Six things to look forward to in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

The international release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, DC’s much touted flagship cinematic universe opener is just days away. And there are a tonne of things that we are waiting to see. This is, of course, only the second film in the shared superhero universe. This is also the first time that we will have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman appearing on the big screen together.

The film follows the events of Man of Steel, a Superman origin story starring Clark Kent as the caped crusader directed by Zach Snyder. While I personally loved that film, it did bear the brunt of lots of criticism and it has been hoped that BvS will fare better and meet fans’ expectations and be a box office hit. That’s not guaranteed though; it faces stiff competition from other superhero films set to be released this year. But there are a few things that will set it apart and are worth looking forward to. We have settled on a list of six.

  1. The moral ambiguity

This film is titled “Dawn of Justice” for a reason. We are set to see different world views of justice, the Kryptonian ideal, the dystopian rumble-tumble Gotham brand of justice and the Greek/Amazonian brand of justice. It sets the pace for Justice League, where together with these three, the ideals of other heroes like The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg will blend into one.

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The three main protagonists in this film represent different world views on the concept of justice. Superman, a God-like figure, represents the highest ideals of justice, an identity that his father Jor-El and the larger Kryptonian society bestows on him. It is a hope for a better world. His family Sigil bears that symbol, the idea that everyone can be a force for good. And his commission is to be that shining ideal for the people of earth; an ideal that they can strive towards and finally achieve. That is his concept of justice.

Batman on the other hand, as we’ve seen from the material Warner Bros. has released, is a man that is more sadistic and will go to any lengths to get things done; he will even resort to torture. The violence and craziness of Gotham and the loss of his partner Robin at the hands of the joker has changed him and he has become much crueller. His brand of justice is savage and brutal; he doesn’t shy from beating criminals to a pulp, leaving them paralysed so that, as Clark Kent puts it, “people live in fear, civil liberties are violated but this Bat Vigilante’s a one man reign of terror.”

It is the conflict between this grounded and terrifying justice and the justice that respects human rights and sees the good in people, that brings these two superheroes at loggerheads. There is certainly the other issue that Batman sees Superman as a threat to the human race following the destruction of Metropolis. But their different world views means that these two never see eye to eye. Even in the comic books Batman has referred to Superman as a ‘boy scout’.

We are yet to see what motivates Wonder Woman from the promotional material released so far. It will be interesting to see what it is as it is rumoured she is the one who brings the two warring heroes together in the end.

  1. The Wonder Woman dynamic

“Dawn of Justice” also presents another first; this is the big screen premier of another of DC’s most decorated characters, Wonder Woman. She is part of the Justice League triumvirate, also composed of Superman and Batman, a team initially called “the trinity”. In one of the comic books penned by world famous illustrator Jim Lee, they are the ones who recruit the rest of the members of the Justice League.

Gal Gadot, a former Israeli supermodel, was cast for the role. Her film credits for previous films have been minimal, with her only appearing briefly in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise. There was lots of fan backlash on her casting but that perception has since changed following the release of trailers and Warner Bros. green-lighting a Wonder Woman solo film set to come out next year.

While her origin story is set to be confined to the solo film, we do get to catch a glimpse of her alter ego, Diana Prince, in her role as ambassador of the island nation of Themyscira. What is interesting is that she is so different from your everyday superhero. Despite being capable of great feats like flight, super strength and a wide array of on field combat skills, her greatest allure and power lies in her compassion, wisdom, resilience and nurturing ability that rubs off on the rest of the Justice League.

  1. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor

Jesse Eisenberg for me is the one thing that really draws me to this movie. There have been lots of actors who have taken the role of this character. Jesse Eisenberg has been given the task of embodying Zack Snyder’s vision of Lex Luthor, a young entrepreneur in the vein of Mark Zuckerberg. From what we’ve seen so far, this brand of Lex Luthor has done his homework on both Batman and Superman, and it is possible that he knows their secret identities. He seems to manipulate the both of them into a fight, playing on their ignorance and fears. It is a spirited display, from what we’ve seen so far, of a character that is thrilling and revolting at the same time.

  1. The relationship between Clark and his mother

On a softer note, this is an emotional aspect of the film that attempts to continue what was done in “Man of Steel.” We get very little of the emotional bond between Clark and his birth mother, Lara. The only thing we connect to is her dying wish that her son will make a better world than Krypton, and the sacrifice that she and Jor-el, her husband, make in sending their son to earth. He embodies their belief in the power of hope; that a child can aspire to something greater than what society had intended, something they both believed Krypton had lost by the introduction of artificial birth control.

Martha Kent on the other hand shares a very special bond with Clark and this is one of the more touching aspects of “Man of Steel.” In “Batman v Superman” she seems to console him when the world turns against him for the destruction of Metropolis, telling him he can be whatever the world needs him to be, but there is no obligation for him to be their saviour.

  1. Clark Kent the reporter

Clark Kent is Superman’s alter ego, working at the Daily Planet as a reporter. We get a glimpse of him at the end of Man of Steel, sporting spectacles and being introduced to the rest of the daily planet team. As a reporter in this film he chases down the story of Batman, the masked vigilante in Gotham.

In doing so he both draws the ire of Daily Planet chief editor Perry White and comes head to head with Gotham Billionaire Bruce Wayne, who dismisses his amateur and biased reporting as a hypocritical witch hunt and says Batman isn’t the real problem. According to him, Metropolis should instead focus on the real threat of an alien, Superman, who burned the place to the ground.

Clark Kent as a reporter in this film strays from the conventional narrative of him being a different person from Superman. In “Batman v Superman”, Lois Lane is in love with both Superman and Clark Kent as is aware of their dual identities. Furthermore this represents Clark’s attempts at solving the world’s problems through the power of the pen rather than the cape and we are set to see whether this new strategy will bear fruit.

  1. Zach Snyder’s vision of Batman

Finally, this film is as much about Batman as it is about Superman. We are aware now that in this film’s setting Batman has already been around for 20 years, fighting crime. The war he has been waging has cost him Wayne Manor (an heirloom house that has housed many generations of the Wayne family). His compatriots like Jason Todd (Robin) have been swallowed up by the dark gaping cavern of Gotham’s gallery of criminals.

He is at the end of his tether and has become more cruel and ruthless. With the introduction of superhumans like Superman and Wonder Woman, he is left to contemplate his place in the world and whether his fight has been all in vain. What can a man do in the face of the gods?

Daniel Kobimbo is a lawyer. He writes from Nairobi, Kenya. Find him on Twitter handle @kob46.

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