Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics.

Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics.

Family Night at the Movies | By Christopher Hill –

The summer movie season arrived a bit early this year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This film is a continuation of the 2013 film Man of Steel. During that movie, we discovered Superman, and in its final act, we saw the destruction that a godlike creature and his enemies could wreak on this world.

In telling the next act, the concern was that this sequel would descend into a metaphorical malaise of God vs. Man rhetoric. To be fair, there is some of that, but it is used only to set up the motivations of each character. Superman is the god from another world facing a suspicious public that is skeptical of his appearance. What if he were to turn bad? Should there be safeguards? Could safeguards even be created?

On the other hand, there is the Bat. He is just a man named Bruce Wayne, with no superpowers except an unlimited bank account and years of physical and investigative training. Batman’s skepticism is deeply rooted in the destruction caused by Superman’s attempt to save Metropolis from usurpers. That attempt left buildings in ruins and lives shattered.

Superman’s appearance and the destruction it left behind was the end of innocence. With a city shattered in clouds of dust, the 9/11 allegory is strong, and at times, it is a difficult reminder of reality. Director Zach Snyder handles those opening moments respectfully, and for this fictional world, he uses them to build Wayne’s motivation and hatred of beings more than man. While the politicians debate, Batman acts.

Running concurrent to his planned destruction of Superman, Batman is investigating the smuggling of kryptonite, an alien leftover from the first film. Also trying to get his hands on this powerful metal is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), owner and CEO of the massive conglomerate LexCorp. Luthor is playing a long game, and part of his plan is to take the two top heroes in his region and pit them against each other. Ultimately, while our two heroes are battling it out, Luthor, as the master villain, is looking to create even more destruction for Metropolis.

This movie is far more a Batman film than a Superman one, which explains his top billing in the title. Fans will get to see cleverly inserted origin pieces, which are similar in scope to the Dark Knight series, but those films are not part of this universe. Fans will feel the inner turmoil and complexity of Ben Affleck’s version of Batman. There was a great deal of criticism of that casting choice, all misplaced. This is an older and somewhat wiser Batman, but also one carrying a great deal of pain.  Affleck not only holds his own to the mantle of those Batmans who came before, but in many ways, he is forging a new variation that may end up stronger than previous incarnations.

The work of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is similar to Affleck’s. While not a featured character in the film, her mysterious role throughout and her work in the finale bring great optimism for future movies.

Of course, there is no doubt that this is a buildup to a Justice League movie. This creation was different than The Avengers but no less organic. It is beautifully filmed with fantastic action, but that is not what puts it near the top of superhero films. Instead, it is the emotional development and strong acting by Affleck that bring life to a traditionally wooden Superman. After Man of Steel, my interest in a sequel was tepid. After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the next chapter cannot get here soon enough.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Now Showing: In Local Theaters

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Violence: Strong violence, not gory, but massive amounts of destruction.

Language: Some minor language.

Sexuality: One bathtub scene but no nudity, just suggestion.