tek's rating: ½

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers!

This is the second film in the DCEU, following Man of Steel. It came out in 2016, but I didn't get to see it until 2021. I was kind of dreading watching it, because it got mostly negative reviews, but I ended up liking it more than the critics did. It was kind of a mess, but IMO not as much of a mess as I'd been expecting. Though it is a bit too long (2 and a half hours; there's an extended edition that's 3 hours, which I haven't seen and don't intend to). I am a bit disappointed that we didn't get a standalone Batman film before a Batman/Superman crossover, but I guess it's not a big deal.

It begins with scenes set in Bruce Wayne's childhood, with almost no dialogue, mostly just images, alternating between Bruce running away from his parents' funeral and falling into a bat cave, and actually seeing his parents being killed. The film then flashes forward to the time of "Man of Steel", with adult Bruce (Ben Affleck) witnessing all the destruction caused by Superman's final battle against Zod and his terraforming machine. Then the film flashes forward to 18 months after that, and throughout the film we see Bruce worrying that Superman is too powerful, and wanting to kill him. (Pretty dark, I know.) Meanwhile, Clark Kent wants to do a news story about the Bat of Gotham (who doesn't seem to be known as "Batman"), whom he doesn't trust, but Perry White doesn't want him doing that story. There's also a scene of Lois Lane doing a story somewhere in the Middle East, I think, when she gets captured by a rebel leader or something, and then rescued by Superman. A lot of people die, for which some people blame Superman, though I didn't see any reason to find him responsible, so that kind of confused me. Later, Lois discovers a bullet that had been used during the battle, which is unlike anything anyone's ever seen. So she begins investigating that. Also, while many people are big fans of Superman, there's a senator named June Finch (Holly Hunter) who leads an inquiry into Superman's actions.

Well, a lot of stuff happens in the movie, and I'm not going to go into too much of it. We get to see a bit of Batman fighting criminals, though he's sort of considered a criminal, himself. (Which makes it confusing to see that there is a Bat-signal which is presumably used by the police to call him into action.) Apparently he's been fighting crime in Gotham for like 20 years, so he's older than I expected him to be. He also gets help, back in the Batcave, from his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) We also see Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) doing various things, including importing a chunk of kryptonite that had been found in the Indian Ocean, despite opposition from Senator Finch. (I'm not sure why she was against Lex importing the kryptonite, when she was also apparently concerned about Superman being a potential threat, but whatever.) Anyway, Batman eventually steals the kryptonite to make some weapons to use against Superman. He also steals some encrypted data from Lex's computer mainframe, but before he can look at it, the data is stolen by a mysterious woman named Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who later turns out to be Wonder Woman. (No surprise there, for comics fans.) But she later returns the data to Bruce, who finds files about various meta-humans, including Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman. I thought that was kind of cool, a neat way of setting up the upcoming movie "Justice League". It's also interesting that Lex had been doing research into such people, and had acquired any information about them at all, considering how secretive they all are.

Anyway... Lex eventually kidnaps Martha Kent, forcing Superman to fight Batman, for no readily apparent reason. Maybe he just wanted to see who would win, since he knew Batman had the kryptonite. I don't think he actually cared which one would win, though. Of course, Superman doesn't want to kill Batman, but Batman certainly wants to kill him... and nearly does, before hearing Superman say the name 'Martha', which gives him pause. He seems to think Superman was talking about his (Bruce's) mother, until Lois shows up and tells him it's the name of Superman's mother. (I've always thought it was kind of interesting that both characters have mothers with the same name, so I was somewhat pleased to see that fact come into play, here. Though I found the way it was implemented rather disappointing.) I'm not at all sure why this new knowledge stopped Batman from killing Superman, but it seems like they had a talk after that, which we don't get to see, in which Superman apparently informs Batman about his mother having been kidnapped by Lex. So, suddenly Batman and Superman are friends, and Batman goes to rescue Martha, while Superman goes to confront Lex. However, Lex has another surprise in store for Superman, which I kind of thought would be that he'd brought Zod back to life, but that's not what it was at all. I won't spoil what he did create. (I suppose simply stating its name wouldn't be too much of a spoiler, but I'll avoid it anyway.) Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman team up to fight Lex's creation. Even the U.S. government tries to kill it, with a nuclear weapon, but that only makes it stronger. Anyway, Superman does finally manage to kill it, with a weapon Bruce had created to kill Superman. But there is... another aspect of the battle's outcome that I don't want to spoil. And... some more stuff happens that I don't want to get into, but I will say Lex gets arrested (for something huge that I haven't even mentioned). And the seeds are planted for the establishment of the Justice League.

Anyway, I mostly thought it was a good movie. Too long, a bit muddled, but basically good. Just not great. I have mixed feelings about how dark the film is, but there was really no way to avoid that, in a movie that's ultimately about Batman and Superman fighting each other. And there were probably other things I didn't like, though I can't really think of anything specific. There were more things I liked about the film than things I disliked.

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DC Extended Universe
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Man of Steel * Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice * Suicide Squad * Wonder Woman * Justice League * Aquaman * Shazam! * Birds of Prey *
Wonder Woman 1984 * The Suicide Squad * Black Adam * Shazam! Fury of the Gods * The Flash * Blue Beetle
TV: Crisis on Infinite Earths * Peacemaker