WARNING: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Batman V Superman
Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has generated impassioned and divisive reactions ever since it came out in theaters last week. Though the film is doing just fine commercially (including strong repeat business), people are mixed in regards to the quality of the final product. While it's an undeniable thrill for fans of DC Comics to see some of their favorite heroes finally join forces on the big screen, some felt that the story was muddled in its execution and featured too much Justice League set-up that detracted from the main narrative.
Of all the controversial moments, few were as head-scratching as the conclusion to the title fight between the two heroes. With Batman looking to end the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world with a killing blow from a Kryptonite spear, he's stopped by Clark Kent's plea to "save Martha," a reference to his adoptive mother Martha Kent. That resonates with Bruce Wayne, since his mother was also named Martha. Because of that connection, Batman and Superman set aside their differences and start working together. It was an odd sequence to many moviegoers, but now Snyder has attempted to provide some clarity on the situation.
Speaking with Forbes, Snyder explained the infamous "Martha" scene, saying that it pays off for the viewer because of the relationship established between Clark and Ma Kent in Man of Steel and Batman V Superman:
You know, they’re both born and live in a world where someone can care about them and mourn them, and they can love their mother. And that’s the cool thing, you know we spend so much time with the Martha-Clark relationship that I think it kind of pays off there. You realize, oh, we needed that as viewers, so we could get to a moment with Batman where that moment with Martha resonates. Because we’ve lived on with Clark’s relationship with his mother, so that moment is like, “Wow, that’s ringing for me and I feel it.”
When we were shooting the title sequence, that whole idea about, “Do we really need to see the death of the Waynes again,” is a big thing to take a shot at again. But you realize you need it, because it actually pays off. And I really wanted to do it all the way.
While many will agree that the idea of Batman saying "Martha won't die tonight" is a nice one in theory, the main issue several took with this scene is that it provided an arguably anti-climactic conclusion to the fight and was rather convenient for the film's plot. The entire movie had been building up Bruce Wayne's hatred of Superman and his mission to destroy the alien, so to some, the fact that the two were raised by women named Martha was not a strong enough reason for Batman to do a complete 180 and form an alliance with Superman. Within the context of what's presented, Bruce Wayne should still view Kal-El as an unpredictable force capable of destroying the world - Martha or not.
At the same token, there is a touching character moment in there, particularly for Bruce Wayne. All of his life's trauma dates back to the night his parents were murdered, so seeing someone beg for their mother to be rescued is going to strike a chord with him. It may not have been conveyed in the strongest manner, but one can see how "Martha" could inspire a change-of-heart in The Dark Knight. In that instance, he saw Superman not as a threat, but as a helpless boy worried about his mom's wellbeing - something Bruce could immediately relate to. Time will tell how their relationship will evolve over the course of the DCEU, but realizing that they're not so different from each other is a solid foundation.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017;The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Twoon June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.