Let me start by setting the record straight, Batman v Superman is not a good movie, it’s entertaining, and somewhat fun, but not good, nonetheless. I could easily spend the entirety of this post ranting about how Snyder and co. totally misused and wasted their feminine cast (even though they succefully managed to make a wonderful, but shoehorned, appearence from Wonder Woman), or how all their actors and actreesses turned out to be used as a bunch of one-note characters, or even to take on how a convoluted mess is the movie as a whole. However, I’m here to talk about something else: the main conflict (or what it seems to be a conflict) between our heroes.
When the movie begins, and before we get to see yet another scene with Bruce Wayne’s parents being brutally murdered for the billionth time, we found out that one of Wayne Enterprises’ tower (full of people) was destroyed as a result of the fight between Superman and Zod on Man of Steel, bringing about Bruce’s anger towards the Kryptonian god-like figure.
Clark, on the other hand, has problems of his own. His girlfriend Lois Lane is being constantly kindapped whilst he have to fight against the belief of half of the United States pouplation -specially the government- who happens to think that he could be a dangerous threat to their nation.
As you could see, the movie kicks off by introducing a well-known trope on the world of alien-like stories: xenophobia. Initially, I thought it was a great way to lay the groundwork of the conflict between Batman and Superman. Xenophobia is very relatable to any given situation nowadays, and the perfect narrative tool to raise the stakes at the movie central core.
With this in mind, one would think that the film will probably go on with that particular storyline and develop an interesting analysis with it whilst preparing the audience to experience a well-choreographed fight. How wrong one was.
Batman v Superman not only single-handeldy achieve to forget this very idea halfway down the movie, but it also introduces Lex Luthor as the catalyst between the feud, and the “grand master mind” behind the scheme. So, what were Luthor’s main reasons to put these two to fight, you may ask. None whatosever, will be the correct answer. Just that he is mad evil and want to see the world burn. A “god of war” sort of speaking.
You see, the movie ask us to faithfully believe that Batman and Superman are going to fight (hell, even the title shove that very idea down our throats) without even explaining us the reasons behind it. Our main heroes fight because the film ask them to do so. Because the movie puts Luthor as an excuse to carry on with it.
Yes, Batman hates Superman for his above-the-law persona and his carefree way of thinking. Sure, Superman maybe feels threatened by Batman’s vigilante way of resolving conflict. Of course, we can even believe that Luthor planned all of this because he’s evil, but in no way Snyder would make us believe, as an audience, that this are reasons enough to carry on with a plot. Hell, not even a plot, but the core conflict that manages to reunite this two iconic figures of the DC universe without a purpose, but to feed their fanbase.
Look, I get it, and even I’m able to accept that. Nurturing a fanbase is crucial nowadays, it even has much more impact when you’re talking about such powerful figures and stories as comics may have. Something that DC desperately needed to do before Marvel succefully managed to outsmarted them with their cinematic universe. That’s understandable.
Thus, it needed to be at least a coherent story. You know I’m not a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe either, but at least they are constantly trying to have a sequacious storyline, if not, a simple one, that can explain the motives behind the bad guys and the good guys intentions, whilst carrying some sorts of action sequences and shoehorned love triangles.
In Batman v Superman Batman and Superman ended up fighting (a very simple fight, if you ask me) thanks to Lex Luthor influence on them, because of reasons. He is evil and we’re supposed to play along with it without even asking any follow-up questions or reasons to support it.
The director and his team wonderfully managed to blind themselves with gratuitous easter eggs and unnecessary storylines, instead of making some must-needed groundwork with the xenophobia trope, their core characters background stories and the DC Cinematic Universe in general.
So, when your main storyline involves a conflict between your central characters, the least you could do is to explain properly the motives behind it. If not, you’re only throwing things to the screen instead of trying to make sense of your own story.