When I was a kid—heck, even now—nothing much could get me out of bed early on a Saturday morning. If something could, it was a BIG DEAL.
And so it was, the show Super Friends, which aired Saturdays at 8 a.m. While everyone in the house was asleep, I’d tiptoe down to the basement to watch Wonder Woman and Superman and the rest of Justice League vanquish bad guys.
In 1978, I was in line opening weekend of Superman with Christopher Reeve, my excitement barely contained, and left believing a man could fly. I’ve seen every single Batman movie, even the George Clooney one.
I could go on about my fandom of DC Comics’ greatest superheroes, but you get the idea—my nerdiness runs deep.
So imagine my dismay when I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last week and realized it’s a huge mess. It is not the movie I wanted, and I can’t imagine many other fans wanting it.
I won’t go too much into plot, both because I don’t want to reveal spoilers, and also because there isn’t really a coherent storyline. The gist of it is: Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) thinks Supes (Henry Cavill) is bad for mankind, being above human laws, so Batty sets out to take down the Man of Steel. (Gee, a billionaire who doesn’t like aliens—who does that remind us of?)
Lex Luthor also wants to destroy Supes because…he’s a controlling egomaniac. Or something. Jesse Eisenberg’s scenery chewing was too annoying for me to give much credence or attention to what Luthor says.
The disjointed script reaches for Big Ideas, but either hits them with a sledgehammer or doesn’t follow through. Hard to believe this was cowritten by an Oscar winner, Chris Terrio, who took home gold for Argo. (The other screenwriter is David Goyer, who worked on all of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, as well as director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.) Mostly the lead men brood a lot and then engage in loud, heavily CGI’d, too-long fight scenes that just wore me down. During the last forty minutes, I thought, “When will it end?” Everything is bleak and there’s no fun at all.
That’s not to say this should be a comedy or even as light as the Marvel movies. But even in Tim Burton’s and Nolan’s versions of Batman, there was a sense of glee among the darkness, whether it’s in Jack Nicholson’s The Joker or Michelle Pfeiffer’s and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman.
Here, you have a rich pouty emo boy fighting a lost Boy Scout who hasn’t gotten over his daddy. Affleck and Cavill look good—salt & pepper temples work on Affleck—but they’re not required to do much acting.
Faring better is Amy Adams as Lois Lane. She’s the heart of the movie, and the scenes with her in them are probably the only ones containing anything resembling human emotions.
As Diana Prince, Gal Gadot has a stunning wardrobe. As Wonder Woman? The actress doesn’t have the requisite charisma or presence. WW isn’t just physically strong, she has a powerful aura. Gadot comes across like a mannequin.
And I hate her new costume. It’s supposed to be red, white, blue (and gold), with WW showing her allegiance to America. In this movie it’s grimy brown and gladiator-like. Yes, everyone wears muted colors, but you can still see the red and blue hues in Superman’s costume and the S on his chest. I felt no connection to Wonder Woman because my brain didn’t recognize her as such; she looked like an escapee from Snyder’s 300. The best I can say about WW is that she gets a strong entrance.
After having seen this, it’s hard to look forward to Snyder’s two Justice League movies, though I am curious about Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, especially after seeing the just released photo below. Who knows—maybe Jenkins will give me a reason to wake up early one Saturday morning next year and sneak off to the movie theater.
Nerd verdict: Doesn’t do Justice to Justice League heroes