Zack Snyder’s ‘Batman v Superman’ Deserves A Second Chance
Batman v Superman is now 4 years old and the debate still runs hot. Was Zack Snyder‘s epic superhero flick good or bad? The director recently provided live commentary while streaming BvS: Ultimate Edition and gave insight on the film’s direction. I decided to rewatch the film for the first time, more specifically, the 3-hour Extended Cut, now that I know the context behind the story. This resulted in a complete 180 from my original negative opinion…
Ben Affleck as Batman
First thing’s first — Ben Affleck‘s Batman my favorite iteration of the Dark Knight. It’s an unpopular opinion, but let me explain. His look is spot on, he’s ruthlessly brutal and he is definitely not quick to trust.
I love the idea of Bruce Wayne being in Metropolis during the events of Man of Steel and how witnessing the destruction caused by the battle with General Zod fuels his distrust toward Superman. As a viewer, you immediately understand why Batman feels that Superman is a threat to humanity.
What I HATE about Batfleck is the murder. Zack Snyder tries to explain this away by saying it’s a ‘realistic’ approach to the character. Here’s his response when a Reddit user questioned the decision to make Batman a killer:
Snyder: “Someone says to me like, ‘Oh! Batman killed a guy!’ I’m like, ‘Fuck, really?’ I’m like, ‘Wake the fuck up!’ That’s what I’m saying about once you’ve lost your virginity to this fucking movie and then you come and say to me something about like, ‘Oh, my superhero wouldn’t do that,’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious? I’m like down the fucking road on that.’ You know what I mean?”
That’s gonna be a ‘no’ from me, dog. Batman is a lot of things, but a killer is not one of them. It’s an integral part of his identity, and taking that away completely changes who he is to fans.
Superman’s Lack of Character
2013’s Man of Steel doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s a beautiful and grounded take on Clark Kent, a super-powered alien who grows up as a normal human boy on Earth. It shows us his struggle to accept the fact he’s not like the rest of us and having to hide it to avoid persecution.
The movie does an outstanding job serving as an introduction to Clark Kent … but not Superman.
In BvS, 18-months have passed since the events of Man of Steel. The world is now aware of Superman’s existence and he’s been busy being a hero in this time.
We’re shown a montage of his heroic acts but we never get to see or hear Clark’s perspective of the situation. What are his opinions on the responsibility he now carries? What does he hope his presence instills on humanity? Does he have a goal? Sadly, we never find out.
Snyder claims Superman’s morality is one of the biggest focal points of the film. How he sees what’s right and what’s wrong and what he does about it. None of this is apparent though. Most, if not all, of his scenes are reactionary. He’s responding to an event in which we can see him in action, but we don’t get to see or hear the though process.
However, I absolutely love the view and imagery of Superman as godlike. Some of my favorite shots in the film are of citizens reacting in awe of him rescuing others.
Lex Luthor’s Plan
Okay. This one is hard to wrap my brain around even with the added context of the film’s extended cut. I’ll try my best to quickly gather the gist of it all …
Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, wants to import debris and remnants of Zod’s terraforming machine-thing from Man of Steel. The crashed ship now sits ‘somewhere in the Indian Ocean’ (that’s literally what the movie says) and Lex learns there’s a trove of kryptonite, which he wants to use to power his technology.
Lex doesn’t like the idea that the world is now relying on Superman to keep them safe. He wants to weaponize the kryptonite and use it as protection against potential future threats, which Superman may be one day. However, a senator blocks the import of the kryptonite and now he wants to prove why he needs it.
His plan? Frame Superman for odd explosions and killings. Or … something? He also lures Batman into the situation to help potentially kill Superman. We obviously know why Batman would want to do that, but why would Lex Luthor know that?
Also, was it part of Lex’s plan to have Batman steal the kryptonite from him in the first place? If not, then why even think Batman could stop Superman to begin with? None of it makes much sense, but it only gets worse.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the infamous ‘Martha’ moment, Zack explains that as well. He says the moment was meant to show Batman’s realization that Superman is a person with a mother, just like everyone else. The fight didn’t end because his mom shares a name with his mom. A solid explanation BUT one that could’ve been more apparent had Superman’s character been fleshed out some more.
After failing to get Batman and Superman to kill each other, despite an extremely badass fight scene between the two, he executes his backup plan — release Doomsday.
I know what you’re thinking — if Lex Luthor wants to prove Superman is dangerous, why unleash an unstoppable killing machine on the world? He’s a bigger threat than Superman! What if Doomsday just killed Superman? Batman surely couldn’t stop him. Wonder Woman might be able to, but as far as we’re concerned, she’s not even part of his plan to begin with.
Speaking of which, Wonder Woman is just there. We’re led to believe Lex Luthor is aware she’s a metahuman, you know, because he had that video of her using an ATM. Other than that, the only reason she’s even in Metropolis at this time is to retrieve a photo of herself that Lex has for some reason.
In fact, Lex is apparently aware of Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg as well. Why not enlist one of them to be the one to fight Superman? Instead, he chose the one hero without superpowers to take on the invincible ‘threat’.
Some say Wonder Woman technically could’ve delivered the final blow to Doomsday with the kryptonite spear, but Superman had to die somehow, right?
The Death of Superman
Everyone knew it was coming. Superman kills Doomsday but not without dying himself. Why aren’t we sad about it? Oh, probably because we never get a chance to really get to know Superman. The only person who really seems to know him is Lois Lane, and she technically has barely known him for a little over a year herself.
Superman’s death falls flat and is immediately undone when we see the dirt floating above his casket in the final shot. Even if it was Snyder’s intention of resurrecting Superman in Justice League, he could’ve saved it all for that film.
All that being said …
Why I Now Enjoy Batman v Superman
I’m not denying plot holes exist in the movie, but what film doesn’t have them? After hearing Zack Snyder’s commentary and hopes for not only BvS, but for the franchise moving forward, I now have a newfound respect.
Snyder explains the film was supposed to set up an epic 5-movie arc. We caught a glimpse of what could’ve been during the ‘Knightmare’ sequence in which we see Ezra Miller‘s Flash appear before Bruce Wayne with an eerie warning.
He claims there would’ve been a ‘future film’ that sees Batman and Cyborg send Flash back in time to prevent Lois Lane’s death. Apparently Lane’s death would set forth a series of events resulting in Superman siding with DC’s big bad, Darkseid.
Whether this film was supposed to be Justice League or even the upcoming Flash movie, we don’t know. In fact, it could likely still happen in Ezra Miller’s standalone film, and even undo some of the errors in the previous movies. Wishful thinking.
I don’t know about you guys, but that all sounds like a BADASS story arc if you ask me. If it turned out that a future film, one where Flash has to issue the warning to Bruce in BvS, ended up explaining everything, how epic would that be?!
Snyder also let us in on plans for an already-established character to reveal himself as the Martian Manhunter! Yes, Snyder planned to have the character General Swanwick, played by Harry Lennix, reveal himself to be none other than J’onn J’onzz. Lt. General Swanwick made his debut back in 2013’s Man of Steel, and this explains why he was included in BvS as well. What an awesome reveal that would’ve been!
The Batman v Superman Extended Cut provided much needed context and made me appreciate what Zack Snyder was trying to do. It’s not without its missteps, but definitely not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I urge you all to read Snyder’s remarks on the making of the film and give the extended cut a try. It’s not something you should have to do as a viewer, but it helps.
In the 4 years since the release of the film, DC shelled out more into the franchise — Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Aquaman, Shazam and Birds of Prey. Studios are currently working on future releases such as Wonder Woman 1984, Flashpoint and The Batman, but it’s unclear if DC’s cinematic universe survived the controversy.
Although I might not be as enthusiastic as some fans, I’m definitely interested in seeing the Snyder Cut of 2017’s Justice League.