For the most part I'm speaking in vagueries here, but there are some specific spoilers at the end of this, and if you're worried about that kind of stuff, you should probably stop reading now.
I cried exactly three times in the theater after sitting down to watch Batman v Superman with my son today. The first time was when they showed the trailer for Civil War and Spidey showed up on the big screen (gets me every time). The second time was watching Bruce Wayne lose his parents in the opening scene of this movie (gets me every time). We'll talk about the third time I cried in a few minutes.
But first, let's start with what I really liked about Batman v Superman. Without a doubt, Gal Godot as Diana and Wonder Woman was the best thing about this movie for me. She has way too little screen time, but every moment she is there she's a presence, and seems to be genuinely enjoying herself. This is especially true of her action scenes, where she is just flat-out amazing.
And unlike many, I really enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg's take on Lex Luthor. He's a man who is smarter and richer than everyone else, but sees that it means nothing next to the power metahumans like Superman wield. Everything he does is in service of putting himself on top, where he believes that he belongs. And everyone else is just a means to an end for him. Like Godot, I thought Eisenberg genuinely seemed to enjoy playing Luthor, and there was a "barely contained madness" energy to him I thought worked well. I hope he does turn up again, as I'd like to see him interacting with Darkseid, and scheming to take Darkseid's power for himself at the first opportunity.
As for Ben Affleck, I think her certainly looks the part, and there is a ton of potential for him to be a great Batman. There is one scene in particular where he gets to shine in combat, and it made me excited for a standalone Batman movie. Jeremy Irons as Alfred has great potential as well, but he was given absolutely nothing to do in this movie, except remind Bruce of what a monster he'd become.
And make no mistake--Batman is a monster in this movie. He's a straight up villain, and he even admits it at one point. He is so jaded and desperate to leave some kind of legacy of making a difference that he allows himself to be played for a fool by Luthor. He's dumb as bricks in this movie. Like Rocky in Rocky IV, he's taken too much of a beating, physically and mentally. He's seen too much. He exists purely on anger and resentment at this point in his life. He's a mass murderer. And it's kind of sad.
But Batman didn't make me cry. No, what made me cry--actual tears of sadness--was the way that Superman is both treated and portrayed in this movie. In the span of two-plus hours, I watched Zack Snyder tear down everything that was good about Superman, until the best thing he could do for the DC universe was die in order to provide a motivation for superheroes to team up in the future.
The Superman we see in this movie is an even more depressing version than in Man of Steel. Both Clark Kent and Superman are constantly told by almost everyone around them that their ideals and approach to the world are outdated and obsolete. This happens figuratively and literally throughout the movie. We see a Superman so broken that the only things he can hold onto for any type of inspiration or hope are Lois Lane and Martha Kent. Both of them fail him, and it was sad to see Diane Lane and Amy Adams have to go so against who we know Lois and Martha to be. Their characters are just as disrespected by this movie as Superman is. They even resurrect Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent in a dream sequence so that he can be depressing and discouraging to Clark as well.
I won't even get into the fact that not one time does he ever use his x-ray vision. I'm willing to go along with the leaps in logic the story needed that x-ray vision would totally have negated.
In the end, Superman gives his life for a world that doesn't deserve him, and doesn't deserve to be saved. And in doing so, inspired the remaining heroes to band together to save the planet from future threats. It's just the icing on the poor storytelling cake that was this entire movie.
And of course Superman is going to be resurrected, and maybe he'll even get some respect when he comes back because of his sacrifice. But who cares? Because Snyder and company have broken what made Superman great in the first place. They broke his spirit, his innocence and his belief in the best of humanity.
Watchmen worked because it was an interesting deconstruction of the idea of superheroes. It was dark, and depressing, and powerful. But the reason that DC didn't let Alan Moore use the Charlton characters like he wanted to, was because they knew those characters would be ruined for future stories. Sadly, DC just allowed Snyder to make another Watchmen with two of the most beloved characters in DC history.
A lot of people will say this movie is much more of a nod to The Dark Knight Returns than it is to Watchmen. It really doesn't matter, because the common thread with both of those stories is that they took a very pessimistic and cynical view of superheroes.
Think about that for a moment--DC just built the foundation of their entire superhero-filled cinematic universe from two stories that don't have anything good to say about superheroes. They've also soiled the name of the one superhero that always set them apart from Marvel and everyone else in my eyes. Superman was the best of the best. This movie treated him like garbage, and it actually made me cry. When I finally realized there was no point at which their portrayal of Superman was going to turn around, it broke a piece of me. Maybe it was because this is the Superman my son is growing up with.
But hey--Wonder Woman was super cool. And the great news is, our whole family will be gathering around the TV tonight to watch the Flash/Supergirl crossover episode. Because there is still a place in the DC live-action universe for hope, joy and superheroes. It's just on the small screen.