No doubt by now, most of us have seen the newest film in DC's superhero canon Batman v Superman at least once. As far as critic and fan reception, this is one of the most polarizing films I've ever seen. I can't remember the last time I had to defend a movie so passionately. So what I wanted to do with this post is write an open letter to Zack Snyder from the perspective of a person who thoroughly enjoyed this movie. So here goes nothing... (Also HEAVY SPOILERS FROM HERE ON)
Dear Zack Snyder,
I'm sure you are currently working very hard on the upcoming Justice League movie. I truly cannot believe that I'm even able to say that and it not be a joke. This is really happening. You've done it. You've created a world where the Justice League can exist, and I thank you for that. I thank you with all of my heart for the incredible work you've put into helping establish the DCEU. Batman v Superman was like a dream come true to me, and you very well may never see this, but I thought it was my duty as a fan to be outspoken about what you've accomplished here.
I was born in 1992, just as Batman had established a strong foothold in cinema and Batman: The Animated Series was tearing it up on television. I also grew up as the only child of a single mother, who always did her best to surround me with strong male role models and mentors, but also got me interested in both Batman and Superman from a young age. There were two franchises that played a huge part in my childhood: Star Wars and DC's legendary heroes Batman and Superman. Here I'm mainly going to be focusing why Batman is so special to me, as I've already written a post on how you re-ignited my love for Superman.
Batman has always been a hero that I can somewhat relate to. This relation comes from the void left by his parents' deaths. Though my mother has always been there for me, I was always missing a father figure, and this is where the connection is made. I understand the pain that is felt when you are missing something that most people take for granted, like a parent. It's a pain that can not and will not ever go away, and it is one that a person has to deal with on a daily basis. Batman taught me that through that pain can come greatness; that a man can do incredible things with the gifts that he has been given despite the ones he has lost or was never given, and I'd like to say that I strive to live my life that way. In the beginning of this film, we see a Batman who is much darker than any other on-screen interpretation. This is a much more world-weary, brutal, and unforgiving Batman. This is a man who sees a being like Superman and because of the possible threat, he will not take a half measure to neutralize someone like Superman. Now with all that having been said, Zack, I'd like to single out a specific scene that you handled between Batman and Superman perfectly.
At the end of the climactic Batman and Superman fight that we have all been waiting for, Batman clearly has the upper hand, and is about to kill Superman, eliminating a threat that could not be stopped any other way. With his foot on Superman's throat, Clark Kent makes a desperate attempt to reach Bruce's humanity saying that Lex Luthor is going to kill his mother, Martha. Upon hearing this, Bruce hesitates in confusion, demanding an answer to why he said that name. In the nick of time Lois Lane explains that Martha is Clark's mother's name. After that realization, Bruce finds clarity and realizes that killing Superman would be breaking a bond between mother and son, a relationship that he misses so dearly and would probably give anything to have one more moment of. Not only that, but he would become the very thing he swore to destroy. Killing Superman would be a damning act that would engulf him in the darkness that he has been fighting nearly his entire life. Both in this particular "Martha" scene as well as Luthor's revelation to Superman that he had his mother in custody, I thought of my own mom.
She is my rock. She is the woman that I adore, and would do anything for. She has been with me at my lowest points and my highest points, and has shown me unconditional love that I can never find any place else. She is my mother, and the thought of losing her is something I couldn't ever bear. This is what is at stake for Superman, and Batman realizes this and has a change of heart. Mr. Snyder you did an incredible thing making this connection become the bond that brings Batman and Superman together. It worked for me on an emotional level and it makes sense for the characters. You created a moment between two behemoths and made it personal to me. We all have a "Martha" that we would do anything to protect. This emotional connection is something I've never experienced in a superhero movie.
Now I'd like to thank you for one of the most fascinating interpretations of Lex Luthor that we have ever seen. I can imagine you went out on a limb going for this type of characterization with such an iconic figure, Mr. Snyder, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't sold on this character initially, but after some getting used to him I finally understood where you were going with him. This is not classic Lex Luthor. This is a Lex Luthor for the millennials. This is a young man who was born into a life of luxury and entitlement. This is someone who is so used to getting what he wants that when he doesn't, he manipulates until he does. He is socially awkward and doesn't know how to talk to people. This is a sinister man with a chip on his shoulder. He is godless and hates anything that makes him feel inferior. Because of a disturbed past that had much to do with his father of the same name, he has a strong hatred of God. He has convinced himself that if there is a God, and He is all good, then He can not be all powerful, and if He is all powerful, He can not be all good. He projects this twisted train of thought onto Superman as there is no higher being that he knows of. He wants to destroy him, and he creates Doomsday to do so. Doomsday is not a villain, he is a weapon. Doomsday is Lex Luthor's hatred incarnate. He even makes it personally by drawing his own blood, which was completely unnecessary, to mix with the creation of the monster. The Lex Luthor that you, Zack Snyder, gave us is one of the most fascinating and layered villains we've seen in quite a while.
Now I'd like to talk about what you did with Superman. In Man of Steel, you introduced us to a Superman trying to figure out who he is. By the end, this "man of steel" has finally discovered his purpose. Then we move on to Batman v Superman where we see a Superman who is comfortable being the hero, but has yet to find his place in the world. As when he was younger, he is an outcast, but now on a much larger scale. In the infamous courtroom scene you, Mr. Snyder, showed us one of the great dilemmas of Superman's heroic journey; the inability to save everyone. Ironically he came to the hearing to share his side and prove that he is not the threat people seem to think he is. Then Lex Luthor furthers his plan to smear Superman's image by bombing the room with Superman in it. The look on Superman's face after the explosion is subtle yet incredibly powerful. There is a great pain in Superman's eyes, that brings once again a great amount of humanity to the character. One of the most emotional moments in the film was towards the end of the battle with Doomsday. Superman has finally retreived the Kryptonite spear, and looks at Lois and tells her, "This is my world..." This particular moment is where we see (much like in Man of Steel) that Superman is no doubt committed to give his life for the people of Earth... WILLINGLY. Batman sees this. Wonder Woman sees this. The world sees this. Superman embraced his role as Earth's protector once again and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Superman's sacrifice is more than just a Christ-like act of heroism. The aftereffects are much more grand. This sacrifice is the spark that drives Wonder Woman to not give up on humanity yet. This sacrifice puts a fire in Batman that causes a change in his heart and makes him strive to be a hero once again. Close to the end Bruce Wayne says to Diana Prince at the funeral, "Men are still good." This line is so very powerful as it not only solidifies Diana's willingness to return to the aid of mankind, but also emphasizes Bruce's change of heart. Bruce doesn't want to fail Superman in death. Zack, you chronicled some of the greatest character development of heroes that we've ever seen before. We saw a broken, cynical man find hope, we saw an outcast realize his home, and we saw a warrior fight for a cause she thought was once lost.
I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed this film and how excited I am to see what you have in store for us in the future. There is plenty more that I loved in this film, but I wanted to touch on the things that hit home the most for me. Once again, I want to say thank you, Zack Snyder for giving me something I've been waiting nearly my whole life to see. You did what most people thought was impossible, and executed the film with finesse and style. Thank you, Zack. Thank you very much.
Sincerely, DJ (just one of the fans)