In Batman v Superman, The Man of Steel is The Boogeyman

By  · Published on December 1st, 2015

In anticipation of a new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer dropping on Wednesday evening (it will air during The Jimmy Kimmel Show), Warner Bros. has released a new teaser clip. By all accounts, this is likely a dream sequence for Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. It’s set in a world in which Superman has taken over the world, lives in a WWII bunker and has an army of his own. This fact alone seems to fundamentally misunderstand Superman: why would he need an army?

There’s a lot that director Zack Snyder’s films don’t seem to understand (or acknowledge) about Superman. Throughout his history in comics, Kal-El has always been the Boy Scout. He’s the American ideal of heroism, whereas Batman usually operates in the grey, a detective in the shadows.

This being part of a dream sequence is perhaps the most reasonable explanation for the tone, which otherwise is very unsettling. If it’s part of Bruce Wayne’s paranoia, in which he views Superman as a extra-terrestrial terrorist who destroyed most of Metropolis over some alien beef, I can see it working.

But if this is somehow part of the movie’s live story, it’s worrisome. Superman isn’t a snarling bad guy. He isn’t usually conflicted about being the savior of humanity. As we’ve seen with the confident success in CBS’ Supergirl, the Clan of El’s great conflict is protecting humanity from the alien horrors that followed them to Earth. This Man of Steel paranoia storyline doesn’t feel like a natural fit.

Until we get a chance to see Batman v Superman next summer, it’s hard to pass any kind of final judgment. For now, Superman is the boogeyman. It’s a style choice on the part of Snyder and writer David Goyer. Whether or not it’s a choice that makes for a great movie is yet to be seen.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)