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"DCEU Films" is a Zack Snyder-supportive fan community devoted to discussion and enjoyment of the DCEU cinematic universe.
DCEU Films: A Snyder-supportive fan site devoted to DCEU films

(The following article was submitted by contributor rogbngp at DCEU Films: A Snyder-supportive fan site devoted to DCEU films (a.k.a. "The Snyderverse Trilogy" forum). It features spoilers and assumes that viewers have seen the both the theatrical release of 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' and its Ultimate Edition.)

Since there's a risk of coming across as click-bait-y, I'd like to impress that I sincerely mean what I wrote in the title of this article. In order for the thesis to make sense, I need to lay some groundwork for it conceptually, so please bear with the length of this exposition.

The UE (Ultimate Edition) provides extremely valuable footage for viewers that wanted stronger continuity between scenes and plot lines that interweave throughout the film. It seems that the UE's 30 additional minutes greatly improve the film for the majority of CBM critics and fans. In our own community at the "DCEU Films" fan site forum, it is fascinating to note that some BvS fans still prefer the theatrical release!

This is because they enjoyed the film more when they as viewers had a bit of detective work to do, as well as the brisker pacing of the UE. In any event, there is one brief scene missing from the UE that I was hoping for that might have single handedly resolved what is arguably the biggest complaint about BvS's story. And it literally only needed to be several seconds long:

A scene that shows Clark, during his ongoing investigation of Batman but after the charity ball at Lex Luthor's estate, reading the names of Bruce Wayne's parents.

This could take the form of viewing the newspaper article from 1981 (or perhaps the Wikipedia page on Thomas Wayne) that Thomas and Martha Wayne had been murdered when leaving a theater, leaving behind a young son, Bruce. Add to that a moment of Clark lingering over the page that clearly shows the parents’ names, in which Clark is shown mildly taking notice of something within the article. This would serve as a very subtle indication that Clark may notice their mothers share the same name.

Why Would This Scene Help?

It could fix the so-called controversial "Martha moment" that many viewers experience as dramatically contrived and unconvincing. When Superman is about to be killed by Batman with the Kryptonite tipped spear during their battle, Superman says "You're letting him kill Martha!" Superman does not say "my mother." He refers to his own mother specifically by her first name.

Many viewers have found this one scene to be the single most disconcerting aspect of the film because it seems to them so transparently designed as a plot device to trigger a strong reaction in Batman. But, it's not normal behavior for anyone to refer to his or her mother by her first name.

Let's break the "Martha moment" down into components:

Batman’s Motivation To Kill Superman

In BvS, the reason that Batman wishes to destroy Superman are as follows: First, the psychological damage from the trauma from Bruce's childhood as he helplessly witnessed his parents being killed. This Jungian Shadow has continually gathered force within Bruce and is vividly depicted in Bruce's dream of visiting his mother's tomb and being startled by a terrifying bat monster bursting through the wall.

The inner turmoil created by that fateful incident as a child has continued to eat away at Bruce and has driven him to become a brutal and sadistic predator of criminals. Batman now acts as ruthlessly as they do, or perhaps even more so. Batman has in fact become the enemy that he despises — and he is unable to come to terms with it. This conflict is tearing him up inside.

Secondly, this unresolved problem in Bruce’s psyche seems to have led to disillusionment with his entire life's work as a crime fighter, which is his main way of defining himself. Bruce no longer sees any value to the work he has done, and then to himself. (Note that his crime fighting work is in fact compromised, however! He has become as bad as the prey that he hunts.)

Thirdly, the helplessness that Bruce experienced as a boy when his parents were murdered seems to have been been powerfully triggered by Superman's godlike powers. By the same token, the appearance of an alien civilization with meta-human superpowers and vastly advanced technologies has also reframed the work the Batman does as a crime fighter.

The Black Zero event was an extinction-level event for humankind and the entire planet. That is waaaay beyond the level of putting local criminals in jail (simply for others to "reappear like weeds"). It seems that there is a deep-seated hubris and pride to this Batman that he makes it difficult for him to accept that his life's work is measured on this new scale. Batman has been a whale in the relatively small pond of Gotham. Now he is a minnow in a vast, galactic ocean. So the Shadow side of Batman takes all of his rage and directs it upon Superman. Batman projects the monster within himself onto Superman. Which, we may note, is something that Lex Luthor also does in parallel!

Poor Superman! He's getting it from all directions, isn't he? American culture, the US government, Lex Luthor, Batman — Superman seems to be a punching bag for them all in this film. On a side note, it certainly makes sense that Superman is showing the hugely stressful effects of the weight of all that. Some viewers complain that Superman seems angst-ridden and mopey throughout this film. I choose to see him as a sincere young man still struggling (with great humility and honest emotional vulnerability) to find how to shoulder such an extraordinary burden.

A critical dimension to this is that Clark/Kal evidently has no mentor anymore. He has always relied on one in the past. I think that is the point of the scene where Clark imagines the conversation with his adoptive father Jonathan Kent on the mountain top. But I digress.

Many critics and fans have interpreted that the reason that Batman is jarred by their mothers sharing the same name is that Batman is thereby reminded that Superman is in fact not a monster and he is basically human after all. Clark is a son who loves his mother and he desperately wishes to protect her. That in turn triggers Bruce's personal unresolved emotional and psychological issues about his own helplessness as a child to prevent his own parents' murder. In this story both Batman and Superman having mothers that need protection is crucial to shake Batman out of his blind, murderous rage. The fact that they both have a mother who needs rescue is what restores empathy to Batman. It's not just that there is an innocent out there that needs protection. From Batman's perspective, the information that impacts him so greatly is that it is Superman's mother, specifically, who needs rescue.

Why Does Superman Say 'Martha' And Not 'My Mother?'

As we know, Lois intervenes to explain to Batman that "Martha" is Superman's mother. But it still begs the question of why would Superman would refer to his mother by her given name rather than simply pleading "Please rescue my mother!"

As John Campea argues above, Batman has convinced himself that Superman is a monster. So when Superman's dying plea is to save the life of another person, and Lois Lane drapes herself over Superman to protect him, these human connections short circuit Batman out of his rage. Batman is startled into a recognition that Superman is indeed very human after all. Campea then suggests that we see Batman's brain recalculating all of the data that he has about the situation, and suddenly everything falls into place for him that he and Superman both have been manipulated into fighting one another by Lex Luthor.

I concur with John that this is a fairly reasonable interpretation of what is going on within Batman during the "Martha moment." Campea doesn't conjecture that Superman says "Martha" as a deliberate strategy to intentionally shock Batman back to his senses. But I am saying that it's actually not a great leap to view the scene that way.

And actually, the author of this video posits that the use of "Martha" is a calculated move by Superman. I'm not the only one that sees this possibility:

Accordingly, if we had a scene that more clearly supports the notion that Superman is actively using his wits to very purposely say "Martha" instead of "my mother," with the conscious aim of shaking Bruce out of his temporary madness, then I think that would go a long way to make that scene work better.

How Does Superman Know That Batman’s Mother’s Name Is Martha?

Once Superman uses his super hearing to listen in on Bruce's conversation with Alfred at the charity gala, in my opinion it is a reasonable assumption that he's more or less onto Bruce as Batman. He would at least have reason to suspect and start digging.

Superman later shows up to prevent Batman from getting the big chunk of Kryptonite from Luthor's thugs when it is being transported (this is when Superman delivers "The Bat is dead. Bury it" speech), which I think is an indication that at that point he knows Bruce’s identity. It is highly unlikely that it is merely by chance that Superman appears to thwart Batman at that critical moment. The support for this hypothesis is directly what the film shows us.

Is It In Character For Superman To Resort To A Tactic Like This?

Superman may fairly be said to be manipulating Batman by saying his mother’s name. Is that un-Superman-like behavior? Perhaps. But bear in mind that Snyder is re-visioning the characters to begin with, to make them more complex and multi-dimensional, so we should hardly be surprised at that if so. It is also important to recognize that this isn't manipulation in the sense of being devious or deceitful; it's literally a matter of survival for Superman at that moment. It is presence of mind and using his wits and resourcefulness to use psychology instead of physical restraint since Batman has been beaten him physically. He has to shock Bruce back to his senses. Batman is essentially in a berserker rage at that point. As we have noted, Batman is blinded by his rage stemming from unresolved issues that have sent him in a temporary state of madness, basically.

Many fans of this film feel that the scene in which Superman implores Batman to save “Martha” feels a bit weird and problematic. However the scene actually makes sense if viewed as a purposeful and strategic act by Superman. All we really need for all of this to cohere into a more satisfying pivot point in the film is a little more indication of Superman clearly knowing that Batman’s mother’s name is Martha.

Would You Have Liked This Scene Included in Batman V Superman? Let Me Know in the Comments Below!


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