The beginning of a full blown DC Comics Extended Universe is upon us. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice nearly here, and it will bear the unenviable burden of serving as the launching pad for the DCEU. Such a burden is so large that not all of it even fits in the theatrical cut of the film. Some of the story is going to have to wait for the 3 hour director’s cut, but some of it is already available! Thanks to Dr. Pepper, Doritos, and General Mills, we get to experience a taste of BvS and the larger DCEU through the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice prequel tie-in comics.
For the most part, these comics appear to be canon-ish. They were created to be in continuity and tease Batman V Superman, but obviously the DCEU isn’t going to bend over backwards on behalf of some cereal box comics. When push comes to shove, the comics aren’t going to be an anchor for continuity. Even so, the words “From the world of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” are proudly displayed on the covers of the comics, which is a pretty clear indication that these are supposed to exist within the same DCEU continuity.
This is a large world and there’s a lot to establish, but here are the 10 Things We Learned About Batman V Superman From The Prequel Tie-in Comics
10 Superman Has Become a Beloved Hero
Man of Steel didn’t give audiences much closure on the destruction of Metropolis. Several skyscrapers are destroyed, thousands of people die, and then we see Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet. The prequel comics portray several examples of Kal-El’s bravery, in addition to many off hand references to countless other acts of heroism.
The people of Metropolis (mostly) hail Superman as a hero. Sure, he was involved in a lot of destruction, but most people blame Zod and the “alien invasion,” while Superman gets the credit for actually putting an end to the devastation. The Doritos comic even shows the unveiling of a statue in his honor. The same statue we see is later defaced with the “false God” graffiti in the first trailer.
Superman’s reputation doesn’t rest entirely on the salvation of Metropolis, though. He’s been hard at work since the end of Man of Steel, putting out wildfires, stopping runaway trains, and aiding in other natural disasters and humanitarian missions.
He even has a near religious following, where people post to message boards to ask for his help with problems ranging from paying their rent to curing their cancer. Children even wear shirts bearing the crest of the house of El, and keep their heads craned skyward, hoping for a glimpse of their new hero.
9 Talking Heads are Divided on Superman's Role in the World
Just because the general public supports Superman doesn’t mean he’s without controversy. Especially when it comes to talking heads. Taking a page out of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, cable personalities have ample debate fodder due to the mere existence of Superman.
The Man of Steel still has media support, but there’s a clear disagreement of whether or not it’s appropriate for such a power to exist autonomously. Specifically of note here is that Superman conspicuously avoids getting involved in geopolitical conflicts. He’ll save hundreds of lives from a natural disaster, but won’t do the same with any military involvements. This is where much of the debate surrounding him occurs. Some think he should get involved, while others think it’s not his place as a Kryptonian to enforce peace on Earth.
8 The Government Doesn’t Know How to Deal With Superman
The talking heads aren’t the only ones concerned over Superman’s political affiliations. A secret government subcommittee, headed up by Senator Finch, has been formed to determine the potential threat posed by Superman. Their specific concern is over the fact that the government has no jurisdiction - or means of enforcement - when it comes to Superman’s actions, although they are developing defensive measures based on recovered Kryptonian tech (more on that later).
This subcommittee runs several computer models to determine the potential devastation from another Kryptonian attack, but they are divided over whether or not the same threat is posed by Superman. Even so they are all in agreement over their concern about the potential impact of the Man of Steel involving himself in an international incident, believing that in nobly trying to save a few lives, he could start a war.
Most of all, they’re concerned over how helpless the government was when Zod attacked. They may publicly try to share the credit for stopping Zod with Superman, but they know they couldn't have stopped him on their own and want to ensure they’re prepared for the potential of another attack now that they’re aware of the existence of aliens.
7 Kryptonian Technology is Everywhere
Prior to their arrival on earth, Zod and his crew were scouring the galaxy for surviving Kryptonians. They came across many outposts, but no survivors. During this hunt, they were collecting useful pieces of Kryptonian technology and culture, as they planned to build a new Kryptonian society.
Much of this was lost during the final battle in Man of Steel. Both world engines were destroyed, along with multiple Kryptonian ships (loaded with Kryptonian technology, including the birthing matrix). The US government tried to control access to said technology, and licensed it to specific companies for research, but some of it “disappeared.”
Some of it was snatched off the streets, some was stolen from labs, and some of it was misreported in the inventory of the companies providing reconstruction efforts, then sold on the black market. Not just weapons, but signal jammers, armor, etc.. Several shady groups got their hands on it and want more. It’s in pretty high demand. The arrival of the Kryptonians has definitely changed Earth forever.
6 S.T.A.R. Labs is Doing Crazy Things
S.T.A.R. Labs was teased in Man of Steel with the introduction (and apparent death) of Dr. Emil Hamilton. With the addition of Victor Stone/Cyborg for Batman V Superman, Star Labs will likely have a larger impact. This involvement is teased further in the General Mills comics, although it’s also the most questionable of the bunch when it comes to the question of canonicity.
The comic shows a school group taking a field trip to S.T.A.R. Labs with Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent to see the research done with Kryptonian tech to conduct Tachyon transfers, which is basically a teleportation technology they plan to use to send equipment to the moon to build a base. It also sounds like it also might be the grounds for DCEU “boom tubes.”
The test goes wrong, and instead teleports in some hostile aliens, the Ko’erst. We know from the Krypton scenes in Man of Steel that humans aren’t alone in the galaxy, but the DCEU hasn’t yet pushed this level of sci-fi outside of the few scenes on Krypton. Although going that deep into sci-fi territory is definitely an exciting proposition for any fan, we’ll just have to wait and see how the DCEU shapes up in this regard.
5 Wayne Industries R&D is Studying Kryptonian Tech
S.T.A.R. Labs isn't the only one doing Kryptonian research. Wayne Enterprises has also obtained a government contract to study the technology, including bio-weapons. The research is being done in a lead-lined building, which tells us both that Wayne R&D has learned a lot about Kryptonian powers, and that they’re doing research that Bruce Wayne doesn’t want Superman to know about.
In the question of “how can Batman even fight Superman?” Wayne Enterprises makes that question a lot more clear. They have had access to Kryptonian bio-weapons for several years, meaning Bruce Wayne has the means to build both offensive and defensive technology in preparation for what he sees as an inevitable showdown with the Kryptonian Immigrant.
4 The Rise of Kord Enterprises Could Introduce Blue Beetle
After the destruction of Metropolis, many companies started to leave the city. Lex Luthor, desiring to change this trend, reinvesting wholly in Metropolis, encouraging other companies, such as Kord Enterprises, to follow his lead. Thomas Kord is the CEO of Kord Enterprises as shown in a brief news article in one of the Dr. Pepper prequel comics, and many fans might recognize him as the father of Ted Kord, who becomes Blue Beetle.
With rumors of a Blue Beetle and Booster Gold buddy cop movie, this seemingly minor tease could actually indicate big things to come. If the destruction of Metropolis leads to Kord Enterprises participation in a tech boom in Metropolis due to the discovery of Kryptonian tech, then this could be the seeds of many more science fiction elements from classic DC comics, such as the eventual DCEU introduction of Blue Beetle.
3 Why Lex Luthor Hates Superman
The Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailers have made it fairly clear that Lex Luthor doesn’t like Superman (in case you didn’t pick that up somewhere else in the years prior to seeing a BvS trailer), but the Dr. Pepper comics show that this contempt doesn’t stem from any specific actions Superman commits in the movie.
Much like his comic book counterpart, Lex dislikes the mere existence of Superman and doesn’t respect the way he handles events. He’s one of the few that thinks Superman should be picking sides in geopolitical conflicts instead of rescuing natural disaster victims, acts of heroism Lex sees as mere crowd pleasing.
Like Wayne Enterprises, Lexcorp is hard at work tearing apart Kryptonian technology and buying up other companies that also have access to Kryptonian tech. We know from the trailers that Lex also has Zod’s body, and likely uses it to create Doomsday, so it’s safe to say he has a lot of Kryptonian surprises up his sleeve.
2 Batman Was a Ghost Story
Batman has been operating in the shadows for several decades by the time we see him in Batman V Superman. He’s considered a boogeyman or a ghost story by some criminals, the media claims he’s a hoax, most people say he’s an urban legend, and conspiracy theorists and bloggers think he’s a myth created to make Superman look better. He operates in the shadows and uses technology to avoid detection, such as a device that scrambles technology around him to evade capture by security cameras or cell phones.
The people that do believe he exists still don’t know much about him. Many even think he’s more than just one person. They say he’s a whole army of Batmen, and the rumors and ghost stories surrounding the Dark Knight became more gruesome and prolific after Superman arrives on the scene. The Kryptonian’s arrival got under Batman’s skin, and the criminals can feel it.
1 Why Bruce Wayne Doesn’t Trust Superman
Bruce Wayne is not a Superman fan. It’s not just because he was in Metropolis when Superman fought Zod, but because he doesn’t trust people who have a power they didn’t earn, which is an ironic opinion for the heir to a billion dollar company.
The “do you bleed?” line from the trailers is usually played as a sort of threat, but it’s also a fervent question. The Doritos comic goes into Batman’s distrust of Superman. Bruce tells Alfred that Superman is “not a professional,” because “professionals have to work.” Sure, Superman has power, and is currently using it for the betterment of mankind, but how can he understand mankind if he’s incapable of empathizing with them? Superman doesn’t have to work for his power and doesn’t bleed when he gets hit, so how can he be a savior for men who do?
Fan reactions to Screenings of Batman V Superman have so far been overwhelmingly positive, but the critical reception has swing resoundingly in the opposite direction. Where do you land? Are you excited for Batman V Superman and the larger DCEU? Let us hear about it in the comments!