You wanna know the real difference between Marvel and DC? It’s not just that Marvel has consistently given us funnier, more heart-felt, better written films. (If only it were just that). It’s that I can’t shake the feeling that DC is making movies they think we want to see, while Marvel is making the movies they want to see. Most Marvel films project a sense of joy and exhilaration that I’ve yet to see matched in one of their DC counterparts. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice doesn’t even try to break that streak. It’s a movie that revels in it’s own joylessness, and like every other Zack Snyder movie yet made, any substance it might have gets overshadowed by it’s own style.
Dawn of Justice opens two years after Man of Steel laid waste to Metropolis and exposed the existence of square-jawed, steely-eyed aliens (Henry Cavill). It’s a new world, and not everyone is rolling with the changes. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) doesn’t trust Superman’s ostensibly good intentions, and makes it his mission to stop him before he can do some real damage. Also trying to put the screws to Superman is Lex Luthor. The Man of Steel’s nemesis is played here by Jessie Eisenberg, who seems to think that the only things required for a compelling bad guy are facial tics and a few schizoid-style loose associations.
For a movie that’s supposedly about the struggle between Idealism and Realism, this movie has little of either. Even for a comic book block buster, there’s a mind-numbing over-reliance on CGI effects, so nothing feels grounded. We never get a sense of the “real” world that Bruce Wayne is trying to preserve. A fact that isn’t helped by the weirdly timed, totally nonsensical dream sequences (seriously, don’t ask). Meanwhile, Clark Kent’s trademark zeal for truth, justice, and the American way is slipping; in fact, Superman spends most of the film wondering whether mankind is worth the trouble of saving. By the end, it’s hard to remember why these good-doing dudes are fighting in the first place. And when they do finally settle their differences the moment has no impact, making their feud feel a little toothless.
It’s not that I’m prejudiced against DC. I just wish that, for once, they would start to measure their films in the depth and honesty of their stories and characters, rather than the number of times they make things go boom.