A BRAWL FOR THE AGES: Why Batman Fights Superman
If there's one question that's popped up the most recently when it comes to movies it's: "Why are they fighting?"
Both Marvel and DC Comics have upcoming movies which pit their respective marquee heroes against each other and it, unsurprisingly, it's causing a bit of confusion for mainstream audiences who aren't quite so versed in the long-standing tradition found in comic books where heroes will often duke it out. So with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming very soon to a theater near you, we figured it'd be helpful to give a bit of a primer on just why the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are at each other's throat.
First some context.
Seeing heroes fight in comics is nothing new. In Marvel comics especially it was quite common to have characters like the Hulk duke it out with just about everyone, or for Thor to fight the Silver Surfer, and so on. For fans of DC Comics, however, it was a bit more rare. So the very thought of Batman fighting Superman was fairly mind-blowing when Frank Miller eventually pitted the two against each other in the now-iconic and influential mini-series he created with artist Klaus Janson, The Dark Knight Returns.
It was one thing to see characters like Hulk and The Thing trade blows, it was another thing entirely to see two paragons like Batman and Superman get into a fight. Fans had debated endlessly who would win, and now Miller was finally delivering on decades worth of speculation.
In The Dark Knight Returns, an aged Batman comes out of retirement to help restore order to an increasingly chaotic Gotham City overrun by an army of mutant gang members. Batman eventually tames the gang and uses them as his own personal peacekeeping force once an electromagnetic pulse wipes out every electrical grid in the country, descending the country into chaos. However, Batman and his mutant peace keeping force make Gotham the safest place in the country, which the President of the United States sees as an embarrassment. In response, he sends in Superman (who Miller depicts as little more than a government lackey) to deal with Batman.
Which brings us to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
It's obvious that director Zack Snyder is trading on a lot of the iconography of The Dark Knight Returns. The armor Batman wears when fighting Superman is a near-exact replica of what's in the comic. Batman's regular suit is modeled quite closely to Miller and Janson's design, especially the bat symbol. And there are numerous shots that are extremely similar to panels from the comic as well. Additionally, the overall tone of Batman v Superman appears to be quite dark and grim, qualities The Dark Knight Returns displayed from start to finish.
But aside from those largely superficial similarities, the motivation behind the movie's big brawl is notably different. This is a direct follow-up to the events of Man of Steel, in which Superman made his presence known to the world at large when threatened by General Zod, a Kryptonian who wanted remake Earth in his doomed home planet's image. In the effort to stop him, Superman's fight with Zod resulted in massive destruction to the city of Metropolis. Bruce Wayne witnessed firsthand this destruction by seemingly godlike aliens and, as Batman, has become determined to bring down Superman for the perceived threat to humanity he potentially poses. On the opposite side, Superman sees Batman as a dangerous authoritarian who rules Gotham City with fear and excessive violence and as such thinks Batman's reign of terror needs to be put to an end. If nothing else it's an interesting clash of ideals and goes beyond some of the more simplistic set ups that have resulted in heroes fighting in the past.
Will Batman and Superman finally realize they're both on the same side? Almost certainly. As is the case in most comic book brawls, the good guys only fight for a while before they realize the real enemy is elsewhere eventually leading to a teaming up of the heroes to take on the bigger threat.
If you're looking forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, be sure to stay tuned to Big D & Bubba every day next week, March 14-18, from 5 a.m.-9 a.m. for your chance to win free passes to the movie at Studio Movie Grill in Tyler.