Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★

The director's cut of this really does improve the film drastically. By more fully committing to the film's premise, the film can better embody Snyder's view of heroes as dispassionate, even furious gods so detached from the normal world that they have ossified into their roles of power. Superman here visibly struggles from the effort to keep his power in check and to play by rules, but he also speaks like a man who is not asking, and he views human attempts at oversight as a trifling distraction. Batman, meanwhile, has completely lost himself to trauma, abandoning his flimsy moral justification to act as a purely fascistic enforcer. It all makes much more sense in this cut, and Snyder's animated-panel style renders both characters in iconic splashes that testifies to their mystifying presence among mortals. The fight between Batman and Superman also has real weight, Snyder putting in some of his best work to make each blow feel hyperbolically destructive.

Where the film still lacks is in its climax, which is the usual DCEU bullshit of garishly animated villain surrounded by gales of colored lightning that obscures everything. It's a pitifully generic conclusion that sweeps aside the most interesting aspects of the preceding 2.5 hours. Also, as intriguing as the material is when following its own logic, I can't help but be put off by the fact that this was intended to be the foundational rock of a shared film universe. As a standalone film, this is fascinating, but it's utterly nihilistic to suggest these versions of the heroes as canonical to a budding expansion strategy, a reflection of simplistic politics and a fundamental misunderstanding of all but the bleakest revisionist comics. I’d argue both that you can’t really do revisionism when you haven’t established a “normal” baseline yet, and that in nearly every way this view of heroes is more limited, simplistic and easy than the more optimistic tone it seeks to subvert.