Following up on my re-re-watching of 2013’s Man of Steel, I also recently re-watched 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition. I don’t really know what the big differences are between the theatrical release and the Ultimate Edition. There are apparently about 30 minutes of additional footage, which rounds out some of the stories and character arcs. But spoiler alert: This movie is AWESOME. And I don’t understand, much like with Man of Steel, why it gets so much hate!
Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill, and Amy Adams are back behind the camera, in the Superman suit, and as Lois Lane, respectively, and Ben Affleck kills it as tormented Batman, Jesse Eisenberg brings something new and psychotic energy to the Lex Luthor role, and Gal Gadot is, of course, show-stealing as Wonder Woman.
The general idea behind the story is that Batman almost shares Lex Luthor’s concern about Superman: He’s an all-powerful being who, if even one percent of him wanted to, could destroy humanity. After what happened to Metropolis in the course of Man of Steel, including people at his company as Bruce Wayne being killed, Batman becomes radicalized against Superman and convinced that his great legacy for humanity is to stop Superman.
It doesn’t help that Lex Luthor is masterfully tugging that narrative along by hatching plot after plot to make Superman seem like a MENACE. And since he’s a mastermind, he has a fail safe in case Batman doesn’t kill Superman: Doomsday, retrofitted from the dead body of General Zod. Doomsday is the ultimate challenge for Superman.
And Superman is doubting himself, which is a natural arc for a blossoming superhero to have. Because he’s literally a God choosing who lives and who dies, and that’s a heavy burden even for someone with steel shoulders.
The events of Man of Steel also bring Wonder Woman into the area and tracking Lex Luthor. So, that when things do pop off with Doomsday, she’s there in the fight, hence, “dawn of justice.”
Again, much like with Man of Steel, the heart-pounding, awe-inspiring soundtrack provided by Hans Zimmer and some of the beautiful, goosebump-inducing shots by Snyder are all here. One of my favorites from this film is the Lex Luthor, “The Red Capes Are Coming!” bit. It’s so good.
This movie is basically a supercharged version of a Man of Steel sequel, but with the additions of Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Doomsday.
It works. On every level, as far as I’m concerned. In the end, Superman is able to withstand a nuclear blast from the United States government in its effort to kill Doomsday (which only empowers him more), but seemingly dies after using his one weakness (kryptonite) to plunge a kryptonite spear into Doomsday, killing Doomsday. I do find it odd that Superman does “die” from that; just go lay his body out in the sun! But still, it’s dramatic and lovely.
I love grizzled, radicalized, old man Batman. I love the psychotic Lex Luthor. I love Superman being more fully Superman here. The fight between Batman and Superman is incredibly well-done, too, and as far as this goes, “believable.” Because, folks, Superman in that scenario is not trying to kill Batman, but technically, Batman is trying to kill Superman. That automatically gives an edge to Batman, along with the help of the kryptonite spear.
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the theatrical release of this film, I highly recommend the Ultimate Edition, which is on HBO Max, to give a fuller picture to some of the storylines and character motivations.