He's faster than a speeding bullet. He's more powerful than a locomotive. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound. He's Superman – and he just might have the power to destroy the entire human race.
Man of Steel is still many things to its critics – usually something between sheer genius and needless destruction porn– but chief among them is the fact that it forever fails to feel like a Superman movie, or at least the kind we know. Its bleak tone and worldweary hero more closely resembled Batman than the Man of Tomorrow we know and love. Instead, Man of Steel is how a vigilante sees Superman: a weapon of mass destruction ready to go off at a moment's notice.
To that end, it's been long wondered just whose movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be. When it was first revealed in the spring of 2014, we learned that it was Batman's name that would precede Superman's on theater marquees. It was The Dark Knight who would be throwing down with Superman and on his own terms.
By all appearances, the Batman that Ben Affleck is playing seems like a far cry from the broken old man of Frank Miller's comic books. This Batman is in something of a mid-life crisis: he's lost, he's uncertain, and he's very, very angry. Unlike Miller's Batman, Affleck's version isn't looking for a good way to die – he's simply looking for a reason to fight again after so many others stopped trying. Whereas Man of Steel was about Clark Kent learning to fly, Batman V Superman is as much about Bruce Wayne's rebirth as it is his apparent enemy and eventual friend.
The internet would tell you that Batman v Superman already spoiled itself mere weeks before its release. If director Zack Snyder's recent assurances hold any water – and I'm fairly certain that they do – then we still don't know half of what Batman V Superman has to offer. To know what twists and turns Snyder might have in store , first we have to understand where the DC Cinematic Universe is going.
A word to the wise: potential spoilers may follow.
The Dark Side Of The DC Universe
In the eight years since the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's Thanos that Marvel's been teasing as its big baddie. It should follow that Warner Bros has an end game of its own and Darkseid should be the first name that immediately springs to any comic geek's mind. From the film's promotional stills, we know that Darkseid is very much a part of the DC Cinematic Universe, if his trademark Omega symbol and Parademons are anything to go by. Fighting them is a Batman who looks like he just walked off the set of Mad Max. He's already fought Superman's men before and isn't surprised by his circumstances one bit.
The real question is what we often ask ourselves: is this just a bad dream? Unless we do see Ben Affleck wake up in a cold sweat because of that one pizza before bed, my answer is a resounding "no."
The Doomsday Scenario
Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor may be plenty of things: goofy, eccentric, and quite possibly psychotic if one Lois Lane is to be believed. We also know that, for all intents and purposes, this universe's double L has access to what's no doubt his universe's version of Kryptonite, that seems to be the genuine article. But killing Superman's never been Lex's real dream, has it? It's been using him for himself – and he's willing to make a deal with the devil to do it.
It's been assumed by fans that Doomsday will indeed be made by Lex's hand to kill Superman and will probably be born from Lex's special K or will at least be immune to it. At a glance, he appears to be the same grey goliath he's always been – short of the bone fragments that will surely grow with time. What the character does have apart from his comic book counterpart are a pair of laser red eyes.
Should the film's trailers be any indication, Doomsday will definitely be among the first in the pre-Justice League's rogues' gallery – someone that Snyder promises will be a large part of the DC Cinematic Universe going forward. That's a lot to ask for from a big piece of dumb, grey muscle whose only real resumé has been trying to kill Superman. That is, if Doomsday is all (or who) he appears to be.
Contrary to The Joker and even Batman, Doomsday has never had a lot of layers as a character. Yet according to rumor, we have yet to see his final form onscreen. Could that be Darkseid himself? And like Thanos, Darkseid's powers extend well beyond time and space, namely through his Omega beams, powerful bio-electric energy beams that can track and disintegrate a selected target: Batman.
Tell us: Do you Bleed?
If ongoing theories about Batman's armor are anything to go by, nothing earthly could have a chance at surviving Superman's uppercuts. The same might be the case for Doomsday. It's doubtful even Lex could create something on earth that could beat the Man of Steel. Teleporting someone like Darkseid rather than genetically engineering the big bad would be a more creative screenwriting effort and something as powerful as Omega beams would be enough to create the explosion we see during Wonder Woman's trailer appearance, one that Batman doesn't seemingly survive.
Of the three characters standing tall at the end of Batman V Superman's trailer, only two have canonically survived Darkseid's Omega beams: Wonder Woman and, of course, Superman. He also happens to be armed with what looks like a gun not unlike the one he used against none other than Darkseid in 2008's Final Crisis. In that event, Batman was sent hurtling into the distant past by Darkseid's Omega beams, or in this case, DC's first live-action Elseworld.
Back to The Future
So where does that leave Batman's nightmare? It was over a year ago that the film extensively filmed in the New Mexico desert, which reportedly starred one of "the largest set pieces" in the state's film history. That seems a like a lot of work for a mere dream sequence – especially for a sequence that never "really happens" in the story. New Mexico is also known for its Cold War-era nuclear tests. It's not hard to guess that one of its nuclear bunkers is where Batman's unmasking takes place and where Batman V Superman meets the DC Universe's other timeline.
The 1998 comic, Superman: The Dark Side, notably featured an alternate Kal-El raised by Darkseid who commanded his father's conquering armies. The same might be true here. The ruins of what could be a bombed out Metropolis suggest that Darkseid's given possession of earth over to this Elseworld Superman who either by choice or necessity is serving Darkseid to suit his own ends. His henchmen further wear the Nazi-esque uniforms of his soldiers in Injustice: Gods Among Us as well as his own Superman: The Dark Side look. Batman's likewise become the leader of the horseback gang we see traveling across the New Mexico hills, gathering intel to bring back home until his untimely capture by Superman. And in that time, more than Batman's mind may have snapped if what we gather from the trailer above is true.
“Be their hero, Clark, be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be...or be none of it," Martha Kent tells her son in the film's trailers. "You don't owe this world a thing, you never did.” In this world, Superman may never have known a Lois Lane or a Perry White. He may also be the same Superman – or this universe's Bizarro as many fans have come to see him – we see kneeling before a smug-looking Lex in some unlikely alliance as mutual allies of Darkseid. After all, how do you cut a diamond? With another diamond.
In truth, Batman V Superman's finale may see our two Supermen battle for earth with what may be our long-rumored Justice League members gathering to fight alongside our good Superman. Meanwhile, Batman will have to find a way back to earth – an arc picked up by 2018's The Batman in 2018, a year before Justice League kicks off.
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain," Christopher Nolan told us not so long ago. We certainly know that Snyder took his producer's opinion to heart with Man of Steel. If comics tell us anything, the difference between good and evil can often be made by little more than circumstance. Another place and another time could just as easily turn good men cruel. But it all makes them a bit more human.