*Minor spoilers for 'Batman v Superman'*
When [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) was first announced to be the second film on the ambitious DCEU roster, it's safe to say that some people were a little skeptical about the prospect. The two Justice League founders have come to blows many times before in the comics, with differing results — but on the big screen such a massive feat had never before been realized.
While the DC Extended Universe has set out into largely new territory with Batman v Superman, not adapting any one specific comic book arc, it did pay a ton of homage to certain comics, not least of all to the The Dark Knight Returns. But there were also a couple of references to the non-canon Injustice: Gods Among Us comics, and even a little nod to the recent New 52 Batman: Endgame.
Did you spot them?
'The Dark Knight Returns'
It's no surprise that there was a lot of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns in Batman v Superman, as director Zack Synder previously professed his love for the graphic novel to Popcorn Magazine (via CBM) and said that while the film is not a direct adaptation of the book, it was a core influence upon Dawn Of Justice.
Batman and Superman come to blows in the comic, but that's not all Batman v Superman borrowed from The Dark Knight Returns...
It's easy to see how Miller's comic influenced the tone of Batman v Superman. Set in a near-future dystopian version of Gotham where crime runs rampant, The Dark Knight Returns's Batman is 10 years retired and the 55-year old Bruce Wayne struggles with the reemergence of the Bat persona from within himself.
The figure of The Dark Knight Returns's Bruce Wayne can be seen in the very design of Ben Affleck's Batman: the thick bodied Batsuit with the fat bat-symbol and the small ears. And the design of the armored suit he wears later in the movie is also an almost direct reference to the suit he wears when fighting Supes in The Dark Knight Returns.
Bruce's Dreams And Visions
The use of dreams in Batman v Superman seems inspired by The Dark Knight Returns too, as Bruce's ongoing dreams about the bat drive him to a mental and emotional breakdown, eventually forcing him back into the game as the Batman.
His dreams were used a little differently in Batman v Superman though, serving a more prophetic function than before.
Additionally, there are a few direct shot-to-shot translations from the comic book in the movie, notably during the opening sequence death of Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan) and the shots of her pearls falling to the ground, a motif that is used again during the battle between Batman and Superman (Henry Cavill).
In the film, there's also an emphasis on the gun cocking and the shell casings falling to the floor when Martha and Thomas Wayne (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are shot, another homage to this panel sequence from The Dark Knight Returns.
In addition to the pearls and shell casings there are a few other shot-for-shot adaptations from the comic in Batman v Superman; the above example parallels Batman smashing through the window to rescue Martha Kent (Diane Lane) with the bat that haunts Bruce's dreams in The Dark Knight Returns.
Thunderbolts And Lightnin'
We've seen this shot in the trailers before, a perfect homage to the front cover of The Dark Knight Returns, but witnessing it in action during the final battle with the Justice League Trinity against Doomsday was amazing.
'Injustice: Gods Among Us'
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a great run of the DC comics, charting Superman going off the deep end and enslaving the Earth in order to ensure peace following the death of his wife Lois Lane, their unborn child and the destruction of Metropolis.
It's non-canon as it involves major character deaths and Superman generally being an arse, but it's well written and a lot of fun, kinda like DC's take on Marvel's Civil War, but even darker. Though the Injustice arc wasn't directly adapted for obvious reasons there are still a couple of nods towards that narrative in Batman v Superman. Such as...
The Joker's Death
The incident that kicks off Injustice is instigated by the Joker, who tricks Superman into flying into space with the pregnant Lois Lane, simultaneously killing her and setting off an explosion that completely destroyed Metropolis and all of its inhabitants.
As you could guess, this incident completely destroys Superman, turning him on the path towards world domination, the only thing he believes will ensure peace. However, before he sets off to take over the world, he's got some business to take care of with the Joker. Such as...
Violently murdering him in a fit of rage. Yep.
Obviously this doesn't happen in Batman v Superman — the Joker doesn't even appear (we'll have to wait for Suicide Squad to see Jared Leto step into those clown shoes) — but there is a moment that could be an Easter Eggy homage to this moment during the Knightmare sequence where Batman is chained at the mercy of Superman.
Just before Bruce Wayne wakes from this dream, Superman punches through his chest, supposedly killing him in exactly the same manner as he did Joker in Injustice.
In fact, the whole Knightmare sequence could be seen as a nod to the comics, as it shows a post-apocalyptic landscape that appears to be ruled over by Superman, echoing the dystopian world Superman sets out to create in Injustice.
A small one, but a nice nod to the New 52 nonetheless, especially as this is the most recent iteration of a Batman/Superman showdown.
In Batman v Superman, once Batman gets his hands on Lex Luthor's (Jesse Eisenberg) Kryptonite he uses it to manufacture Kryptonite dust that he packs into grenades. He uses the dust to weaken both Superman and Doomsday as they fight to great effect.
And a similar thing occurs in 2014's Batman: Endgame in which — you guessed it — Batman and Superman end up fighting. In this case, it's Joker causing trouble again as he's managed to get all the Justice League members under his control to go after Batman. Batman manages to overcome them using his specifically modified suit, and engages in a brutal scuffle with the Man of Steel. During which this happens:
The Kryptonite dust weakens Superman to the extent that Batman is able to subdue and capture him, pretty similar to how things go down in the battle between them in the movie.
And this is far from the first time Kryptonian dust has been used against Superman; different types of dust have been floating around (literally) in the comics since way back in the 1950s, with different colors having different effects on the Man of Steel's physiology.
At one point he even, uh, grows a third eye as a side effect of the dust. Quite glad they left that part out of Batman v Superman to be honest.