I don’t know what movie the critics saw but it wasn’t the one I saw. Batman V Superman (BVS) was a very solid film. Is it perfect? No, but it seems the 3-hour version when it’s released my fix that. I may be wrong but a lot of the negative stuff I heard before I saw the movie seems to be less about its merits and more about expectations and the climax, which offends some people because a major character “dies”. Rest assured, that character is not dead. But people expecting a wall to wall action movie were also disappointed because most of the action is in the last third of the film. That does not make it a bad film. It built up its story very well, and did it with a level of seriousness, which was another complaint, but it was a justified tone if you followed the narrative.
The story is centered around Batman/Bruce Wayne. He narrates the story and is basically the eyes that we see all the spectacle with. Being mortal, he is grounded and this film is mainly from his perspective. The story is about how he was traumatized as a kid by the death of his parents and then horrified by the battle of Metropolis seen in Man of Steel. Many of his employees died or were crippled in that event. So he is driven to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but in doing so falls prey to the antagonist of the story, Lex Luthor.
Superman is a supporting character, not the lead. He is the target of Lex Luthor who wants to destroy him because he hates the very idea of him. He doesn’t believe he could be noble. He sees the world with corrupt and jaded eyes, so he wants Superman ruined. As a result he puts together a series of events designed to make people fear and distrust him. He seeks any means to wipe him out, including government intervention.
Lois Lane and Superman are clearly in love. Lois seeks to find answers on an event where she was almost killed. This event leads her to discover things that parallel a ibvestigation of Bruce Waynes. I won’t reveal much more than that, but it all holds together for the most part.
Diana Prince is another character who shows up investigating Luthor and her path crosses Wayne’s. It all comes together in the big battle which is something Luthor sets up, pushing Batman and Superman against each other. Luthor is far from stupid. This is a prettyu smart and clever version of him. His mannerisms reveal he is a little touched in the head, but he knows what ghe is doing.
All of this is a set up for a Justice League movie. So what happens in the climax is in service of justifying that, and it really doesn’t detract from it. It gives it more urgency. But people who don’t like what happens blame the film. When people have more time to chew on this film I believe it will be considered more of a classic. I watched a ton of reviews on Youtube by fan critics and even the ones who liked it got a lot wrong. They weren’t paying attention. That’s probably because there was a lot to take in and digest. On repeat viewings I think people will be more favorable to it.
It’s kind of the opposite of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was universally loved despite many faults and absurd coincidences. That film was very derivative. This film was very fresh from a comics film perspective, The story is taken from several major comics but it was put together well. It didn’t feel like they were trying to be like something else, say the Avengers, whereas TFA was basically trying to be like classic Star Wars a little too much.
I wouldn’t be surprised if TFA gets viewed less favorably over time and BvS gets more favorably. Both were reviewed based on expectations rather than merit. To my mind BvS is a better film.