Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a brilliant romantic comedy about a psychologically damaged vigilante falling in love with a super alien. But like a schoolchild treats their first crush, Batman (Ben Affleck) displays his feelings for Superman (Henry Cavill) by hitting him. Granted, he hits him quite hard, multiple times, once with a sink over the head, but you know the chemistry’s there.
In some ways, I suppose you could describe this as a comic book action film and I’d be inclined to do so if it weren’t for the opening credit sequence, which clearly pitches it as more broody version of Bridget Jones’s Diary. The movie’s title is discretely placed in the bottom right-hand corner as if it were the set runner’s name or possibly even their dog’s. It disappears before you can get a proper look at it because director Zack Snyder is extremely modest about his 250 million dollar budget blockbuster.
It’s quite some time before we get to see the heroes embrace each other with their fists – not anally. There are all sorts of things to set up first, like how the world is divided on Superman after the events of Man of Steel, why Batman is so obsessed with him, all the Justice League cameos and how we ended up with a Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) that could pass for Michael Jackson and Seth Green’s lovechild with ADHD. And being the tease that Snyder is, he wants to do all of this slowly while bouncing from one scene to another, giving us little chance to get excited about anything. It’s his form of foreplay.
Despite being decisively flaccid at this point, my interest began to pique as we were given a better look at Affleck’s Batman. I was thoroughly pleased with his representation of the character: moody, brutal and even scary. Unfortunately, that prompted the 48-year-old man sitting next to me to start tossing himself off with the action figures he’d brought along. I’m all for fan service, but not when I need to bring an umbrella to the cinema. In fact, there were several things Batman did throughout the film that encouraged satiated groans from the audience. ‘Look at the size of his Batarang!’ exclaimed someone from the back, followed by a throaty ‘phwoahhh’.
Trying to ignore the growing stench in the room, I turned my attention to the brewing chemistry between the two protagonists. Batman clearly wants to be with Superman; he spends his nights watching footage of him and even acquires some Kyrptonite so that he can penetrate his skin. He tries to explain to his butler, Alfred, that Superman is a threat to the world and needs to be destroyed, but a wise Jeremy Irons suspects that he probably just wants to stroke his alien costume. However, it turns out I needn’t have bothered getting invested in all this build-up because Lex Luthor forces them to fight each other anyway. It’s more arranged marriage than love at first sight.
That makes their eventual battle a reluctant one. Batman’s brought all sorts of toys to the fight (because he’s kinky like that) and some of the moves look as though they were pulled straight from Frank Miller’s comic book The Dark Knight Returns. But it all ends rather abruptly, like an inexperienced couple’s first time. There’s a lot of apologising and it’s all very embarrassing. Fortunately, they’re able to make amends by double-teaming the cave troll from Lord of the Rings. Sorry, I should say triple-teaming.
Yes, this is where Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman – named thusly because you wonder where she’s been for the majority of the film – quite literally leaps into action for the CGI overkill finale. Her Amazonian roar is confusing to the boys in capes, who now suspect that they might prefer brass corsets and highly impractical loincloths. It’s the ultimate twist to this star-crossed love tale.
It’s a good job this is a romantic comedy, though. If it were a serious film I’d have to describe it as an incoherent assortment of noises and images that makes Man of Steel look like Ben-Hur.