Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Exposition

I know at this point a lot has been said about the movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but as a writer I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the story issues I felt were a problem within the film. The three largest issues in the film, in my opinion, was the exposition, the protagonist/antagonist confusion, and the some of the transitions.

I shouldn’t really have to say this, but SPOILERS BELOW

Exposition

This movie had an uphill battle as far as trimming exposition from the very start because there was a lot that needed to be set-up. They had to set up Batman’s new past, his vendetta against Superman, Superman’s hero worship in the public, Lex Luthor’s role in the world, Wonder Woman’s presence, and a ton of other minor elements as well. Almost all of these really big elements deserved a proper set up because they are major story parts that will potentially carry over into future stories, however, setting them up in one movie led to a very long build up in the film before the action started. The long exposition and set up in the film makes the story drag and hard to stay involved, no matter how many interesting elements there are.

Protagonist/Antagonist Confusion

Many stories have multiple protagonists without there being any sort of problem, but in this story the protagonists, and antagonists for that matter, are warring for the focus. Batman is originally set up as the protagonist of the film, with Superman as his antagonist. Then it switches to Superman as the protagonist with Batman as his antagonist. That wouldn’t be such a problem, except there is a bigger antagonist in the film – Lex Luthor.

So much focus is on Batman and Superman being at odds, that Lex Luthor’s plot line is shafted somewhat and pushed until later in the film. There are elements early on, of course, but the Lex Luthor plot feels week because he gets so little attention. He is also painted as the minor threat in a lot of ways, because both of the protagonists don’t even see him as a threat until very late in the film. If Lex’s plotline had been worked into the story a bit earlier, so his plan was clearer earlier (at least to the audience) then I think it would have helped balance out the conflicting antagonists. Audiences know who Lex is, most likely, so they know he’s the villain, but if he had been more involved in the feud between Batman and Superman, instead of just an opportunist about it, then it would have helped strengthened his plotline.

Transitions

The jumps back and forth between Batman and Superman’s plotlines were some of the main rough transitions in the film, however the ones where Bruce is getting a vision of some sort are the ones that really don’t work for me. Things transition into these visions and then it throws the viewer off balance as they try to figure out what is going on. It’s only clear once we come out that we’re in a vision or dream of some sort, but even then it’s not really explained. If you know some of the comic lore then you might understand what is happening, but without it there isn’t enough to set up the visions to explain why they’re happening, or what they mean. Which is really a shame.

Overall, the film is not a terrible one. There are a lot of great moments, and acting, and I’m excited to see what future films come from this. If the exposition had been more balanced and condensed in the beginning, and if Lex Luthor’s role had been better intertwined, I really think I would have loved this one. As it stands, though, I think it’s one I won’t watch again until I’m feeling like a Superhero marathon.

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