WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for 'Batman V Superman'!
When Man of Steel was released, it divided viewers. Although widely considered to be a good movie, Man Of Steel certainly had its flaws, and the best known criticism is the immense destruction of Metropolis and loss of life in the film's grand finale. When the first trailer for [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) was released, it was clear that the sequel-of-sorts would not only address these criticisms head-on, but Zack Snyder was using this as the basis for the plot.
Throughout Dawn Of Justice's impressive two-and-a-half hour run time, Snyder really hammers the point home that this is a response to the events of Man Of Steel. And in doing so, he fixes a lot of the problems with the first movie.
Another Perspective On The Destruction
One of Batman V Superman's best scenes actually comes close to the beginning of the film, as Bruce Wayne races through the city, desperate to save his employees. Immediately, this forces us to consider the impact of this battle on the friends and family of those killed as well as the struggle of those who survived. Snyder achieves this with a shockingly personal perspective: Bruce is only human and can just watch helplessly as his entire building is destroyed.
This already goes a long way to repairing some of the supposed convenience of the ending of Man Of Steel, where we see Superman lauded as the savior of humanity. With thousands dead, the opinion on whether Superman did the right thing is definitely up for debate. Ultimately, though, Dawn Of Justice makes it very clear: Superman is still trying to do what's right.
Sticking Up For The Little Guy
In classic interpretations of the character, Superman is the ultimate good guy, the shining example of compassion which is the touchstone for all other heroes.
Man Of Steel presented us with a Superman in the making, someone who hasn't got to the actual everyday saving-people part of being a superhero. Instead, Superman's first introduction to humanity is after Zod's threat, which immediately makes Superman, in the eyes of people, an alien first, hero second. And thanks to the destruction wrought in Man Of Steel, many people don't even see him as a hero at all.
Batman V Superman finally shows Superman doing what Superman does best: rescuing people from floods, catching burning wreckage, and just generally being the hero he was always meant to be.
Even in his Clark Kent disguise, we start to see the root of Superman's compassion for people. His distaste for Batman's methods is evident, and during a staff meeting at the Daily Planet he speaks up about this. Clark points out that Batman only ever targets poorer areas of Gotham, leading people to fear the Bat. Clark makes the point, and rightly so, that poverty and crime is a vicious cycle. Batman is only treating the symptoms, not the problem, which is probably why later on Bruce comments that whenever he removes one criminal another one appears in their place.
Sharp as ever, Perry White retorts that poor people don't buy papers, and refuses to run Clark's story. Clark stubbornly writes it anyway, instead of his assigned football article.
This scene proves that Superman really does care about people, especially those who are downtrodden and oppressed. It adds a much-needed nuance to Superman's character, and is followed up neatly with another fix for Man Of Steel.
Don't Worry, It's Uninhabited!
The amount of times that characters in Dawn Of Justice assure the audience that the places they're fighting are inhabited is so on the nose that it's honestly quite amusing. On a meta level, this is clearly Snyder trying to avoid the same criticisms that Man Of Steel faced, but within the story it proves that Superman has learned from his mistakes.
A lot of the destruction in Man Of Steel couldn't have been avoided, as the World Engine destroys a lot of Metropolis. But there are several moments in the ensuing fight between Superman and Zod when Superman could have flown away to an uninhabited area, forcing Zod to follow him, thus ensuring no more needless destruction of Metropolis.
After hours of existential contemplation and a political hearing on the matter, Superman has definitely learned his lesson. This fight with Zod is mirrored when Superman battles Doomsday, and his first move is to punch the monster right into space, far away from potential civilian casualties. Which is a neat way to avoid the same mistakes of Man Of Steel while showing Clark's character development. But the bravest way Snyder redeems the Man Of Steel, both the movie and the person, is in Superman's sacrifice.
Death Of Superman
In a complete inversion of the final scene with Zod in Man Of Steel, Superman is killed in his efforts to defeat Doomsday. The emotional impact of this moment is profound, especially because it is preceded by a touching scene between Superman and Lois Lane.
Their relationship is sensitively explored in Batman V Superman, giving Superman an element of humanity and grounding his character. Even above his heroic intentions, his affection for Lois is possibly the most endearing thing about him, which makes his death all the more tragic.
By this point, Superman has been established as a real hero, someone who genuinely cares for others and wants to save them. And so the Man Of Steel is redeemed in his death, both in the eyes of the audience and the eyes of humanity within the film. Superman is given a state burial, which is juxtaposed poignantly with a private funeral for Clark Kent in Smallville.
"They do not know how to honor him as anything other than a soldier."
Crucially, Superman's death proves that he's willing to sacrifice everything to protect this world he wasn't even born in, positioning him not as a killer (as in Man Of Steel's conclusion), but as a martyr. This proves essential to the DCEU's future, as Bruce and Diana resolve to find the other meta-humans and form a team in Superman's memory.