Hitchcock found the name and George Lucas popularized it! Did you know that Lucas actually was thinking of crystals all the way back for Episode IV, even before he used the crystal skulls in Indiana Jones! I’m talking about the MacGuffin, the hidden treasure everyone is after but no one really cares for; the plot device that makes the plot moves forward, even if we came here for the characters and the special effects, and not the story.
In Man of Steel, the MacGuffin was the Codex: General Zod was willing to wipe the Earth for it, and Kal-El had to make the ultimate compromise to prevent Zod from acquiring “it” (or him).
So, will Batman v. Superman also have a MacGuffin? I would bet my right arm on it! Not only is Batman “the world’s greatest detective” – so he actually has to “detect” after something – but we can assume based on what happened in Man of Steel that the writers will use the seeds of that first DC Cinematic Universe to branch out into the world and have our protagonists chase after something, in order to help us discover the DCCU. Not only that, but I will bet my left arm that Lex Luthor will be looking for something, too!
Since this movie is less an origin story and more a thriller / action movie, we can expect one of 5 potential MacGuffins, if not all 5 of them:
After the end of Man of Steel, it’s very probable that every army in the world, as well as every self-made or from-kill-your-parents-inheritance billionaire will be looking after Zod’s body. Why? Well, if you are going to have to contend with a new alien presence on Earth, you’d better be ready to know all its strengths and weaknesses. Especially the latter, to get rid of the former. And what better way to discover those weaknesses than to find Zod’s body, and perform the most gut-wrenching autopsy this side of Twin Peaks. Just breaking a few bistouries will already give you a lot of clues as to what you’re dealing with. Chances are Clark hid the body very well. But since Clark doesn’t have his spaceship Fortress of Solitude around – Zod crashed it – then he’s going to find a very remote and unreachable place to hide the body. But I’m pretty certain the body will be found, even in the pre-credits to the movie! The question is, then, who will find it? Bruce Wayne? Lex Luthor? Only time will tell, and a certain release in March 2016.
The pod bodies / Supergirl:
A lot of speculations came from the open pod in Clark’s Fortress (and the other closed ones, too) as well as the prequel comics that came out just before Man of Steel. Is it possible that another Kryptonian grew on Earth? Or is even alive? Will he/she come out of the woodworks after the Metropolis battle? By the way, this “Metropolis battle” is already acting as the “New York battle” in Avengers. Anyway, what better way to fight Kryptonians than to find a live one who has assimilated on Earth, and is ready to sacrifice himself/herself to save the planet by either giving an organ or fighting alongside the good people of Earth? Finding a live Kryptonian sure beats using a dead one? (Except for the autopsy bit, but it’s not like that could stop Luthor).
As soon as Wonder Woman was announced as taking part in the new DC movie, online rumors popped up that she was a distant relative of the Kryptonian that came out of the open pod. And when the first picture of Gal Gadot in full Amazonian regalia appeared, some people mentioned that her tiara was harboring a Kryptonian symbol, reinforcing her linage. Well, since we know Princess Diana will be part of the movie, we know the Amazonians will be found. But could the search for their magical island, or their mysterious origins, be the main plot point of Batman v. Superman? I don’t think so, unless they add a romantic subplot between Diana and Clark to reflect some of the comic book developments. But I’m sure we’ll learn more about the Amazonians in the course of the movie, either through flashback, narration, or both, and perhaps a search for their origins will be one of the propulsive plotlines.
Kryptonite / Krypton atmosphere generator:
Man of Steel voluntarily avoided the use of Kryptonite, but it sure made up for it with the generator replicating Krypton’s atmosphere. Akin to the “Red Son generators” of the Silver Age of comics, this generator incapacitated our hero while putting him on equal ground with the just-arrived Kryptonians. In effect, it rendered humans all the Kryptonians. Kryptonite, on the other hand, not only incapacitates Kryptonians, but prolonged exposure actually kills them as well (for green Kryptonite; we won’t go into all the rainbow colors today!). So, whether you’re Lex Luthor or Bruce Wayne, if you are looking to incapacitate the “Alien”, or kill him, there is a very high probability that you are going to look to either replicate the generator, synthesize Kryptonite based on tests results on Zod’s body, or find Kryptonite based on star readings and carbon-dating of Zod’s ship to identify the location of Krypton and find asteroids created after the planet’s explosion.
Superman’s secret identity:
Kal-El already let slip that he was “as American as they come” or that he was “raised in Kansas” in Man of Steel. I’m sure that was to reassure the fans that Superman still stood for “Truth, Justice, and the American way”. But I can’t help but feel that it could also be a hint that Bruce Wayne and/or Lex Luthor will be using as many bits of info as they can from Clark’s slip-ups to identify where he came from. Even though John Byrne in 1988's Superman #2 created an amazing story to convince us that Lex Luthor would never believe Superman had a secret identity, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Superman didn’t come to Earth with the other Kryptonians, therefore he has lived among us for many years, therefore there should be traces somewhere of his earlier rescues, blunders, and other showcases of powers. And I’m pretty sure that as the movie starts, Batman will already have figured out who Superman is, because “he’s Batman!”, after all (and the “world’s greatest detective”; did I mention that? :-). But I’m also sure that Lex Luthor will spend considerable resources, charming and forcing his way through Kansas to get as much info as he can. We might even get to see Pete Ross again, but this time getting threatened pretty forcefully to reveal who saved him during the bus accident all those years ago. And perhaps Bruce Wayne will spend a better part of the movie trying to protect Superman’s secret identity, with or without Lois Lane. After all, we live in the age of information, and what kind of information could be more precious that knowing Kal-El’s earthly identity?