Life, Love & Loss in Zack Snyder’s DCEU

By: Oumar Diagne

The DCEU began with a birth. As baby Kal El was born into this universe, we were brought into it alongside him. He wouldn’t know for many years, what his parents did for him… what Jor-El and Lady Lara sacrificed in order to give him a chance at survival. They gave him a chance to live a life that no one on his home planet of Krypton has had the opportunity to live in centuries… A life of choice.

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A Hero

He chose to take the mantle of Superman and become Earth’s hero. But long before he became “the symbol”, the boy he was and the man he later became, was always performing acts of heroism despite what it might mean for his personal safety and secrecy.

We watch him struggle with his place on Earth, and we see how the world’s population treats him, fearing what his presence meant for them. Dealing with the presence of a God on Earth would force anyone to redefine their position in the universe. Luckily for Earth and its people, Clark is grounded by the love he feels deeply. Love for his mother, the people of Earth and above all, the love he has for Lois Lane.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Lois Lane (Amy Adams)  & Superman in “Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice”

Lois and Clark are the definition of true love. They respect and support each other in all ways. There is an honesty and openness between the two that is impossible to miss. We watch them fall in love in Man of Steel, only to see that love grow in Batman V Superman. Their relationship has grown to a point where they can communicate with each other with a simple look in each other’s eyes. She is his world… and it makes one wonder what would happen if he were to lose it.

Knightmare Supes
Knightmare Superman in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of justice

During THE DIRECTOR’S CUTS event held at the Art Center in Pasadena, Director Zack Snyder held a Q&A session after a screening of the Ultimate Cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zack was asked about his original plans for Justice League, and he informed the audience that Warner Brothers asked him and scriptwriter, Chris Terrio, to rewrite it to appease the voices of discontent that rose following Batman V Superman. A HUGE piece of information!

In this video, Director Snyder talks briefly about the specifications of Flash’s time travels abilities, before confirming that Darkseid was meant to boom tube inside of the Batcave and murder Lois Lane.

This bomb really puts so much in perspective with respect to the ‘Knightmare’ sequence we see in BVS. In that sequence we see an evil Superman mourning the loss of Lois, and blaming Bruce for that loss of his great love. We see Flash going back in time to warn Bruce of the coming dangers earlier than intended, giving Bruce a warning he doesn’t have enough information to fully understand.

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Zack Snyder’s AFSP T-Shirt

 

 

Earlier this year, the Film Exiles broke down Director Snyder’s AEQUITAS T-Shirt. It held so much information, including many teases to what was recently confirmed. We concluded that the shirt illustrated Bruce sacrificing himself in order to save Lois who was pregnant with Clark’s child.

With the use of the Flash’s time travel abilities, its reasonable to assume that after losing Lois, Clark falls prey to the Anti Life equation and becomes a slave to Darkseid. This is the version of Superman we see in Knightmare. Killing Bruce in order to get some form of revenge for the loss of Lois. It is not too much of a leap to believe that using the Flash, Bruce goes back to that moment in time and takes the killing blow in Lois’ stead. Ensuring that Superman never goes evil, and giving the world a chance to fight off Darkseid and his armies.

This is all mostly conjecture, although Director Snyder’s points go a long way towards filling out the blanks. What hits me the most, is how this fits in so perfectly with everything that we’ve seen from both characters in BVS. More specifically, how two scenes in that film, completely encapsulate the arcs that both of these heroes will face in their journey and battle against Apocalypse.

These two scenes are the ones that take place between the titular characters and their father figures. Clark and Jonathan on the mountain top, and Bruce and Alfred in the ruins of the Wayne Manor.

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Darkness & Light

The Batman we meet in this film can only be described as a warrior. He has been fighting a war in Gotham for 20 years. He has given every last inch of himself in this endless battle against crime. In BVS he is scarred in all of the ways a man can be. His body, his mind, his heart… even his soul has taken sufficient hits to cause him to begin to question his mission.

In the relics of his family’s home, hours before he is to take on the Man of Steel, we can see all of that weight on his features. All of the pain in his eyes as he looks at his family’s crest. When Alfred enters, Bruce admits his feelings of failure. That he’s spent his entire life fighting a battle that he could never win. Bruce is convinced the only way to give his life any meaning is to save the world from Superman who could one day turn on Earth.“This is about the future of the world. This is my Legacy.” Bruce is wrong; His legacy was never to be the killer of Superman, but to be the man who saved him.

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The Dark Knight Rises

Bruce took on the mantle of the Bat in order to save people from the grief that struck him. He fought crime so that no one would lose someone they love in the manner in which he had. What could be more poetic than the Dark Knight, falling at the hands of Darkseid in order to not only save Lois from death but to save Superman from feeling the grief that would ultimately turn the world’s greatest hero, into its greatest threat.

John Kent
Pa Kent Returns

Clark is alone on a cold mountain. He walks towards a pile of rubble before coming closer and seeing his Earth father, Jonathan Kent. Pa Kent recounts a story of saving the farm, enjoying his hero cake, while the Langs lost all of their horses. How he could hear them in his sleep. Clark asks him if the nightmares ever stopped.

“When I met your mother,” Jonathan tells him. “She showed me that there’s good in this world. She was my world.”

Those were the same words that Clark used to describe Lois before killing Bruce in the Knightmare timeline. The interesting thread here is how Knightmare Superman, mirrors the Bruce we met in BVS, while Bruce resembles the Superman in the films main body.  Bruce blames Superman for the deaths in Metropolis and takes a vengeful path to stop who he considers being a menace. Superman blaming Bruce for the loss of Lois joins Darkseid’s forces and hunts him. The grief they feel over their loss forces them both to confront the other and gain some form of release from their pain.

Dual
Batman V Superman

Grief is one of the deeper human emotions one has to face. Some do it with more grace than others. The humanity that Director Snyder injects our heroes with, makes sure that we see them fall as many of us would. Completely wrapped up in our own pain that we forget where we began. That we lose sight of the people we were or were meant to be. We see its effect on Bruce, and briefly in Superman during the Knightmare sequence.

We are also shown a revitalized Bruce once he gains the cathartic release of saving Clark’s mother. The Caped Crusader had the chance to do what he couldn’t during his childhood… save Martha. The Bruce we see at the end of BVS is a man that has seen the darkness within him and chosen the light.

Men are Still good
The Dark Knight Returns To The Light

If the concept of Bruce’s sacrifice is correct, it only continues the growth of the character that we witness during the closing of BVS. “Men are still good.” Those words hold Bruce’s true legacy.

Just as Superman sacrificed himself to save Bruce’s world, Earth; Bruce pays it forward by sacrificing himself for Clark’s world… Lois.

Bruce not only saves Lois but their unborn child. Allowing Jor-El’s dream to become a reality. With the birth of their child, Clark truly will have become “the bridge between two worlds.”

I have no doubt, that Superman being the man he is, would have found a way to come back from his despair, but seeing him this way is important. Watching our heroes fall, lose themselves and find a way to claw back from darkness only shows us that if they can do it, so can we. The inspirational path these heroes have is not only how they are at their best, but also how they are at their worst. Because at one point or another, the world brings us all down to our knees, how you get back up, shows the hero in you.

 

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