There are MAJOR SPOILERS for Batman v Superman here.
The strangest moment of my Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice press screening experience was a taped plea from director Zack Snyder asking fans not to tweet or write blog posts that would spoil the movie. Snyder looks directly into the camera and begs everyone watching to ensure that fans go into the movie spoiler-free. (It's unclear whether this plea will be shown anywhere else.) I've never seen such a thing at a film screening, and I can't imagine any other director pulling a move like this — no matter how big the movie.
Snyder's distrust of his audience might have had more clout if there were much to spoil.
In the months leading up to Batman v Superman's release, Warner Bros. cut trailer after trailer and TV spot after TV spot that exposed almost every second of the movie's biggest moments. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman appears in almost every single tease, and you would have to actively avoid reading casting news to not know that Wonder Woman and her fellow Justice Leaguers Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg (played by Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher, respectively) all factor into the film.
What makes Snyder's plea even more feeble is the critical consensus that the movie he hatched and wanted to keep so precious is a cinematic potato. Batman v Superman is currently hovering at a score of 44 on Metacritic and a 33 on Rotten Tomatoes (both scores are out of 100).
You cannot convince me that Batman v Superman is anything more than a stupidly beautiful, hollow movie. Its characters are miscalculated — Batman isn't analytical, Superman is too grim and joyless, and Lex Luthor is just junk. Meanwhile, Snyder doesn't explore the heavy-handed themes he presents. All in all, the film is an unstoppable bullet train to disappointment with Snyder at the helm.
In my pre-release review, I honored Snyder's no-spoilers request as best I could. There were even a few really fun scenes — not fun enough to change my rating of the movie, but fun nonetheless — that I purposely didn't write about. But with the full release of the film, I now feel a certain duty (and freedom) to tell moviegoers (who want to know about the spoilers) what's in store. If you're a comic book fan who just wants to know whether there's anything salvageable about Batman v Superman, this review is for you.
*SPOILER ALERT. LAST CHANCE. PLEASE LEAVE IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS.*
There is no post-credits scene.
The Justice League is not in this thing, but there are a few cameos
One of the only moments about Batman v Superman that its trailers didn't reveal is how Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg — the other members of the Justice League — fit into the mix. There was talk of them making appearances in the film, and rumors that we might actually see them do cool things.
Perhaps they will play a bigger role in the director's cut, but the theatrical cut shows only brief flashes of the characters. Because of a dumb plot involving a zip drive and email, we learn that Lex Luthor has been spying on metahumans and has a folder full of surveillance footage on four metahumans in particular, including Wonder Woman. Momoa's Aquaman is seen in a sunken ship, flashes his brilliant hair, and then bolts off. The Flash stops a holdup at a convenience store. And we see Silas Stone experimenting on his son, Victor (the future Cyborg) during a red alert.
It's definitely cool reveal, but it also feels like an "extra features" scene on Blu-Ray or DVD.
The Flash gets a bigger cameo than Aquaman and Cyborg
Throughout Batman v Superman, Batman has a bunch of terrible visions. In one of them, a man screams at him through a portal and tells him Lois Lane is the key. I believe (I'm about 97 percent sure) that the man who's screaming is the Flash, but I'm not completely familiar with Ezra Miller's face and it's obscured slightly.
What we see lines up with the Flash's powers, though, and with comic book storylines like Flashpoint where the Flash has the ability to go back in time, as well as to see different timelines and alter them (for better or worse).
Batman just brushes off this whole scene, and it's never revisited again.
Wonder Woman's fight scene is the best part of the movie
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman (a.k.a. Diana Prince) is the true highlight of Batman v Superman, which is a lot like saying Wonder Woman is the best house on a bad block. Some of her shine has to do with everything around her being stagnant pond water. But the movie's final battle scene, when she finally shows up to take on Doomsday with the boys, is its sole superhero moment.
The way she moves in battle is distinctly different from the way Superman and Batman operate — an acknowledgment that she's a trained Amazonian warrior. It's unclear if she can fly, but she leaps hundreds of yards at a time. Her bracelets (gauntlets?) and shield absorb and reflect Doomsday's laser beams. And, yes, we see her use her magic unbreakable lasso, and it's a breathtaking moment.
The Batman chase scene is better than the Batman-Superman battle
There are two confrontations between Batman and Superman in Batman v Superman, and only one real fight. The fight isn't my cup of tea — it's a bit too repetitive and poorly staged. There isn't anything imaginative or innovative about it, and it ends in the weirdest possible place (weird enough that I won't spoil it even in this review full of spoilers).
Thankfully, the film contains a Batmobile chase scene that's much better. Batman is trying to hijack some Kryptonite, and uses the Batmobile as a speed machine, battering ram, tank, and bulldozer to get it. It's a rattling, knuckle-clenching moment, and it happens before Superman enters the fray, setting up the first clash of these titans.
Superman dies the dumbest death
In the final battle, Superman has a spear made of pure Kryptonite that must be plunged into Doomsday to kill him. Because Superman is weak against Kryptonite, he obviously can't carry the spear for very long periods of time. Nevertheless, instead of giving it to the superpowered Amazonian warrior woman who is clearly adept at all kinds of combat and basically invulnerable, Superman decides to charge at Doomsday to impale him with it and dies in the process. It's a completely avoidable death, and one that Superman will undoubtedly be resurrected from in the first Justice League movie.
But I kind of understand where Warner Bros. wants to go with it.
The death of Superman also spells the death of Clark Kent, and an obituary for Kent is published in the Daily Planet. This could allow for future movies involving Superman to not have scenes featuring Henry Cavill as Kent — it's not like Batman v Superman was especially adept or interested in telling Kent's story.
My concern with this decision (which could possibly be reversed) is that it makes Kal-El (Superman's real name) less hopeful, less human. My colleague Matt Yglesias put it succinctly in noting that being a Kent taught Superman about humanity about hope and about being good:
Obviously characterizations of Superman have varied. But generally Clark Kent is a real person, with real friends & family & roots.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 24, 2016
And if Clark Kent is really dead, you can imagine what the tone — i.e., continuing bleakness — might be for the rest of the Justice League films.
Again, these are some of the most successful parts of Batman v Superman, which critics and fans were asked not to talk about. They aren't enough to change the quality of the movie. But some of them — the metahuman files, Wonder Woman's lasso — are bright spots in a movie that's generally pretty underwhelming, and others will no doubt be part of the bigger conversation regarding this movie.