Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice could possibly be the most contentious film in cinematic history. While on the surface there seems to be an overwhelming majority of people who who at best think the film is seriously flawed or at worst think the film is completely awful, there is a vocal contingent who love the movie and can’t understand why the critics can’t see how great it is. These proponents seldom come out with solid facts to back up their point of view, and often fall back on the “they’re just haters” defense.
However, we now have a person who is willing to set us all straight. Leroy Dee of Outright Geekery published an article titled “Top 5 misunderstood plot points of Batman V Superman” and in it he tells us what we got wrong about those plot points. This would be beneficial if Dee was actually correct in the correction he was giving us.
The five plot points that we all get wrong are as follows: 5. People think the Africa subplot was to frame Superman for killing the warlord’s troops when it was just to cause confusion about Supes’ place in the world,; 4. Batman killing was seen as being out of character when it really wasn’t; 3. Blaming Supes for not stopping Martha from being kidnapped is unfair because he wasn’t powerful enough to stop it; 2. Criticizing Supes for not giving Wonder Woman the spear to go after Doomsday with is wrong because it is against his character; and 1. “Martha” was a prompt to make Batman realize that he had become all that he fought against.
Let’s take these in order, shall we?
The fact that the Africa scenes were meant to be more evidence that Supes might be a troubling, uncontrollable force in the world is not in doubt. The problem is that the scenes are so confusing, audiences have no idea how they are supposed to be illustrating Supes’ threat to the world.
Dee’s theory can only work if you discount the magic bullet Lois found in Narobi. But the film makes a point of saying how important the Lexcorp created bullet is. Maybe I fell asleep and dreamed this plot point, because I haven’t found anything to confirm this in the Internet, but I believe the “Deep Throat” scenes between Secretary Swanwick and Lois established that the special bullets created by Luthor were meant to replicate Superman’s heat vision. That was the frame job, trying to give the impression that Supes killed the fighters with his heat vision, not just causing chaos around Supes involvement.
But regardless. The subplot was unnecessary. We don’t need another scene where Superman becomes a threat to the world. Supes destroyed most of Metropolis in the last film, killing hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That should be enough to have the world be wary of him and get him in front of the Senate. The time dedicated to this subplot should have been used to build up Lex Luthor’s and Wallace Keefe’s (Scoot McNairy) characters
4. Batman’s Affinity for Killing
Dee does have a point about how the film version of Batman has less hesitation about killing the bad guys than the comic book version is. My main qualm about Batman being a killer is this: why did he let the Joker live? I know it’s because the Joker is a cool character who sells a lot of merchandise, but in a story sense, if Batman is getting rid of lackeys like they were used Kleenex, why does he lets the guy who killed Robin live?
And if Suicide Squad takes place at the same time as Batman v. Superman, it appears that the Robin-killing Joker is still alive. Hopefully the DCEU will examine this blip in the future, but as it stands, Bats letting a homicidal maniac like the Joker live makes his killing a bunch of goons protecting a glowing rock seem less badass.
3. Martha Kent’s kidnapping
I’ll be willing to suspend disbelief as to Supes not being able to stop his mom being kidnapped. I mean, yeah, he loves Lois, so he knows whenever she is in trouble and arrives just in time to save the day no matter how far away from her in the world he is. His mom? The woman who raised him and instilled his sense of values? The one he he runs to so he can cry on her shoulder? Yeah, it’s just too much for him to keep track of her in the same way. She’s safe, because it’s not like anyone can figure out his secret identity. I mean, other than Lois, who figured it out pretty easily in the last film. It’s a lot to swallow, but I would be able to let that slide.
However, even with a limited power set, Supes should have been able to rescue Martha from being held hostage, considering it seems she was being held within a 20 mile radius of him during the confrontation with Lex. He should know her heartbeat like the back of his hand, which would allow him to locate her in Luthor’s warehouse. And he has super speed, so it should be no sweat for him to get to her and rescue her before Luthor ever sent the kill order. But the writers needed her as a hostage to make him and Bats fight, so they ignored his power set to allow it to happen. That’s lazy writing.
2. Wonder Woman as spear wielder
Dee seems to think that the only way Wonder Woman could have carried the spear was if Supes wimped out and made her attack Doomsday with it. He forgets that Supes was out of pocket for a while when Doomsday was on his rampage, getting his “ripped off from Dark Knight Returns solar rejuvenation”. Bats knew about the spear. He or WW could have used it. But since it was kryptonite, it might have weakened Doomsday enough so WW and Bats could defeat him, negating the need for Supes to make the noble sacrifice.
But since the writers wanted the noble sacrifice, all other more logical plot options were off the table. And when characters act against all logic and reason just to advance a certain version of the plot, that makes for a bad film.
1. “Martha” as a catalyst
This is just Dee projecting something on the film that wasn’t there. There is nothing in the scene that even hints that “Martha” triggered a “I have become what I hate most” moment in Bats. Nothing.
I mean, if that was the case, that his life was shown to be a lie, Bats should be a wreck after that. But no, he shows no signs of lingering trauma, and just goes on to immediately save Martha like he hadn’t spent the entire movie trying to kill her son.
I can see why Dee would want to give Bats a stronger motivation that just have his mother and Supes’ mother share the same name. Because that is a silly means to have him reverse two hours of film and a year and a half in story of him wanting to kill Supes. We need something more substantial and well defined. But “Martha” was all we got. And its one of the weakest parts of the film.
Leroy Dee at least tries to give an argument for his point of view. However, as arrogantly as he approaches the subject, his logic is still flawed. And the argument over the quality of the film still goes on.