Warner Bros has made a deliberate decision to take its DC comic book movies with Batman, Superman and others in a much more dark direction than the Marvel movies with Iron Man, Captain America, et al.
In "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" for example, there are serious considerations about civil liberties, terrorism, religious fanaticism and even modern political sentiments about illegal immigration.
I think that's all admirable, and in fact, my favorite part of this new movie shows the real world consequences from climactic battle from the end of "Man of Steel," a movie I liked a lot. Several years ago, we watched this fight between Superman and General Zod and were wowed in theaters. Now Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sees it unfold with terrified citizens as thousands die - the imagery heavily invoking 9/11.
Wayne and many others blame Superman for the devastation. Meantime, Superman himself questions whether he's doing the right thing, and has a serious problem with a vigilante Bat.
That's the setup for what could be a fantastic movie, but instead, it becomes an overlong muddled mess with too many subplots that don't come together in any meaningful way, and character motivations that aren't always understandable or rational. There are long stretches of this movie that are downright confusing, and worse, boring.
And like some recent Marvel movies, "Batman v Superman" is too concerned with setting up future sequels and spin-offs that it forgets to tell a good story on its own. In fact, the movie comes to a dead stop before the big climax so one character can watch computer files of other Justice League members. Seriously. That happens.
What about the title fight itself? Well, it doesn't last long, and the resolution comes off like a scene from "Step Brothers" ("Did we just become best friends? Yup!").
Look, I like director Zack Snyder's vision and style. It's a gorgeous movie. I also like the cast for the most part. Affleck fits the Bat suit well, and I look forward to future stand-alone movies with him and Jeremy Irons as Alfred.
On the other hand, Jesse Eisenberg was miscast and way over the top as a twitchy Lex Luthor. I get it - they wanted to play off the young tech genius type like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, and what better way than the cast the guy who played Zuckerberg? Brilliant.
"Batman v Superman" reeks of the worst kind of big studio tampering. Snyder, the writers and actors are all talented people, but I get the feeling the suits had most of the creative control - not the artists. The result is an empty superhero suit of a movie.