WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may have divided critics, but the fans have spoken loud and clear — they think the movie rocks. Director Zack Snyder’s grim, action-packed vision of the DC universe is really taking shape now, offering us the first tantalizing and mysterious glimpses at what’s in store for the future of the DCEU. Critics have taken issue with a lot of things in the film, including these glimpses of future DC offerings like Cyborg, The Flash, Aquaman, and (of course) the Justice League. I have to admit, I feel that these teases might’ve worked better if removed from the context of the film, if only because they don’t actually progress the plot of the film around them.
In the spirit of celebration, though, let’s take a look at what Batman v Superman does really, really right.
If it weren’t for Ben Affleck’s intensely focused performance, I’d be willing to call Wonder Woman the MVP of the film. Gal Gadot really brings the character life in her few brief scenes as the legendary Amazon warrior. While her character wasn’t given the kind of energy or charisma we saw in Bruce Wayne, it’s still enough for me to believe that Gadot can be the kick-ass Wonder Woman we need. Her solo film is due on June 23, 2017, and I wasn’t excited for it until she showed up, sword and shield at the ready, to help save the world from Doomsday.
Batman’s Hand-to-Hand Combat
As a fan of the Arkham games since the first one debuted in ’09, I was really pleased to see the Freeflow combat of the games adapted for the big screen. When Bruce agrees to save Martha Kent from the hands of Anatoli Knyazev, he must fight his way through a room of gun-toting thugs. In grand Arkham fashion, he surprises his enemies by using his grapnel gun to burst through the wooden floor, scattering the frightened thugs. He then proceeds to dodge bullet fire and deflect knife thrusts, and even tosses a crate at an attacker much like a player might do in one of the four main Arkham games. It’s pretty great, despite the fact that a handful of those guys never made it out of that warehouse alive.
The New Batcave and Bruce’s House
The new, contemporary minimalist designs for the Batcave and Bruce’s lakeside home are a beautiful metaphor for his emptiness, and a contrast to his inner turmoil. With pristine glass walls, steel accents and lots of grey stone, the designs draw obvious inspiration from Apple Store architecture. They also recall the cubic designs of Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway, where much of the brilliant Ex Machina was shot. Batman v Superman shows us a Bruce Wayne who can’t bear to live in the ruins of his parents’ home. So he built a gleaming bachelor pad with a wall of windows to let in the light, but we all know he’d rather spend time down below, in the dark inversion of his bachelor pad.
Lois Is More Involved
In Man of Steel, Lois Lane got a lot of screen time. Deservedly so — Amy Adams is darn good in the role, and more of her is a good thing. But when I think back on Man of Steel, sometimes it’s not apparent why she’s around or what function she’s performing in a scene. For instance — she’s on the plane with Colonel Hardy in the third act of the film. Why? I couldn’t possibly begin to give you a sound logical answer. But here, she’s frequently making the decision to be around and get involved, even in the action scenes. She even lends a big helping hand in the fight against Doomsday. Go get ’em, Lois!
Lex Luthor’s Suspicions
Say what you will about this new Lex Luthor — he’s weird, the motivations for his actions are sometimes unclear, and he’s an insufferable millennial twit — but at least he’s smart enough to have figured out the secret identities of both Batman and Superman before our story begins. This cuts a huge amount of potential bloat from the narrative, and smartly recognizes just how played out superhero identity protection can be in the 21st century.