After the destructive Battle of Metropolis, Superman has become a polarizing figure across the world. Some see him as a savior. Others see his interference in world affairs as a threat against the freedom and rights of the human race. And this includes the violent vigilante of Gotham City known as The Batman.
I hated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden this or why I feel this way. Namely, what should have been a massive milestone in popular culture–this first-time ever meeting of two of our greatest pop-culture icons on the big screen–was stripped of any value by a studio, by lazy writing and directing, by this notion that the simple spectacle of these two characters sharing the screen would be “good enough.”
The result was a godawful mess that failed to tell a coherent story, failed to capture the essence of any of its characters, and focused entirely on creating brief moments of visual flair rather than a cohesive, engaging cinematic experience.
What’s worse is that it failed the audience, the fans and culture raised on these characters. Even if you aren’t a comicbook fan, you know these characters. You love, to some degree, these characters and what they represent. They’re a notable part of our modern (pop) culture. And Warn Bros., Zack Snyder, and everyone else involved failed them and us.
And it didn’t need to be that way. There were nuggest of a good story. They mined classic stories for cool moments but left what made those moments and stories compelling in the first place. All it takes is reinserting what was already there, making full use of existing material to bring everything to where it should be. And I think I’ve mostly got it down with my version.
I did my best to keep the central “themes” (if there is any such thing to really find in the original BvS), characters, and beats. I’ve minimized and repurposed what felt unnecessary or convoluted. And I expanded and filled in all the gaps I could think to fill. It comes across as a significant departure from what we got in theaters, but I think it still feels very familiar and true to the supposed spirit of everything. And I hope you’ll enjoy and agree.
Be sure to join me each night over on Twitch to chat along as I type like a monkey at a keyboard.
In the not-too distant future, the majority of the world finds itself under the authoritarian rule of SUPERMAN and his High Council, living in highly-advanced, seemingly utopic metropolises. However, Council-controlled territories are constantly threatened not only by the warring nations of Themyscira and Atlantis, but also the human resistance.
Led by BATMAN and powered by several metahumans, The Resistance seeks to overthrow Superman’s regime and prevent the three nations from going to war. But during a mission to recover an element believed to be Superman’s only weakness, everything goes to hell. Batman and his squad are betrayed and captured, and then tortured and executed by Superman personally.
However, this doesn’t go unnoticed. A young man, BARRY–a young metahuman–dressed in red, makeshift armor witnesses Batman’s execution from the shadows. And just before Superman puts his hand through Batman’s chest, Batman signals Barry to implement a last-ditch fail-safe protocol.
With those final words, Barry flees, breaking the sound barrier several times over, going faster and faster, with Superman hot on his tail. And just before Superman can take hold of him, Barry disappears in a flash of red and white light.
Barry has traveled through time and space, arriving in the Batcave several years earlier than where we started. There he finds BRUCE WAYNE at his work station–a younger but still tired and haggard man–preparing for his nightly patrol. Barry warns Bruce of Superman’s reign of terror, that Lois is the key to it all. And with this, Barry’s words and appearance and breaking of the space-time continuum, Bruce finds his mind flooding with shattered images of this bleak future, of his death.
However, we soon see why this was a final protocol. Because with his message delivered, Barry finds himself erased from existence, his being stripped away, atom-by-atom, until only pure energy is left.
And as Barry’s essence dissipates around him, Bruce is left terrified and sure of what he has to do next: kill the Man of Steel.
Smash to black and raise title:
BATMAN vs SUPERMAN
A DELICATE BALANCE
LOIS LANE is flown in to the middle of a political hot zone to speak with a GENERAL from the island nation of Themyscira, a highly advanced, female-led democracy with a penchant for military action. And as Lois and the General get into a heated debate about the ethical and moral implications of pre-emptive military actions, they find themselves under attack.
Amidst the chaos, Superman arrives. He pulls Lois out of harm’s way and single-handedly puts a stop to the conflict, much to the chagrin of the General. And while Superman attempts to play the smiling boy scout, the General isn’t buying it. Instead, she warns about an alien interfering with the affairs of humanity.
Meanwhile in Metropolis (and across the world), Superman is revealed to be a polarizing public figure. Many see Superman as a savior, intervening in crimes and world conflicts to the benefit of everyone. Others, however, see him as a menace. An outsider upsetting the natural order of things. LEX LUTHOR–the hometown hero largely responsible for rebuilding Metropolis after Superman’s battle with Zod–leads the charge, uniting the people of Metropolis and the world against this dangerous alien threat.
At the Daily Planet, Clark Kent returns to find himself soaking in this political shit storm. And that’s when Perry White informs him of the latest local threat–the urban legend of Gotham City known as the Batman. The Batman has been said to serve up his own violent brand of justice, frequently brutalizing and occasionally killing criminals. Recently, he’s taken to branding his “victims” as a warning to others.
We witness the latest incident, which sees The Batman breaking up a human trafficking ring, one supposedly headed by businessman (and possible criminal kingpin) Oswald Cobblepot. (And among the girls rescued is the plucky CARRIE KELLEY).
Upon hearing this, Clark makes the decision to head to Gotham to investigate the rumored Batman further.
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Clark ventures through Gotham, interviewing the criminals harmed by the Batman and the locals aided by him. The criminals fear him and the civilians adore him, believing his violent ways are the only way to deal with criminals that the (perceived) corrupt Gotham PD “allow” to slip through the cracks. A corruption that Clark briefly witnesses firsthand.
That night, as Batman hunts and chases the Scarecrow–currently brewing up a new batch of fear toxin–through the streets of Gotham, resulting in severe collateral damage (property and civilian). But before Batman can finish beating Scarecrow half-to-death in a mindless rage, Superman intervenes.
In a brief altercation, Superman threatens to put down the Batman if he continues down this violent path. But Batman, recalling that moment in the cave–the visions–stands his ground, pointing out that Superman has let the Scarecrow go free, that the alien has no idea the sort of repercussions his actions have. He’s a demon playing at God.
At the apartment he shares with Lois, Clark worries about his place in the world. About his future among men, with Lois. A family. Where does he belong? But while she attempts to assuage his guilt, he has to depart for the public hearing against him at the UN. And that’s when she receives an anonymous tip about Luthor conducting illegal activities down at the docks that evening, meaning she has to stay in Metropolis and can’t make the trip to the UN with Clark.
Sometime later, Superman speaks publicly at the United Nations in an attempt to defend himself against accusations made by the Themysciran government. Lex Luthor only adds fuel to the fire with an impassioned speech about the losses suffered at the hands of Superman during the Battle of Metropolis. He presents a man, a soldier on the verge of death during his service and defense of the city. The man, JOHN CORBEN, has been restored thanks to the efforts of Lex Corp medical cybernetics.
But during the hearing, Superman appears to lose control, growing into a rage over the accusations made by Luthor and the Themysciran representative, Diana Prince.
That night at the Metropolis Docks, Lois and photographer JIMMY OLSON investigate an anonymous tip regarding Luthor receiving an illegal payoff.
But then, Batman arrives on the scene. He attacks Luthor and his paramilitary henchmen, searching for evidence and answers about Luthor’s ties to the recent activities in Gotham. But Batman is exhausted by weeks of minimal sleep, injured by his years of waging war on crime.
Outmanned and outgunned, Batman only escapes due to the intervention of Carrie Kelley, now donning a cheap costume and armed to the teeth. She gets Batman to the Batmobile in the nick of time and the two escape into the night.
But during the chaos, Jimmy is killed and Lois is abducted by none other than THE JOKER.
PREPARING FOR WAR
Back in the Batcave, as ALFRED tends to Bruce’s serious injuries, Carrie discovers and is enthralled by a damaged costume that once belonged to Batman’s “sidekick,” Robin. But this opens up old wounds and memories for Bruce. Flashbacks of the Joker brutally murdering a teen boy, JASON, dressed in that very same costume Carrie is looking at. All he can manage to tell her is that the “uniform” once belonged to a soldier, a dear comrade in arms that he failed to protect.
Meanwhile, Superman returns home to find that Lois is missing. That Jimmy has been killed in the line of duty. And that Batman is responsible for it all by bringing his war to Metropolis.
And elsewhere, Joker prepares for one last joke, mocking and torturing Lois as he prepares to prove that not even the big blue boy scout is safe from corruption and compromising his morals.
BATMAN VS SUPERMAN
Superman arrives in Gotham City and almost immediately discovers the location of the Batcave, and it’s beneath Wayne Manor.
Superman smashes into the Batcave, demanding that Batman show himself.
And then, he does.
Superman finds himself suddenly pinned to the ground, Batman standing atop him in almost certain victory from the very beginning. As the light shines across them, we see that Batman is decked out in a highly-advanced suit of (bat-themed) armor. He’s completely ready for war with the Superman.
The two engage in a massive battle that obliterates the Batcave, Wayne Manor, and a good chunk of Gotham. Superman is going to put a stop to the Batman and his war. Batman won’t yield for no man or god. This is his city, his war. His planet.
But the cost is great and Superman proves to be too powerful, more powerful than Batman ever thought possible. For the first time ever, the Batman is the one afraid. He’s too old, too tired, and too broken. And his body finally gives out, fighting until his literal final breath.
Carrie runs to his side, begging Superman to leave her and the now-dead Bruce alone.
This isn’t what Superman wanted. He’s not a killer. He only wanted to bring a violent vigilante/terrorist to justice. Physically unharmed but emotionally and morally destroyed, Superman leaves.
THE KILLING JOKE
Sometime later, as Superman struggles with the reality that he can’t find or hear any sign of Lois, a terrifying broadcast hits all of Metropolis. It’s the Joker.
Joker laughs about Superman killing the Batman. He never thought Big Blue would do that on his own, that he’d take out his most prized plaything. Guess the jokes on him, for once–and he hates it. And that’s why, for one last huck-yuck, he’s planning on taking away everything dear to Superman.
He reveals that he’s been broadcasting from the Daily Planet and that, in a short matter of time, Joker, the Planet, its staff, and all of Metropolis will be nothing but a smoking crater. A number of nuclear weapons are scattered across the city and in the foundation of the Planet. However, Lois is somewhere else. So, Superman will have to decide: his city or his lady. Man or God, make your choice.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of the Batcave, Carrie and Alfred discover that Bruce is still alive. He’s seriously injured, but still alive. And he comes to just in time to see Joker’s broadcast, to realize that this is the moment he was warned about. Carrie isn’t sure what they can do, or what they should do. But Bruce knows. He understands Superman at this point. He’ll go after the bomb, save the city, even if it means losing Lois. But Batman can’t allow that to happen, because it’ll mean the dark future he witnessed will come true. And that’s why they have to save Lois Lane.
Superman races across Metropolis, dealing with various traps and tricks as he snatches up each bomb, one by one. And Batman and Carrie–now donning an alternate Robin uniform–track down Lois and kick some ass.
Superman manages to nab all the bombs, taking them into space where they safely explode. However, he’s nearly killed by the experience.
When he returns to Earth–half-dead, almost entirely depowered, and enraged beyond belief by what the Joker has put him through–believing Joker has killed Lois (and Joker sure he has)–he moves in to kill the Joker, personally.
And that’s when Batman arrives, revealing that Lois is safe and that the Joker is his cross to carry, not Superman’s. That it only takes one bad day for a good man to be driven to dark future. But Superman isn’t a man, he’s something else. Something different. Something more. He has to be better than them. Be an example for others to live up to, not fear.
And with this, and the sight of Lois safe, Superman calms just long enough to leave the Joker in Batman’s care. And he leaves with Lois at his side.
A NEW FRONTIER
Weeks and months pass.
Luthor eagerly leads the public charge against Superman, Batman, and all metahumans and vigilantes acting of their own volition. Against the will of the people. The destruction of Metropolis, the recent near-destruction of it again would have never occurred if not for their presence and action. Lois, alone, investigates and reports on Luthor’s political efforts.
Superman has retired to isolation, in his fortress of solitude somewhere in the Arctic, healing from his injuries and reflecting on his role and impact as a God among humans.
The Joker, alive but brutally injured–teeth missing and jaw broken–is locked away in the depths of Arkham.
Elsewhere, at a private gala, Bruce Wayne tracks down the Diana Prince. The two flirt endlessly and discuss art, but are both aware that the other is hiding something.
Later, Diana returns to her hotel room only to find the Batman waiting for her. And, in a flash, quickly and almost easily disarms him. And he can only smile. He knew there was something different about her. And she knows that Bruce Wayne is hiding behind that mask, much to Bruce’s shock.
He presents her an old photograph. A picture of her somehow alive and armed for battle in a strange costume during the Second World War. He knows who and what she is. But he’s not here to out her, only to warn her than he’s watching her, just like all the others.
Brief flashes of his interaction with key methaumans. A Scarlet speedster–Barry from the beginning of the film, only without the armor–stopping a robbery. A supposed “aquaman” attacking a fishing vessel and oil rigs. A college student undergoing cybernetic augmentation provided by Lex Corp.
When he finishes, Diana looks up from the photo only to discover that the Batman is gone. Her confusion and surprise quickly turning into focused, serious look. Her own pulse-pounding theme rising as we…
Cut to black, raise the title, and roll credits.