WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Do not continue reading until you have seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or just don’t care about spoilers!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a polarizing movie, to say the least. As of this writing, the Rotten Tomatoes critics score is sitting at an..erm…28%. While the audience score is a little more favorable, 72%, it’s safe to say many people have some serious issues with this movie.
We can go into the dirt and muk and nitpick every little detail, as countless other blogs and reviews have been, but I want to take one scene in particular and shine the spotlight on it. I want to give my take, right or wrong, on what I thought was the most powerful scene in the movie.
This scene, you ask? When Superman calls out to Batman to save Martha, his Mother. This was obviously a huge turning point in the whole Batman v Superman dynamic, as the titular “v” was turned into an “&”. I’ve seen some vitriol on the internet about the fact it was too cheesy and convenient that both their Mother’s names just happened to be Martha. However, I believe it’s much more than that. I think this is more than Bruce Wayne dealing with the loss of his parents and his chance for redemption by saving Superman’s. I believe this also is the moment that Bruce Wayne, The Dark Knight of Gotham, realizes that Superman is more than just some God figure, but an actual “Human” who is not above the worldly ties that bind so much of us throughout our lives.
When he was holding the Kryptonite Spear and was about to deliver the final blow, he experienced the pain and vulnerability of this Man of Steel who, up until that point, seemed nigh unstoppable.
We all have our own vulnerabilities and insecurities and that is why we deal so much, in popular fiction, with characters unable to achieve their ultimate goal because of those they love. How many times have we seen a loved one captured, which in turn forces our protagonist to act out of character or against the benefit of all? How many times have we seen a villain, so determined to rule the day (!), turn because of a lingering string still playing inside their almost frozen heart.
We are creatures of emotion and are tied down by the things that we hold dear, and those are the things that define us.
I thought back to my Mother. One of the most important people in my life, and what I would do in a similar situation. I would do all I could to save her, plain and simple. I would move heaven and hell to protect the woman who literally gave me life. Though I may fail miserably, oh what a blaze of glory I would go down with.
Or my wife? My brother? My Father? My sister? The list could go on for days because I love those who helped me get to the point where I am hitting these keys writing this for the internet to read.
We all have something or someone to fight for, and that is a beautiful thing.
This is what Batman saw, maybe for the first time, for Superman. He needed to save his Mother, the one who showed him the ways of our home that is now his.
In that instant, Batman saw so much about himself and his supposed foe, that his worldview shifted on its axis. It was a moment so simple, yet so complex for both of our heroes.
They finally had common ground to stand on. The Son of Krypton and The Bat of Gotham, for the first time, saw eye to eye.
This concept also feeds into the quote that was written over Superman’s faux-grave in Metropolis.
“If you seek his Monument – look around you.”
While this clearly alludes to Superman being remembered by those of us knowing we are here because of him, this quote, originally inscribed on the grave of English Architect Christopher Wren, can mean so much more.
To truly understand and know someone, look at who they have impacted. Look at who matter to them and the mark they have made. This is what defines a person. Whether you are from Earth or Krypton, you become YOU by your actions and by those you care for.
In this moment, Bruce saw this. He didn’t see an invincible man or a threat, but a son. A son that he once was, and truly will always be. A son that needed to do all he could to save those who mean everything to him.
That, my friends, is what it means to be a hero.