It’s hard not to suspect that director Zack Snyder just told screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, “Watch Iron Man 2; I want that, only more lugubrious.” There’s a whole lot of heavy-handed set-up in this first screen meeting between Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill), all swirling around the physical and emotional fallout from the cataclysmic battle at the end of Man of Steel. But whatever potentially interesting issues Snyder might have explored regarding the heavy burden of super-hero-hood, or the responsibilities accompanying their power, are buried in the sludge of the over-stuffed, Iron Man 2-esque narrative. Good guys duking it out? Check. Introducing new characters for upcoming hero-team (Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman)? Check. Twitchy tech magnate as villain (Jesse Eisenberg’s excruciatingly awful Lex Luthor)? You got it. Courtroom scene where Congress chides hero and tries to control him? Yep. At least IM2 could fall back on Downey’s charm, where Cavill and Affleck both appear to have been given the direction, “Look constipated now.” Snyder crafts a few evocative visual tableaux, but by the time we get to the obligatory everything-goes-kaboom finale, the thematic material is abandoned so that it can be just another cog in a franchise machine, and one that’s no damn fun, to boot.
Director: Zack Snyder
Producer: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Wesley Coller, Geoff Johns, David Goyer, Steven Mnuchin and Benjamin Melniker
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto, Brandon Spink, Lauren Cohan, Alan Purwin, Mark Taylor, Hugh Maguire and Michael Shannon
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice