Man of Steel. Both films are directed by the controversial Zack Snyder. Snyder has been coming under fire for his darker takes on Superman and Batman, and the uncut home video release of Dawn of Justice dubbed ‘The Ultimate Edition’ (trailer) raises the stakes by adding in an extra half hour of footage that the MPAA deemed worthy of upgrading the home video version of the film to an R rating. The film has been receiving a lot of backlash from fans, and I appear to be in the minority that absolutely loved it, so bear with me as I try to break down why Dawn of Justice worked for me on so many levels.
We are only four years removed from the last Batman film, Dark Knight Rises, but this is the first DC movie to feature Batman in DC’s connected film universe and so now Ben Affleck takes the role of the Dark Knight. Instead of spending the first half hour of the film going over Bruce Wayne/Batman’s origin again BvS wisely gets it over and done with during the opening credits in a nicely done sequence that actually foreshadows a major turning point during the film’s final act. I also really appreciate how the film shows Wayne’s alternate perspective of being on the ground amidst the chaos during the epic clash of Superman and Zod from the end of Man of Steel that goes a long way at establishing a building block as to why the Batman automatically has it out for Superman (Henry Cavill).
On the flipside, a reason why Superman is not a fan of Batman is now because with Batman getting up there in years he has decided to add an edge to his form of vigilante justice by ‘branding’ his prisoners with a Batman icon. Regardless of the crime the criminal committed, the film determines that if a criminal is branded that it is a huge taboo among the prison populace and as a result the inmates do not last long in prison. There were a few extended/new scenes in the Ultimate Edition I noticed that helped explain this element of the bat branding, but even then it did not convince me of being something that Batman would actually do. Superman agrees with me too as this would play a factor on why the two would inevitably fight it out.
I still do not know what to make out of Dawn of Justice’s take on Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Kevin Spacey’s version of Lex in Superman Returns is vastly superior. Eisenberg does a great job with the material he is given, but it still does not come off like a genuine portrayal of Luthor to me, and the film tried to make him a little too much like The Joker to by making him a bit too zany for my tastes. Even though Luthor is the antagonist, a lot of Luthor’s scenes are responsible for most of the film’s moments of levity. There are a few nicely timed sprinkled moments of dry humor from Bruce Wayne and Superman’s mom (Diane Lane) of all people that had me cracking up, but those jokes are few and far between. I heard a lot of backlash for this film not having enough laughs and being too dark, but I feel Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel are perfect counterparts to the Marvel films that tend to ride that line of overdoing it on the amount of lighthearted zingers. Dawn of Justice has just enough that makes their occasional joke go a long way and mean more.
As you can tell by the box art of the video Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is also a featured player in the film. Even though she is front and center on the poster, she is not featured that prominently throughout the film as Dawn of Justice plays the role of introducing her to the DC Cinematic Universe much like how Civil War introduced Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I said in the intro, Dawn of Justice is a Man of Steel sequel first and I can explain it better that 60% of the film revolves around Superman, 30% Batman and only 10% Wonder Woman. However, that 10% is incredibly effective because it establishes that Wonder Woman as a badass warrior that plays a key role in the final battle.
The final battle with Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman all teaming up to take on Doomsday is right up there with the climactic battle against Zod in Man of Steel. There are plenty of adrenaline-filled big moments in the finale that had me bopping. If you know the story of Doomsday then you have a good idea on how this plays out, and I am surprised Warner Bros. went here this soon in the grand scope of the newly connected DC Cinematic Universe when it felt like they could have done one more movie before telling this pivotal moment in Superman’s history. Regardless, I think Snyder did a tremendous job at detailing the aftermath of this altercation and how serious of an affair it turned out to be. Experiencing this film again, and piecing together the other subtle and not-so-subtle hints it lays out for future DC films made it come together far better this time around. While I could not pinpoint every little scene that was part of the new 30 minutes in the Ultimate Edition, I imagine there must have been enough additional/extended scenes that help tightened up the overall plot of the film.
There are 11 extras totaling two hours of special features to consume. Extra feature junkies like me devoured every single minute of them. There are individual features devoted to breaking Dawn of Justice’s depiction Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman and how the film brings out all their unique characteristics and gadgets/weaponry. If you want to save some time you can skip over Accelerating Design, unless you are a gearhead because it spends nearly a half hour going in-depth about all the nooks and crannies of this version of the Batmobile. I was a big fan of Snyder’s ‘Maximum Movie’ enhanced video commentary he did for Watcmen and Man of Steel and was a little bummed there was not a version of it here. However, there are already so many other extra features to compensate for it, and I would not be too surprised if Warner Bros. eventually releases another special edition of the film containing that feature.
If you managed to make it to this final paragraph than thank you for bearing with me in this insanely long entry. I felt like I needed to explain why this film won me over, and in the grand scheme of things I am giving an oh-so-tiny nudge for this being my favorite comic book film of the year thus far. Marvel does great work, and I enjoyed the heck out of Civil War, and yes while I do have some qualms with Dawn of Justice, it ultimately had higher highs for me and helped encapsulate a nearly perfect depiction of how I wanted DC Cinematic Universe to play out.
Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Field of Dreams
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past