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Batman vs Superman sets box office records

David Thompson
Staff Writer

Easter weekend, aside from being a time of rest and contemplation, was also the testing ground for DC Comics in the form of their explosive movie, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

With arch-rival Marvel Studios coasting on the success of Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers, DC desperately needed a huge hit in theaters that would kick start their own superhero franchise and challenge the current trend of Marvel movies scooping up box office cash.

At first glance, it seemed that Dawn of Justice was a success. It opened with $166.1 million, the best Easter weekend ever. It also passed The Dark Knight Rises, which had $160.9 million its opening weekend, for the seventh-best opening weekend of all time.

However, this impressive haul pales in comparison with Marvel’s The Avengers I and II, which made over $190 million and $208 million respectively. It also saw a severe decrease day-to-day. According to Forbes. com, Dawn of Justice went from grossing $82 million on the release date to only $37 million on Sunday, a 55% decrease, and the worst such decline in box office history.

Of course, it was Easter, and so part of that might possibly have been because of the holiday and families staying home rather than visiting the cinema. However, it can also be attributed to the numerous bad reviews it received from critics in pre-release screenings.

Popular critic website Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a dismal 29 percent approval rating, and the vast majority of critics were negative in their appraisals. This did not impact pre-purchased tickets for opening night, but it did take its toll on tickets bought on the following Saturday and Sunday.

But wait. If so many people think the movie is awful, why has it made over $420 million domestically? That’s because even in the most negative reviews, all critics agreed on several things that actually helped to promote the movie.

First, the movie is dark. It is brooding. It looks like it was lit with a flashlight most of the time. And there is a continual grim, gritty, angry feel to it. But what else would anyone want from a movie depicting an epic clash between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel? Audiences wanted dark and brooding, and the studio certainly delivered.

Second, a decent chunk of the movie revolves around one thing: mass destruction. Batman fighting bad guys, Superman fighting bad guys, Batman fighting Superman, etc. And a lot of that fighting included giant, CGI explosions and fastpaced action scenes. But that is also exactly what people wanted, especially on an IMAX screen and in 3D.

Finally, other than the titular Bruce Wayne, there was a lack of development for the new characters. Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, and Alfred the butler were all introduced without any warning, prior knowledge or explanation. Even with Batman himself, audiences learn only a few things about him before the end credits roll.

However, this movie is not one that will stand by itself. With Suicide Squad being released later this year and Wonder Woman coming out in summer 2017, there will be plenty of time to unpack each and every new character.

And honestly, audiences don’t need Batman’s full backstory to understand his motivation or know where he learned martial arts to appreciate the fact that he can beat up anybody he wants.

Despite the bad reviews, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a movie worth seeing in theaters. Audiences are treated to everything they expected coming in: a much anticipated dark and gritty feel to a superhero movie, a fully functioning Bat cave, amazing tech and gadgets for Batman to play with, and terrific fight scenes.

This isn’t the heroic, positive superhero Marvel movie many fans have come to love. It is brooding, grim and depressing. But it has enough positive facets to warrant watching while it is still in theaters. And it promises a franchise of DC movies that, while maybe not too large on substance, can still pack a pretty big punch.