I sat down to watch this earlier today, and two and a half hours later staggered into the light with decidedly mixed feelings. I didn't have the buzz that had been present after seeing 'Deadpool' or 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', and I didn't even feel that I had been entertained like with 'Ant Man'. 'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice' is a different kettle of worms completely, steering DC's big screen output to an altogether darker place than Marvel are prepared to go.
The film starts with an outsider's view of the big showdown from the end of 'Man Of Steel', as Supes and General Zod basically kill thousands of people and knock down more buildings than Godzilla having a hissy fit. The outsider in question is Bruce Wayne, desperate to do what he can to save employees in the building that houses Wayne Enterprises Gotham branch. The answer is: not much. After all, he's just a man and a collapsing building is pretty heavy. Naturally, this makes Bruce wonder if we would be better off without this Superman chap, as 20 years as Batman tells him that it'll all go horribly wrong one day.
For his part, Superman is as boring as ever, Henry Cavill doing whatever he can to make you give a toss about an invulnerable alien. There's a daft plot that ties into the main film plot about someone arming terrorists (Supes saves Lois again – yaaaawn), and people are starting to turn against him, exactly as they would in real life, no matter how much good he does. After all, who would trust one with a power of a God and no one to answer to?
Pulling various strings behind them both is Lex Luthor (for the billionth time), played in a quirky, semi-insane fashion by Jesse Eisenberg. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be inherently unlikeable, but I wanted to smash his face in throughout the film. He's genuinely scared of what Superman is capable of, and is determined to get rid of him one way or another.
So stuff happens and the two titans get to have a nice little scrap. Fans of the characters will know there's only going to be one winner, but of course the have to kiss and make up to fight Luthor and his end-of-level-boss monster that has to be pummelled in the last half hour. Gail Gadot's Wonder Woman is shoehorned into this bit, seemingly with way more power than in the comics. Regardless, she has a real presence and lights up the screen, so bring on her interesting looking solo movie. There's also none too subtle hints of future Justice Leaguers Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash, but don't expect too much.
Even at two and a half hours, it seems that key scenes have been jettisoned, as Luthor somehow knows who Superman is and Superman knows who Batman is, and Luthor's shouty foreshadowing of an alien threat seems based on nothing at all but the need to give fans a hint. The plot is full of holes, and the script should have been tighter, but that's just me. Oh, and if you're looking for levity there's none. This is a serious, bleak, dark film that does not want you to smile ever again. This movie would tell Deadpool to stop being so childish.
The absolute best thing about it is Ben Affleck. This man is Batman more than any other Batman, convincing as both the dark knight and Bruce Wayne. Tormented, driven and hard as nails he IS the Batman you've been looking for. I genuinely like Affleck anyway, and I'm glad someone spotted his bat-potential. I doubt it will come, but a solo film would be a sizzling prospect.
Ultimately, 'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice' (note who gets top billing) is not a great film, but it IS a good one. It may help that I'm a mature comics fan not a fidgety kid or perfectionist geek, but I am happy to see DC take the darker route. What it needs is to stop focusing on Superman because he's a boring, one note character, and follow Marvel in bringing heroes with personalities to the screen.