There were plenty who criticized Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel for letting thousands of innocent people die without a second thought – but as it turns out, Superman was haunted by the lives he couldn’t save… most audience members just never understood how Snyder expressed it. In terms of actual plot, Batman V Superman spins directly out of the tragedy and carnage unleashed by General Zod in Man of Steel‘s third act. But when one DCEU fan took to social media to dig a bit deeper and see how Snyder may have used imagery both universal and film-specific to drive home the toll it took on Henry Cavill’s Superman, the director reached out to confirm that it’s a beat most audience members may miss.
It’s the kind of fan-director interaction most comic book enthusiasts will only dream of, spotted thanks to a post on Reddit. The scene in question comes from Batman V Superman‘s first act, when Superman flees Lex Luthor’s party to rescue a girl trapped in a burning Mexican factory. As he returns to the ground with the girl held safely in his arms, the crowd of onlookers surrounds him. Since the tragedy has struck in the midst of the Day of the Dead celebration, those onlookers are dressed in skull facepaint, carrying or wearing skeletons.
When the crowd reaches out to place their hands on Superman, the narration shifts to the way in which the world now views Superman as a savior, or Christ-like figure – this crowd of faithful obviously included. An image of the scene was posted on the VERO social network by user ‘The Kingslayer’, along with their analysis of the callbacks and significance of the repeated skull imagery in both Man of Steel and BvS.
Specifically, that Zod showed Clark a dream in which he was swallowed up by the skulls of the dead he would never save if Zod’s plan to take over Earth became real. Soon after, the devastation of their battle cost thousands of lives. And finally, he finds himself surrounded by skulls and skeletons in the next film, unable to let go of the dead or be the ‘savior’ they want him to be. Check out the full analysis below, and who shows up to confirm that it’s right on the money:
There’s no better person to confirm a reading of repeated imagery and symbolism than the man behind the camera, and you have to give Zack Snyder points for brevity. Simply stating that the reading – that the Day of the Dead scene is meant to call on the dead attached to Superman – is “right,” Snyder sends a clear message to those taking a close reading to Batman V Superman that they’re not looking for meaning where none resides. It’s just one more piece of evidence for those who claim BvS is Hollywood’s most expensive indie film, and another sign that Snyder is truly crafting one cohesive story of Superman from Man of Steel, through Dawn of Justice, and culminating in the return of Superman in Justice League (we hope).
That return of Superman has been teased by Geoff Johns in recent days, as quite clearly the one unofficial, secret twist that nobody knows anything about… but are all certain is coming. The question is simply when, how, and in what way Snyder will present the hero’s resurrection. We’ve got high hopes given the echos of the dead, and with Superman being consumed by the dead, and then embraced by the dead who sense his coming… what will he conquering of death look like through Zack Snyder’s surreal visual style? The actual cinematic moment of his resurrection may only be beaten by the fact that once he leaves the grave behind him. the DCEU’s true Superman will finally be born.
It’s only fitting, we suppose, that the villains coming to terrorize Earth and the League in their first big screen team-up should be seen as a force of death itself. Sure, Steppenwolf and his commander, Darkseid may not be ‘New Gods’ in a divine sense. But they do possess powers never before seen by any of Earth’s heroes at that point (which would make Wonder Woman’s aunt Antiope even more valuable). If their level of destruction is as terrible as we expect, Superman may finally have the chance to put an end to the death of innocents – for good.
No more skulls, and no more tears. With Snyder, though, further layered imagery is guaranteed.