Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice12¦ Blu-ray, 3D, DVD
Heroes and villains - the bread and butter of the comic book world. Filling those two slices, beef, naturally; Every superhero has beef with a villain, be it Batman with the Joker, Superman with Lex Luthor, the Hulk with, well, everyone etc.
But because there's only so many times they can do battle with each other, comic writers have often pitted superhero against superhero, just to keep things interesting. Although comics have been doing it for years, it's a path that hasn't really been explored that keenly on film. Until now.
It's no surprise that Superman (Henry Cavill) gets all the plaudits, after all he's a super guy for saving lives and keeping our planet safe. But not everyone thinks that way. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) for one; he was there in Metropolis when Superman had his showdown with Zod, and he struggles with the sheer number of innocent bystanders that got caught up in that destructive battle and died. As far as Wayne is concerned, a true superhero wouldn't have let that happen.
Superman's positive image is damaged even further eighteen months later, when civilians are killed in Nairobi and warlords kidnap a certain Lois Lane (Amy Adams); Superman flies in to save the love of his life, but in doing so, is blamed for the deaths.
So in his guise as the dark knight, he calls Superman out. Although the Man of Steel tries to be reasonable, Batman isn't having any of it.
Meanwhile, this super spat is enjoyed by a young Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who sees it as an opportunity to wipe out two super birds, with one stone. And when that stone is Kryptonite, he knows all too well that it will help level out the playing battle field somewhat. And whilst the caped pair go toe to toe, Luthor can quietly go about his business in preparing to unleash the greatest threat the planet has ever seen.
After the devastatingly underwhelming Man of Steel, it's fair to say that its director Zack Snyder had to come back big. And to his credit, they don't get much bigger than this.
Taking one of the main criticisms aimed at that film - the notion of Superman under-delivering on his promise to keep our planet safe with most of his adopted home city Metropolis crumbling to the ground with massive fatalities - and using it as springboard for this feature, was a smart move. Was this intentional? Who knows, but it certainly works.
Changing the tone of the film also works in his favour; gone is the sunny disposition of Man of Steel, being replaced with the darker hues that were etched out so brilliantly by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight trilogy.
The fact that this isn't a dull reboot/remake/rehash of some origins story that everyone has already seen a million times is also a bonus. So far then, so good.
And the casting overall works well, despite the internet saying otherwise. Affleck does enough right with his older Batman, although let's face it, no one really cares about the hero's secret identity, it's all about what happens in the suit that counts.
Eisenberg has a more difficult task; not only does he have the big boots of the great Gene Hackman to fill, he also has to make Lex Luthor his own. Without taking anything away from his performance, which is entertaining, it does feel like the character needed to be older. Eisenberg may be in his early thirties, but he struggles to look nothing more than a manic teen on screen.
Superman and Batman are not the only heroes on show here, as Gal Gadot shows up with a shield and lasso in hand as Wonder Woman; unfortunately, despite her own groovy theme tune, her performance is somewhat two dimensional.
Where Snyder struggles is with the content of the film; he appears to cram so much into its two and a half hour duration, in an attempt to please all audiences, all of the time. And it's a difficult juggling act, trying to satisfy both mainstream audiences and faithful devotees of the comics and graphic novels, which is why he doesn't quite pull it off. Although the first half suffers from pacing issues, the second is an impressive visual onslaught.
It could have also benefited from some humour; its sombre mood needed lifting in places, but if you're after wise-cracks, you'll clearly have to look in Marvel's direction.
Snyder does tick all the right boxes however in the action stakes. The film is at its best when the superheroes are fiercely going at it, trying to knock the black and blue out of each other. Which for a superhero flick, is the way it should be.
One genuine concern is the Pandora's Box stamped with the DC logo that Snyder has opened. Not only is he down to direct both parts of The Justice League (think DC's version of Marvel's Avengers), but is also producing a further four projects continuing the heroes and villains theme (Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman). Which begs the question, who is going to save us from them all?!
As far as Batman V Superman is concerned, it's certainly an impressive clash between two comic titans. Their match may be a tad predictable, but it's a spectacle of superhuman struggles that's not to be missed.