Warning: Spoilers ahead for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
By now you've probably heard the all-too negative reviews of the latest superhero blockbuster to hit the screens, and maybe you've heard some good things too (for my take on the good aspects of the movie, go here ). But one of the things that many audience members were wondering about after the two and a half hour extravaganza was 'what the heck was up with that one scene? Was that even the same movie? What were those bugs?' I'm talking of course about that apocalyptic vision that Batman has halfway throughout the film that shows Superman as a murderous tyrant over a desolated planet which people have dubbed 'The Knightmare'. (Seriously, if you haven't seen the movie yet, STOP READING). I'm here to talk a little bit more about what the scene meant for the movie and for the Justice League franchise as a whole, hopefully to clarify some things that most casual movie-goers might not have gathered from the film itself.
1. The 'vision' is not a dream.
A lot of people may have thought that the whole sequence was something that Bruce Wayne dreamt up. That a combination of stress, exhaustion, and growing hatred towards Superman has created this terrifying image of Superman killing his opposition and Batman powerless to stop him. There are soldiers wearing the Superman symbol and giant flying bugs that may be analogous to Superman's own flying abilities. And it's easy to see why people may think this is all some subconscious image that Batman has created himself considering throughout the film we are presented with visions coming from Batman that are in fact dreams, and also the fact that he was asleep when he experienced the vision. But if you want to understand the vision, you shouldn't look at it as Batman's subconscious telling him to be afraid of Superman or anything other than what it really is: a glimpse of the future.
2. Flash caused the vision.
So I just said the vision is a glimpse of the future. What does this mean? Did Batman suddenly gain psychic powers that we don't know about? Not quite. This is where the Flash comes in. Now a lot of casual movie goers might have recognized the strange apparition that appeared after Batman 'woke up' from the dream as the world-famous speedster Flash, and a lot of people will already know that his power is to be fast, like really fast. And this is why his appearance is so important, Flash is so fast, in fact, that he can travel through time.
This is something that has appeared in countless adaptations of the character and is the basis of one of his most famous story arcs, Flashpoint. It's evident through the dialogue that this is a Flash from another time who knows what's going to happen and is there to warn Batman about the future, he even calls Bruce by name multiple times cementing the fact that they know each other, just haven't met yet. If we look at the facts that the vision is a glimpse to the future, and Flash can travel through time, we can start to understand more about where this vision came from. Traveling through time like Flash does is no easy task, we even see Flash himself struggling to stay in the present time, and it can create ripples in time. It is arguable that Flash's actions have created a moment where future and present Batman's memories overlap, causing this present day Batman to have the famous vision.
3. This is what Lex Luthor was warning Batman about.
Now let's look at what Flash actually says:
"AM I TOO SOON? TOO SOON. YOU WERE RIGHT ABOUT HIM; YOU WERE ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT HIM. FEAR HIM! FEAR HIM AND FIND US! YOU HAVE TO FIND US, BRUCE!”
Now this is extremely cryptic and many fans have taken this as a warning that Flash has for Batman against Superman. It's easy to believe that the 'him' in the message we should all fear is Superman himself, which could seem logical seeing how dangerous and murderous he appears in that vision. But what if this isn't who Flash is talking about at all? It's clear to see that this vision is meant to catalyze the creation of the Justice League, hence the "find us" part of Flash's message. But what is Flash talking about? Let's look at other parts of the movie. We have Lex in the Kryptonian spaceship from Man of Steel accessing all of the information that the ship has. The ship itself says that it contains information on a huge number of known planets and organisms, granting Lex knowledge on all of this (including information on how to create Doomsday). At the end of the film, we're left with a somewhat unhinged Lex speaking with Batman about some great threat that's coming now that Superman is dead. He clearly learned about some great threat that exists out there in the universe which has been summoned to planet Earth and will arguably be the major villain in the Justice League film. So now we have both Flash and Lex Luthor warning Batman about this great imminent threat that's coming for blood.
4. So who is this threat?
So if we put everything together we have this: the vision is a glimpse of the future where some 'big bad guy' has taken over and Flash is trying to warn Batman about it. So who is this 'big bad guy' that causes so much destruction? If you're a casual movie-goer who doesn't know much about the DC comics it may not be clear who the real villain is here. I mean there are bugs, and Superman has his own army and a giant symbol carved into the ground. Seriously what's up with that? But for fans who know a little bit about the Justice League it's easy to discern who exactly the big boogeyman really is: Darkseid. Without going too in-depth as to who Darkseid is, I'll merely introduce him as a terrifyingly powerful alien from another planet who is intent on taking over the universe. In short, an excellent textbook villain for the upcoming Justice League film.
So what is the evidence that points to his arrival? Some people have suggested that the giant bugs are actually the mindless, flying minions from Darkseid's planet knwon as Parademons. But the biggest hint is that huge omega symbol smeared across the land at the beginning of the vision. It was on screen for only a couple of shots but those with a keen eye may have recognized it as Darkseid's symbol. He is known for his omega beams and omega energy (he's all about omegas) but, more importantly, he's known for using that symbol to brand anybody who is corruptible to his influence. And the fact that this huge brand is plastered across the land like that gives us a hint as to why Superman seems so...villainous. Superman, and most of the planet it seems, is under Darkseid's influence and even Batman seems to be powerless against them. This is why Flash travels back in time, to prevent this future, and inspire Batman to 'find the others' (i.e. Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman). This will most likely be the major threat that the team faces together as the Justice League.
I hope this cleared up some of the confusion from the film and hopefully people are no longer saying that this was another one of Batman's strange stress dreams. Thanks for reading!