was less about delivering nonstop action sequences to give the viewer something to doze off to. Paying particular attention to the angle of each shot and the story that can be told through subtle symbolism, the film showed far more depth than its counterparts. This attention to detail begins as soon as the movie starts; the audience is given a glimpse into Batman’s past, and showcases both moving and symbolic imagery intended to stir the audience.

The movie takes place approximately two years after the fall of Zod (Michael Shannon), which left the city of Metropolis in complete ruins. Among those impacted by the immense damage was none other than the affluent crime-fighter Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Intent on taking down the threat, Batman spends all his waking time pursuing methods to rid the world of the all too powerful superhero. All the while Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) muddies the playing field, adding to the already boiling tension between the two superheroes.

Though the film could be easily construed as a moody, broody mess, and therefore too whiney to adequately enjoy, this statement would grossly simplify the overall film. The movie’s overtone was dark, at times overwhelmingly so, but this is a testament to the director’s ability to consistently convey a rather uncomfortable tension. In an altogether compelling manner, the dreary vibe allows for an intrinsically more interesting plot as well as greater character development.

“Batman vs. Superman” also wonderfully straddles the difficult task of representing superheroes, retaining their “superpowers,” while also humanizing them. This can be a nearly impossible task—Superman, after all, is an alien whose abilities are so far-reaching that he oftentimes seems more god-like than anything else. Even so, Superman was made vulnerable in this film, and though it is tough to say what this can be attributed to (the actor, Henry Cavill, might have improved from one movie to the next), the end conclusion is still the same: an innately more captivating portrayal of the classic superhero.

Notwithstanding, the film was not without major plot holes, annoying character moments and the inability to reinvent certain tropes that have reached the point of unoriginality. A more disappointing aspect of the film was Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman, which was unsophisticated and lacking finesse. The end result? Batman seemed inept when compared to the invincible, outlandishly strong and laser-beaming Superman. In a film with both their names in the title and with the explicit understanding that these two characters are pinned against each other, it makes for a less climactic arc since they are less than adequately matched.

Perhaps even more distracting, however, is the film’s cursory incorporation of Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, whose performance is added as an afterthought to the storyline. DC Comics almost redeems itself because it has already been announced that Wonder Woman will have her own movie in 2017. This is more than Marvel can say; though Black Widow has made an appearance and played an integral role in “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War” as well as “Iron Man 2,” Black Widow has yet to star in her own movie.

Though lacking in certain respects, “Batman vs. Superman” has its good points and most definitely entertained—audiences clapped at its conclusion. I’ve been led to believe that critics may have been too hard on the film, as 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes does not seem to accurately represent the quality of the film. The lesson learned here: don’t rely completely on the critics’ ratings, as the 200-some odd critics may not always judge a movie with a viewer’s considerations in mind.

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