Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill's superheroes slug it out in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it's the poor viewer who's battered into submission.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Henry Cavill

DC Comics’ biggest heroes go head to head in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, director Zach Snyder’s follow-up to his 2013 Superman reboot, Man of Steel, but the resulting showdown between the cape-wearing duo is titanically dull.

The film takes its time setting up the epic confrontation of the title. First we get yet another recap of the childhood trauma that led billionaire Bruce Wayne to create his secret vigilante alias of Batman: the death of his parents at the hands of a mugger.

Then we revisit Superman’s battle with renegade alien General Zod, climax of the previous film, focusing this time on the immense collateral damage it left in its wake. The cost in human lives has, it appears, turned Ben Affleck’s dour Wayne/Batman into the near-psychotic foe of Henry Cavill’s brooding Superman.

Meanwhile, genuinely mad baddie Lex Luthor – played by Jesse Eisenberg as a twitchily arrogant geek with more than a touch of The Social Network’s Mark Zuckerberg – stokes their enmity with some devious stratagems of his own, wily manoeuvres that pull Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and adoptive mother Martha (Diane Lane) into the fray, as well as Holly Hunter’s idealistic US senator.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Henry Cavill Amy Adams

Eventually, the film gets around to the epic confrontation of the title. At last, Batman and Superman battle it out. But as the pair pound away at each other, it’s the hapless viewer who’s left begging for mercy, battered into submission by Snyder’s overbearing direction and Hans Zimmer’s bombastic score.

Faring better than the main stars are a droll Jeremy Irons, taking over butler duties from Michael Caine’s Alfred, and fellow newcomer Gal Gadot as the enigmatic Diana Prince, secretly Amazonian warrior goddess Wonder Woman. Both give more spark to their underwritten roles than the script deserves.

The film also supplies fleeting glimpses of fellow DC Comics’ heroes the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, clearly designed to plant cinematic seed for the DC Comics Universe. Yet most fans will surely wish the filmmakers had spent less effort teeing up the forthcoming Justice League movie and devoted more care to this one.

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Certificate 12. Runtime 152 mins. Director Zach Snyder

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is available on Blu-ray & DVD from 1 August. Gluttons for punishment can watch 30 minutes of new footage on the Blu-ray & Digital Download

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Blu-ray special features:

Uniting the World’s Finest
Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants
The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder
Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile
Superman: Complexity & Truth
Batman: Austerity & Rage
Wonder Woman: Grace & Power
Batcave: Legacy of the Lair
The Might and the Power of a Punch
The Empire of Luthor
Save the Bats