Zack Snyder confirmed that the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us was inspiration for the Knightmare sequence of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Created by Mortal Kombat developers NetherRealm Studios and launched in 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fighting game using DC Comics characters. It could've been a throwaway spinoff for DC. However, Injustice has grown in popularity since its 2013 launch, creating not only a sequel but two ongoing comic series set in the universe.
The big hook of the Injustice universe is that after the death of Lois Lane, Superman has turned evil. Kal-El sets up a totalitarian regime on Earth in the name of safety, but he really just controls it with an iron fist. Injustice isn't the only Elseworld in DC history that has an evil Superman. However, it has become one of the most popular. According to Zack Snyder, he planned to adapt the story into the DCEU.
The Knightmare sequence of Batman v Superman, where Bruce Wayne imagines a world controlled by a vicious Superman, has plenty of its own imagery. Yet Superman's role in it does feel reminiscent of Injustice, from Superman's overlord status to the armed soldiers that obey him. On Vero, where Zack Snyder seems to forever be revealing details about the DCEU, the director said that the homage was intentional. A fan asked Snyder directly if he meant to pay tribute to Injustice and if there was an arc planned for the Knightmare sequence beyond Batman v Superman. Snyder replied simply, "Oh yes."
Snyder's reply is short. However, it does seem to serve as proof that the director had much more planned for the Knightmare sequence of Batman v Superman than it just being a symptom of Batman's paranoia. If taken at face value, Snyder's comment means that the vision was a glimpse of the future, not just Batman's fears playing with his subconscious mind. Superman turning evil was apart of Snyder's grand master plan.
The Knightmare part of Batman v Superman is one of several hanging plot threads left by Justice League. It's no secret that when Zack Snyder stepped away from Justice League, the film and course of the DCEU went under a dramatic transformation. Snyder has been very open on Vero (and sometimes other social media platforms) about the plans he had for Justice League and beyond that were left on the cutting room floor. Still, this newest revelation is one of the more shocking.
If Superman was meant to turn evil in the DCEU that would go against the whole message of Batman v Superman. Batman's entire arc in the movie is discovering that he's the villain of the story. Superman might be a very powerful alien, but he's a still a man, a very heroic man, trying to do the right thing. Batman is proven completely wrong about Clark by the end of the movie. Batman's misunderstanding of Superman is part of the reason that the Man of Steel dies in the film's climax and why Batman resolves to be a better man, himself, moving forward. Bruce's worst fears in Knightmare coming to pass would make his entire arc in Batman v Superman irrelevant.
However, it is worth pointing out that Snyder's response is very brief. While it does appear as if Snyder's confirming that he had a real arc planned for the Knightmare sequence, that might not be the case. Snyder could just be explaining that Injustice serves as an inspiration for Knightmare. It's even possible that other parts of the Knightmare sequence, like the hints of Darkseid, were the threads to be picked from a future arc and Superman wasn't ever going to turn evil.
After all, while Snyder's Superman was dour, he never got anywhere close to evil. From Man of Steel to Batman v Superman, Superman is always attempting to be a beacon of hope and heroism. It's the cynical outside world that is crushing Clark's spirit. The DCEU's Clark Kent turning into the dictatorial figure in the Knightmare is very a big leap.
Source: Zack Snyder/Vero
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