Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice remains a very contentious movie that really divided the fanbase. As I’ve stated before, I personally enjoy that movie for what it is and I am very happy that it brought us Batfleck and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. It definitely has its problems, but I feel like while the movie may not have been perfect, it gave some pretty great things to look back on in admiration.
First off, when singing the very few praises of BvS, one would be remiss not to mention the warehouse scene. It’s one of the few scenes where Batfleck gets to engage in a brawl, not marred with a ton a special effects. It’s brutal and adrenaline-pumping, as a Batman fight scene should be. That’s one of few scenes that I constantly revisit as likely one of the best scenes in the movie.
Recently, stunt coordinator and second unit director for BvS, Damon Caro spoke with ScreenRant and I’m so glad he did. Caro is part of the team responsible for designing the beloved warehouse scene. The team referred to it as the Martha Rescue scene.
In film, everything must be planned ahead of time to perfectly execute the final product, which requires communication among dozens, if not hundreds, of people. Most times, a script is written and then storyboarded to add a visual to the words on a screenplay. This also shows the storytelling and direction that the director intends to employ. In this situation, Caro and his stunt team examined the storyboards and choreographed the scene. They then filmed what’s called a “Stunt viz” or an “Action viz” (viz is short for visualization), which Caro provided to ScreenRant. The video was spliced with the final footage and it is glorious:
As you can see, not a whole lot changed from the stunt viz to the final product. It is nearly a shot-for-shot re-enactment. I guess, Zack Snyder and WB execs were very pleased with what they saw. It’s a good thing they didn’t feel the need to interfere with this scene.
When this action was first glimpsed in the trailer, people were drawing extremely favorable comparisons to the Arkham video game series. The series in itself, in case you haven’t played it, gave fans a near perfect representation of Batman. While people believed the scene was inspired Rocksteady’s Arkham series, Caro confirms that he has never played the game or even seen it:
That’s funny because several people have asked me that about the Arkham game, and, no, I had never ever seen the game or a trailer or anything. I had seen some of the earlier Batman games, obviously, but it was really cool to hear, almost like the universal consciousness was at work… I’ve been involved in several different methods of martial arts since the age of 10, so I had a very specific mindset of how Batman should fight, the technique, the styles and influences that I had in my head for a long time. Obviously movies and comic books from my youth influenced me. I’m talking a long time ago. Enter the Dragon. Road Warrior, Mad Max, etc. When I create action I try to do it from whatever space I’m currently in. I look at the script and let the action be guided by story and the characters. I don’t really like imitation, I like to create something from the moment.
Obviously I’m a product of great martial artists that come before me, and people involved in cinema, and, obviously I have influences that go deeper than I even know, but I feel like it’s more real and honest in the moment to create from your own space, and I guess maybe there is something here and there where I say “Oh, I saw this movie once and they did this cool thing,” but not for this scene, no, it was all just from being a lifelong fan. Unfortunately I don’t have time to play games that often anymore. Last game I was good at was Halo. The first Halo, so that’s how old my video game skills are, but the [Arkham] comparison, people have asked me that many times, so that’s kind of cool, that we basically brought a video game character to life, which was another perk to it.
What a wonderful coincidence and I hope he takes it as high praise considering how beloved that franchise is.
Now we go on to a scene that elicited the complete opposite reaction. The scene that set up the action, giving Batfleck his objective. It has been derided and parodied online many times. It continues even today. I think you know which scene I’m talking about.
After such an intense and relatively well produced scuffle between two comic book titans, this bizarre moment ends it. Batfleck stands over Superman, ready to deal the final, fatal blow with his Kryptonite spear. Supes utters a name that sends Batfleck reeling. Batman shouts the line that launched a thousand memes.
“WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!”
While Caro was in their midst, ScreenRant took the opportunity to ask him how he felt about the backlash and whether he or the crew could have ever predicted it. He said:
… There was… zero conversation about “Oh, people are going to have an issue with this or not understand it or think it’s silly.” It was – and it’s so funny, Zack and I had a conversation about that, I don’t know, a month ago, probably. That came up and I just said “I have never understood -” and I don’t listen to a lot of the haters, but I’ve heard the chatter of it a little bit, but I don’t understand what the disconnect was. What the problem is with how salient that line is and the connection between having the same mother’s name allows you to connect with someone you wanted to obliterate from the planet because you saw him as a threat to the human race. You saw him as a threat to humanity, then in that one moment, you realized he was an orphan and his mother’s… you saw him as you as you as a kid and you saw him in that light, so that enlightened you, that made you drop and see him now, not as the enemy, but as an ally. A fellow being who is trying to do the right thing, to reach justice. So no, crystal clear and very, like I said, it always made sense to me, so I’m perplexed by that one and I don’t know that I… I don’t have the answer to that one.
The scene has been explained multiple times, even by Zack Snyder himself. Re-watching the scene, I understand it, but hindsight will always be 20/20. The movie had spent a lot of time showing us that Batfleck only saw Superman as a monster to be eliminated, so when he found out this almighty god had a mother, and a mother who shares the same name as his own, it triggered him. It’s thematically poignant, but the problem here is that it was just a victim of Snyder’s poor storytelling skills.
I’m sure the whole crew knew what the scene meant, but it simply wasn’t properly executed and therefore, it didn’t communicate well at all. Unless Snyder intends to spoon-feed his audience the meaning behind every scene, people are going to have their own interpretations, but unfortunately, the correct one simply wasn’t the obvious one. Personally, I didn’t mind the scene, but I also didn’t understand it and definitely did not interpret it the way I was supposed to. It’s not a bad scene, but it is certainly bizarre. It doesn’t help that both actors deliver their lines in an awfully strange way.
What do you think? Do you adore that stunt viz as much as I do? Do you feel that the Martha scene received a lot more hate than was necessary? Or was the frustration completely justified? Let us know.