Last year was a year for disgruntled superheroes. I already recommended Captain America: Civil War, in which heroes brawl over a UN resolution, and the much hated Suicide Squad, featuring criminals forced to fight a supernatural evil. I had more mixed feelings about Squad‘s precursor Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where one can witness even more battling saviors. In this case, Batman flies off the rails and turns against Superman due to Lex Luthor’s manipulations, and Superman has a very bad day. Wonder Woman also makes a brief but formidable appearance. While fairly entertaining, Dawn of Justice is both slow and convoluted. Jesse Eisenberg’s young Luthor has been criticized for differing wildly from the source material, but I found his twitchy performance to be by far the brightest spot in the film. No longer a calculating old-school businessman, Luthor is now a long-haired, narcissistic genius for the age of Google and Microsoft.
I also reviewed Deadpool, featuring a comic book character who alternates between hero and villain. In his movie, he’s a pop-culture referencing anti-hero, a mercenary turned mad superhuman by a brutal experiment. The sophomoric humor and graphic violence will not work for everyone, but the film’s enthusiasm and tight script generated enough energy to attract large audiences.