It’s an understatement to say that there is a lot on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice next month. Although it’s the second DC Extended Universe movie, it’s basically laying the groundwork for this cinematic world. With three heroes playing significant roles (and at least three others cameoing), two cut-and-dried villains, a decently-sized supporting cast, and plenty of references, there’s a lot being packed into its 151-minute run time. There have been polarizing opinions about how Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will turn out since it was announced in 2013, and yesterday we published our take on the worst-case scenario if it doesn’t perform well. But what about the opposite situation? What if the movie ends up performing exceptionally? Well, then it will have not just given audiences a fantastic story, but also done a tremendous job setting up the cinematic Justice League.
Let’s get one common complaint out of the way: that DC is rushing towards introducing the Justice League on the big screen by packing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with so many heroes. Yes, they are moving faster than Marvel did with the Avengers, but "rushing" shouldn’t be looked at negatively. With the exception of Spider-Man, Hulk, and maybe the X-Men, most of Marvel’s characters weren’t well known to the general public before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, so they needed to release those solo movies before giving us Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. DC, on the other hand, is home to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, three of pop culture’s most popular superheroes. Thanks to cartoons like Justice League Unlimited and live action shows like The Flash, their second tier heroes are also ingrained in the public consciousness. So yes, we will learn more about these characters in their solo movies, but for simply introducing him, it’s not necessary to take the same route Marvel did.
This isn’t the same issue as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had when it was planning on establishing its own cinematic universe back in 2013 and 2014. Ignoring the fact that building an entire universe around just one character was ill-conceived from the start, Sony seemed to rush their plans, with the announcement coming only five months before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released. It backfired when the sequel didn’t meet expectations, and when they couldn’t pick up the pieces, that necessitated that they make a deal with Marvel to bring Spidey to the MCU. That’s not going to happen with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and DC. They’ve been planning their cinematic universe for approximately two years, and however events in the movie turn out, right now it looks like it’s going to do a satisfactory job paving the way for the official formation of the Justice League.
All this being said, let’s move away from the big picture and just look at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as an individual entity. What are we getting from it? We have a new Batman who (frankly) looks and acts the closest to how he’s depicted in the comics. We have a Lex Luthor who, while definitely different from his predecessors, seems like he’ll provide a refreshing take on supervillain. We have Wonder Woman’s first cinematic appearance, and while she may not be one of the leads, the Amazon warrior definitely looks like she’ll impress. Plus, Argo’s Chris Terrio wrote the script, thus insuring the dialogue will feel different from Man of Steel. Put all those elements together, and looks like we’ll get something special.
Will the movie be perfect? Probably not, but the same can be said about any movie. I know I still have some issues with how Superman is being depicted. While the Man of Steel has had his share of dark moments, he’s always been more of a bright figure who instills hope, and this movie feels too dark to truly accomplish that. Regardless, so far the positives outweigh the negatives, and even if critical reception isn’t at The Dark Knight-levels, the chances of this movie hauling in the big bucks are extremely high (I’m not convinced by those computer estimations).
Look, at this point the DC Extended Universe isn’t going away. Suicide Squad is in post-production, Wonder Woman is currently filming, and Justice League: Part One is scheduled to begin filming in a few months. Warner Bros. is in this for the long haul. I’m not going to pretend like I can see the future and tell you that those reports about the studio possibly restructuring by moving Justice League down and a Batman solo movie up aren’t true. However, going off what I’ve read in articles and seen in the previews, I’m hopeful that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will not only give fans an epic and entertaining superhero movie, but also set the stage for these other ensemble and individually-led entries coming our way in the DCEU.
For those of you who still have doubts about the March blockbuster, that’s perfectly fine, but at least see the movie and then make your final decision rather than write if off right now in one fell swoop.