Batman v Superman v Me: An Opinion on the Ultimate Edition, the “Martha” scene and Movie-Going

Batman Superman Me

Note: This is an opinion on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS). It combines details about the Ultimate Edition, opinions about certain scenes and comments about my movie going experiences nowadays. 

Superman Glowing eyes

Discussing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently sitting at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and I still think that’s harsh because I enjoyed it for what it was: a sloppy mess thanks to an insecure script, but entertaining nonetheless. Does the Ultimate Edition redeem BvS? Sort of… but not really. Slapped with an R-rating, and an additional 30 minutes, the Ultimate Edition incorporates important elements that help structure the main narrative, however, it also confirms that the Superman movie tucked inside BvS would have ultimately made for a great stand-alone feature.

The movie spends time with Clark Kent investigating how Batman’s branding has affected criminals as well as regular citizens, but it also highlights Lex Luthor’s importance in manipulating the confrontation between the two heroes. Both elements are sorely missed in the theatrical cut, it being focused more on establishing Batman rather than expanding on what could potentially make Superman a compelling character. The extended cut fleshes out Luthor’s scheme and as a result, makes Jesse Einsenberg‘s performance understandable. Also, a few key elements are added to Lois Lane’s arc rather than letting her be the damsel in distress she was during the first go-round. We actually see her investigating a lead, as a journalist would do, after what happened in the desert in Africa. The additions help soften the blow of how she’s clumsily treated by the screenwriters in the third act of the movie. Other wonderful added segments involving Alfred and Perry help lighten Snyder’s tone and desaturated color palette.

Yet, even with the additions, BvS feels bloated. A 182-minute running time isn’t for everyone and I do feel that for comic book movies, it’s excessive. Whatever qualms the general public had with BvS will not be redeemed with the Ultimate Edition. The dialogue and scenes that didn’t work in the theatrical cut seem more apparent now (ie: Bruce’s opening monologue or including a Batmobile chase rather than showing Batman in stealth mode stealing the Kryptonite from Luthor). Many of the pertinent questions regarding how human laws should be applied to ‘Supermen’ or ‘Gods’ from other worlds are left unanswered. The score is still dreadful and the characters from the Justice League still feel shoehorned in. (Let me ask this: Was anyone else under the impression that Aquaman was having difficulty holding his breath? A couple more takes could’ve done the trick, no?)

Bat Stomp

Thoughts on the Touching “Martha” Scene

One thing I want to put out there is how I feel about the “Martha” scene. Audiences seem to have misinterpreted the scene as poor writing, oddly understanding it as “if your mom’s name is the same as my mom’s name, then I guess that makes us friends.” That couldn’t be farther from what is going on and it baffles me how audiences are no longer capable of reading between the lines. You see, when BvS starts, Bruce Wayne has lost grips with his own humanity, falling deeper and deeper into his alter-ego, Batman, and blames Superman for all the destruction caused in Metropolis. Alfred says it best in the movie “That’s how it starts; the fever, the rage that turns good men… cruel.” Bruce has become consumed by his own cruelty, transferring all of his hatred onto Batman and transforming him into a psychotic, egomaniacal vigilante that no longer cares about justice and will murder if he sees fit. After the superheroes have brawled, when Batman has finally pinned down Superman, he says: “You were never a God. You were never even a man.” He sees Superman as an alien that has to be stopped, not as an individual, but as a thing; an object that must be destroyed. Understanding that Batman does not see any humanity in Superman is imperative.

Therefore, when Superman calls out “Martha,” his mother’s name, Batman becomes confused. He no longer sees Superman as a menace that needs to be stopped; he sees Clark Kent, an individual, a man desperately trying to save his mother, something Bruce wishes he himself could have done as a young boy. Clark’s humanity eases Batman’s grip on Bruce allowing him to reclaim a modicum of his own humanity. It helps Bruce understand that his creation, Batman, was the menace all along. In my opinion, the “Martha” scene is one of the most touching and profound in the movie. We love Batman and Superman because there is something about them with which we feel we can identify. But, amidst the inhuman destruction dished out by the heroes we paid to see, our two protagonists turned against each other, there is no space for us to fit in. The “Martha” scene is where we are allowed to reconnect with Bruce and Batman, Clark and Superman. Their abilities are what we dream about, but their humanity is what binds us to them.

Small Batman Tiny

Last Thoughts on Batman v Superman (Before Closing Thoughts on Movie-Going)

Now, as I said in the introduction, I liked BvS and the Ultimate Edition does add quite a few elements that I was glad to see. It did help me appreciate the movie more. If you’re curious, then I do recommend it. As I said in my initial review, “Sure BvS is guilty of trying to be too many movies at the same time, but at least it’s trying something different.” I wish to stress that again. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whom I enjoy, but who rehash the same formula over and over again, BvS gambled big and broke even. Now, that’s not a bash on Marvel, but rather a thumbs up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier that took risks, but a thumbs down to not letting Edgar Wright do an Ant-Man movie that might have been less generic.

Where that leaves me is still right here (quoted from my original post): With Snyder at the helm of its DCEU films, Warner Brothers seem in danger of developing their own Transformers franchise. Snyder has always been a diligent Michael Bay. Yes, with Snyder, Warner Brothers is going to make money, but how do they want to be remembered in the comic book adaptation universe? As the studio that produced The Dark Knight, or the one that got Sucker Punch-ed?

There is hope on the horizon for everyone to get a better understanding of the DCEU. Apparently, Snyder has listened to the fans and Warner Brothers have indeed included Ben Affleck as an Executive Producer on the Justice League movies. Whether that helps revive audience interest and buy critical leniency, only time will tell. A lot of pressure is being put onto Suicide Squad being a success. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn aside, sadly, Suicide Squad is a movie that I have no faith in whatsoever, but that’s for another time.

Batman vs Superman cinema

A Movie-Goer’s Plea to Producers, Marketing Teams and Insane Fanboys

In closing, I wish to address something that’s been eating at me during these last few years as a member of the ever-narrowing film-going population. I beg you dear producers, marketing teams and insane fanboys to stop killing anticipation for movies. Although I understand that big production companies need a return on their investment, I believe the marketing for 10 Cloverfield Lane should serve as an example to big productions. It came out of nowhere, no one had time to spoil anything and it turned out great. Please, please, please let the audience get surprised in the movie theater. That’s where the magic happens. Reveals do help opening weekend box-office, but what about giving word-of-mouth marketing another go? Or simply teasing rather than flat-out giving away details? BvS should never have shown Wonder Woman or Doomsday in the trailers. It’s Batman versus Superman. Isn’t that enough? Hint at Diana Prince; mask Doomsday’s animalistic roar. I know I’m repeating what everyone is thinking and that Warner Brothers have learned their lesson, but I felt the need to communicate my discontent at the situation nonetheless. Imagine how much more audiences would have cheered during their screening of Captain America: Civil War had the trailer simply shown Spider-Man’s webbing snatching Cap’s shield, cutting to a black screen with Spider-Man saying “Oh Cap, big fan!” then having the title fade in, and cutting one last time to the reaction shot of Tony Stark saying “Yeah we don’t need to start a conversation” over Spider-Man saying “Hey everyone!” Editing the trailer in that way would have confirmed Spider-Man, but have created much more anticipation. But alas, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

I used to love going to the movies because I was being taken on an adventure and being surprised. Now, I have to avoid social media and trolls just to have an interesting movie going experience? It isn’t as fun as it used to be. Studios could act a little more like Jim Gordon from The Dark Knight and play things close to the chest. The movie-going crowd will be thankful for it (ie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens). In my opinion, by adopting Robert Browning, 10 Cloverfield Lane gave a little more reach to the phrase “Well, [sometimes…] less is more.”

BvS Ultimate Edition trailer

BvS Final trailer

Suicide Squad trailer

Interested in the Batmobile? Check out this wonderful website that details its history.

Agree? Disagree? Leave comments in the section below. Be sure to check out the Film Faculty podcast on iTunes

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lee Brady says:

    Great opinion piece, very interesting read on the much maligned Martha scene. I understood the intention, but I also understand why people have been so ready to misread it.

    It’s very much at the feet of the direction again; in the original cut, we get an unnecessary flashback to Martha Wayne’s death from Bruce’s perspective: a terrible decision, as this draws more emphasis on the mother than on the realisation that Clark has a mother too.

    It’s very emblematic of the entire movie, I find. Some great visionary ideas on where to take these characters, some interesting interpretations of their motivations and symbolism, just incredibly weighed down by a director who doesn’t care about shaping the characters into a workable narrative, a screenwriter who is more interested in the key points than the connecting hows and whys, and an editor and editing team who, in co-operation with the aforementioned, decidedly do not trust the audience to interpret the material given and so spell out each significant action for them to the hindrance of the flow and vision as a whole.

    There’s definitely good in there, and I’m glad you can see past all the fluff to enjoy it for its merits, because there definitely are some merits. It just hits me repeatedly as a patronising movie afraid to be its own thing. Such is life ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lee! I agree with almost everything you’re saying, especially the “spell out each significant action” part. I usually despise that, but surprisingly, that’s where I also agree with the BvS team not trusting the audience. Look at what happened even if they did spell it out :) Perhaps, they hammered it home a little too much, but I think that if they had not, it may have left more people scratching their heads. I felt it was consistent with the beats of the movie.

      Also, and I forgot to mention this in my article, just the other day, a friend of mine and I were asking ourselves where “nuance” and “gray zones” had gone? You know, movies that weren’t just either “good” or “bad?” There used to be movies that people would describe as “ok.” I believe that BvS fits nice and neatly in there. It wasn’t bad; it wasn’t good. It was simply ok.

      This is a conversation that I would love to have face to face. A Batman v Superman break down. Let’s get in touch soon and make it happen :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lee Brady says:

        Totally see where you’re coming from man, it’s the internet age we live in! A gray area just can’t be summarised in a Youtube comment or a tweet, unfortunately. Would make for a great discussion, definitely game! :D

        Liked by 1 person

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