Let’s Talk About the Last Shot in ‘Batman v Superman’
When we sat down in the cinema this week to enjoy Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice we had an unexpected plea from director Zack Snyder. He appeared on the screen in a pre-recorded clip to tell us that we were among the first people to see the finished version, that he hoped that we liked it and they were very proud of what they had accomplished with the movie. That’s a nice sentiment, and it’s also good to see people doing work that they’re proud of. Then he made an appeal to us, the viewers and critics, to not reveal the movie’s twists publically or on social media.
Now that the movie is out and the public are flooding in to see it, there’s something I wanted to address in our review that would’ve been too revealing. I’m assuming that if you clicked on the article, you’ve seen the film or don’t care about spoilers, but just in case you don’t want to know…
There are big spoilers past this point.
Really big ones.
And maybe you don’t care, but please respect those who do. Don’t go blowing it for other people. Don’t be a dick.
Ok, here it is…
(You can still turn back.)
If you’ve seen the movie, and I assume that you have, you know that Superman dies during fight with Doomsday. While Batman and Wonder Woman keep the hulking beast on the ropes, Superman impales Doomsday with the kryptonite spear that Batman constructed as a weapon against Superman. He did this knowing that he would be attacking Doomsday in a weakened state, and it was a high risk move and it lead to him being impaled through the chest and dying. The battle ends with Superman’s body being cradled by Lois Lane amid the rubble of Metropolis while Batman and Wonder Woman stand helplessly by.
Just to sideline for a moment, why not give the spear to Wonder Woman? She wasn’t affected by the kryptonite and had already shown she could get close enough to Doomsday to deliver an attack without getting hurt. Wonder Woman is hardcore.
So Superman dies. A hush fell over the cinema. Although the movie is certainly receiving mixed reviews I don’t doubt for a second that everyone present was caught in that moment. It was a well executed scene. Knowing that this movie is intended to open the door to a larger Justice League franchise with sneak peeks of Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, bumping off Supes was unexpected. It forms part of the motivation for the Justice League forming as Batman understands that the very public death of Superman will bring forth all the foes who have stayed their hands for fear of being eye-lasered off the face of the planet. He seeks to bring together other heroes in preparation of this threat, which is a very Batman thing to do and a good turn for the story. Moving on with the series without their hardest hitter will be an interesting challenge for the film-makers, and adds an extra element of tension to the story.
That is, until Superman’s inevitable resurrection.
The movie ends with the dirt mysteriously rising up from Superman’s coffin. I don’t know if this is a specific comic reference (chuck it in the comments if you know) but I know a telegraph when I see one. They’re obviously telling the audiences that Superman will come back, as if to reassure us of his return to the series in the future. And with that they pop the bubble of interest and suspense regarding the future direction of the series. It throws a bucket of cold water over the shock of something so unexpected and drastic happening in the film.
Ok, I know…of course he’ll come back. It’s a comic book movie, and comic books heroes always come back. The Marvel series has already had Bucky Barnes and Phil Coulson return from the dead, and plenty more fake-out deaths. The X-Men film series throw Professor X back into the land of the living without even a token explanation. Being killed by Doomsday was based on the ‘Death of Superman’ story from 1993, and the story arc came to a close when Superman was resurrected. It doesn’t take a genius to work this one out.
But can’t we pretend? Can’t they let us think that he’s out of the team for now? Maybe they’re going to wait until the second Justice League movie before he swoops back in to save the day, at least give him a reason to return before they drop him in. It’s possible that this is a marketing thing, producers being careful not to alienate Superman fans by making them think he won’t be in the next movie. Whatever the reason, that one moment of the dirt floating upwards undermines the movie’s finale, it’s shocking twist. He might as well have winked at the audience from behind a tree during the funeral scene.
This was a poor shot to end on. It was a weak choice. It’s a small problem, but one worth mentioning as this is intended to start a multi-billion dollar film franchise. They should have let Superman be dead for a while.
Was it crummy ending?