Discuss: Does 'Batman v Superman' Fix Some 'Man of Steel' Issues?
by Alex Billington
July 14, 2015
After years of speculative buzz, Zack Snyder finally unveiled a complete look at where the future of DC is headed at Comic-Con with an extended trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Technically speaking, this is a sequel to Man of Steel, but Zack is adamant to remind fans that this is the beginning of something new (meaning: Justice League and other DC movies) and not so much a sequel to Superman's re-imagined origin. That said, it's clear with some of the footage in the trailer that these two movies connect directly. There's a shot of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) on the ground in Metropolis watching Supes fight Zod as buildings collapse around him. This changes everything about Man of Steel. Or does it?
Editor's Note: almost everything that is being discussed in this is purely speculative, as we've only seen barely three minutes of footage between two different trailers. Zack is known for being very particular and extremely talented at showing scenes that cause an immense amount of excitement before release. So, while yes all will be revealed when the movie hits theaters next March, for now this is just a fun discussion.
To jump right into this, I will admit that I like Snyder's Man of Steel. A lot. I loved how gritty and real his take was, and since I have no connection to the comic book character, I was fine with the changes. But the critics really hated Man of Steel. They tore Zack a new one over many problems, but none greater than the wanton destruction in Metropolis. And, of course, Zod's death. Mostly because it seems like such a potential betrayal of the character of Superman, but upon further examination it actually is a very complex moment. Similar to the way Batman lets Ra's al Ghul die at the end of Batman Begins, it's a more deeper and genuine examination of how an actual person would handle the choice between the death of many or death of one.
Well, it turns out that apparently Batman saw the other side of this. He saw all the destruction, the mayhem, he watched Metropolis crumble around him. Zack revealed during the Hall H panel that Metropolis and Gotham are neighbors (in his world), across the bay from each other. From there, we can only assume (at this point) that Bruce Wayne is very affected when Metropolis (and other parts of the planet) are destroyed and this "Superman" behind all of it is utterly irresponsible. He let these people die. That's the thing - from what we see, this idea is the beginning of the new Batman v Superman storyline. And I think it's brilliant.
A fan already cut together the action sequence from Man of Steel with the new Batman v Superman shots:
The question at hand, however, is whether or not these "retconned" fixes make the complaints about the wanton destruction moot. During its lashing upon release, Man of Steel received the most criticism for its final third act, which is when Zod and Superman battle and Metropolis is destroyed, and lots of crazy things happen. If, as it seems, Batman v Superman explains rather nicely how other people were affected by this destruction, does it make those criticisms obsolete? We don't know the answer to this question yet (and won't until Batman v Superman is released) but there's actually another big question to ask as part of this.
What if Zack Snyder, and the team at Warner Bros responsible for developing the new DC universe, actually planned all of this out? Again, this is pure speculation, but what if all that destruction and death actually plays right into the Batman v Superman storyline which then plays right into the Justice League storyline, and even connects with Suicide Squad? What if they actually had the foresight to plan an extended multiple-movie story that examines these themes about destruction and death and morality. And what if it wasn't actually a betrayal of the Superman character, but rather an astute telegraphed exploration of a new Superman, one that must actually deal with the weight of morality as its presented to us in the "real world."
It's basically the whole "consequences" argument - someone does something that should have consequences, and if they don't have consequences, it seems odd. But there are consequences to Superman's "betrayal", we just don't learn about them until the next movie in this series. If that's true, and this comes to light when Batman v Superman is released, then all those criticisms would be obsolete. But here's another idea to consider - what if what we're seeing in Batman v Superman is a response to those criticisms. What if Zack, and the DC team, heard all of that and said "you know what, we'll address all this in the next movie." Does that still achieve the same effect? Does it change Man of Steel at all? Does it make it a better movie, or not?
I'm sure many will say "but there's other problems with Man of Steel". Yes indeed, everyone has their own opinion about it, but I think the truly objective issues might actually be addressed down the road (whether that's in Batman v Superman or Justice League or other movies). It's a very interesting idea to think about: what if they really planned this all out? What if we're all being too critical of one movie when we should be appreciating a storyline (and all the consequences that come with it) continuing across multiple movies? (Just like in TV!) Yes, I know that a movie should speak for itself and stand on its own, but it just makes you wonder. What is Zack really up to? And can a sequel make up for some mistakes made in the original movie?
In the new footage from Batman v Superman that we saw, there are a number of really surprising moments. From seeing Bruce Wayne watching Superman fighting Zod, to the things Martha Kent tells Superman about "be their hero, be their angel… or be none of it", to the senate meeting and shot of the Superman protestors outside the courthouse. What I appreciate about Zack Snyder's version of Superman is that it's no longer a comic book character, it's a real person, a real being on a real planet. It's the idea of what if this really happened on Earth today. What would a being like that think about, what kind of issues would he struggle with, if there was someone (and many others) that were that powerful. And if he lets people die, knowing he can save them, how can he really cope with that? Does it create enemies? Does he lose all the goodwill he earned from the people of the planet he's not even from? Does it matter if there are answers in one movie?
The answer to some of these questions is yes - because we've seen glimpses in the new Batman v Superman trailer. We see that people don't like Superman anymore because so many people were killed in Metropolis. We see Zod's dead body being brought in by the government. We finally see the consequences of his actions. Does that make up for Man of Steel? I'm not sure. But it sure does make you think. And I love movies that make you think, that ask challenging questions that might not have straightforward answers. Thoughts?