Let me begin this by stating that I am not an avid comic book reader. I am judging this entirely based on its merits as a film and with that, let me also state that this is a really, terribly horrid film. Truthfully, even if someone did follow everything in the DC Universe, I would find it hard to believe even they would have found anything enjoyable about the film. It is a disaster to all who witness it – it has nothing to offer to anyone.
It is not a stretch to say that the entire film boils down to the two final battle scenes. One being the titular fight between Batman and Superman, and the other being the fight between the heroes and the big villain; a scene that supposedly props up the film’s Justice League sequel. But that’s it.
The two hours preceding these fights are completely irrelevant and are absolute messes of crisscrossed-storylines trying to show far too much. I could not spoil the story of BvS even if I wanted to – there is simply nothing comprehensible for me to spoil. Every scene lasts two minutes before cutting to a different one, often regarding a completely different plotline, though all share the same theme of disrupting the viewer’s engagement in any particular story. Almost to attest to this, at no point does any character question another character’s motivation for doing something, because I doubt even the writers could explain it.
Of course, the fight between the two titans is arguably all that anyone wants to see, but even at the most basic level, this has got to be hyped during the rest of the film. The problem is that the first two hours of the film do not allude at all to a fight between them. There is little motivation shown on Batman’s part as to why he would wish to destroy Superman, considering how similar their goals are, apart from one logically-flawed line about how it should be taken with “absolute certainty” that Superman will destroy the world just because he is capable of it. Though perhaps this would also explain why it takes so little time to persuade Batman to swap sides later on in the film – which is almost comically quick.
When the Batman-Superman fight does occur, it is hurriedly stitched together and has no real reason for happening, making the viewer almost surprised that this is how the titular Batman V Superman finally comes about. The fight itself is quite fun, but it would have benefitted from at least a little more forewarning than just the title of the film.
The confused plot could be offset by interesting dialogue and interactions between characters, but unfortunately this was also not achieved. All speech in this film is philosophical in nature and consistently trying to allude to something more, as if every piece of dialogue was for a movie trailer. This, however, only results in no character seeming even remotely human or likeable. Worse still, it makes the plot even more of an abstract blob, which can only be followed by watching the actions appearing on screen. More often than not, this involves buildings crumbling. Even with the stellar performances of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, the leading characters cannot be redeemed when they only speak in riddles.
There are many things that could be excused in the film. From the shoehorning of Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League, to the cringey Jesse Eisenberg adaptation of what seems to be The Joker, these are all minor flaws when faced with the problem of a complete absence of plot. Surely the most fundamental of all components in a film – actually having a story – should have been considered first before beginning shooting. It should have been the easiest thing to get right. For the first time in history, with access to the greatest actors and special effects teams currently available and $250 million USD, two of the greatest comic book icons of all time could have shared the big screen in a landmark crossover film. What we got instead was the coked-up fever dream that is Batman V Superman.