BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE got a lot of hate from critics when it came out. I was curious about it because of its themes, but not that much so as the majority of superhero movies fall flat for me. When it showed up on Netflix, I decided to give it a few minutes on a lark and ended up staying up far too late to finish it.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN begins with the epic battle between Superman and General Zod, which results in mass casualties in Gotham in an event that looks like 9/11 x 100. This event makes Batman and numerous other people question Superman as an existential threat, even as many others have begun viewing him as a messianic figure, a god. Superman, meanwhile, regards Batman as a violent vigilante who needs to obey the law like everybody else. The stage is set for conflict, provided by Lex Luthor, modeled after a young and eccentric dot-com mogul, who believes Superman’s existence negates human achievement (while also imposing a stern father figure he resents on a personal level), and therefore should be destroyed.
The result is actually a great movie that does justice to these powerful, often unexplored themes. We actually get to see Superman wrestle with the understanding that his actions, while saving the world, may ruin or cost thousands of lives in the process, and resulting wonder whether Earth would be better off without him. (I confess to agreeing with Lex Luthor for quite a bit of the film.) We get to see Batman justify not accidentally but purposefully killing numerous villains to save lives. As a guy raised on stories where superheroes always faced clear-cut choices between good and evil, with their actions having few ill side effects, the murky ethics explored in this movie combine to make a great theme. The rest of the growing DC movie franchise is woven into the plot fairly delicately, most prominently Wonder Woman.
So overall, I liked it quite a bit. It was a cut above the usual superhero stuff, far more thoughtful, dark, and filled with great action.