For the most part, the mainstream films that audiences usually see when they go to the theater are average, or are only a step or two away from being average. Studios have been making films now for nearly 100 years and are pretty good at it. It seems that no matter where issues occur when making a film they can find a way to rework the film to make the errors vanish. Unfortunately, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did not just have a single error, or even an error here and there. Every aspect of the film was horrendous and the only way that these issues could have been reworked was to restart at stage one. In order to accurately understand all of the issues in this film it would take you longer to read this article than to actually see the 2.5-hour plus abomination. So in true Celluloid Cinema fashion, I will go to the root of why most films fail, which is of course the writing.
When films from the past are looked at, it is easy to see remnants in the story that mirror struggles that society was going through when the film was released. For example, if one was to comb through some of the popular films of the fifties, they would come across several films that discuss the theme of how women’s roles in society was changing and the backlash that this advancement garnered. It is no secret that today one of the most talked about social issues is the fear of immigration that is spawning a very xenophobic country. Even though Batman v Superman is supposed to be this big budget superhero blockbuster with Batman and Superman as the focal point, commendably the writers try to take the film out of just the world of DC and provide a social commentary on how America is dealing with immigration. It is clear even in the trailers that this would be the central driving theme in the film and as a result I was intrigued to see what type of discussion this film would promote. Yet the largest disappointment of maybe the whole film, was that the theme of Superman being an illegal immigrant was not built upon more than what was shown in the three-minute trailer. All the film did was spout the common rhetoric that we hear in everyday life about the issue during the presidential debates. What makes a film that tackles social issues good is that they not only present the base level arguments for each side of the issue, but they show the audience the grey area that lies within the issue that can force audiences to see the issue from a different light and question their viewpoint. Then, through the narrative, the film is able to push the audience to one concrete side as the film relies on what they deem the “correct” answer to resolve the film’s central conflict. Because Batman v Superman does not enter any grey area and only presents the basic argument of each side, the audience never reaches the point where they are willing to question their beliefs, which closes the space for any meaningful discussion about the issue to come out of the film. However, one should not be surprised that the writers mishandled one of their central themes of the film, as the real central theme of the film is the rampant lazy writing throughout.
Arguably, the characters of both Batman and Superman are not only the most fleshed out characters in history but also some of the most well understood characters by audiences. The fact that the film can start of with a five-minute origin story of Batman’s parents being murdered and not confuse the audience clearly proves that the audience knows the character well. As a result, it should be very simple to define the characters arc and make the audience understand their wants and desires. In fact, these characters are so symbolic in what they represent, a writer can deal in broad strokes when showing their intentions because the audience already places them on these pedestals. Yet again, the writers were too lazy to even do this. Now do not get me wrong, I am all for showing off a darker story arc where Batman does not operate with the good morals for which he is known. I think that showing even the best of people can be twisted by evil in the world is an interesting concept worth exploring. However, you cannot just throw an old, grumpy, murderous Batman at the audience without defining why his morals have completely flipped sides. For Batman to go from never killing anyone, to branding and trying to kill Superman for the whole film, the audience is going to need to see events that caused this character transformation. Again, apparently this was too much for the writers, as they instead opted to devote single quick shots or very drab illegible dream sequences to capture Batman’s complete transformation of character. As a result, Batman really becomes the villain of the film, as no one in the audience is able to sympathize with (or understand) anything that he is doing. In fact, the only real reason that anyone would care what this character is doing is because his name is Batman. Humorously enough, the Lego Movie version of Batman was a more coherent character than the one presented in Batman v Superman.
At this point it must be clear, that at least in terms of writing, there is no silver lining for the film. From the mishandled themes, to the undeveloped characters, it is quite clear the writers are not competent enough to tell a story. While I wish I could say I already discussed the lows of the film’s writing, I have not even began to discuss the dialogue (or lack there of) that by the third act garnered audible laughter from the audience at how unbelievably deplorable it was. Due to these dialogue issues, Lex Luthor, one of the most intelligent calculating characters, was left to say these ridiculous quotes that are meant to make the audience reveal in his genius but instead leave the audience puzzled as to why anyone would think that was a tangible enough sentence to utter. The real damaging dialogue from this film was not even audible dialogue but from an email from Batman (yes, Batman actually sends Wonder Woman an email in the film) that not only diminishes the film further but weakens the entire DC universe Warner Brothers in trying to build. In this email the film introduces the rest of the justice league members through email attachments that really makes for one lackluster introduction that makes very clear to the audience that all the DC universe will be is a second class Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Usually when I write reviews for the site, I really do try to find something in the film that is worth noting to spark audience interest in going to see the film and the only thing that I can think of for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is that you will not understand how bad the film really is unless you go see it. With that being said, do not go see this film. This weekend the film already has made $170 million, which shows studios that they can turn record-breaking profits on absolute garbage. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice not only receives 1 out of 5 Reels from Celluloid Cinema but also makes me question whether or not my rating system should include 0 reels.