Be aware there are spoilers for Batman v Superman.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been met with no short supply of derision since arriving in theaters last week, but characterization and tone aside, one of the particular plot points that’s left folks scratching their head is the moment Batman decides not to kill Superman because both their mothers are named Martha. It’s a moment that didn’t quite ring true for many fans, a drastic and sudden shift in Bruce’s mentality that many have jokingly compared to the “Did we just become best friends?” scene in Step Brothers. Probably not the connotation director Zack Snyder was going for given the dour, super serious tone he strived for in the film.
In an interview with Forbes, Snyder discussed his motivation behind the moment and why he considered it a payoff for the screentime devoted to the relationship between Clark and his mother.
You know, they’re both born and live in a world where someone can care about them and mourn them, and they can love their mother. And that’s the cool thing, you know we spend so much time with the Martha-Clark relationship that I think it kind of pays off there. You realize, oh, we needed that as viewers, so we could get to a moment with Batman where that moment with Martha resonates. Because we’ve lived on with Clark’s relationship with his mother, so that moment is like, “Wow, that’s ringing for me and I feel it.”
I’m not quite sold on this explanation, if only for the fact that Batman v Superman spends very little time on Clark and Martha’s relationship in the face of the broad-scale look at Superman’s presence in the world (and a massive amount of setup for future films). Perhaps he was referring to their moments together in Man of Steel, but given the fact that Batman v Superman wasn’t even in the works at that point, there’s pretty much no way he was already setting up that moment.
Likewise, that “Martha moment” also factored in his decision to feature the well-trod territory of Martha and Thomas Wayne’s murder. While fans have questioned the necessity of such a scene given how frequently Batman’s backstory has beene expounded on in previous adaptations. It’s like the death of Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, we get it. It’s been done. But according to Snyder, witnessing the death of the Waynes was a fundamental set up for the payoff in Batman’s mid-battle change of heart.
When we were shooting the title sequence, that whole idea about, “Do we really need to see the death of the Waynes again,” is a big thing to take a shot at again. But you realize you need it, because it actually pays off. And I really wanted to do it all the way.
Ultimately, it’s easy to understand why suddenly being confronted with a direct reflection of his own personal tragedy would give Bruce pause, but it plays out too suddenly in the film and seemingly only because Snyder wanted it to play that way. Why wouldn’t Superman immediately try to reason with Batman by saying something like, “Lex Luthor is manipulating both of us and will kill my mother if we don’t work together” instead of an ambiguous “We need to work together.” The answer is because the story needed him to, and that’s never a satisfactory justification
What do you guys think? Were you satisfied by Bruce’s sudden shift? Do Snyder’s comments add up for you? Does the Martha moment another on-screen interpretation of The Waynes murder? Sound off in the comments below.