From the Archive: BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN VS A SIMPLE FIX
Well, it's simple to ME...
Back in 2016, we still had hope that DC’s cinematic universe wouldn’t be mostly awful. But that year’s Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice really was another red flag. I recently posted my take on this year’s The Batman and referenced this post for my “How I’d” have done a Batman/Superman movie. So, I felt it was a good time to revisit how to write Batman and Superman in a way that would make them both more interesting and versions of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Oh, one warning, I didn’t do a TL;DR back then, so you’ll have to read the whole thing. I think it’s worth it. Welp, here it is:
Originally posted way back on September 7, 2016
Now, I could go into how this movie is a mess of crap, interspersed with rock-stupidity, but if you’ve seen this movie, you already know this. So, I’ll just jump to the part where I explain how I’d do things differently. I think it’s a fairly simple solution, too. I tried to write something more like my usual thing but there is just so much to say about this film, I had to give up. So, here we go:
Start over from Scratch… Almost…
Ultimately, this is what I would do — everyone always complains that Superman is a boring character. I have always disagreed and cite the Gangbuster arc from the late 80s/early 90s (I think?) as evidence. In fact, the same thing that fuels the Gangbuster story arc occurs in the previous movie starring Superman, Man of Steel. So, it would have been the perfect set up. So, I’d start there — with Superman feeling terribly terribly guilty for having played judge, jury, and executioner for General Zod.
From there I’d still take some liberties with it compared to the source material. So, I suspect that Mr. Snyder might still actually get a kick out of my version of this movie. However, I’d go in the opposite direction from what most people expect. First, I’d make Batman retired. The problem of crime was almost entirely solved in Gotham City after Wayne Industries invested heavily in community centers, schools and local colleges. Of course, everyone (in the media, especially) assumes it’s Batman’s techniques that have saved Gotham. Bruce knows the truth but feels that Batman’s reputation needs to stay intact, just to keep up appearances. However, with news reports of Batman having moved to Metropolis, Bruce Wayne realizes he must get involved once again to protect his legacy.
Meanwhile, Clark Kent suffers from serious PTSD after killing General Zod — an act which, it turns out, goes against every moral molecule in his body. He wakes every night from night terrors and has become despondent and difficult as a person. He and Lois end their relationship but are placed together by their new boss on the Batman-In-Metropolis story. Perry White has been let go after LexNewsCorp has bought the Daily Planet. Lois is frustrated but is still the ultimate pro and Clark decides to shut up and do his dayjob, though, he’d rather not be bothered. “Let Batman do to/for Metropolis what he can. Superman (I) could use some help!”
After all, Superman, since Man of Steel, has been finding his more peaceful means of crime control are simply not working. At least, he’s not patient enough to let them work. It seems to him that crime and crimes are getting worse and he is not sure what to do about it. He is desperate and jealous of Batman’s ability to beat criminals into submission especially here on Superman’s turf.
That’s the set-up, here’s Act One
Bruce, Lois and Clark all begin to investigate these Batman sightings in Metropolis (obviously crossing paths more than once) only to be distracted by, reports of Metropolis’ Batman wearing a red suit/mask and having the ability to move very fast. Also distracting is a mysterious, dark-haired woman investigating this new vigilante in Metropolis, as well. Finally and worst of all, they are distracted by news reports from LexNewsCorp’s conservative-leaning, fear-mongering news outlets, The Daily Planet and Lex News Network (in my BMvSM, Lex would be portrayed by a girthy, balding white man with jowls and a penchant for pretty anchor ladies).
Bruce comes up dry after following around Lois and Clark and decides it’s back to the cape and cowl. So, as Batman, he tricks Superman into a meeting (his own scream auto-tuned to a frequency high enough that Supes can’t ignore it). Superman is angry, accusatory, and threatening to take Batman to the police. Batman manages to convince him that he is not behind the excessively violent attacks in Metropolis, reminding Superman of Batman’s record of never killing anyone in all his years in Gotham. This pisses off Superman (reminding him of his own execution of Zod), and he snaps an agreement at Batman, just to shut him up. They will work together to catch this new guy, whom they’ve come to call Gangbuster for his preference of criminal victim.
After a few nights of no luck finding their target, they agree to go to a gang hotspot but Batman rejects Superman’s intel for the hotspot location, insisting that his own information is more accurate (“Where’d you get that intel from? Reading the Daily Planet?”) and Superman begrudgingly allows Batman to take the lead (“They do call me the World’s Greatest Detective.”). They go to the big gang hotspot and wait all night. Gangbuster does not show. Batman suggests they take a night off. Superman agrees.
The next night, Bruce is on the balcony of his hotel room when he sees that same dark haired woman who they saw while chasing down Gangbuster. She is staring at him from the next balcony over. She commands him to immediately go to the gang hotspot. Before Bruce can react, she leaps into the air and seems to fly, up to the roof. Throwing on his cowl, Batman grapples up to the roof and asks Alfred (over his cowl’s communication system) for some spy satellite help finding the . “Master Bruce, she’s right behind you.”
“World’s Greatest Detective, huh?” she says, going on to insist he must go to the gang hotspot to catch his quarry. Batman demands to know how she knows Gangbuster will be there tonight since he wasn’t there last night. “Because he thinks you and your super friend won’t be there tonight. You need to go now. Don’t contact your friend. Just go.”
Batman suits-up and heads out to the gang hotspot to find Gangbuster beating the crap out of thirty or forty armed gang members. Bats tells everyone to run for their lives as he manages to catch up to the rogue vigilante. Batman tries to engage the madman in some kind of dialog but Gangbuster is more interested in smashing thug heads and breaking criminal bones. Finally, Batman demands Gangbuster take him on since Batman is a criminal, too. Gangbuster begins to speak in a very angry, growly voice that is somehow familiar.
Batman sees bullet holes in Gangbuster’s red jumpsuit and his red mask has been partially broken from a gunshot to the face, but there is no blood. Bats looks back at the bullet holes and sees red, yellow and blue fabric underneath the jumpsuit. Batman leaps at Gangbuster, putting his fingers through the bullet holes in the jumpsuit and tearing a chunk of fabric off, revealing Superman’s “S” underneath.
Superman/Gangbuster proceeds to beat the living crap out of Batman. Batman manages to limp away from Superman but Superman’s eyes begin to glow. “You’re right… you are a criminal!”
Just as Superman fires his heat vision at the Dark Knight, out of nowhere Wonder Woman arrives in the arms of the Flash, her shield protecting herself, Flash, and Batman. Superman’s heat vision reflects off of her shield and begins tearing apart the building they are in. Wonder Woman commands Flash to get Batman out of harms way and to then come back to get her. He does. Obviously, she does not pursue Superman/Gangbuster, who escapes as the building collapses.
Now, the climax is ready to be set up — it’s where Batman taps into his secret stash of Kryptonite under the Batcave in order to prepare to face an insane Superman. In the process of developing tech that will let them take on Superman, they decide to enlist the help of STAR Labs’s latest creation, Cyborg. Wonder Woman keeps the Flash involved and they formulate a plan that will drive Superman to Metropolis harbor. Once to the water, Wonder Woman knows a guy who can help.
So, they execute their plan and, being consumed by vengeful rage, Superman falls for that plan and finds himself being driven toward the water. “You guys know I can swim, right?”
Frustrated with the ease at which they manipulated him into this confrontation, he starts to get very angry and very brutal. He takes down all of them one by one. But then turns toward the harbor to see Aquaman and his army rise from the water. “And you’re here to stop me?”
“We are here to restore the balance of justice.”
“JUSTICE?!?” Superman starts to protest, but then stops, looking at his beaten down colleagues. A look of horror crosses his face. “My friends… I… there can be no justice… not as long as I am on this Earth!”
Superman leaps upward and does not stop.
Aquaman and his soldiers help the others to their feet. Batman stares up at the night sky. “He’ll be back… and we need to be ready.”
That’s how I’d do it.
My title would be different, too. It would be “BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: BALANCE OF JUSTICE.”
Just one word of difference, but that is an important word.
The whole problem I had with BMvSM: DoJ was that there was just no reason for them to go head-to-head against each other. I don’t mind the abstract idea of making Batman a paranoid, Alex Jones type, but not like this — not in a way that makes him look like an incompetent paranoiac. Obviously, I am cool with changing the characters around, but the change has to lend itself to the goals of the story while still staying true to core aspects of the characters. Batman is a hero. He needs more than the politics of fear to justify attacking Superman.
Likewise, Superman needs more than his mom in danger and a nearly terminal inability to have a conversation with someone who disagrees with him to justify fighting Batman. Along these lines I feel like I’d please Zack Snyder fans (and hopefully Snyder, as well) because this story is about Superman going insane. This isn’t about how Superman is a good guy and Batman’s paranoid about nothing. This is about Batman’s paranoia being rightand Superman having a psychotic break and going all Norman Bates on Metropolis. That’s pretty damn gritty if you ask me.
Was Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice an entertaining movie? Some people thought it was but most of us thought it was not. So, if they had done it my way, yeah, it would have been a much bigger crowd pleaser and made a heckuva lot more sense.
PS I’d also have wanted to figure out a way to tie these movies into CW’s FlashArrowverse because, well, even at its worst, the FlashArrowverse is still more fun than Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Meanwhile, back in 2022…
See? I think my story would be cool to see six years later but who knows what is going on with the DCEU at this point? As I said in my The Batman critique, it’s probably time for Warners to take a step back from their DC IP and let Marvel Studios run out of steam before doing anything else. While they are waiting, who ever ends up in charge of the DC intellectual property can sit down and develop a new plan to create a cohesive TV and movie universe for the DC characters to exist in. Doing anything other than following Marvel’s example is to admit you don’t like money.
It won’t be that hard! Hit me up — I’d be happy to help!