Yesterday on January the 10th, Zack Snyder director of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman made a reappearance on Twitter with a cryptic and enigmatic new T-Shirt design intended to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness. The design has us all scratching our heads. After much collaborative analysis, The Film Exiles have managed to break down the image and what we think the contents therein represent.
First, it is important to understand the context in which the symbols pertain. On the back of the shirt, there is a quote from philosopher Joseph Campbell, it states:
“All the God’s, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.”
The Tree of Life
Thanks to our friend Adrienne (@TruthLoveFaith), who identified that Zack’s image represents the Tree Of Life from Kabbalah, a diagram which is used in mystical traditions symbolizes different archetypes and lines connected to them. The nodes in the Tree of Life represent different aspects of existence, God, or the human psyche. With this lens, we are better able to understand what the diagram on the t-shirt is telling us. In Zack’s t-shirt our Justice League heroes are represented on the tree of life in the order of decreasing power, with the all-powerful alien/God Superman at the top; followed by demi-Gods Wonder Woman and Aquaman; then meta-humans Barry Allen (Flash) and Victor Stone (Cyborg); and finally the humans, Bruce Wayne followed by Lois Lane.
The Latin words “Aequitas” umbrellas over the top of the diagram above Superman’s symbol. The word AEQUITAS means equality or symmetry or balance Aequitas has a connotation of holiness, wholeness, perfection, divine.
Cicero a roman philosopher defined Aequitas as a 3 part concept. The first part, related to the gods above which in this picture we believe is Diana. The second, to the Manes, the underworld spirits or spirits of the dead and was sanctity, that which is sacred, which the closest connection to the diagram on the shirt would be Arthur/Atlantis. The third part pertains to human beings was Iustitia, “justice” which naturally you would assume to be Superman. As we know, he is a big fan of Justice.
In the middle of the diagram, there is a depiction of the Earth. On both sides of the Earth, there are 2 pillars. These pillars are representative of the “Freemason Pillars”, each with a sphere on top. Between these is a star and above that an eye with the title “Lucifer”.
On the T-Shirt diagram, the left pillar appears to be a structure made from wheat and that on the right appears to be a skyscraper type building. This could be representative of multiple dualities, including Smallville-Metropolis, meaning that they embody Kal-El’s journey from Clark Kent to Superman; or even Clark Kent-Bruce Wayne, the two pillars of DC that provide balance to the world.
Above the Freemason’s pillars are images of a sun and moon, respectively. That the sun presides over the left pillar (depicting Superman, guardian of the earth by day) and the moon above the pillar on the right (depicting Batman, guardian of the earth by night) is not thought to be coincidental. Looking at alternative imagery of the Masonic pillars you can clearly see that the sun and the moon are depicted as watching over a central object. In the case of Zack’s t-shirt, these would both be watching over a globe of the Earth. However, in Zack’s image, a star and a cog sit atop those pillars, more about this later.
The most obvious difference between the Masonic imagery and the image on Zack’s t-shirt is the replacement of the all-seeing eye of Lucifer with Superman’s symbol of Hope, indicating that Superman is watching over us all.
On top of the right pillar is a cog and hidden inside the cog (to the right) is a crescent moon (referenced earlier). The cog is imagery for the world of technology. Specifically, it could refer to the technology associated with Cyborg, Apokoliptian technology, which sits atop a building which represents the technology of man.
On the T-Shirt, to the left of the cog with the crescent moon is the text 3:5 which references the scripture John 3:5: “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” If we use our knowledge of the comics we can assume that entering the kingdom of God could be likened to entering Apokolips through a Mother Box.
The 3:5 could also be a reference to the verse in the Book of Genesis which states “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” This is in reference to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fact that it is placed beside the Cog symbol representing Cyborg, could reflect his connection to the Mother Boxes and the extensive knowledge that the pairing has brought to him.
Atop the left pillar is a star. As the cog represented the world of technology, the star refers to the world of magic, which is thought to represent Wonder Woman. Hidden within this star is the eye of Lucifer. This eye we believe to represent Lex Luthor. To the right of the eye is the text AC 23, and Lex Luthor makes his debut in Action Comics 23 further driving home the idea that Lex Luthor is an allegory for Lucifer.
AC-23 is the first appearance of Lex Luthor
As discussed before, the imagery indicates that the items atop the pillars are watching over the Earth. One way of looking at this is to suggest that Wonder Woman and Cyborg are watching over the Earth thanks to the foundations provided by Batman and Superman. Another way to look at it is that Lex Luthor is using magic to watch over (spy on) the Earth whilst Batman (the moon) uses technology.
On the outside of the pillars are the words Between and Betwixt. The phrase ‘betwixt and between’ means to not fully or properly be either of two things. This could represent that the world is no longer Earth anymore but neither is it Apokolips yet. A literal examination of the word Betwixt tells us that it is the actual olde English word for between. The positioning of the archaic word Betwixt next to the left pillar which we have identified to represent the old world of magic, and the modern word Between next to the right pillar which we have identified to represent the new world of technology, adds a further layer to this allegory. However, we can also analyze the two extreme components of the phrase’s meaning; neither and both. Interestingly, on the left side, Wonder Woman and Flash are neither completely human nor God, respectively. On the right side, Aquaman and Cyborg are both Human and otherworldly, specifically Atlantean and technology based.
The DNA chain on the left is imagery for metahumans. In DC comics a metahuman is defined in many ways but is mainly considered to be a person with superpowers. The DNA chain represents the human genome with an aberration/mutation in it and it is this aberration which represents metahumans. The chain on the right is broken exemplifying the struggle to break free of constraints imposed by Darkseid.
The sword in the center of the diagram harkens back to the sword of Damocles In Greek mythology it’s a warning of impending doom. The sword in a foreshadowing symbol would hover over the heads of those marked for impending death. The sword in this image pierces a globe with the letter A wrapped around it, an omega symbol (Ω) and just touches Bruce Wayne’s casket that drips with blood.
ΚΑTΑΦΙΛΕΩ / Kiss
Below Superman’s symbol on the hilt of a sword that pierces the Omega symbol is the word ΚΑTΑΦΙΛΕΩ (katafileo). This word is the Greek word for kiss/caress. It is specifically used with respect to the Judas Kiss or the kiss of betrayal. In Christian religions, Judas was one of Christ’s closest friends, who betrayed him to his death, turning him in to be crucified. The Judas kiss has since become known as a symbol for betrayal. It is thought that with this in mind, and that the sword pierces the Omega symbol which represents Darkseid, that Superman betrays Darkseid. This fits in with the long-held theory that Superman was taken control of by Darkseid using the Anti-life Equation only for Superman to break free of its control and betray Darkseid. According to comic book lore, The Anti-Life Equation exists in the subconscious of all sentient beings. It becomes active only when people lose all HOPE and are in despair.
The Globe which the sword pierces is a combination of the two spheres that sit atop of the two Masonic pillars.
The sphere on the left which has lines of latitude and longitude are representative of the Earth. The sphere on the right which has a sash (related to constellations/houses of astrology) is representative of the heavens. In DC comics, Darkseid is a “New God” who resides in what is known as “the fourth world” on Apokolips. This is generally thought of as DCs version of the heavens.
In Zack’s image, the two spheres are combined. Earth and Heavens coming together, or in other words, Earth and Apokolips are becoming one. The sash around the globe has the letter A on it which further leads to the idea that this imagery is representative of Darkseid transforming the Earth into Apokolips. The letter A could also represent the Greek letter Alpha, which provides balance to the Greek letter Omega beneath it. These are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet respectively.
The use of Courtlandt in Zack’s image is clearly a reference to the book “The Fountainhead” for which he is involved in making an adaptation. He also made use of this in Justice League, naming a small fishing boat after it.
In the book, Courtlandt it is the name of the housing project that Howard Roark was commissioned to create. As with Zack Snyder, the architect of our DC universe, Howard was attacked for his work and was a victim of sabotage. In the t-shirt, Courtlandt is written on a cylindrical shape along with the Omega symbol. This suggests that Darkseid is the architect of Apokolips on Earth.
The six smaller swords poised to attack the omega symbol are thought to represent the members of the Justice League that are incapable of defeating Darkseid. That would indicate there was intended to be a further member of the Justice League since Superman is represented by the large central sword that pierces the Omega symbol. This sixth member is as yet unknown, although a Green Lantern has long been rumored to be an eventual member.
The swords are also positioned around the table like King Arthur’s knights around a round table. That they surround the Omega symbol could represent that the league was brought together because of Darkseid’s threat. The Justice League, led by Superman (his symbol of hope on the hilt of the sword) and Batman (his casket at the tip of the sword), defeating Darkseid at the end of Zack’s original story.
Bruce Wayne’s Casket
The casket that the sword KISSES has the letter W on it, known to be the crest of Bruce Wayne. At the bottom of the Freemason’s pillar image, there is also a casket. This is said to represent the death of the old life and rebirth into the new life of enlightenment in Freemasonry.
Because the sword kisses the casket, it is believed that this image represents Bruce Wayne sacrificing himself to allow Superman to defeat Darkseid. There is blood that drips from the casket, and incidentally one of those droplets of blood finds its way to the bottom of the image. This is where the aspect of rebirth and enlightenment comes into it.
It has long been theorized that Lois and Clark would conceive of a child. The triangle with the point facing downwards is the symbol of women/female fertility. In alchemy, the triangle is also the symbol for the Earth. In Batman v Superman we see in the Knightmare scene (a now presumably altered timeline) that Superman says to Bruce “She was my world, and you took her from me”. Using Earth and world interchangeably supports the allegory that the triangle his world, Lois Lane. In Zack’s image, we see that the triangle specifically refers to Lois’ womb, with the baby inside it appearing to be male due to the image of the sperm above it.
The positioning of Bruce Wayne between a pregnant Lois Lane and Darkseid indicates that Batman not only sacrifices himself to allow Superman to defeat Darkseid but also to save Lois and Superman’s unborn child. Batman heeds Barry’s warning from Batman v Superman that “Lois is the key”. It could even mean that it is this act of self-sacrifice that restores hope to Superman, allowing him to snap out of the Anti-life equation’s grip (as it only works on those who have no hope) and therefore defeat Darkseid. The one drop of Bruce’s blood dripping down from the casket towards the baby boy indicates that Lois and Clark would name their baby boy Bruce, in memory of their fallen friend, and thus a rebirth of Bruce.
THE OTHER MEMBERS
The eagle representing justice is used on the American seal and is a favorite of Zack Snyder who uses it as his profile image on Vero. In the American seal, the eagle holds an olive branch which represents peace in its right talons and 13 arrows representing the 13 original states in its left. In Zack’s image, the eagle sits above Wonder Woman’s symbol and it is thought to represent that she is the protector of the land. In his image, the eagle has abandoned the olive branch (abandoning peace) and temporarily dropped three arrows (representative of the Amazons, Atlanteans and the kingdom of men). The eagle instead holds the sword, which indicates that she has taken up the sword to wage war against Darkseid.
Zack’s image shows a hand holding a Quindent beneath a crown, which sits above Aquaman’s symbol. This is thought to signify Arthur’s path to becoming the rightful king of Atlantis and that during the war with Darkseid, that he will be the protector of the seas and the underwater worlds.
In Zack’s image, the hourglass sits below Flash’s symbol and it is thought to represent that he is the protector of time. The hourglass represents Barry’s affinity with the speed force and his ability to manipulate time. The wings on either side represent the wings of Hermes, the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. This is likely to represent Barry’s message to Bruce in Batman v Superman, where he travelled through time to deliver his message, only to find out that he is too soon. The scythe represents death. This could be considered to be Flash being Bruce’s messenger of death, which coincides with the idea that “Lois is the key”, that he should sacrifice himself to save Lois and her unborn baby. Presumably, Bruce sent him back to deliver this message, depicted by the connection between Flash’s symbol and Batman’s.
In Zack’s image, the book sits below Cyborg’s symbol. The book represents knowledge and it is thought that Cyborg is the protector of knowledge in the war with Darkseid. The flame above the book represents life, indicating that Cyborg may have some particular knowledge about life or a specific life. The connection between Cyborg’s and Batman’s symbols indicate that this knowledge is related to either Bruce’s life or a life touched by Bruce. It has been a longstanding theory that Cyborg helps Barry run through time using the cosmic treadmill. It is considered that the Motherbox technology which is part of him provides Cyborg with the knowledge to help Barry travel through time to save a life. This is likely the life of Lois and her unborn baby.
The Four Elements of Life
Within these images are the four elements of life. The element of earth symbolizes Wonder Woman, water symbolizes Aquaman, wind symbolizes Flash, fire symbolizes Cyborg.
There is so much to unpack here, and there was no way to cover it all in one article. But we wanted to provide you all with one comprehensive source for as much of it as possible. Thank you for reading such a lengthy document and we are excited to hear from you all too. Get in contact with us on twitter @TheFilmExiles to share some of the things we may have missed or have yet to discuss here. We will also be doing a further breakdown on an episode of The Film Exiles podcast. We hope that you will join us there to put more meat on the bones of this wonderful image! You can find us on Soundcloud, Google and most other places where podcasts are available by searching for The Film Exiles.
Please contribute to suicide prevention and awareness by buying this T-Shirt. Thank you!