With only a few days left until the premiere of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, fans are about to have their childhood dreams come true by seeing Batman share a screen with Superman for the first time in live action.
But with any movie property of this magnitude and handling characters so iconic, there's bound to be backlash about what changes are made when the characters are adapted from comic page to movie screen. So with that, I'd like to address some of the differences Zack Snyder and Co. may (or may not) have decided to go with in the movie compared to their comic-book counter parts, evidence to support the theories and why it could be a good thing...
What We Know:
With less than a week to go until the film is released, we already know quite a bit about the movie and the characters, so let's list off what we know for sure:
An Older, Grizzled Batman
With the (arguably brilliant) casting of Ben Affleck in the iconic role, among other things, we know that Bruce Wayne has been the caped crusader for roughly 20 years. With this fact alone, we know we will be getting a version of the character that is more worn down, he's dealt with enormous loss (which I'll address), and from what we've seen, it'll be the most brutal incarnation of the Dark Knight we've ever seen. Count me in!
Batman hates Superman
After the enormous loss of life that occurred during the final act of Man of Steel, we know from the trailers that Bruce Wayne was near by during the fight between Superman and General Zod and had some personal connection to those lost during the destruction. Though we're not yet clear about the extent of Batman's knowledge of the incident, we do know that Bruce Wayne blames Superman for the destruction of Metropolis and is worried about the consequences of a being of such power being left unchecked. So what plan could he have to neutralize Superman without killing him? Especially if Superman couldn't even find a way out of killing during his fight with Zod.
A Robin has died
Although it's not directly stated that Batman had a sidekick who was killed, it's pretty damn obvious from this shot in the trailers, that there was at some point at least one Robin, and that he was shot and is no longer around. This leads one to wonder if such a tragic loss could push him over the edge. Obviously he hasn't taken revenge on the Joker because we'll be seeing him running around in Suicide Squad, but it is possible that in his new pursuit of Justice, he's now willing to cross a line that he never would without the presence of a side-kick to set an example for.
Batman's ideology is Inflict justice at any cost
If you listen carefully to the differences between Batman and Superman's ideology in the film, Henry Cavill says that his character is "trying to do the right thing by everybody" in an ethical manner where as Affleck's Batman is focused on "... at any cost, inflict justice." This begs the question: What is this Batman's version of Justice? Does Cavil really mean "...at ANY cost"?
Before we go over an possible theories on why we think Batman may have decided to take lives when we meet him in BvS, let's take a look at the hints we have, just to make sure we're not crazy here...
How the heck are these guys not dead?
We can see in the following trailer pretty clearly that these dudes above us were basically blown to smithereens by the Batwing. I guess there's always the possibility that there's some vague explanation that they survived being shot with live 50 caliber rounds, but that would seem silly to me.
Broken Neck. Dead.
Although it has been confirmed that what's happening in this scene you see in the trailers is in fact a nightmare (or Knightmare, am I right?), It definitely looks like this dude is getting the old Superman-Zod treatment by getting his neck snapped by Batman here. Even though this isn't really happening in the current time-line, it is interesting to see the limits Batman is willing to go, even if it is just in a dream.
GUNS! And a Lethal Arsenal...
So we see that there's already a clear difference here between Affleck's Dark Knight and any other incarnation before him, even if he isn't killing, if only because of the inherent lethal aspect to the tools he's now uses. In the following interview you'll see that the Prop Master, Douglas Harlocker, say that Snyder choose this particular design of the batarang because...
... it had many different cutting edges, he really wanted it to stick in anything anywhere, you know, that there was a more lethal aspect to it.
There's another big clue we have straight form the horses mouth!
So now that we know that there are some pretty significant clues pointing to the theory that Batman now allows himself to kill, let's take a look at the possibilities of how it could help or hurt the story.
If we're getting a version of Batman that does follow that one rule he has always abided by in the comics, than it wouldn't come as much of a surprise that the ideology and moral code of this incarnation remains the same. He may break a few more bones and cause some more permanent damage while dealing out justice, but he still hasn't sunk to being a killer.
If all those clues I listed above are merely red herrings intentionally put in the trailers to throw off the audience, than I'm sure there will be further explanation in the movie of why these weren't kill shots, but just really really hurt. Still... I have no idea how the guy on the mounted gun in the SUV could survive being blown up, but I digress.
Now for the interesting part...
20 years in Gotham, how many good guys are left? How many stayed that way? - Bruce Wayne
Imagine for a second, Batman's crimefighting career over those 20 years, doing everything in his human power to keep the criminals of Gotham at bay, and actually making progress. He doesn't have to kill to solve crimes, in fact he is more focused on stopping people from getting killed. In an effort to make himself more effective, he puts a protege under his wing (likely more than one) and teaches him/them how to follow the same moral code he's been fighting to preserve over his career.
It's Gotham, things aren't great, but there are still heroes, and Batman and his team have things under control. Enter Joker.
Inevitably, the Joker fights a psychological almost spiritual battle against the Dark Knight, by trying to push him to break is unbreakable rule: No Killing. He kidnaps Robin and tortures him, all apart of his psychological ploy, giving batman the horrible choice of taking a life and saving Robin, or following his rule and allowing Robin to die.
This is the dilemma in many Batman story arcs but we almost always see the hero find a third option and get out of it, but in this case, he fails. He tries option 3 instead of killing the Joker and he kills Robin.
After such a devastating loss, Batman blames himself, questions all of his methods in the past and if they really worked, you see, the Joker won the psychological battle, not immediately, but the event poisoned the mind of the Dark Knight and ate away at him, pushing him into retirement.
After hanging up the cape and cowl, he returns to his life as Bruce Wayne, doing everything he can to help Gotham out of the costume, but never getting over the rage from losing Robin, or wondering if things would have turned out better if he killed Joker.
An indestructible alien that levels half of Metropolis seemingly the day he shows up, taking 10's of thousands of lives, including Zod's, and the next day is worshipped as not just a hero but a savior, a god.
As someone who has been working behind the shadows, getting no credit to protect people's lives, for 20 years, it's understandable why Batman hates Superman; He see's him as a murderer, a false god, and a threat. When people begin to worship him, it makes Batman doubt his methods more than ever.
The destruction of Metropolis is the last straw for Bruce Wayne, and over the course of the 2 years after the titanic struggle Superman had with Zod, he begins to train himself to become Batman again, only this time a different Batman, one who no longer takes half measures. Not to say that killing is his first move, I still think it would be a last resort for Batman, but at least it's now an option.
If Superman can take innocent lives, then Batman should be able to take non-innocent lives in the pursuit of justice, or so he may think when we find him in the film. The ideological struggle between Superman and Batman then becomes, one is seeking violence and punishment of criminals in pursuit of justice, where the other is now just trying to save people in pursuit of peace.
I don't know about you guys, but thinking of this scenario in BvS leaves much more grey area in between the two characters which leaves room for interpretation. Morally I don't know who is right in this hypothetical scenario, which means better drama, and more conflict, which wouldn't hurt a move titled Batman v Superman.
On the other hand, I see the problems that would come with having Batman be a cold blooded killer, but I think the interesting thing to see would be how Batman and Superman eventually come together and find a common moral ground.
What do you guys think? Will Batman kill in BvS: Dawn of Justice? Is it a good thing if he does or not? Sound off in the comments!