Given its massive box office, you likely saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicethis weekend. And whether you loved it or hated it, chances are you had some questions about the portion of the movie you managed to stay awake for. As always, our patented Spoiler FAQ has the answers you seek!
What is Batman v Superman?
The newest chapter in director Zack Snyder’s DC Cinematic Murderverse.
But what’s it about?
It’s about fundamentally misunderstanding Superman, Batman, superheroes in general, basic morality, and doubling down on all of Man of Steel’s problems. It’s also about 2.5 punishing hours long.
Sigh. You just went in already hating it, didn’t you?
Well, I certainly admit I wasn’t optimistic having seen the trailer, the previews, the interviews with Snyder, or the entirety of Man of Steel. But I can tell you I think I actually liked it more than I thought I would, which again, based on the evidence, was not at all. There are a few good moments. Wonder Woman is pretty much perfect. Affleck is a shockingly good Batman, although the script doesn’t do him any favors. And the movie isn’t as flat-out dumb asMan of Steel.
But the movie is dull. It is dull and dark and dour, and there is shockingly little superhero action in for a film that has not one but two superheroes in its title. It is not fun. And while it might not be as dumb as Man of Steel, it still has moments of WTF-ery so totally baffling it seems impossible that Snyder, the actors, the editors, the producers, and the studio execs would all have unanimously let them happen without pointing out how insane they are.
What do you mean?
I mean this is the first superhero movie that prominently features a glass jar full of urine.
Yeah. But there’s something else I find even more baffling, if not exactly unexpected. When I was watching BvS, a mother had brought her 7-year-old kid to see the film. By about 45 minutes—45 minutes of darkness and grimness and an almost total absence of superheroes—the poor kid had enough and started screaming because he was so scared. Zack Snyder has made a movie about the two greatest, most popular superheroes in the entire world that children should not be allowed to see.
But it’s PG-13…
But it’s still been marketed to children; look at the Batman and Superman merchandise flooding any department store. But also Marvel’s movies are all PG-13 and they don’t have this problem, nor do parents expect them to. And that’s why Marvel/Hasbro/Disney sells toys based on Captain America and Avengers and all that other shit to kids, because they want kids to interested in Marvel characters. WB/DC wants the same, they just failed to make a movie that they can watch without having nightmares or being bored to tears. You can blame the MPAA’s outdated rating system, the superhero movie industry, or modern society, but I guarantee that this poor woman was not the only adult who had to take their kid out of BvS this weekend.
By the way, when the kid was taken out screaming? We hadn’t even gotten to the scene where Superman fails to stop a terrorist from blowing up the capitol building and he stands there like a dope in a room full of flames and charred bodies.
Welcome to DC’s Murderverse, my friend. Hope you survive the experience! (You won’t. Batman will murder you.)
How does the movie begin?
With the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, as is legally mandated in every goddamn movie he appears in. Also there’s a flashback to when young Bruce fell into the Batcave and the bats magically levitate him out.
As it turns out, this is a dream Bruce Wayne is having, which he is also somehow narrating. However, it does establish a very solid “What the fuck is happening?!” vibe for the movie right off the bat, no pun intended.
That pun was absolutely intended.
Of course it was. Next we flash-forward to Man of Steel times (18 months ago) where Bruce Wayne has a first-row seat at all the carnage from the Superman “v” Zod fight. So not only do we get to see Superman’s utter disregard for human life again, but we get a close look at the people who actually died as a result of it. We get to witness a Wayne executive pray as Superman and Zod level the skyscraper he’s on with heat vision. And we get to see Scoot McNairy as a guy whose legs are crushed in the indiscriminate violence.
This was the part about Man of Steel that upset everyone the most! Why would Zack Snyder do this?!
Because Zack Snyder thinks we’re all pussies for being upset that “Superman” didn’t “save” “lives.” He’s going to have to tone down the carnage later—kind of—and he’s bitter as hell at the audience for making him do it, so he’s rubbing our faces in the carnage WB can’t take back, so to speak. The flipside is that Superman stops being so murder-y in BvS.
Yeah, there’s a whole 30-second-long montage of him saving/not killing people, so that’s some major growth for the character. Unfortunately, this change of ethos is not acknowledged on screen in any way, which makes it look Superman has decided not to kill people solely because people complained in Man of Steel, which I can say with absolute certainty is how Zack Snyder made the same decision.
So people hate Superman for the carnage he caused in Man of Steel?
Well, it’s why Batman hates him. But people love him, at least enough for Metropolis to build a giant, art deco statue of him of him striking a pose (which, I swear to god, from a certain angle looks a great deal like he’s flipping off the normal sized human standing by the statue. It is accidentally perfect). Except sometimes the world doesn’t love him, like after he’s “framed” after rescuing Lois, who’s interviewing a terrorist/warlord in Nairobi.
How is he framed?
I have no clue. Somehow Lois is accompanied both by the CIA and mercenaries (eventually revealed to be hired by Lex Luthor), all disguised as photojournalists. Eventually a giant firefight starts between those two groups and the terrorists until the despot grabs Lois and holds a gun to her head, at which point Superman finally arrives and punches the despot through a wall. Unless people somehow think Superman grabbed an assault rifle, the only things we know for sure about this confusing mess of a scene is that Superman didn’t kill anybody or cause anyone to be killed (although one could ask why he let them murder each other and only bothered to show up when Lois was in danger).
This whole scene exists solely so the movie can have the government ask if maybe Superman should be regulated, which exists solely so the government can get in involved with Lex Luthor’s attempt to build an anti-Superman weapon, which itself exists solely so the government can say “Hey, stop making that anti-Superman weapon,” which exists solely so Lex can illegally important a big hunk of kryptonite, which exists so Batman can try to steal it in a giant action set piece (where he murders so many people).