Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot points we can’t reveal in our review.
Before the Chicago advance IMAX screening of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of A Shared Universe, director Zack Snyder himself popped up on screen to urge all of us to protect the big plot secrets of the two-and-a-half-hour movie he was about to inflict upon us. There was a certain irony to this spoiler-reinforcement message. If you’ve watched the trailers, you already know that Wonder Woman appears in this movie. You know that Batman and Superman will fight, then join forces to fight something else. And you know that the something else they fight is a bellowing rock monster created by Lex Luthor—an all-powerful beastie that Superman readers could instantly identify as Doomsday. What information, exactly, was left to conceal?
Just the last one, really: Superman dies at the end of the movie, sacrificing himself to destroy Doomsday. Of course, for those familiar with “The Death And Return Of Superman,” that cash grab of a ’90s comic-book storyline, the mere appearance of Doomsday is a pretty good hint that there’s where Snyder’s Man Of Steel sequel is headed. For a while, Tim Burton was working on an adaptation of this very story arc, with Nicolas Cage set to play the Last Son Of Krypton. That project stalled out back in the ’90s, much to the relief of fans everywhere, but I have to wonder: Isn’t it possible that Burton would have done more justice (har har) to the material than Snyder does?
At the very least, the Beetlejuice director’s proposed version—there were many scripts—would actually have dealt with the emotional and dramatic fallout of killing the man in blue. Here, it’s just a Hail Mary attempt to invest this largely weightless “gladiator match” of a blockbuster some late pathos. Doomsday himself feels like an afterthought, and Luthor barely interacts with Superman before unleashing the monster, so seeing Supes die to save the day just feels rote. And even then, Snyder can’t leave well enough alone: The film’s final shot is of the dirt tossed on Supes’ coffin rising suggestively in the air, teasing an inevitable rebirth. DC got a lot of deserved crap for resurrecting Superman, especially after making such a huge deal about killing him. But they at least waited for the body to get cold before telling audiences that their hero wasn’t really gone for good.
If there’s any other element not already spoiled by the BvS trailers, it’s that other members of the Justice League—the Avengers-style superhero supergroup that will soon be starring in an Avengers-style movie—also make very brief cameo appearances, as Wonder Woman toggles through some Lexcorp surveillance footage revealing the existence of The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Oh, and Luthor eventually hints at the existence of some interplanetary big bad making his way to Earth. Safe money is on Darkseid, the Thanos of the DC universe. Just don’t sit out the endless credits for a glimpse of the guy. There’s no stinger at the end of them.