This weekend – its second weekend in theaters – Batman v Superman posted a horrendous drop at the box office. This is a clear indicator that word of mouth has been bad, that the problem is bigger than just the tepid takes from film critics. After all, the critics didn’t think much of Guardians of the Galaxy, but audiences kept showing up – because people walked out of the theater smiling and raving.
So why don’t people like Batman v Superman? Principally because it just doesn’t work. It’s not all bad, but no aspect of it is great and only a little bit of it is good. On the whole, it’s just a fail.
Here are my reasons why (mild spoilers follow):
5. Too long – entire subplots and lots of flashbacks could have been cut out. Several major characters turned out to have been superfluous. Every Laurence Fishburne scene was a waste of time. I could done without a third of the Lois Lane they gave us and it still would have been too much. The addition of Wonder Woman was utterly pointless from a creative standpoint and it was, transparently, a corporate decision (more on this later).
4. Pointless – I know Batman and Superman have fought in the comics, but that was mainly as a stunt to sell comic books. With movies, it’s unecessary. We’re going to turn out for all these movies no matter what. Ant Man was a box office home run, for god’s sake. The whole conceit of having Batman and Superman fight, only to team up, and tease the Justice League was a waste of time. If you want to do Justice League, then just start with that. Why does every movie have to set up an entire studio’s slate for the next three summers? “Marvel does it” isn’t a good enough reason. Marvel trounces DC in every respect – Batman is DC’s only answer to Marvel but it’s already been done to death.
3. Dark – you can count on one hand how many moments of the film took place in daylight. Maybe the brightest scene in the movie was a funeral scene. It’s not artistic, it’s just gloom.
2. The villains – no one, I repeat no one, is buying Jesse Eisenberg as a super villain. He’s a good actor, just in the wrong role here. And he definitely crammed in too much time studying Heath Ledger’s Joker in preparation – the speech patterns, the cadences, it all feels contrived. And the monster – maybe the worst, most after-the-fact introduction of a movie monster in Hollywood history.
1. Finally – and this is the most important thing – in it’s grand ambition to be taken seriously and to deal with themes bigger than superheroes, they lost the kids. My son is six and was bored after 20 minutes. My ten year old daughter was checking her phone after 40 minutes and texted me her prediction for the end (nailed it). Both walked out of the theater a little confused about various plot points and motivation and a lot relieved that it was over.
These are the reasons why the studio just saw a 69% week over week drop in attendance. It’s a big missed opportunity for all involved.
And that’s coming from someone who wanted to like it. Oh well.