Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn't light on dream sequences. It opened with one of young Bruce being lifted by bats, then had a grown-up Wayne menaced by a Man-Bat-esque monster in his family crypt, and later Clark Kent had a discussion with his deceased father as part of his self-imposed exile.
By far the most talked about, though, was the Knightmare sequence - a time displacement/Flash-aided premonition/darkest timeline dream (depending on how you read the film), it showed an even older Batman in a ravaged future where New God Darkseid had invaded and Superman's become a darker, Injustice-hued murderer. The impact was two-fold - it presented a visual representation of Batman's fears and seeded the major Justice League villain for an appearance down the line.
There's been much discussion about the scene, and now storyboard artist Jay Oliva has shed some light on how it came together. Guesting on the Shanlian on Batman podcast, he talked about the inspiration for one of the scene's most memorable shots:
"I did the Knightmare sequence with future Batman, I did that. Although, it was great because, you know, I just watched it again the other day and that last shot where it’s just one long continuous take where Batman is fighting and he eventually gets taken down, that was something that I had talked to Zack about, about like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if it was like a Children of Men-style like one-shot through it all?'
Alfonso Cuaron's 2006 film Children of Men tells of a near-future where humans can no longer reproduce, sending the world into disarray. Its most striking element is a series of extremely long takes that run for minutes of time, getting the audience breathlessly right in the middle of the action. Watching the Batman v Superman element, you can see the inspiration - the shot Oliva talks about runs for 56 seconds, going from the inside of a truck through the battle all the way to Batman's capture by Darkseid's parademons. It's nowhere near as technical as the work of Emmanuel Lubezki, but it's nice that Snyder and cinematographer Larry Fong included it.
Oliva also talked about the Darkseid elements in the sequence, revealing that they weren't part of the initial plan:
"What’s funny is that was a late addition, I think Zack added that after I had done it, because originally it was just supposed to be the Superman kind of bad guys and then Batman was just to get taken over. So, I was as suprised as you guys that the Parademons were in it, but I knew where they were going to lead to."
The main purpose of the Knightmare is to fuel Bruce Wayne's fear of Superman, so it's not too surprising that it was originally conceived with a streamlined threat; the scope of the sequence probably expanded as the movie became more of a Justice League springboard, with Darkseid now set to be the DCEU's overarching threat (Ciarán Hinds will play his uncle, Steppenwolf, in the first movie later this year). It's fair to say the foreshadowing probably led to as much confusion and criticism as it did excitement, so all eyes are on Justice League to make the inclusion worth it.
Source: Shanlian on Batman
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Wonder Woman (2017) release date: Jun 02, 2017
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- The Flash Movie release date: Sep 24, 2018
- The Batman release date: Sep 24, 2018