Director Zack Snyder’s sporadically impressive 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel flirted with some intriguingly adventurous ideas before descending into a thunderingly dull third-act punch-up between all-but indestructible – and indistinguishably uninteresting – adverseries. Little has changed with this latest instalment, which sees DC Comics characters gearing up for future “Justice League” outings, hoping to give Marvel’s saleable screen universe a run for its money.
Assorted Avengers need not worry; despite a slow-burn start and portent-heavy script (endless references to false gods and monsters) Batman v Superman never flies. Ben Affleck may make a strong fist of his role as the screen’s grouchiest Batman but Snyder (who is no Christopher Nolan) mistakes “murkiness” for “darkness”, leaving his stodgy antiheroes stomping around in a Stygian quagmire of quasi-religious imagery, superficial set pieces, and – most damagingly – incoherent storytelling.
We open on familiar ground with the young Bruce Wayne being orphaned yet again, this time in the shadow of a movie theatre pointedly playing Excalibur. From here, we cut (after a pop video-style vision of bats) to Metropolis, where the collateral damage of Man of Steel’s climactic battle is replayed from the point of view of the adult Bruce, watching in horror as his own tower tumbles. Then we’re off again, to “Somewhere in the Indian Ocean” and thence to Africa, where Lois Lane (Amy Adams) awaits rescue by a man in wet-look spandex. “He answers to no one, I think, not even to God,” declares one naysayer of Henry Cavill’s supremely uncharismatic Superman.
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