By now the entire world, it's dog and mother have seen Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and passed their judgement. Many have praised Ben Affleck as a tortured and cynical version of Bruce Wayne, one we'd never seen before.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the film was Batman's new found penchant for torture and violence, even killing and in many ways there is an arc of redemption throughout the movie. There is also a very jarring end to the actual "main event" fight of heroes... Yet one angle has been overlooked by almost everyone.
Bruce believes Superman is the villain, to blame for the deaths of many of his employees...but was Bruce himself actually to blame?
Spoilers ahoy... last chance...
The movie opens with Bruce racing through the streets of Metropolis (which is now seen to be a near neighbor of Gotham, rather than across the country) to reach his building and staff who are seemingly the ONLY people in Metropolis still actually in a building. Everyone else has pretty much evacuated except Wayne Enterprises as evidenced by the chaos Bruce is speeding through.
Why would this be? Why is Bruce racing to get there?
Ultimately Bruce's choices led to the deaths of those employees, many of whom would still have been leaving the building when it collapsed. The little girl whose mother died, didn't die because Superman and Zod levelled the building, they died because Bruce delayed the evacuation until HE arrived.
Could it be that in that vehicle or the office is a Batsuit and he was heading to "save" his people as Batman? Bruce clearly delayed giving the order to evacuate the building,
Was Bruce hoping to "redeem" Batman in the eyes of the public by rescuing Wayne Enterprises staff? Did he genuinely believe he was their only hope? or was it that he had some Wayne/Bat-Tech that he believed could take down The World Engine or save lives? Was Bruce hoping to beat his parental and Robin issues by saving his employees single handed?
The reality is Bruce is angry, not at Superman but at himself and this drives his vendetta against Superman. His guilt is evident in the checks he sends to Wallace that are returned... what are those messages scrawled across each about...Especially "You let your family die?"
Wallace knows the truth, that the only reason they were still in the building was that those were Bruce's orders. Had Bruce done what nearly the whole rest of Metropolis had done and evacuated immediately, then Wallace would still have his legs. So he sends him money each month...that is returned and Bruce "isn't told" - because it's clearly a view held by many others at Wayne Enterprises that Bruce "screwed up" that day.
Alfred too recognizes this, his line about good men becoming "cruel" is dripping with subtext. He can see that Superman is not the "enemy" and he does all he can to tell Bruce that he is the problem here, Bruce cannot or will not see past it, whatever he is told and whatever the facts actually are.
Bruce channels his self loathing at again failing to protect those he cared about into hate, His dream of demons taking over the world in Superman's name, a case in point. Notice the demons he dreams of are very Bat-like?
Rightly or wrongly, Bruce believes killing Superman will make those demons go away, that he can finally "save his world".
That is not to say Supes is 100% innocent, the cameo by a time-travelling Flash indicates that Superman will go that "dark route" in the future, probably via brainwashing or similar and that Lois Lane will likely play a factor in this. Bruce's fears are genuine, but more based on him not being able to prevent the chaos rather than the actual chance of it happening.
When the two face off, there is more at stake than Bruce realities and Supes could easily have just said, "They have my mother...help me" but he knows Bruce is too "far gone" in his quest for vengeance. He has a pretty good idea that Batman is Bruce Wayne, and he knows his own part in how this all happened, Clark Kent knows that for Bruce Wayne to ever be a force for good again, he has to get this out of his system and they have to have this fight. What he's not expecting is the Kryptonite weapons. Superman gave Bruce the chance to end Batman and he didn't after all.
The fight ending confused many, would sharing a mother's name really get to Bruce? If all the above were true, absolutely!
In that instant, Bruce realizes he can still redeem himself and NOT kill Superman, but it's very jarring and confusing for him - all that guilt, confusion and pain comes flooding back, yet he can finally save someone... he is then insistent on this when the natural thing is that Clark would want to get to his mother.
His final words about "failing Superman" show that the self loathing and guilt have somewhat abated, and now he feels remorse for sure, but he has a chance to atone by forming The Justice League in Superman's memory. He did save Martha, but he also robbed her of seeing her son alive one more time, he designed the weapon that killed Doomsday but didn't carry it himself. However, Bruce finally sees that force for good in himself that Superman saw, rather than life as a vengeful villainous vigilante who is now no better than the criminals he has faced in the past.
Many fans will hate the idea of Batman being a villain, but the truth is Bruce Wayne was in this movie for nearly 80% of it's running time.
Perhaps the most telling thing is that the word Batman is NEVER used in the media. He is "The Gotham Bat" or "The Bat Vigilante"... After saving the city from Doomsday, perhaps now they'll start calling him Batman in a heroic way for the first time? or perhaps he once had that, lost it through his dark path and now regains it.
It's controversial, but Ben Affleck played it to the hilt as guilt Bruce and pulled it off. This Bruce Wayne is part Adrian Veidt, part Rorshach and part Comedian, influences Zack Snyder was able to bring to the character of Batman.
This Bruce Wayne is somewhat vain, not averse to manipulating a situation or commiting an "atrocity" like branding or torture to get the job done or to ultimately save the world. This Bruce shares that lack of understanding with Ozymandias, that he's actually part of the problem...but he's trying.