baffling questions 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' refused to answer
The movie is out and the results are in: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (referred to beyond this point as BvS) is a hot mess. It simply buckles under its own weight. The film is trying to juggle a Superman sequel, a Batman origin story, an epic showdown between titans, a set-up for a decade's worth of sequels, and be an indictment on superheroes in general. Done well it could’ve been a colorful mosaic. Instead it's the muddy brown mess you got as a kid when you mixed all the finger paint colors together.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BvS BEYOND THIS POINT. SERIOUSLY. MAJOR SPOILERS.
Starring Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), and Amy Adams (Lois Lane), BvS is a two-hour trailer for the future of Warner Bros. partnership with DC Comics and 10 minutes of Lex Luthor forcing Batman and Superman to fight each other as if he’s a modern-day Roman emperor. Basically, if you loved The Amazing Spider-Man 2, you’ll love Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. For the rest of us? Ehhhhhh. With little rhyme, reason, or connective tissue holding individual scenes together, BvS left more questions than I can possibly cover in a single article. But I’m gonna try.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#1: Why did we need to see Batman’s parents die again?
Is there a person alive on Earth that doesn’t know how Bruce Wayne’s parents died? Between the movies, the cartoons, the television shows, the comics, and pop culture osmosis, I’m pretty sure babies come into this world knowing that Batman was born when his parents were shot in an alley. Why show this again? The visual of Martha Wayne’s pearls getting wrapped around the gun as she tried to save her family was compelling. But did we really need a DC universe where Mrs. Wayne had to have a closed casket funeral due to clearly being shot in the face?
#2: Is Batman a magical girl?
In for a penny, in for a pound. BvS decided we also need to relive the moment young Bruce becomes obsessed with bats. You know the story. Bruce Wayne fell into a cave full of bats that flew into his face and scarred him for life but also gave him the idea for his alter ego. Only in this version, the bats circle Bruce, raising him up in the updraft. Arms spread, young Bruce ascends into the light. The light being a graveyard, not heaven. It’s also a dream. I think? There are so many hallucination/dreams in this movie, it’s hard to tell reality from metaphor.
#3: Did you even notice they killed Jimmy Olsen?
You know that photographer that accompanied Lois Lane to the fictional desert country of Nairomi? The one that was using a film camera in 2015 (we know the movie is set in 2015 because Lex Luthor keeps impeccable records)? The one that gets shot — execution style — while Lois Lane is forced to watch? That wasn’t some nameless peon. The credits list actor Michael Cassidy of none other than Jimmy Olsen. Yep. The movie didn’t even bother to name him before killing him off.
#4: What happened in that desert?
A lot of the plot of BvS revolves around an international incident in Nairomi. One where Superman is supposedly responsible for death and destruction. An incident we as the audience never see? There’s even a Congressional hearing in which a resident of Nairomi is brought in to lambast the man of steel because — as Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) puts it “The world needs to know what happened.” So does the audience! The only thing we saw were two groups of terrorists turn on each other. Then Superman showed up and saved Lois. There were experimental bullets given to the turncoat terrorists by LexCorp, but we never find out how or why Luthor was funding these people or why they turned on their comrades. Most baffling of all is how this could be construed as Superman’s fault. He was there for 30 seconds, tops.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#5: How quickly can you form a Congressional hearing?
The woman from Nairomi is pointing an accusatory finger at Superman in front of United States committee around the same time Lois Lane is getting into the bathtub and digging a bullet out of her journal. So either Lane took forever to examine that journal or the timeline for government inquests is MUCH faster in this universe. Also, why does the United States think it has jurisdiction to control Superman? No one knows he grew up in Kansas. How is this not, at least, a United Nations issue?
#6: Who designed that Metropolis memorial?
If the 9/11 imagery in the beginning of BvS wasn’t obvious enough for you, the film returns to Ground Zero several times throughout the film. Once to visit (and deface) and memorial and once to completely destroy it. But who thought to put Superman front and center, surrounded by the names of the dead, would be a good idea? A good portion of the American populace blames him for the destruction. I doubt the victims’ families want to see the face of the man/alien that destroyed their lives every time the visit the memorial.
#7: Should Batman ever be a horror movie villain?
Rhetorical question. No. But here we have him, skulking around in an abandoned warehouse and clinging to the ceiling like a third-rate possessed child in a Japanese horror film. Sure Batman saved the sex slaves (yes, there is talk of sex trafficking in a Superman movie) but even the women are afraid of him. The cops and audience have to listen to the screams of the criminal as Batman brands him off-screen. The whole thing is weird. Then again, this is also a Batman who is branding criminals knowing it’ll get them killed in jail, a Batman that stabs people, a Batman that will shoot people from the Batmobile with the same face you or I have while stuck in commuter traffic. Batman is damaged, but he’s not a psychopath.
#8: Why does this movie hate women?
Wonder Woman is a smoke screen. Don’t let her fool you. This movie has no concern for female characters and if Wonder Woman wasn’t hitting theaters in 2017, I’d bet you a shiny nickel she wouldn’t have come out of BvS unscathed. There’s Lois Lane, thrice damseled and suffering from personality whiplash as the plot demands. There’s Martha Wayne, killed in the opening scene. There’s Martha Kent (Diane Lane), abducted, tortured, and branded a “witch” in what looks like blood on her forehead. There’s Senator Finch, killed to further Lex Luthor’s vague goals. There’s Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto). Who’s that, you ask? The very quiet Asian woman running Luthor’s life and supposedly one of the only people he cares about. Only here she’s killed off without a second thought. There’s Barbara Gordon (Jena Malone), mercifully cut from the film for time. Oh! There’s also the nameless Asian sex slaves.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#9: What is up with the obsession with horses?
This was just weird. Horses kept showing up randomly. Scaring Bruce Wayne in the smoke after the attack on Metropolis, rearing back as a police officer rode one into the fray, pulling the coffin at the end of the film. I kept waiting for Batman to saddle up, but no luck.
#10: Explain yourself, Lex Luthor.
Everything in BvS hinges on Lex Luthor. He is the driving the plot. But little to nothing of what he does is explained or even makes any sense. If your A-Plot needs Luthor to hate Superman, you need to throw the audience a bone as to why. At first, Luthor fears Superman (or his people) taking over the Earth. Later it’s because Luthor has issues with religion. Later still, it’s because of daddy issues. Finally, the film settles on Luthor wants to be the one with the power. But flitting from reason to reason is not the same as giving the character some emotionally resonant logic.
Did Lex lose people he loved in the fight between Zod and Superman? What spurred Lex’s desire to track, categorize, and give branded logos to the world’s metahumans? What is his involvement in the experimental bullets? Why is he dealing in sex trafficking? Who cares? The movie sure doesn’t!
Instead, Luthor feels unhinged. It’s as if BvS needed to use a Superman villain, but they really wanted to use the Joker. Around the time Luthor has Lois and Martha Kent kidnapped (which how did he even know Superman’s alter ego?) and uses an egg timer to show the clock is ticking on Martha’s life, all traces of Luthor disappear. His character is completely subsumed by the Joker. They try to pull it out at the end by showing Luthor has cracked. Is he being controlled by Darkseid? Who cares? The movie sure doesn’t!
#11: Did it ever occur to Superman to save the injured in the Congressional explosion?
Dude. People are ON FIRE. Don’t just stand there looking detached and slightly sad. Do something heroic! You’ll fly to another country to save one girl from a burning factory but won’t lift a finger to see if anyone survived the blast? What is wrong with you?
#12: Why is no one calling Batman “Batman”?
The only person to call Bruce by his superhero name in BvS is Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and that’s in a fit of rage over Clark’s obsession with “the Bat Man”. Everyone else calls him “The Bat” or “The Bat of Gotham.” Does this movie really want us to believe Batman has been fighting crime for decades and STILL doesn’t have his moniker? Come on.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#13: Did Scarecrow manipulate all these dreams/hallucinations behind the scenes?
Between Magical Girl Batman™, the Wayne family crypt oozing blood before cracking open to reveal a giant bat-monster, Superman talking to his dead dad, Luthor’s growing insanity, and the entire “maybe future” sequence, there’s a lot of dream nonsense going on in BvS. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the entire film was one long hallucination brought on some new toxin created by the Scarecrow.
#14: Why was that “maybe future” sequence even IN the film?
I don’t know why people keep trying to give Batman guns. It is the fetch of comic books. Stop trying to make it happen. Having Batman plow through Justice Lord Superman’s goons looks cool, but it served no narrative purpose. Unless you’re an uber-fan, it just feels like you tripped and fell into a different movie. Having The Flash(?) show up to warn Batman he was right all along was confusing, especially with the dream-within-a-dream structure. And none of it even matters at the end. Was it a dream? A premonition? Who cares? All together now: The movie sure doesn’t!
#15: Shouldn’t Superman be worried about what happened to the remains of Zod?
There are some people that confused “good” with “naive.” Superman is usually the former, but rarely the latter. So why does he not seem to care that the only other Kryptonian is in the hands of the U.S. government? A government clearly bent on brining Superman to heel. They’re in possession of Zod’s body, the Kryptonian ship, and apparently a ton of information vital to Superman’s heritage and future. Yet the man of steel shows no interest in recovering either the biological remains of his people or their technology.
#16: Explain yourself, Kryptonian ship.
Speaking of, what is going on with that ship? What are those weird squid floating around in the amniotic fluid? Why does the computer speak English? Why does the ship just let Lex take over? Would it allow anyone who made it in to assume command? That seems like a security flaw. Why is there a room to make abominations in? Why would you need human blood to create Doomsday? Why would Lex Luthor want to create a monster he couldn’t control? How would he even know how to make said monster? Shouldn’t the incubation time be longer on making world-destroying creatures?
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#17: What is this huge abandoned district in Gotham?
Why is it partly submerged underwater? Why are there still cars left for Doomsday to throw at Wonder Woman? What happened here? I know Snyder was reacting to the criticism of Man of Steel, but there has to be a middle ground between “KILL ALL HUMANS” and “There are no stakes because the heroes are trying to rescue civilians from imminent doom.”
#18: Why does Wonder Woman care about that photo Lex has?
Come on girl, you’re smarter than this. So he has a photo of you from 1918? Who cares. Approximately zero people will believe it’s you. Just say it’s your grandma and isn’t the likeness uncanny, genetics are so fascinating. Boom. Problem solved.
#19: Who thought Batman would change his mind about Superman that easily?
Batman has spent the last 18 months of his life obsessively trying to find a way to stop Superman before the Kryptonian changes his mind about humanity and kills us all. But all it takes it finding out Superman’s Earth mom has the same first name as his, and suddenly Bruce Wayne wants to be best friends? What? Who wrote this part? SHAME.
#20: Does Superman have some sort of tracking beacon on Lois?
Seriously. He just always knows when she’s in danger. Underwater? Save the day. Falling from a skyscraper? Save the day. Halfway across the world with a gun to her head? Save the day. This feels like stalking. Lois needs to have a conversation about boundaries with her boyfriend.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
#21: How did Lois know about the spear?
First of all, why did she throw it in the water? It’s the only weapon on Earth that can kill her boyfriend. You don’t chuck it into an abandoned cellar where any two-bit criminal can fish it out. You hold onto it until you can destroy it. On top of that, no one told Lois that Doomsday was from Krypton. Unless she’s telepathic, there was no way for her to know she needed to retrieve it so the Trinity could take out the cave troll. Side note: what blackmail does Lois have on Perry that she was able to commandeer a helicopter for personal reasons?
#22: Why did Clark mail the engagement ring to Smallville?
I know Lois is a reporter and reporters can be nosy, but what purpose does this serve? Even if Clark was going to propose in Smallville — a very Clark thing to do — he’d just bring the ring with him? This scene was specifically there to make the pain of losing Superman all the more real. Why not have Lois find the ring while cleaning Clark’s things up at the apartment if they had to have the ring? Of course, the mourning montage rings hollow since the audience is well aware Justice League is on the horizon.