Everything I remember about the Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice movie includes a giant creature hatched from an amniotic sac swinging around Metropolis, a kryptonite spear lying at the bottom of a flooded stairwell, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) playing with his kitchen timer, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) join the fight in Gotham City, Superman scarifying to kill the creature, and Batman (Ben Affleck) standing there watching the show as he has no idea what he is doing.
“What’s happening, Alfred?” our hero barks at his faithful butler (Jeremy Irons) via the intercom on his Batwing fighter jet. There’s a brief pause, then Alfred’s voice comes crackling back, reedy and sardonic. “How best to describe it?”
None of any major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured. It seems to be that the movie is uninterested in telling a story with clarity and purpose. It grumbles along for what feels like forever, jinking from subplot to subplot, until two shatteringly expensive-looking fights happen back to back, and the whole thing crunches to a halt. The first hour in particular is so haphazardly assembled, I honestly wondered if a reel had gone missing from the projection booth. Perhaps, the kindest thing you could say about this movie is that it is the lodestone of a new DC Comics Extended Universe.
In the movie, Snyder wants to show us gods and monsters battling against others with backdrop of lightning and smoke. Every other scene is a murky allusion to classical mythology or baroque religious art. The heavy religious symbolism of Man of Steel now looks relatively restrained: Superman himself has gone Full Christ Metaphor, and his life is an endless cycle of rescuing people (mainly Lois) and pulling expressions of pained beneficence.
Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice launches into its myth-making immediately and humorlessly, setting the tone for everything that follows.
Many flashback scenes of Bruce’s past are overused just to show us what drive him to his reaction in the movie. It’s kind of giving Affleck’s Batman the physique of a concrete pillar makes aesthetic sense, but did he need the personality of one too? One more thing about Bruce: he loathes Superman, because of his city-razing antics at the end of Man of Steel, which toppled Wayne Tower with hundreds of employees inside it. Such similar to 9/11, and Superman is the terrorist. In short, Batman has grounds for vengeance.
However, it’s Lex Luthor who has the appetite. After hauling a clump of glowing green kryptonite from the Indian Ocean, the young technology mogul devises a ‘silver bullet’ that could bring Superman to his heel. Eisenberg gives a catastrophic performance here, all itchy and spasmodic, and built on mumbled rants about Copernicus and Nietzsche.
But if Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer’s script hobbles Eisenberg, it judo-sweeps the feet out from under every woman in sight. Both Lois Lane and Martha Kent are serial victims, Holly Hunter has no chances to stand up to Luthor, and until the big finish, Gadot isn’t called on to do much but slink.
It’s a Men’s Rights loon’s dream of meathead orthodoxy, and leaves you wondering if Mad Max Fury Road and Star Wars The Force Awakens actually happened. Let’s imagine Affleck standing shirtless in a dungeon, repeatedly thumping a bus tyre with a sledgehammer. Got it? Good. That’s not just what the Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice movie feels like, it’s a real scene from it. That’s all you need to know.