The World Is Introduced To The Schism
Where were you when you first realized Batman v Superman changed Superhero Films for all-time? I was in Alamo Drafthouse on opening night and couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. The moment young Bruce started rising with the bats and the voice-over said: “In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie“, I was in awe. Literally, in those first 5 minutes, we were shown cinematography on a different level, thanks to Larry Fong. And a musical composition the likes we had never heard before, thanks to Hans Zimmer. And that was just the theatrical version.
But the moment I walked out of the theater, I was a changed man. This was the first time some of my favorite characters were treated with such respect and bravado in cinema. There was no going back. Zack Snyder changed everything for me, once again. So you’ll understand why I was dumbfounded on just why anyone would say this was the worst film in history. Such an asinine claim became redundant when anyone that disliked the film never spoke about the WHY of what they didn’t like. Just reverted to “That’s not muh Batman. That’s not muh Superman“. So they were allowed to claim certain traits but I wasn’t? People like me connected to these characters, that should’ve been enough, right?
Then Came Fire
So what was I to do? Ben Affleck was the greatest Batman on-screen I had ever seen. Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor was brilliant and terrifying. Why were people so against this film? I had no idea. But then, shortly after the release, we were told that an extra 30 Minutes would be added to the home-release. An Ultimate Edition. This version would be 3 hours and would be Rated-R. I was in disbelief. Zack Snyder truly convinced studio execs that he made an adult-oriented Superhero film with both Superman and Batman. And that Superman and Batman would be ‘killed’ in that same R-Rated film. My mind was blown.
Watching Batman v Superman in its true form was enlightening. Not only did the film actually feel shorter, everything had time to breathe. Lois was given a true arc and ultimately was the person responsible for bringing down Lex Luthor. Seeing Clark actively investigate the Bat-Man and getting nowhere was deliberate. It served its purpose of just WHY Superman stops trying to talk to Batman and begins to give him a little taste of his own medicine. But when the fight turns to fear, everything was even.
Who’s The Girl?
Did I mention Diana Prince yet? Oh yeah, that’s right, she’s in this too. Not only did The World’s Finest appear on-screen together for the first time, but we also were gifted to seeing Wonder Woman dominate every scene she was in. I completely understand the marketing purposes for showing her but had she just been hidden until release, we would’ve been blown away. Just think about that for a moment. We get to see Batman fight Superman. Then we get to see the greatest Batman fight scene/rescue to date. And we had never seen Diana put on the suit yet.
Once Doomsday emerges, it’s a completely different film. This was the most comic-book film I had ever seen and that was just the first 2 hours and 20 minutes. It was mixed with a political drama thanks to Chris Terrio and a continuation of the first-contact film from Man Of Steel. So seeing everything build-up to The Trinity joining together was something truly special. I had just seen two of the greatest choreographed fight scenes back-to-back. And now? I was seeing Superman and Wonder Woman fighting a CGI-Character and had ZERO ideas of how they made it all look so real. I have yet to witness such an event captured so beautifully in film, as the Doomsday Battle.
A Silver Bullit In Reserve
I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw Doomsday look down at his spike, I thought “no f*ckin way“. I DID NOT believe Zack would go through with what was about to happen, even though I knew the comic he was pulling from. And the moment I saw Superman die, I was on the edge of my seat and speechless. That last hour of Batman v Superman was exuberant. It was daunting. I was floored. Snyder gave us the perfect comic-book film, people just didn’t realize it.
Name another comic-book movie that’s still talked about to this day. Go ahead, I’ll wait. The only other film close to it that involves superheroes is Zack Snyder’s Justice League which hasn’t even been released yet. But that’s a horse of a different color. Zack knew that. It’s why he wanted to build the League from the ground up. It’s why he sacrificed Superman’s life in order to make the League coming together believable. Because he knew that if Superman was gathering them, what would they say, no? But to have the most human of the group asking meta-humans to join him because the strongest member of them just died? That’s a story.
This Is Our World
Zack knew that in order to make Batman v Superman work, he had to show us how our world looks. That’s why the media plays such a heavy part throughout the entire film. It’s why the xenophobia feels eerily too familiar with how we treat others sometimes. The critics had such a massive problem with the destruction in Man Of Steel? Ok, we’ll make that Batman’s biggest issue as well. Fans wanted to see Superman doing ‘Superman’ things? Fine. We’ll have a montage of him doing his heroics. But it’ll be on display with some of the greatest commentary and thought-provoking dialogue ever discussed in a comic-book film.
Because that’s what we do. Anytime our world gets altered or things don’t go according to plan, we react. Things get talked about over and over until every little detail gets analyzed. “Are you, as a United States Senator, personally comfortable saying to a grieving parent ‘Superman could have said your child, but on principle, we did not want him to act‘?” That line alone displays the biggest flaw in us as a country. We think about things in terms of control for us. But if a super-powered alien just so happens to be raised in the US, would we truly have the audacity to say he can only save people in the United States?
His Ultimate Sacrifice
Hopefully, by now, you can see that my love for this film is endless. I have seen it well over 300 times since it came out. It’s my favorite film all-time. The only film I thought that might match or exceed it, was Justice League. I was wrong. That is, of course, until we get a chance to see Zack’s true vision. Snyder was crafting a story arc that was unheard of, unmatched, and would’ve been untouchable for a very long time. He dedicated 5 years of his life and committed to making FIVE films involving the same set of characters. That’s love.
Unfortunately, certain things did not come to fruition. I’m still holding out hope that it’ll get completed in some form. But what I have to cherish forever, is Batman v Superman. With so much complexity and thematic layers beyond what I looked for in a film, it truly changed me as a moviegoer. I watch things differently now thanks to Zack Snyder. I edit videos in a different manner as I study framing and visual choices. Truly, if Batman v Superman came out today, it would still be ahead of its time because nothing has come close to replicating its impact. Once his Justice League film comes out, how will things be changed again? I think I have some ideas.