By Bill Wine

By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a question young comic book devotees have been asking for years.

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Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?

Well, first of all, remember, Batman’s a human. Superman, on the other hand, is a bulletproof and airborne extra-terrestrial.

So the question of which of the iconic DC Comics superheroes would emerge victorious should be a no-brainer.

But hold on there, Boy Wonder, and wonder no more.

Remember kryptonite?

 

(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

 

Yep, a tussle between the billionaire vigilante and the illegal alien is more of a contest than you might think.

So reveals Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the action-adventure fantasy – and the first live-action film to feature both major icons — that was originally intended to be a straight-ahead sequel to Man of Steel with the Caped Crusader nowhere in sight, but has morphed into the essential re-launching of the Batman franchise.

We live in a world in which Metroplis and Gotham are similar cities separated by a harbor.

It’s been two years since the epic battle between Superman (alter ego: Clark Kent), portrayed by Henry Cavill, and General Zod led to considerable destruction in Metropolis, and bitter, world-weary Batman (alter ego: Bruce Wayne), played by Ben Affleck, now believes, along with a growing number of citizens, that the controversial Supe is a threat to humanity.

So while the world decides just what kind of protector and superhero people want, Batman wants to stop the Man of Steel in his tracks – not an easy task — before he does damage to Batman’s species by way of a little fella called Doomsday.

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This is by way of mustache-curling villain Lex Luthor, Superman’s fellow billionaire and nemesis, played by Jesse Eisenberg (who’s having the time of his life), who has found a way to play both superheroic ends against the middle.

That’s why Batman and Superman must bury their differences and accept outside help. And who should show up to lend a hand but Wonder Woman (alter ego: Diana Prince), played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

Director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch), certainly no stranger to movies based on comic books, includes self-conscious visual references to 9/11 and works from a screenplay by Argo scenarist Chris Terrio and Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer.

And not only does he have two capable leads in Affleck and Cavill, but an able supporting cast as well, including Amy Adams as Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane; Laurence Fishbourne as editor Perry White; Jeremy Irons as Batman’s butler, Alfred; Holly Hunter as a Kentucky senator; and Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Superman’s mother.

But we recall that Snyder’s 2014 reboot, Man of Steel, tried viewers’ patience with endless, body-slamming action sequences as it retold the legend of angsty, antiheroic Superman in a bloated and joyless way.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, on the same hand, despite a game cast and casually spectacular special effects, makes the same mistake.

The movie is nothing if not bombastic from the first scene on, with incendiary explosions and gun battles that go on forever, an overbearing score that plays far too big a part in the proceedings, and nary a frame that’s not frenetic.

Violence and mayhem should serve the story, not squash it.

Consequently, the underemployed cast doesn’t get a chance to be anything other than action props and we spend far too much time wishing Snyder would simply let his film breathe.

It’s at its best when it slows down, but it hardly ever does.

So we’ll battle 2½ stars out of 4. The bout promised by the title of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ends up being a draw – as does the movie.

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