I don’t think Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a terrible movie. There are many enjoyable moments throughout but unfortunately, it felt like Zack Snyder was given a beautiful assortment of puzzle pieces that he didn’t quite know how to put together properly. The film we were left with was a very pretty but ultimately disappointing mess.
So how do we make it better?
For those who’ve never read my ramblings before, I rewrite movies that disappointed me in some way. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re broken or they’re bad films, they’re just movies that I think could be improved.
Keep in mind that Chris Terrio wrote the screenplay and I’m in no way suggesting that I can write a better movie than an Academy Award winner. This is just my version of the film that as a fan, I think I would enjoy more.
I’ll try to stick as close as I can to what we got since this is about improving the film, not scrapping everything and writing a new one completely. The puzzle pieces are all there, they just need to be put together in the right way.
Let’s fix Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
WARNING: Obviously, this contains spoilers.
PROLOGUE: THE BATTLE OF METROPOLIS
We begin the same way as the theatrical cut, opening on the night where Thomas and Martha Wayne died. While this wasn’t necessarily needed since everyone and their dog knows Batman’s origin story, I thought it was a beautiful scene. We don’t need to regurgitate Batman’s origin again but it’s not bad to be succinctly and poignantly reminded of his motivation as a hero.
This transitions into Metropolis as an adult Bruce Wayne watches the city burn. We see the final battle for the fate of Metropolis through his eyes as he drives through the city that is collapsing around him. Bruce arrives at Wayne Tower as it crumbles into dust, too late to save his friends and employees. He saves as many people as he can from the rubble but in the end, he’s utterly helpless while the battle between Superman and Zod rages above him.
CHAPTER 1: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
2 YEARS LATER
As we come to the present, we see Superman flying from location to location around the world. He stops a bank robbery in Belgium. He stops a falling plane off the coast of France. He holds up a collapsing bridge in Tokyo. All around the planet, Superman is saving people and judging from the big, dumb grin on his face, he seems to be enjoying it.
After a long night of heroics, Superman finally comes home to his apartment and sees that Lois has fallen asleep at her laptop. Dinner has been left untouched on the table. The TV is on with the news buzzing softly in the background – we see images of a civil war in a Middle Eastern country. On the calendar, the date is circled as their anniversary. As Clark tidies up, he can’t help but see the notes on Lois’ screen. She’s writing about the war in Kahndaq.
Lois wakes up and greets Clark with a tender kiss. They they sit together to talk about their day like a normal couple. Soon, their conversation turns to work and they talk about the state of the world. We find out about the civil war in Kahndaq between the current military regime lead by the dictator, Asim Muhunnad and the rebel army trying to liberate their country. Clark suggests that Superman intervene but Lois tells him it might not be the best idea. There are no good guys or bad guys in Kahndaq. Just two sides that want what is best for their people. She warns Clark to tread carefully.
The television piques Clark’s interest as he sees a story about the Bat vigilante resurfacing in Gotham. Lois say the rumours are that the Batman is back and is killing people now. She wants to look into it but she has a lot on her plate. Clark says that he is happy to take the case for her. We can tell that he seems a little disturbed by the idea that there is a man with a cape out there killing people. Perhaps he’s reminded of someone he knows?
Clark is clearly uncomfortable with the way their discussion is heading so they decide to stop talking about work and things begin to get romantic.
Unfortunately, Clark sees a burning building on the news in Mexico. Lois sighs and tells him to go do his thing. Before he leaves, she wishes him a happy anniversary and he flies off into the night. He’s in Mexico in a flash and saves a woman from the burning building. He sets her back down on the ground as the people crowd around him in adoration. He seems uncomfortable with this attention (he’s still a small town farm boy at heart) so he’s almost relieved when he hears another crisis in the distance and he has an excuse to fly off again.
Despite being pulled away from home in the dead of night, there’s still a smile on his face. This is what he was born to do. As we linger upon the S emblazoned on Clark’s chest, it seems as if all is well in the world.
Then we cut to Gotham.
We follow a group of thugs guarding a drug shipment at the docks. The atmosphere is tense. They’re terrified. They talk about Batman and the rumours that he has come back and is now killing people. They are all on edge, guns out and ready for the worst. Unfortunately for them, the worst arrives.
Batman appears from the shadows and takes each of the thugs down in terrifying and brutal fashion. He doesn’t kill them but he sure as hell hurts them. The ring leader runs off with Batman in hot pursuit. The Dark Knight tracks him down to an alley but finds that his prey has been shot in the head. The perpetrator is nowhere to be found. We hear the blaring of sirens and the police arrive to find Batman standing over the body before he disappears into the shadows once more.
Batman returns to the Batcave, less than pleased with tonight’s results. Alfred makes some snide remarks about Bruce slowing down in his old age and suggests that he goes back into retirement. Bruce ignores him and begins to investigate the shootings in his name. Someone is framing him and he wants to know why.
He expresses frustration that the police have turned their back on him. Alfred suggests that Bruce’s increasing brutality since coming out of retirement has made the idea that Batman is now a killer far more believable than it would have been previously. However, according to Bruce, nothing has changed since coming back. Alfred makes the point that after the Superman crisis, Bruce has never been the same. Alfred poses the idea that the lack of power Bruce felt during the crisis was something that he had not felt since he was a boy. This was what spurred him back into action – and this is what is making him lose control. Alfred questions Bruce about the weapons and the new suit he is building. We are shown a prototype suit of armour looming ominously in the background.
Alfred’s not sure what Bruce is planning but whatever it is, it can’t end well. He tells Alfred that he is just preparing for the inevitable as he has always done. Alfred sighs and leaves the cave as Bruce continues to work. He passes what appears to be the ruined costume of Robin on his way out. There seems to be something written on the suit but it goes by too fast to make out exactly what.
We cut to Clark in his farm clothes, floating high above Earth.
He is listening to the cries of help below him. Millions of people are crying out and begging for someone to save them. All of a sudden, he loses his ability to fly and he plummets back to the ground, landing in a ruined Metropolis. All around him, the ghosts of the people killed in Metropolis haunt him. Clark looks down to see the body of Zod at his feet, its neck twisted at an unnatural angle. He chokes back a scream and wakes up, snapping back to reality to find himself in his apartment. He realises that Lois has already left and he rushes off to work.
Clark arrives at the Daily Planet, late and dishevelled as usual. Immediately, he gets an earful from Perry White. Clark asks to be assigned to the Bat Vigilante case but Perry gives him another assignment first – interviewing Lex Luthor. We also find out that Lois has been sent to Kahndaq to write a piece about the civil war.
Clark calls her up and expresses some annoyance that she didn’t tell him. As always, he’s concerned for her safety. She dismisses the thought as this isn’t her first rodeo. She’s been a journalist far longer than he has and doesn’t need his protection every minute of the day. Superman doesn’t need to save everyone. She changes the subject and asks Clark to play nice with Luthor since he is the one funding her trip to Kahndaq.
Clark goes to LexCorp and waits in Lex Luthor’s lobby. He is lead up to Lex’s office and we are introduced to the young billionaire who has taken the world by storm. Eisenberg’s performance was the only outright bad performance. However, since I’m forcing myself to use the puzzle pieces I’ve been given, I’m keeping Eisenberg and I think with a nudge (or really, shove) in the right direction, he could pull off something truly compelling.
Lex greets Clark and they exchange some good natured small talk. This is a very different Lex that we get from the film. The Lex we’re introduced to is humble and soft spoken but possesses a quiet confidence. I want Eisenberg to draw from the vulnerability he displayed in his performances in Zombieland, Adventureland and The Social Network to create a Lex Luthor that – at least when he first appears- is a humble, sincere man that the audience and more importantly, Clark himself can relate to.
They begin to talk about Lex’s accomplishments and Clark praises Lex’s genius as well as his invaluable aid in rebuilding Metropolis after the crisis. Lex just dismisses the praise and says that it’s his job. He did what he had to do. According to Lex, the real hero is Superman. Clark says that many still blame Superman for the invasion ago but Lex dismisses this as well.
Lex tells Clark that he was fascinated by Superman and had entertained the thought that Superman might have a secret identity and might be living among us. Lex points out the startling resemblance between Clark Kent and Kal El.
I should also point out that in this version, the Clark Kent disguise is a little more extensive than the theatrical version. As Clark Kent, Superman changes his posture, wears baggy, unfitting clothing, has a completely different hairstyle and speaks in a different pitch and tone.
Lex reveals that he requested the interview with Clark specifically as he had Clark on a short list of people who could be Superman. But then he realised that a god would never waste his time posing as a human. Lex knows that Superman must be doing all he can to help the people of Earth 24 hours a a day to atone for what he did two years ago. This makes Clark squirm in his seat but Lex continues.
Lex says that Superman’s good deeds have paid off. After the Battle of Metropolis, people hated Superman but with all he has done in the past two years, tirelessly saving lives across the world every day, how could they not love him? Superman might have made mistakes in the past but now, he’s the hero of Metropolis. It’s something Lex says he could never accomplish even after all he has done for the city.
Luthor tells Clark that he wishes he could do what Superman does. Lex is restricted by rules and jurisdiction and by his own physical limitations. But Superman has no boundaries. He can do whatever he wants. This means that the world needs Superman to do what men can’t.
He singles out the crisis in Kahndaq. The entire country is on the brink of collapse because of this conflict and if Lex had Superman’s powers, he could end the war before it gets any worse. He could save an entire country from consuming itself. Before Clark can reply, he hears trouble in the distance and leaves hastily though Lex gives Clark his personal number. He says Clark is welcome any time to finish the interview.
Once Clark is gone, Lex descends from his office into a bunker far below LexCorp. It is as if a switch has been flicked. As he speaks to his lab attendants, his persona changes completely. It’s as stark as the difference between Superman and Clark Kent. This other Lex is cold, snarky and narcissistic. It is revealed that he is in position of a mysterious green stone and as we follow him deeper into the bunker, we find out that he has the body of Zod kept in stasis in what appears to be a modified Kryptonian pod. There are various tubes plugged into Zod’s body. Using a shard of the green stone. Lex begins to cut through the Kryptonian’s skin as if it were butter.
We cut to Lois on the plane to Kahndaq. There is another woman sitting next to her. We learn that the woman is an antiques dealer on the hunt for a valuable artefact she has tracked to the Kahndaq rebellion. Lois asks her if she is worried about the conflict but she assures Lois that she has seen more than a few wars in her lifetime. The woman introduces herself as Diana Prince.
The conversation turns to Superman and Prince wonders why he has not yet intervened in Kahndaq. Lois proposes that perhaps he does not want to play god and wants to allow people to make their own choices. This seems to greatly amuse Ms Prince. In her experience, mankind has always made the wrong choice. Violence and war are in their nature.
They land in Kahndaq and are greeted by the general of the rebellion. The general agrees to meet with both of them together at his base. As they tour the base, we see the injured and dying in droves. The people of Kahndaq are clearly suffering. Once they are in the general’s tent, Prince questions him about a sword that she had tracked down to Kahndaq – an ancient weapon that according to legend, possesses the power to slay gods. The general reveals that he had already sold the sword for a ridiculous amount to fund their military operations. He is reluctant to disclose this information but Diana gets close to the general and touches a golden thread to his hand. Immediately, he tells Diana and Lois that the buyer was Wayne Industries. Having gotten what she came for, Prince leaves in a hurry but Lois stays to find out more. Why is Bruce Wayne funding a war?
We return to Gotham to see Batman watching Superman’s exploits of the day as he tinkers with the armoured suit we saw earlier. Once again, Alfred asks him what the suit is for. Bruce replies that it is to stop the inevitable. An exasperated Alfred tries to convince Bruce that Superman isn’t the enemy. Bruce agrees. He isn’t. Not yet.
But Bruce has seen enough good men fall to know that one day, Superman will too. And when he does, Batman will be ready. We linger on Robin’s costume. This time, we see clearly the scrawled letters written in green paint.
We get a bad ass scene of Bruce getting ready to go to work. He puts on his suit, straps on his utility belt and hurtles out of the cave in the Batmobile. We see video footage of last night’s murder filmed from Batman’s cowl. He arrives at the scene of the crime and uses the footage to track the trajectory of the bullet to a nearby rooftop. He begins to gather evidence when his sensors pick up a nearby mugging. The investigation will have to wait.
The mugger has his victim at knife point and is completely unaware as Batman melts from the shadows behind him. The vigilante shatters his prey’s wrist and takes him to the ground while the man Batman saved runs for his life, even more terrified of Batman than the criminal who tried to rob him. Batman knocks the mugger unconscious but as soon as he steps away, a bullet flies past his head and pierces the mugger’s heart. This time, with Alfred monitoring the scene, Batman is able to give chase and eventually corners the sniper in an alleyway. But before he can extract any information, the sniper kills himself and the police arrive on the scene. Batman is forced to flee once again.
Back at the Daily Planet, news of this latest Bat killing has hit and Clark once again demands to be put on the Batman case. Though Perry is reluctant, he reveals that Luthor has offered another even more significant donation after his chat with Clark and in his good mood, Perry agrees to let Clark pursue the case. It seems as if Clark made quite an impression on Luthor. A confused Clark calls Lex to figure out why he has taken such an interest but Lex simply says that he believes in Clark Kent.
At LexCorp, Luthor puts his phone away and continues his meeting with a government agent who asks him about the progress he is making on his research. He reveals several items. First, he reveals a trident, once said to belong to Poseidon, granting the wielder power over the ocean itself. Next is an old winged helmet, burnt, cracked and faded but one can still make out the lightning bolts. It was retrieved long ago but forged with metal far too advanced for the time period – rumour has it that this is the helmet of the messenger god himself sent through time and space. Last but not least is an ancient sword. Luthor says that this blade was forged to slay a god. The agent asks him what this nonsense is for and Luthor says that legends have a root in reality. Gods have always been hidden among us. And if one plans to kill gods, one must understand them first.
Finally, he reveals the Kryptonite and explains that the mineral he found in the crashed ship is able to make Kryptonian cells degenerate at a rapid rate. He talks about the metahuman theory and he says that more will surface soon. The government agent, who Lex addresses as Ms. Amanda Waller, wants Lex to speed up his progress on the anti metahuman weapons and to stop messing around with these artefacts and oddities. She is disappointed with the progress he has made so far. Humanity needs to be fully prepared once these metahumans become active.
Once she leaves, Lex once again enters the secret chamber of his bunker filled with the recovered Kryptonian technology. Once again, we see that he has procured and modified a Kryptonian pod which seems to be altering Zod’s body before our eyes. Across Zod’s face and shoulders, bone spurs have begun to sprout.
Meanwhile in Kahndaq, Lois continues to interview the general about why Wayne Industries is funding them but they are rocked by a sudden explosion. The Kahndaq military attacks and runs roughshod over the base, killing the general. In the midst of the battle, Lois is taken hostage. She is taken to the capital and is marched to the palace to meet the dictator himself. Muhunnad begins to interrogate her, gloating that he has the famous Lois Lane at his mercy. He demands to know why she is in Kahndaq.
Clark arrives at Gotham and interviews some of Batman’s surviving victims as well as some of the police officers and citizens of Gotham. There is a mixed response as some believe he is a menace while others believe he is a hero. The one common thread is that they are all terrified of him.
That night, Batman breaks into the Gotham City Police Department headquarters and retrieves the bullets used to frame him. Alfred criticises him for acting recklessly as he injures several officers in his escape. He ignores Alfred but as he hurtles through Gotham in the Batmobile, he is stopped in his tracks by a big blue roadblock. The Batmobile bounces off Superman like a toy and careens into a wall. Despite Alfred strongly urging him against it, Batman gets out of the Batmobile and stares down the Man of Steel.
Unlike the theatrical cut, Superman is far less confrontational this time and actually just tries to reason with the Dark Knight. He tries to find out why Batman has resorted to killing people. However, Batman responds by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Man of Steel. We get our first little taste of Batman vs Superman.
Superman is baffled more than anything as he shrugs off Batman’s explosives, Batarangs and nerve gas with out so much as blinking. He continues to try to talk Batman down as Alfred asks Batman what the hell he thinks he’s doing. He finally catches Superman off guard with a blast of high frequency sonics targeting Superman’s heightened senses. Clark finally gets ticked off and grabs Batman by the throat.
To Clark’s surprise, Batman just smiles and goads Superman, asking him if this is how he killed Zod. Clark is thrown off balance and releases Batman who continues to taunt him. Batman says that Superman is the only killer here. The Man of Steel has far too much blood on his hands to take the moral high ground. This gets to Superman and he suggests that Batman stand down and go back into retirement.
In response, Batman asks Superman a simple question:
Tell me, do you bleed?
As Superman flies away, Batman answers for him.
Sound off in the comments below to let me know what you thought of the film and what you would want changed. What would your version of Batman V Superman be like?