By now, you might have heard a few revelations that have come to light pertaining to the superhero caper, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film, released in 2016, was meant to be a launching pad of sorts for the DCEU as it introduced several members of the Justice League. However, it was one flick that divided its audience.
One of the most talked-about criticisms is with regard to the climax of the film. With Clark’s adoptive mother having been subdued by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, the Man of Steel was presented with an ultimatum: kill the Batman or his mother dies. A fight soon ensues between the two and soon the Caped Crusader gains the upper hand, preparing to finish off Supes with a Kryptonite-tipped spear. However, with one magic word, the fight was over. “Martha”, gasped Clark, as Bruce went into a stupor, wide-eyed with confusion. “Save… Martha…” to which the Dark Knight screamed:
This key act has been the subject of mockery from BvS detractors, with a host of parodies highlighting the Martha coincidence. Indeed, many have accused it of being a cheapskate resolution to the conflict between the two caped heroes. However, its fans have defended the decision, arguing instead that the scene has a deeper meaning to it, whereby the humanity of the characters are exposed.
Zack Snyder recently gave a breakdown of the scene while he was hosting a live commentary for Batman V Superman on the social media app Vero. Explaining that the focal point of the scene went beyond the tale of two Marthas, Snyder said that it was meant to highlight Bruce’s character development and humanity. Here’s what he said (via Screenrant):
“[Superman] gets a shot in on the helmet. Kind of breaks it. You know, which is also symbolic. I like this idea that Batman’s mask is being removed, revealing his true nature. He’s literally not- his face is not hidden anymore, so this is really his true intent. [The world only makes sense] if you force it to. Which I think sort of sums up his philosophy, he’s come all the way to this notion that he can only live in a world if he forces it into a morality that he can justify.
But in the end, he’s about to discover that…his actions can easily go too far and he can become…what he hates, how this is the very thing he’s fighting against. And then sees he’s basically turned into the murder of his parents in a way because he’s allowing them to kill Martha. So, is he responsible for the death of Martha? Has he become basically 100% the thing that he- blinded by hatred, he’s become the thing he hates.”
Yes, Snyder’s comments have essentially reaffirmed what BvS fans have been saying all this time. It was an unravelling of Bruce’s humanity. One second, he was on top of a godlike figure, but that simple whisper of a familiar name forces him to reflect on his values, bringing him back down to earth. Would he be willing to turn into a despicable creature, having killed another Martha? And that is where the Bat yielded.
Personally, I find his explanation pretty darn interesting. Snyder is known to rely heavily on visual imagery, which can be cool to look at, but sometimes the allusions and metaphorical plots get lost in translation. So, it certainly is great that he sat down for three hours to pore through one of his most debated films.
While I dig the new depth that has been given, I can only say that I am 80% on board with Snyder’s explanation. In terms of Bruce’s development, yes, I believe it served a purpose. However, again, why did Superman have to utter his mother’s name instead of just stating that he needs to save her? Was that realistically the last word that ran through his mind before potentially getting stabbed to death? I don’t know. It’s still pretty baffling to me but I guess that’s a whole other discussion for another day…