When Batman v Superman showed a Bruce Wayne who was no longer afraid of letting the men fighting him be injured, crippled, or even potentially killed, many fans and critics passionately criticized the decision. Even though every modern movie superhero is a murderer these days, they argued, you just aren't allowed to do it with Batman.
But in our interview with BvS Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator Damon Caro, we've learned of one moment in particular - removed from all cuts of Batman v Superman - that is guaranteed to have enraged those masses more than any other. While fans of the treatment might see it as Batman doing what he must to stay in the fight. Batman isn't eager to kill in BvS, he's just too concerned with saving an innocent woman to worry about criminals breaking a few bones - or, apparently, taking a few of their own bullets.
The action sequence remains one of the high points of Snyder's time with Batman, as even amidst the critical and online hysteria, the so-called "Martha Rescue" or "Warehouse Fight" was above criticism, from a stunt and fight choreography perspective. Like seeing the Batman: Arkham games combat come to life, or showing how Batman could tear through a gang like comic fans always knew he could.
We've already used a side-by-side comparison of the BvS stunt-viz and the finished film to show how meticulously Snyder and Caro's teams constructed the scene (embedded above). But the video also shows some of the moments in a clearer light, and Batman using brutal force... but not deadly (not in this hand-to-hand fight, anyway). Caro believes there is method to Batman's brutality in saving Martha Kent, with a ticking clock preventing him from sparing these criminals any pain they brought on themselves.
A point that would have been made perfectly clear, had one moment not included in the final cut been left in:
In the chase scene he was dealing with dangerous dudes that were trying to kill him, but I feel he was driven more by hatred then. By the Martha rescue, he’s no longer fueled by resentment... So there's definitely an evolution at this point.
You will see, something that would sort of contradict that, if you noticed in that the action-viz that we shot in prep, it’s a little bit longer than what we shot for the film. and he does use one of the guys as a shield in that, but it didn't make the movie because it didn't fit for the cut. So that would have violated... but he uses him as a shield and the guy had a bulletproof vest on.
Given that some viewers were already disapproving of Batman's brutality, or willingness to put criminals in harm's way, one thing is for sure: seeing Batman use a criminal as a human shield would have been a smoking gun. And kevlar vest or not, been even more likely to be pointed to as proof that Zack Snyder's team had 'betrayed Batman' than seeing him spray assault rifle fire at surrounding henchmen (dropping them to the floor, not killing them, as was also claimed).
For those less outraged, or perhaps more receptive to Damon Caro's perspective, the moment would still be rationalized. Assuming the Batsuit isn't bulletproof (it sure isn't knife-proof), Bruce letting a goon take the painful, but not lethal bullet impacts instead of, you know, being shot and dying isn't a question at all. Still, Caro explains that the moment was simply removed due to it not working in the final cuts of the scene, and not to avoid any perceived moral or violent dilemmas.
In the end, the film and the conversation surrounding it is probably better off without the moment in the finished cut. The arguments posed by comic fans that Batman is unique among heroes specifically because he is willing to kill if he must, and that Batman's famous anti-gun moment in The Dark Knight Returns is taken out of context have fallen on deaf ears.
Had Batman v Superman included a shot of Ben Affleck physically putting a criminal between himself and deadly force, the fact that the goon was wearing a bulletproof vest wouldn't prevent the uproar from rising to even higher heights. So let's all count ourselves lucky.