Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an undeniable success in the box office; the $181.06 million it racked up domestically over the past four days is the largest ever for an Easter-opening weekend. That doesn’t mean everybody was satisfied. Zack Snyder’s blockbuster only has 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the lowest-rated blockbuster superhero movies of the millennium.
Some have said Batman v. Superman was too dark to be compelling — but so was Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. However, those films operated with a careful attention to both thrill and logic; Batman v. Superman’s logic — as you’ll see below — cut corners to be in service of the thrills. It also completely ignores some of foundational aspects of the star characters. Batman typically errs away from using guns, has sworn never to deliberately kill, and is dedicated to protecting the weak. Here, he’s using gun turrets for threat elimination.
But this is the movie we’re left with to examine. If you were lost at some of Batman v. Superman’s plot points, allow us to break down five of them for you.
Although General Zod is still dead after Superman kills him in Man of Steel, his ghost still hangs over much of the plot. Bruce Wayne is a first-hand witness to the death and destruction caused by the two superpowers, which plants the seed for his mistrust of Superman. Lex Luthor eventually gets a hold of Zod’s corpse and genetically manipulates it to birth Doomsday. The film never clearly explains why Luthor was willing to create a creature that could kill millions, but it is what it is.
Lois Lane’s Trip
Near the movie’s first act, Lois Lane is in Nairomi, Africa on a journalistic assignment when she ends up getting caught up in a hostage situation. In the resulting chaos, multiple men (including CIA, mercenaries, and Jimmy Olsen — yes, that Jimmy Olsen) are shot and killed. Basically, the main consequence is that it gives the public a reason to despise Superman, which is absurd: the fact that the men were gunned down immediately disproves suspicion.
The misunderstanding and casualties force Superman to defend himself at a Congressional hearing at the U.S. Capitol, where Lex Luthor sets off a bomb that kills virtually everyone in the building.
The bizarre scene’s main purpose is to make Batman further paranoid about Superman’s existence. Scarecrow never releases his fear gas or make an appearance, but somehow, Batman is creeped out enough to imagine a murderous Superman leading some kind of Nazi state. The vision, in addition to Superman trashing his Batmobile, gives him motivation to start inventing the kryptonite weaponry that he later uses to beat Superman.
Batman v. Superman
While the dream and General Zod incident give Batman a reason to antagonize the Son of Jor-El, Luthor instigates the fight by threatening to kill Superman’s mother if he doesn’t kill Batman. If that motivator doesn’t make sense, you’re not alone. If Superman is able to sense Lois Lane’s distress in Africa, shouldn’t he be able to do the same for his mom in Smallville? Superman’s main superpower isn’t intelligence, but isn’t he wise enough to be able to outdo the plot and not give in to Luthor’s scheme? And if Superman “must” kill Batman, why is he taking measures not to through most of the fight?
It doesn’t feel like it makes sense because it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the explanation the film gives us. Batman defeats Superman, and just as he’s about to kill him with a kryptonite spear, Batman relents because he hears his foe scream “save Martha.” Superman’s mother shares the same name as Batman’s.
Why does Luthor want to kill Superman? The film never really explains it through anything more than philosophical babble about gods and devils. He’s never developed enough as a character for us to believe his fall from mildly neurotic to dangerously psychotic.
Luthor ends up in jail rambling about how, although Batman won against Superman and Doomsday, the bells are already ringing. It’s less weird when you know it’s related to a scene Warner Bros. deleted. In it, Luthor is apparently captured by a demon-like being who could be Yuga Khan, Darkseid’s father. Luthor is foreshadowing the upcoming Justice League film.