Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
As early as I can remember, Superman has always been my favorite superhero. I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s movies and accepted the TV versions of Dean Cain and Tom Welling. Brandon Routh was forgettable, but Henry Cavill gave hope with the first film, and honestly I think having Jor El played by Russel Crowe gave that film much needed weight. In Batman versus Superman, it is clearly Ben Affleck’s movie. If you haven’t seen Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I strongly recommend this film because it showcases the much needed charisma and acting ability Henry possesses but not found in this Superman film. I mean he cried in the first film when he had to kill Zod, but in this film he stands in silence while a whole courtroom of people get blown up around him? No emotion. Writing and direction failure on that. Now I do like this film’s take on Batman played by Affleck and look forward to what else they do with the departure from the Christian Bale take in the Batman films helmed by the great writer/director Christopher Nolan.
Back to the main hero, Superman, we find this go round of a film suffers from what I call the Spiderman 3 formula. Now go back to the essential beginning of the super hero film boom. Tobey Maguire made us all fall in love again with our superheroes from our childhood days. First film knocked it out the park. Second was good also, but them somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd film the writers and director must have felt they needed to ‘up the ante’ or increase the stakes. Well what did they do? They increased the number of villains our protagonist has to fight. In Spiderman 3 we have the hobgoblin (quick early fight/end film resolve/reunited/death…how original), Sandman (wasted use of a talented actor and potentially better storyline), and rushed insertion/mishandling of Venom. Spiderman 3 was a total and complete mess of a movie. The writers gave up on the audience and their ability to dive deeper into the villain’s mindset. Take the before mentioned series Batman under Christopher Nolan. We get to spend a good amount of time getting to see and know the villains in each of those films to the point we can empathize to a degree with them. THAT is how you write a good conflict.
Now as the title of Batman versus Superman suggests, we get to see a slug fest between two extremely popular superheroes. Yet there is more because Hollywood has deemed the audience must have more, more, more! So rinse and repeat time for writers and director to use the Spiderman 3 formula: You get a Lex Luthor instigator (acceptable for the fight setup), a horrible mishandle of Doomsday created by Lex Luthor (Reanimated and mutated Zod…seriously?), and of course with Doomsday you back yourself into the corner of having to do the death of Superman all in a film whose main premise was to give a fight between the two title characters. Primary fight of Batman versus Superman, secondary face off with Luthor, and final battle to the death with Doomsday. Any single one of these could have and should have been the end of this film or any film afterwards. First off the director and writers need to trust the audience more. Develop Lex Luthor more. Show him with his brilliance and his madness. Let us see more of what drives him to do what he does. Let the audience see the Luthor’s brain versus Superman’s brawn. Leave Doomsday out for a later or final film in a series run. The money that could have been saved in this films budget by not doing Doomsday could have been applied to more scenes of Luthor and Superman going toe to toe to showcase a chess match between the two. That would have made a great film.
So how could writing have saved this film? Write more Luthor, drop Doomsday for a later film, edit the scenes to show more heart and emotion from Superman, and finally trust the audience. They are coming to see the film anyways. Give more by actually giving more time to the villain development than increasing number of villains. Trust us to be able to handle less…because less villains is more time spent with one villain. Make the villain worthy of screen time. Make villains great again Hollywood!
Thanks for reading Writing Movie “WRONGS.”
Writing Movie Wrongs (MovieWrongs.com) was created by Author Jim West to show how great storytelling is built on strong writing. In each review, he aims to highlight points in film that capture what the medium is capable of, or provide feedback on small improvements that would make a huge difference to the story’s plot. Read more about Jim West at JimWestAuthor.com.