NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Batman V Superman
Over seventy-five years after the Man of Steel was first introduced in Action Comics #1, setting the stage for countless superheroes to follow, the Son of Krypton is finally sharing the big screen with his DC Comics counterpart - The Dark Knight. Bucking the trend of solo movies before shared universe team-ups, Warner Bros. is pairing its two most popular heroes against each other in Batman V Superman, setting the stage for DC's MCU challenger, the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). For the last two years, fans have speculated on what Dawn of Justice could show - and how the film will pave the way for a 2017 crossover, Justice League Part 1.
Certain rumors turned out to be true, Doomsday is a central antagonist in the film (though his backstory is reworked) - while others were nothing more than fan-fiction (or, at the very least, remnants of pre-production ideas that didn't make it into production), such as prior speculation that Aquaman would aid in the film's climactic fight. The trailer established what to expect from the main characters but, now that the film is in theaters, we're recapping the biggest spoilers and reveals that were not apparent in the marketing (with a little speculation for what they could mean for future DCEU installments).
For those who have not seen Batman V Superman yet, make sure to read our spoiler-free review, then come back here to discuss the biggest spoilers, surprises, and reveals! NOTE: Our list is not a countdown, we’ve listed the spoilers in (mostly) chronological order.
While the basic setup for Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor was made apparent in the film's marketing (a young tech mogul who loves "bringing people together"), Batman V Superman quickly establishes that this Luthor is the maltreated son of AlexanderLuthor Sr. Lex explains that his father was a second-class citizen in East Germany who fled to America and made a fortune in the oil industry - a fortune that, after his death, Lex reformed into a Silicone Valley tech company.
In his face-to-face with Superman, Lex suggests his father was physically abusive and exposed his son to "abominations" - both of which, it can be assumed, turned Lex into a sadistic sociopath. After all, the claim that was hinted at in Fortune's "interview" with Lex where he suggested that his father never planned to have a son - and used Lex as a pawn in building the LexCorp business empire: “Dad named the company after himself ten years before I made my unexpected entrance into his life. But investors seemed to respond to the idea of an adoring father building a legacy for his precious son. He used that to his advantage. It was a good shtick and, whatever else he was, he was a good businessman,”
Lex invites Kentucky senator Judy Finch (Holly Hunter) to LexCorp - in order to strike a deal with the United States government. He has discovered kryptonite and learned it can be used as a weapon against kryptonians. However, as Lex attempts to strike a deal with the senator, Finch makes an off-hand comment about a "Metahuman Thesis". Lex uses this Metahuman Thesis as an explanation for why the U.S. government needs to be proactive about super-human threats.
The scene, and later reveals suggest that Lex has begun to suspect that other super-powered people, in addition to Superman, already exist on Earth - and are, for the time being, living in secret. The Metahuman Thesis is put into context when Bruce Wayne hacks into LexCorp's servers - and finds that Lex had already compiled evidence of four different metahumans. It is not clear, within the context of the scene, whether or not Lex developed the Metahuman Thesis - or the "Thesis" is a common theory within this corner of the DC Extended Universe.
Long before release, it had been suspected (and even confirmed by several crew members) that the "Knightmare Batman" scene would not actually occur in Batman V Superman's present and would, instead, be a cautionary "worst case scenario" dream-sequence that galvanizes Bruce Wayne to take-on Superman. This proved to be true for the final film - as none of what is seen in the post-apocalyptic scene actually happens (at least not yet).
The Knightmare scene features Batman and a squad of soldiers (including a mysterious masked woman), attempting to hijack a shipment of kryptonite in the war-torn ruins of Metropolis, to take-down a tyrannical Superman. The scene parallels Batman's present-day plan of stealing Lex's kryptonite in order to forge anti-Superman weapons; yet, in the dream, Batman is trapped by mercenaries/members of Superman's elite guard - before the Man of Steel appears and incinerates Batman's collaborators and confronts the Dark Knight for taking away a woman that was his "world". The symbol of DC villain Darkseid is also teased, etched in the sand, and his parademon minions are shown to aid Superman in subduing Batman - suggesting that Wayne is fearful of a future where not only has Superman become a threat, he's teamed-up with other aliens to wipe out humanity.
Much of what happens in the Knightmare scene was revealed in Batman V Superman's trailers and other pre-release marketing. However, the sequence is topped-off with a major reveal: a Flashpoint-like message from The Flash (Ezra Miller) - who is attempting to warn present day Bruce Wayne through a portal in time. In the scene, Barry Allen (dressed in full Flash armor), begs Bruce to find "us," referring to the heroic metahumans of the Justice League that are hiding on Earth, before offering a stern warning.
Barry suggests that Bruce was right to fear "him"; though, who exactly "he" is remains somewhat unclear at this point. The Flash asserts "Lois Lane is the key," leading many to interpret the message as a warning that Superman could eventually become a liability and turn on humanity when something happens to Lois (especially since the prior Knightmare scene concluded with a rage-filled Superman blaming Batman for taking Lois, or possibly Martha Kent, away from him). Still, others will posit that ensuring Lois Lane survives is the "key" to keeping Superman connected to humanity - in which case that "him" would be the larger threat Wayne perceives in his dream, Darkseid (who was also hinted at in the Knightmare). The message ends abruptly, and Bruce wakes up at the batcomputer as if he was only dreaming; yet, it's highly likely there was more to the scene (read: he actually received a message from the future) than the hero realizes at this point.
As indicated, the extent of Lex's sociopathy is not fully-developed in Batman V Superman; however, there's enough information to piece together his motivation and ultimate plan. Lex asserts that his father was born in East Germany and suffered under the rule of Soviet control; as a result, Luthor Sr. became obsessed with amassing wealth, power, and influence after his immigration to the U.S. - a value that made him tough on his son while simultaneously driving Lex to achieve the same sense of control in the world. When Superman appears (not to mention yet-to-be-discovered metahumans), Lex begins preparations to instill fear and panic around the world - in the hopes that Superman, Batman, and any other threats to Lex will destroy each other or, at the very least, become targets of public outcry and quit.
To that end, Lex learns of Superman's soft-spot for Lois Lan, early-on - and exploits that knowledge to stage a coup in Africa, putting Lois in danger to attract Superman, then frames the Man of Steel by hiring mercenaries to slaughter villagers and bribe survivors, all to make it appear as though the kryptonian rage-killed innocent bystanders. In order to further discourage Superman, Luthor arranges to intercept disability pay that Bruce Wayne had promised to Wallace Keefe, a former Wayne Industries employee who lost his family and his legs below the knee, during Superman and Zod's battle in Metropolis. Despondent, Wallace blames Superman for his misfortune - and Lex steps in, offering Wallace aid (and a new wheelchair), as well as encouraging him to speak at Superman's congressional hearing. However, unbeknownst to Wallace, Lex hid a bomb inside the wheelchair and he detonates the explosives, killing everyone except for Superman inside the Capital Building. The attack is enough to turn the world against the Man of Steel - with many wondering if Superman was actually complicit in the bombing.
One of the most divisive aspects of Batman V Superman's pre-release marketing, the reveal of Doomsday made it clear that, at some point, the Dark Knight and Man of Steel would work out their differences in order to take-on a common enemy. Still, it was hard for fans to believe that Zack Snyder would throw one of Superman's most threatening foes into the DCEU so fast - and with little build-up. In the end, Doomsday is exactly what rumors had suggested and fans had speculated: the kryptonian killing machine is a mutated Frankenstein's monster grown from General Zod's corpse. While Lex had hoped that public outcry would be enough to discourage Superman into quitting, he was also making moves to ensure that other means to take out the Man of Steel were also ready and waiting.
In exchange for his help in developing anti-kryptonian weapons for the United States government, Lex requests access to Zod's body as well as the crashed kryptonian scout ship from Man of Steel (which has not been moved from its impact crater in Metropolis). With kryptonite surgical tools, Lex uses Zod's fingerprints to override the ship's control console - giving Lex access to the entire kryptonian knowledge archive. Applying what he learns from the database, Lex delivers Zod's body to the ship's genesis chamber, sprinkles his own blood into the mix, and (despite the A.I.'s warning) initiates a long-forbidden protocol - which, after a set amount of time and energy, results in the creation of a kryptonian-killing beast that Lex refers to as Superman's "Doomsday". When public outcry and Batman both fail to destroy the Man of Steel, Lex unleashes Doomsday: "If man won't kill God, the devil will have to do it."
Johnathan "Pa" Kent is essential to any Superman origin story; yet, the character was especially important in the Man of Steel movie - since the DCEU's Superman is built on the dichotomy between Pa Kent's sacrifice to protect his adopted son (by keeping his powers a secret) and Clark Kent's longing to be a symbol of hope and guardian of Earth (even if it kills him). The juxtaposition recurs in Batman V Superman, as Clark struggles to keep his personal life, work life, and superhero life in balance - all while attempting to deal with a world that isn't sure whether Superman is friend or foe (no matter how many people he saves).
Despite his best efforts, the destruction of the Senate hearing (and death of everyone in the Capital Building) causes Clark Kent to question whether Superman is doing more harm than good - and the hero decides to hang-up his supersuit, at least temporarily. However, as Clark backpacks across an isolated and frozen mountainside, he has a vision of his adopted father stacking frost-covered bricks. Pa Kent tells Clark an allegory from his own life - about the challenges (and pitfalls) of being a hero. The pep talk sets Clark straight - convincing Superman to return and face the people of Metropolis.
We've known for awhile why Batman would want to fight Superman - since early trailers showed that Bruce Wayne blamed the Kryptonian for his role in Zod's siege of Metropolis. Given that Batman V Superman was going to feature a hardened and resentful Caped Crusader, hell-bent on taking down potential threats, it was easy to see why Batman would throw everything he had at Superman - even if it was a suicidal endeavor. Conversely, it was less clear why Superman would want to fight Batman. Clark Kent perceived the Bat vigilante as a law-breaker in need of justice - but what would cause the Man of Steel to actually take part in a grudge match against the Dark Knight?
After putting Lois Lane in danger, Lex is able to deduce Superman's identity - which means he also knew who else Clark Kent might do anything to protect. To that end, Lex kidnaps Martha "Ma" Kent to force Superman into a fight with Batman - giving the Man of Steel one hour to return with the Bat's head. Should Superman fail to kill Batman, Lex had mercenaries on call to burn Martha Kent alive. Despite the stakes, Clark flies to meet Batman in the hopes of explaining the situation and enlisting Bruce to help him apprehend Lex - and locate Martha. Unfortunately, Batman wasn't prepared to hear him out (yet).
Ever since Batman V Superman was first announced, most filmgoers questioned how Batman could ever beat the god-like powers of Superman. Early-on we suggested that a tech-savvy strategist Bruce Wayne could lure the Man of Steel into a trap - and use kryptonite to gain an upper-hand. Which is exactly what happens in the film. After stealing Lex's kryptonite, Bruce begins weaponizing the irradiated rock, repurposing it for use in his arsenal (he also toughens-up and builds the armored exoframe batsuit).
While the suit offers him increased protection, and is surprisingly agile thanks to integrated hydraulics (at least in the comics), the kryptonite-infused smoke bombs are the true ace up Batman's sleeve. After distracting the Man of Steel with sonic emitters and machine guns, Bruce manages to trick Superman into catching a smoke grenade - which erupts into a cloud of kryptonite dust. Inhaling the kryptonite weakens Clark enough to even the playing field - and the two trade blows on relatively equal footing. However, a second dose of kryptonite dust weakens Superman even further - to the extent that he cannot even defend against the Dark Knight's strikes. Beaten into submission and crippled by the kryptonite residue in his lungs, Superman is helpless to fight back.
With Superman weakened by kryptonite dust, Batman drags a helpless Clark into his makeshift kill room - where the Dark Knight planned to finish-off his opponent with a kryptonite-tipped spear. However, before Batman can deliver the death blow; Superman begs Bruce to find and save "Martha". Without context, Batman misunderstands Clark's plea - unsure of why the Man of Steel would be speaking the name of his deceased mother, Martha Wayne. Lois Lane arrives in time to explain that Martha is the name of Clark's mother - causing Batman to pause long enough for Superman to explain that Martha Kent is in danger.
Realizing they had both been manipulated by Lex, Bruce promises to save Martha Kent from Lex's mercenaries, so that Clark can return to the scout ship and apprehend Lex - before the malevolent sociopath could unleash an attack on Metropolis (read: Doomsday). Surprisingly, the scene moviegoers saw in the final Batman V Superman trailer, of the Dark Knight infiltrating an enemy stronghold, is actually the site where Martha Kent is being held - with Batman, now friend to Superman, coming to the rescue.
While Dawn of Justice may have been titled Batman V Superman, the movie features a prominent role for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). It's unclear what Diana Prince has been up to since she was last seen during World War 1; however, she infiltrates Lex's mansion party and steals an (encrypted) copy of LexCorp's files from Bruce Wayne. Given that the files are ultimately revealed to include surveillance footage of metahuman activity (including The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Diana herself), it's made apparent that Wonder Woman was seeking to erase records of her movements from Lex's database - most notably a picture of her from 1918.
Regardless, Wonder Woman forms a mutual respect for Bruce Wayne - who decrypted the stolen files and shares them with Diana. In addition to modern surveillance footage, Lex's file also includes the aforementioned photo taken at the end of World War 1 - with Diana in battle armor (alongside Steve Trevor). Wonder Woman plans to take the metahuman files and leave Metropolis but deplanes prior to her flight home when Doomsday is unleashed. After the battle, Diana reveals that, following her contributions to World War 1, she abandoned mankind, since humans had built a hostile world unworthy of defending - a storyline that will, no doubt, be unpacked in the upcoming Wonder Woman solo movie.
One of four encrypted files in LexCorp's database, Barry Allen cameos in Batman V Superman - in archived convenience store security video. In the footage, Barry (in street clothes) is shopping for milk, when he witnesses a robber attempting to hold-up the store cashier at gunpoint. The two-camera feed shows Barry holding a glass bottle of milk, then disappearing from frame, while the glass bottle hangs in mid-air, as lightning bolts circle and tackle the robber - before Barry reappears in the first video camera feed a millisecond later, and reclaims his bottle of milk (which has barely moved).
More than anything else, the footage aims to introduce audiences to the big screen flash within the DCEU multiverse - especially since the character is already enjoying a strong and loyal TV fanbase. While there wasn't much to this particular piece of surveillance footage, especially compared to the major role that Wonder Woman plays in the film, viewers had already been treated to a more meaningful moment with the character - as the aforementioned time-defying deliverer of Bruce Wayne's message from the future.
Despite early rumors that Zack Snyder was filming a scene between Aquaman and Superman on the docks of Metropolis (for a possible third-act helping-hand from the Atlantean hero), not to mention speculation that it was the King of the Seven Seas that saved Clark from drowning after he destroyed the world engine in Man of Steel, the actual Aquaman cameo is much more subtle. Perusing the LexCorp metahuman records, Wonder Woman opens a file that contains video of an underwater shipwreck.
In the footage, three ROV cameras focus on the cracked hull of a sunken ship on the ocean floor. As the cameras move closer, a pair of eyes flicker open in the darkness of the hull, and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) cautiously floats out of the darkness - armed with his trident. Investigating the ROV, Aquaman strikes the camera with the trident before violently rocketing away through the water (similar to how Superman erupts into the sky). The Aquaman movie has been rumored to be an origin story - where Arthur Curry is living on land with no knowledge of his Atlantean heritage or powers. If that turns out to be the case, the footage (which features a fully-powered Aquaman) would suggest the Aquaman movie will be a prequel (like Wonder Woman - albeit not as far back).
Initially one of the easier cameos to explain, many fans speculated that Batman V Superman would introduce Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) by placing him amidst the chaos and destruction of Zod's assault on Metropolis - resulting in the mutilation of his body. Fortunately, Dawn of Justice delivers much more for fans who are looking forward to the DCEU Cyborg. One of the four files in LexCorp's metahuman records, Victor is revealed in the research log of his father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) at S.T.A.R. Labs - where Silas experiments on Victor's maimed body in the hopes of restoring his son (though his efforts appear to be in vain).
The final log reveals that Silas has broken protocol and begun analyzing a mysterious piece of extraterrestrial tech - which fans will recognize as a Mother Box. After suggesting the box has been unresponsive, the object suddenly powers up, floating into the air, and hovers in front of comatose Victor - where in a violent electric storm, the box begins regrowing the amputee's limbs with cybernetic replacements and augmentations, all while Victor screams in agony and horror. Like the other Justice League cameos, it's unclear where this footage will fall in relation to the larger DCEU storyline but it's a promising tease for Cyborg's place on the team and his 2020 solo movie.
As suggested in pre-release marketing, Darkseid is teased on multiple occasions in Batman V Superman - as his "Omega" sign and parademon warriors both make an appearance in the Bruce's post-apocalyptic Knightmare/vision of a potential future. Still, the Knightmare set-piece isn't the only reference to Darkseid. While Dawn of Justice does not feature a mid or post-credits teaser, one pre-credits scene serves-up the same cryptic type of tease that moviegoers would expect from a shared universe installment that paves the way for a superhero team-up. When his plan is foiled by Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, Lex is arrested for his crimes and taken into federal custody - where detention officers shave his head bald.
Not long after, Batman pays Lex an (unsanctioned) visit in jail, where Lex flippantly dismisses Batman's threats, claiming the metahuman bell can't be unrung - and that threats from across the stars have noticed, and will soon come to Earth. Lex closes by claiming: "He is coming" - a reference to the corrupting power of DC's malevolent "New God" Darkseid. How Lex knows about Darkseid isn't made explicitly clear in the film; though it can be assumed he learned about the malevolent ruler of Apokolips when the scout ship gave Lex an all-access pass to the kryptonian knowledge archive. Batman takes Lex's words as further evidence that his post-apocalyptic dream could still come true - leading the Bat of Gotham to team with Wonder Woman and begin searching for metahumans to recruit.
Possibly the most surprising aspect of the final Dawn of Justice fight is that, much like "The Death of Superman" face-off between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, Batman V Superman sees the Kryptonian monster kill Clark Kent. While many changes were made in adapting the comic battle to the big screen one thing stays the same - Superman managed to defeat Doomsday but not before the monster can mortally wound the Man of Steel. In the film version, Superman impales Doomsday with Batman's Kryptonite-tipped spear but as he dies, Doomsday manages to return the favor and impale Superman (further weakened by radiation from the Kryptonite) in the chest.
Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lois Lane collect Superman's body - and the world mourns the loss of their alien hero (who paid the ultimate price to save Earth). While the U.S. government buries an ornate (albeit empty) black casket adorned with a silver "S" in Arlington cemetery, Lois Lane and Martha Kent (with Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince looking on) bury Clark in a pine box next to Jonathan Kent in Smallville. Martha gives Lois a package that Clark had sent to the farm house - containing an engagement ring. Standing over the grave, with the ring on, Lois tosses a handful of dirt onto Clark's casket and walks away. Moments later, the dirt begins to rumble and hover - suggesting that Superman was never dead, he was merely in a hibernation-like state until his body could regenerate (another throwback to the "Death of Superman" comic) - though; the film cuts to black before the Man of Steel actually reemerges.
Those are our picks for the biggest spoilers and reveals from Dawn of Justice, feel free to share your favorite reveals and Justice League speculation in the comments! For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Batman V Superman episode of the Total Geekall podcast.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 16th, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19th, 2020.