As the world starts to doubt Superman's worth, the caped alien's do-gooder actions come under scrutiny from not only the Metropolis government but megalomaniac millionaire Lex Luthor and fellow vigilante Batman too.
The 'main' opening sequence shows promise, providing an intelligent link between not only the two universes of Metropolis and Gotham but quickly establishing Batman's disdain for the Kryptonian hero. Overlapping with the events seen at the end of Man Of Steel, Superman's attempts at taking down General Zod cause devastation in each city, subsequently destroying Wayne's company offices and killing many of his employees, and it's safe to say, Wayne ain't too happy about it.
Vowing to bring Superman down a peg or two, Bruce Wayne catches wind of Luthor's attempts at keeping their mutual enemy in line too and uses this to his advantage. What he doesn't realise however, is that Luthor is depending on Batman pre-occupying ol' Supes to unleash an even bigger threat upon Metropolis that could put an end to both of the titular heroes.
Of course, both Batman and Superman have been seen on the big screen several times before and in Zack Snyder's latest take on each of their stories, many scenes can't help but hark back to old outings, particularly when it comes to the Bat side of things. Throughout we see a young Bruce Wayne fall into a (metaphoric?) cave following his parent's death, just like in Batman Begins. We also get treated to a high speed car-chase where someone attempts to thwart the good guys by opening up the side of their mini-lorry and brandishing a bazooka, AKA that scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker does the exact same thing. Lastly, there's an exchange between Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) and Bruce during a lavish party, so teasing and full of innuendo that it can't help but make you remember Selina Kyle and Bruce's similar tête-à-tête towards the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises.
Occasionally, it takes a knowing stab at itself, shaking you out of the brooding, over-the-top seriousness for just a moment. Usually delivered by Jesse Eisenberg's super caricature-like Luthor, "Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent, oh I love bringing people together!", such gags are welcome given the absurdity of the whole storyline and [hopefully] proves that everyone involved didn't take the bravado-filled movie as seriously as it seems after all. "Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman" Laurence Fishburne's Perry White argues towards the middle of the movie... Don't toy with us like that Snyder, you know it's why most people are here, and the in-joke is almost successful in being chuckle-worthy.
But boy, do we have to wait for Clark Kent to actually take on Batman. Unsurprisingly with a running time of two-and-a-half hours, the film is far too long, often rendering itself dull rather than thrilling. Multiple scenes should have met the same expendable fate as every enemy Batman comes across throughout but instead, bizarrely get kept in, regardless of whether they add anything to the story. One sequence in particular that seems thrown in just to prove how evil Luthor can be, while borderline shocking, just reiterates the same point already made several times... Oh, Superman, you're just going to have accept that you can't save everyone all the time.
While the narrative appears clunky and full of unnecessary scenes, the action choreography (as expected from a Snyder) film is tight and aesthetically impressive. The long wait cinema-goers endure before Batman and Superman's inevitable fisticuffs is worth it when it finally comes around and confirms the idea that Snyder's skills lie solely in style rather than substance.
Eisenberg's performance is another positive from the movie, but is likely to polarise audiences, even more so than the inevitable Team Superman or Team Batman debate. His long-haired, face-twitching babbler is a far cry from the suited and booted, cue ball bald Luthor we've seen before but at least it's something fresh. One of the only characters that actually seems to have some personality in the film, he steals each scene that he's in and acts as an interesting younger version than the business-like supervillain we know will inevitably manifest later on. Those who prefer their baddies more serious though won't enjoy his presence in the slightest.
Despite being a key part of the promotional material, we see very little of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Although, one could argue that there simply wasn't room for any more of her in a film that is already too cluttered. Bafflingly, Henry Cavill's Superman makes even less of an impact than the female lead with approximately five lines, amounting to not much more than a supporting character to Batman's lead. Everything he does as the hero is responsive to other characters, particularly when it comes to Lois Lane (Amy Adams), creating a painfully wishy- washy character. It's saying something when Superman is much more interesting in bespectacled Clark form rather than Superman.
Affleck however, is great, bringing some much-needed reality to the film and not just because Wayne is the only man in a sea of meta-humans. His Batman is perhaps the darkest we've seen, burdened by the well-known tale of his childhood in both psychedelic nightmares and in life. So angry is he in fact that his version sees the character brand his future victims so they know that he'll get them eventually.
Overall, it's evident throughout that this film's sole purpose was to introduce certain characters and allow particular, albeit expected, plot devices in order to justify the eventual Justice League uniting in later instalments. Neither Warner Bros, nor DC Films have played the effective waiting game a la Marvel Studios, and the lack of gradual development here makes for a somewhat nonsensical, rushed picture. It seems as if the goal here was to confuse, to throw so many visionary decisions into the mix and DC Comics nods all in a flurry that it's perceived as art, but incoherency doesn't mean you're reinventing the genre.
It seems as if Snyder assumed the movie didn't need to explain anything in this instalment as fans know it is the first of many movies to come. In that sense, Batman v Superman is nothing more than a mediocre bridge to films we desperately hope will care more about portraying these iconic characters in the rich way they appeared in the beloved comics.
As a visually grandiose macho showdown, Batman v Superman packs just enough punches to satisfy and finally seeing Affleck adopt the batwings keeps it from being a complete waste of time. But at the end of the day, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is simply unexplained subplot after unexplained subplot. Attempting to cram in too much and as a result, fails to deliver anything individual enough to stand out. The movie equivalent of a filler song on an album, perhaps the movie will hold more worth once the artists have released every single track. But for now, all that's on our minds is, when does Captain America: Civil War come out?