YOU V THIS ARTICLE: DAWN OF SPOILERS
Seriously, there are spoilers ahead. Go away if you haven't seen the movie yet.
First and foremost, I enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I've seen it three times now, and each time I find myself appreciating it more and more. I could go on and on praising the things I do like about the film, but the first time I saw the movie, there were two things that really bothered me. After seeing BvS a second and third time, they still really bother me. I can't get over one scene with Superman, and Batman turning into the freaking Punisher whenever he's in a vehicle just feels wrong. So, instead of going on and on to my fiance about this - her patience for my babbling knows no bounds, but she has better things to do than listen to me complain about fictional characters - I'm going to share my opinion on the Internet. That's always a great idea, right?
Ben Affleck's Batman is amazing. The costume design is pure bliss for my eyes and Affleck absolutely nailed the performance. The cinematography and choreography with him in action was terrific and the voice delivered. It's my favorite live-action version of Batman (I still love you very much, Michael Keaton), but what's up with his moral code? He's a brutal man, but whenever he's in a vehicle, he's totally cool with taking multiple lives. This is especially bothering because, before the movie was released, we were told those guns on the Batmobile are non-lethal. As for the clip of the Batwing taking out gunmen from the trailer, I honestly thought Lex Luthor hacked the Batwing and he was doing that to make Superman think Batman needs to be stopped. But nope, that's not the case.
|Get your murder runnin'.|
When Batman's in the Batmobile, he straight up kills dudes. When he's flying the Batwing, he obliterates other dudes. Yes, these dudes are bad dudes, but they're still human dudes. Okay, I'll stop saying "dudes" now, but the point remains: Batman's taking lives and apparently not giving a damn. In defense of this, director Zack Snyder pointed out the fact that Batman kills in other movies and he claims Batman killed "all the time" in Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley's The Dark Knight Returns. Snyder also says Batman's killing by "proxy" in the movie, meaning if Bruce shoots a car and it blows up, it's not on Batman if the explosion kills the foe who happens to be in the car (but it definitely is on Batman). Well, two things: Batman killing in the other movies is something I - and many others - aren't a fan of, and as far as I can tell, Batman only kills once in The Dark Knight Returns - even his mega tank was non-lethal! To be fair, Snyder does his own version of the specific kill scene from TDKR and even tones it down, so I'm not bothered by that one; however, the whole "if he dies, he dies" mentality while Batman's in vehicles just isn't cool to me.
|A moment of silence for Anatoli Knyazev, a.k.a. KGBeast, please.|
I was okay with Superman killing General Zod in Man of Steel. To me, it made sense for that scenario - it's not like the Phantom Zone, Kryptonite, or a Red Sun Room were available at that time. As far as I can tell, there was no way to incarcerate or incapacitate Zod. But this version of Batman is too smart, too experienced, and too high tech to simply use basic projectiles in his vehicles. I mean, we're talking about a guy that has devices designed just to disable firearms (as seen in that very awesome Batman vs. goons melee). Am I really supposed to believe that he and Alfred strive for non-lethal when Batman's out and about on his feet, but his vehicles don't have the same kind of options? How isn't there tech that focuses on disabling a vehicle's engine? What about low level electric attacks? Or a precise version of the projectile that exists just to disable firearms? What about being cliche and going for the tires? Batman and Alfred are way more clever and inventive than I could ever hope to be, so I'm sure they can think of so many non-lethal measures for the vehicles.
Batman killing in that twisted, Injustice-ish dream/possible future is fine because it seems like that's a scenario where hope is completely gone and it's all about survival and taking out a blatantly evil Superman, but I just can't get over Batman channeling his inner Deadshot while he uses his vehicles. Has he always been like this? If so, how is Joker still alive? I'm guessing they've had a chase or two back in the day, and this Batman shows no mercy when he's out on the road. I was thinking this mentality could be new, but Alfred's comments about good men becoming cruel just seemed to be about Batman branding his enemies and his feeling of powerlessness against Superman. It was also implied that Alfred works on the vehicles, so I'm guessing those weapons have been on the Batmobile and Batwing for quite some time. You can still show Batman being brutal and darker without having him casually crossing the line a number of times. If anything, having him not murder in those scenes makes him far more impressive, and it would make that final kill towards the end - which, again, is pretty much straight from TDKR - more powerful.
|Superman: You don't understand, Bruce! Hmmm. Maybe shoving you will help you understand!|
My second biggest criticism: Superman not trying nearly hard enough to talk to Batman (and way to ignore the real bad guys in the chase scene, Clark). I totally get what they were going for in the film, but I don't think it was handled nearly as well as it should have been. Superman wants to talk it out, but Batman becomes more and more frustrating. Then, before Superman knows it, he's suddenly fighting for his life because he's inhaled some Kryptonite. But the thing is, Superman really didn't try that hard to deescalate the situation. He was sincere at first, but when they came face-to-face, Batman just angrily said "I understand" before Kal-El uses his immense strength to effortlessly shove Batman away. Why? What threat did Batman even pose at that point? It just made Superman kind of look like a jerk, and he's supposed to be the polar opposite of that!
After being attacked twice, Superman wanted to put Batman down and then talk it out, but he really should have tried harder before reaching that point. He still could have said more while they were on the street; he could've mentioned Luthor and manipulation, and then Batman would have resisted and been even more aggressive. It still could have quickly escalated, but it could have had more of Superman's good heart and spirit shine through before the fight turned really vicious. Can you tell yet that I was really disappointed that the Man of Steel didn't try harder to talk to Bruce? Because I was. I don't mind them fighting or Superman growing tired of Batman's actions, but at least show us more of Superman's warmth before he's forced to fight for his life against the Dark Knight.
Neither of these things are huge complaints to me, but they have really stuck with me. I love Man of Steel, so my expectations for this movie - especially when it comes to the handling of the iconic characters - were way up there. I'm fine with the movie aiming to make Superman even more conflicted about his actions and Batman even darker and more savage, but not showing us Superman's benevolence when it matters the most felt like a missed opportunity for the hero. And Batman going all gun happy whenever he's in a vehicle? The guy's got to stop that; he can be shockingly harsh without doing that. Thankfully, Bruce's final dialogue with Wonder Woman - who was awesome, by the way - seems to imply he may stop the killing-spree. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I'm excited for the road ahead, but I really hope we see more of Superman's uplifting personality appear, and less of Batman turning his enemies into swiss cheese and blowing them up.