Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will bring us the next chapter in director Zack Snyder’s burgeoning DC Movie Universe – and for better or worse (depending on who you are), the foundation for that universe is Henry Cavill’s Superman, as depicted in the film Man of Steel.
Fan debate still rages (and we do mean rages) over Snyder’s interpretation of the Superman character and lore – with part of the blame and/or praise going to script contributors Chris Nolan and David S. Goyer. We have a divisive cinematic Superman on our hands right now, but rather than continue the circular debate about whether or not Man of Steel was a great Superman movie (or even just a good movie), it’s time to be more constructive and look ahead to the future in order to maybe identify ways that Snyder and CO. can utilize some of what fans didn’t like, in ways that can best enhance the story and character arcs of Batman V Superman.
Here are 5 ways that the Man of Steel version of Superman could be put to good use in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:
5. Lost Fathers
It’s no secret that in comic book lore Superman and Batman (or rather, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne) have both lost their fathers; however, in most tellings, Superman’s loss is much less tragic than the “Jonathan Kent vs The Tornado” sacrifice we saw in Man of Steel. How Pa Kent died (and why) is one of the more debated aspects of the Superman reboot (was it effective? Silly? Poorly shot?), but it is the story we have, so let’s make some damn good lemonade out of it.
Beyond the Batman / Superman superhero action that everybody is most excited about, Dawn of Justice needs to also address the men behind the mask, and what ultimately connects them as “men,” and not just superheroes. Thanks to Man of Steel, this film offers the rare opportunity to have Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne bond over the pain of patriarchal loss in a way we really haven’t seen before.
Moreover, both this new version of Thomas Wayne and the MoS Jonathan Kent/Jor-El combo can be positioned as men who died for ideals (helping Gotham, protecting Clark and Earth). That would provide deep, rich common ground for their superhero sons to bond on – a foundation of deeply-rooted values and ideals that define an entire Justice League.
4. Illegal Alien
One thing that Man of Steel treated much differently than previous Superman movies was the character’s status as an alien. Back when Superman was created in 1938, aliens were hardly party of the mainstream zeitgeist; however, in our sci-fi saturated modern society, the question of alien encounter is more “when” than “if.” In that context, Man of Steel had to treat the revelation of an extraterrestrial superpowered being from a more cynical modern perspective. But a world where Superman isn’t automatically established as a globally-accepted do-gooder deity could be interesting for Dawn of Justice.
In the famous graphic novel Kingdom Come, we saw a vision of the near future where concerns about out of control metahumans force Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor into an uneasy alliance in the name of defending humanity. That same idea could (and likely will) trickle down to Batman V Superman, if Superman’s handling of Zod has made him as feared and hated as he is loved.
Indeed “The Alien” nature of Superman could provide some great narrative thrust, if the story involves Batman’s views on “humanity,” and his ultimate pivot from the side of Lex to the side of Kal-El. (Side note: that would also be a pretty meta way to hopefully pull a lot of skeptical fans to the side of this new DC Universe.)