The Snyder Cut of Justice League has officially been announced for HBO Max, and with that, we decided to take a look back at Snyder’s previous film (and arguably most polarizing film), Batman v Superman.
The film was met with harsh criticism for being incoherent, overstuffed, and overly grim. However, it has since built a passionate cult following that has only grown since the release of the Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition. (And speaking of polarization, should that be one of the top 15 Director’s Cuts ever?)
While that version does fix many of Batman v Superman issues with pacing and coherency, it does not solve the script’s major, underlying issues. And more on that in a second. These aren’t easy issues to fix considering so much of each character’s arcs are intertwined. Yet, after thinking long and hard, we think we got something that could work.
Editor’s Note: We do not claim to be better writers than anybody who worked on this film. We are simply stating, as fans, our ideas of what may have improved the film, retrospectively.
Let’s dive into an “Extreme Makeover” of Batman v Superman.
The Problem with Superman’s Motives
While many geckaphiles generally enjoy the film, this film is not without its issues. In this article, we will only be trying to fix one: Superman. Yes, we know that’s controversial, but hear us out…
The writing of Superman’s character in Batman v Superman is flawed.@MrDude_7
Henry Cavill is amazing as Supes who delivers some genuinely great Superman moments for the audience. However, that doesn’t make up for the fact that he wasn’t given the proper arc needed for this particular story.
For example, Batman’s motives are fleshed out very well. Superman killed millions, including people close to him, so Batman sees him as someone who needs to be stopped.
Superman, on the other hand, doesn’t have much reason to fight Batman. It is clear he doesn’t agree with Batman’s ways, but he’s not doing much about it, other than investigating and trying to get it in the paper. It seems like he is more concerned with how the world perceives him rather than his personal perception of the world around him.
To me, this is the conflict that needs expansion. The world’s perception of Superman is crucial to the story, but in a movie titled Batman v Superman, there should be more legitimate conflict between the two titular characters.
He shouldn’t have to fight Batman just because his mother was kidnapped, but because it was a natural progression of his character. In fact, by the time Superman goes to fight Batman, he has already undergone a majority of his arc, which has been witnessed throughout Batman v Superman.
That is a big problem with the script and precisely what we plan to change.
Fixing Superman, As Well As the Third Act
To fix this properly, we’d have to re-write a good chunk of the film. We don’t want to keep you for too long, so we’ll just be fixing two key moments (you can read our other articles with that extra time *wink*)
The first change is when Batman and Superman first meet in costume. It’s a fun moment for all fans to see, but it doesn’t escalate the tension between them as it should. Sure, they both hint at wanting to fight each other, but it’s glossed over in less than a minute.
In this Extreme Makeover, Superman is going to call Batman out for the bat-brand and the victims that have died from it.
“The next time they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it. You’ve caused enough death in this city already.”superman, batman v superman
Likewise, Batman will bring up the millions who Superman inadvertently killed. The two will go back and forth on this, demonstrating their different ideals and creating actual tension between the heroes. Currently, most of their conflict is derived indirectly in the film (i.e., Clark hearing about Batman, and Bruce seeing Superman’s actions), so it’s good to have them meet as heroes and having that tension grow naturally.
The second is the actual Batman v Superman fight. We need to find a way to make this fight complete Superman’s arc.
For the most part, the fight remains very similar, except for one key difference: they move to a populated area.
Superman is taunted by Batman. He’s reminded of all the innocent lives that were lost because of him; all of the destruction. He’s told that he doesn’t care about anybody other than his precious Lois Lane.
Superman momentarily forgets about Lex, and snaps.
He takes on the fight, and it’s brutal. They fight through buildings and down many streets. There’s wreckage everywhere.
Batman takes heavy damage and decides to use another kryptonite gas rocket on him. It hits Superman hard, and he stumbles back. Once the shock wears away, he looks around at all of the damage and the people lying in the street, hurt. He sees nothing but terror in their eyes.
Then, reality hits him harder than the rocket. He’s becoming exactly what he swore he wasn’t.
Batman continues the fight and leads Superman back to where he planted the spear. The fight carries on as it did in the film. Batman has the upper hand and puts the spear to Superman’s face. Out of regret and failure, Superman admits that he was wrong. He was exactly who Batman thought he was. Batman doesn’t falter, pulls the spear back, and is ready to strike.
In these few moments, Superman spills his heart to Batman. He failed his city, the world, and now… he couldn’t even save his own mother, Martha. (Say it with us: “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!”)
The Dawn of a Hero
These few changes don’t fix the film. What they will do is give Superman a more full and complete story arc.
We built upon his interactions with Batman to develop a conflict between them that is clearer and leads to better character progression. The first change throws direct doubt at Superman’s heroism just before the explosion at the Capitol. The second completes his journey by forcing him to realize his shortcomings and become the hero people need.
The controversy surrounding Superman in the current cut doesn’t provide much of an arc at all. With our changes, we are able to implement that controversy into a more convincing development. By the end of Batman v Superman, he becomes the hero Kal-El was destined to be — one filled with hope and heroism so prominent in other films.
Before, Batman v Superman was mainly about Batman’s redemption. Now, it’s a story of two heroes becoming who they need to be. What did you think of our changes? Did Superman need changing? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres in 2021 exclusively on HBO Max.