Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had its two heroes do battle with each other – here’s why the story required Batman to emerge as the winner.
After decades of debate on who would win between Batman and Superman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pitted The Dark Knight against the Man of Steel — with Ben Affleck’s aggressive version of Batman coming out victorious. As promised by the title, Batman v Superman had the two heroes trading blows, finally bringing the Batman vs Superman fight fan’s have wanted for decades to the big screen. Batman feared Superman’s unchecked power, and Superman (Henry Cavill) hated Batman’s brutal methods, but the real reason why Batman and Superman fight is manipulation by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Batman emerges victorious, and from a narrative perspective, Batman v Superman could go no other route.
As long-time DC Comics readers know, there’s more than enough comic-book precedent for Batman beating Superman. Most famously Batman beat Superman in Frank Miller’s 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns — a comic run from which Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice draws much inspiration, including aesthetically with Batman’s Superman fight armor. However, many viewers still wonder can Batman really beat Superman, and some even use Batman’s victory as a criticism of the movie. Here’s why Batman had to win the Batman vs Superman fight in Dawn of Justice, and why the suspension of disbelief is necessary for Batman v Superman’s plot.
Batman Had To Beat Superman For The Story To Work
Understanding why Batman beat Superman requires a clear picture of why they came to blows. To begin with, Superman’s own role in the fight is a coerced one, with Lex Luthor having kidnapped Clark’s adoptive mother, Martha Kent (Diane Lane), and giving Superman one hour to kill Batman to save her life. Faced with such a horrible dilemma, Superman tries reasoning with Batman, who is armed with a Kryptonite spear as his intended killing weapon, and while he eventually has to get more physical, he never attempts to kill the Caped Crusader. The Man of Steel also warns Batman, “If I wanted it, you’d be dead already,” suggesting that Superman’s power dwarfs that of Batman.
Batman sees Superman as nothing more than a potential alien threat to be eliminated. As set up by Batman v Superman, the showdown between the two heroes is symbolically positioned as Batman’s last chance to regain the humanity slipping away from him. Without seeing Superman as more than a possible alien conqueror, that couldn’t have happened, which meant that Batman beating Superman was the only option for the film. Henry Cavill’s commentary that Superman was holding back throughout the Batman fight reinforces that this is not a pure reflection of the two characters’ powers, continuing the question of whether Batman can really beat Superman.
This leads to the movie’s much-debated “Martha moment,” in which Batman is pulled back from killing Superman with the Kryptonite spear by Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Criticism of the scene has focused on Bruce and Clark’s mothers, both being named Martha, as what stops Batman, with the contrivance causing the scene to be a frequent object of memes. However, that misconstrues Batman, at last, coming to understand Superman’s humanity and Batman’s loss of his own, which Snyder explained as the scene’s meaning in his Batman v Superman streaming commentary. In this way, Batman, fully prepared to slay Superman in cold blood, finally sees him as human and, conversely, himself as a man blinded by rage and paranoia. For this moment and Batman’s subsequent rescue of Martha to work, Batman had to see himself in a new light — which couldn’t have happened without Batman as the victor.
A Story Where Superman Wins Would Be Boring
As DC’s two most popular heroes, Superman and Batman have frequently scrapped within the pages of comics as well as numerous adaptations. Even memorable alternate-universe graphic novels such as The Dark Knight Returns have featured Batman vs. Superman showdowns. Almost all of these battles end either with a stalemate or a Batman victory. Even in fights where Superman wins, such as in Red Son, it causes an existential crisis, meaning that it’s hard to call Supes a winner.
This trend occurs precisely because Superman’s many powers and superhuman strengths make him an easy winner on paper. While Batman may have a Batcave full of gadgets and plans, Superman’s X-ray vision and super hearing would allow him to circumvent any preparation advantage and easily crush Batman. But while such a grisly outcome would be appropriate for a darkly comedic story like Invincible or The Boys, it wouldn’t fit in the DC Universe. It is precisely in showing how Batman overcomes such an obvious mismatch that stories such as Batman v. Superman maintain interest, showcasing Batman’s intelligence and subverting audience expectations of who would win between him and Superman.
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