With every new Batman movie comes a fresh incarnation of the Dark Knight; be it Michael Keaton’s broody, sociopathic turn, George Clooney’s campy franchise-stopping hilarity, or Christian Bale’s fearsome, but now iconic trilogy burner. Every director wants to make the character his own, and several have tried their hand, but one thing that always seems to make the cut in their movies is Batman’s origin story. Chances are if you’ve seen a Batman movie, and many have, you know how the Dark Knight came to be.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently breaking box-office records around the world, but the film was no different; it still featured the iconic scene of Thomas and Martha Wayne being gunned down in Crime Alley, leaving Bruce Wayne very much alone, terrified, and very vengeful. Many critics were skeptical about including the scene, as infamous and overused as it is, but director Zack Snyder has spoken about the scene, and he believes it was key to the film. Be aware, if you haven’t seen Batman v Superman, minor spoilers for the movie lie ahead.
“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.'”
The murder of Wayne’s parents in Batman v Superman actually holds some alternate resonance, though. Where the well-known scene featured in Batman (1989), and Batman Begins (2005), and set the stage for Bruce Wayne’s training, development, and eventual turn into Gotham’s dark protector, it provides an emotional attachment during the frantic smackdown between Batman and Superman in the action-packed final stages, one that confused viewers and critics alike. Discovering that their respective mothers share the same first name (Martha), and a similar approach to justice, the two heroes stop their fighting and form an alliance.
Where this could be seen as a flaw in the script or a weak plot device to get the two famous icons on the same side, it’s no secret that Bruce Wayne considers the bond with his mother a huge catalyst in creating the Batman persona and helped spur his quest for justice. He realizes that Clarke Kent shares the same ethic, the same quest for justice that introduced the world to Superman, and it becomes the reason for their reluctant bond. Remember, Wayne initially saw Kent as an alien hell-bent on destroying Earth, but this very human connection with his mother — Lex Luthor holding Martha Kent hostage is the only reason Superman is fighting Batman in the first place — confirms that where Kent is an alien being, he has good intentions towards Earth and the human race.
With Bruce Wayne having 20 long, hard years of experience under his utility belt come Ben Affleck’s first appearance on the screen, his parents’ murder is the perfect bookend to start the story, one that is ultimately about revenge, protecting the world and, as the title suggests, the path to justice. As a stake setter, there are no better scenes to do this, which makes it a key but important decision from Zack Snyder.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is showing in theatres now.
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures]