Saturday, January 30, 2016

How likely is the leaked plot of Batman v Superman?

Back in June 2015, a detailed plot synopsis for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leaked on reddit and on an IMDB comment board. In July 2015, I analyzed the likelihood of the plot synopsis being true based on our best information at the time. My overall conclusion was that the plot description was probably based on a real script -- because it seemed to be of professional level (in fact, I thought it would make for a pretty great movie) and certain facts were confirmed after it had been leaked (e.g., the party scene with Clark, Bruce, Lex, and Diana, and the flirtation between Bruce and Diana at that party; the existence of Kryptonite) -- but I figured it was probably not based on the final draft of the script, because things didn't seem to line up completely with what had been revealed as of July 2015 (e.g., it doesn't fully account for Knightmare Batman).

But now it is February 2016 and with the latest Empire magazine spread, we have probably seen everything we are going to see before the actual release. So I thought it would be a good time to run down the purported plot synopsis again to see what holds up.

If this plot synopsis turns out to be wholly or partially legitimate, then MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.

The plot synopsis is indented. My comments immediately follow, section by section.

Three years after the Battle of Metropolis, Clark Kent is protecting the world as Superman and working as a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper. Superman has become a controversial figure, with some blaming him for the destruction caused by General Zod and others believing him to be a hero.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 100%.
Not much to say here beyond what I said before. This is the general setting, and the competing reactions to Superman was the focus of the first teaser trailer.

Lois Lane is covering the civil war on Khandaq in the Middle East, while Clark is forced to cover minor stories. He befriends Jim Olsen, a photographer who lost his legs in Zod's invasion, but doesn't blame Superman, and applied for the Daily Planet because they defend Superman, and they cover a football game between Metropolis and Gotham City in which Clark meets Victor Stone, a quarterback for the Metropolis team whose father, Dr. Silas Stone, is an robotic engineer at S.T.A.R. Labs who spearheaded a new high-tech prosthesis program which includes Jim's legs.

Likelihood of Legitimacy: 90%.
It's a bit early in the movie to bring in Vic, but maybe it's really brief. And we still don't have any hard evidence of the Khandaq elements, but we do know that they shot footage of the Metropolis v Gotham football game (although it could have been cut). We have also seen on-set photos of Scoot McNairy with green-socked legs. This makes sense in terms of CGI prosthetics and he also seemed to be dressed in a way consistent with a Daily Planet photographer. So I think all of this is very very likely, I'm just not sure about Khandaq.

Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis during Zod's invasion and believes Superman to be a threat, elaborating counter-measures to disable him if necessary. He's also funding an effort to rebuild a vacant area of Gotham with new housing projects for low-income families. As Batman, he's been active for 15 years, but remains a fugitive of justice that many believe to be an urban legend. Clark has been studying the Batman's sightings despite his editor, Perry White, not seeing any potential in that story.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 95%.
Most of this was confirmed by the Comic-Con trailer, even though the plot synopsis was posted several weeks in advance.

Lex Luthor funded Metropolis' rebuilding after Zod's invasion and has been contracted by the United States government to reverse-engineer leftover Kryptonian technology for them. Luthor believes Superman to be a threat and runs a smear campaign against him through the media vehicles he owns, and is funding the development of anti-Superman weapons, including Kryptonite, which is created through exposure to energy from the World Engine. Luthor also has collected Zod's body and harvested his DNA, using technology based on the Genesis Chamber to craft a biotechnological weapon that could fight Superman. Senator Veronica Cale is supervising Luthor's experiments, but believes the biotechnological weapon shouldn't be deployed due to potential backlash given many still regard Superman as a hero, something Luthor seeks to rectify.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 90%
The trailers show Lex working with the government, with Zod's body, and working in the scout ship, which contained the Genesis Chamber. It has also been confirmed in the "Field Trip" prequel comic that the government has contracted Wayne Enterprises and others (probably Lex Corp) to work from the Kryptonian technology. Cale's name is actually Finch, though.

Luthor has also been monitoring other individuals with super-humans powers unbeknowst to the government, and has captured and experimented on several of them through Cadmus, a LexCorp subsidiary dedicated on genetic research. A paramilitary team under LexCorp's employ, led by his head of security Anatoly Kniazev ambushes Aquaman after luring him into a trap in a LexCorp oil rig and captures him, bringing him to Cadmus for experimentation. Luthor's activities have attracted the attention of Diana, princess of Themyscira, who is on Men's World masquerading as a wealthy humanitarian. She connects Luthor to the string of disappearances she's been been investigating and decides to pursue that lead to Metropolis.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 65%
The recent Empire article and the CW special have revealed that Lex is pretty infatuated with super-humans, so that part seems confirmed. The Diana stuff also makes sense with what we know as was alluded to in Empire. But we don't officially know about Anatoly Kniazev (maybe it's Callan Mulvey's unconfirmed role?) or about Aquaman's role, but Heroic Hollywood reported that Aquaman was captured by Luthor and Aquaman has been part of the toyline release, so it makes some sense that he might be in the movie at various points -- more than the minor cameo that is likely for the Flash.

Clark calls Lois in Khandaq, which doesn't allow Superman in their airspace. The camp is attacked by rebels and Superman springs to action to help Lois and the soldiers, in the process causing an international incident. Lois returns to Metropolis, while Cale uses the incident to convince the American Congress that Superman represents a potential political liability if they continue to harbor him. Superman is later informed by General Swanwick, one of his fiercest supporters within the government, that the Congress has ordered him to attend a summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss his place in the world. The aftermath of Superman's actions in the Middle East are observed by Bruce, Diana and Luthor.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 70%
We have clearly seen the summit at Congress and this international incident makes sense as the thing that Holly Hunter's senator is saying they hold Superman "responsible" for. I think it's likely that it's a new international incident that the senator is referring to... not the events of Man of Steel, which is what many people have taken it to mean from the trailers.

Bruce finds out about Luthor's research on anti-Superman weapons and travels to Metropolis with Alfred Pennyworth under the pretext of meeting Luthor to discuss a partnership to rebrand Gotham's impoverished neighborhoods in order to learn more. Bruce doesn't trust Luthor with alien technology as much as he doesn't trust Superman. Luthor promotes a fundraiser for the Metropolis Museum, the building where Zod was murdered, something which he makes sure to point out. Clark, Lois and Jim are covering the event, with Bruce, Alfred, Diana, Kniazev and Luthor's private assistant Mercy Graves in attendance. Clark interviews Bruce and questions him about the Batman, Bruce dances and flirts with Diana, who also scans Kniazev. Bruce and Luthor have a brief argument in which Bruce plants a device in Luthor's phone, so he can steal the access passwords to LexCorp Tower and infiltrate it, using a signal jammer to evade security.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 90%
They may have shifted the setting from the marble museum where Zod was killed to the sleeker museum or Lex house (filmed at the Broad museum at Michigan State, my alma mater), but I'm very confident that this basic scene will be in the movie. Even the "brief argument" between Bruce and Lex was leaked by an extra from the Michigan State filming. Also, the signal jammer was just confirmed in a prequel comic book. It plays a big part below, too.

Batman steals data about Luthor's projects, but an algorithm projected by Luthor adapts to the jammer and alerts security. Batman evades Kniazev and his men, but is then confronted by Superman, who believes him to be a criminal. Batman refuses to surrender and, after a brief confrontation, escapes from Superman in the Batmobile. Batman sightings in Metropolis are enough for Lois and Clark to convince Perry to let them go to Gotham for a more extensive investigation. Luthor later reviews footage of Superman and Batman's encounter acquired by the government's satellites and retrieves the signal jammer Batman left behind, which gives Luthor an idea.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 80%
There are some shots in the Comic-Con trailer where it looks as though someone broke in (or attempted a break in) at LexCorps. We've also seen most of a scene involving Superman and the Batmobile. But there's a possible discrepancy here -- the plot synopsis says that Batman escapes in the Batmobile, whereas the scene shows Superman leaving Batman in a wrecked Batmobile.

Superman arrives at the summit, with the entire world watching. Senator Cale accuses him of being dangerous, and Superman defends himself and explains his ideals. The Congress pushes for Superman to swear allegiance to them, including disclosing secrets of his identity and upbringing, but Superman refuses, claiming he will not become a tool of the government.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 95%
This scene is in the movie, but the only question is whether Khandaq is really the impetus behind the summit and if the Congress pushes for those exact things.

Superman hears Batman's signal jammer and feels weak. He loses control of his powers and the building is evacuated just as it explodes, injuring several people and killing General Swanwick. Senator Cale accuses Superman of being the culprit, and he is forced to escape when the military intervene. Superman is declared a public enemy, while Luthor is informed that the Kryptonite has been a success.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 75%
The way that Lois and the crowd duck down at the Congressional summit would match with the building explosion here. There also were rumors of an official funeral (another extra leak), so that leads me to think that it's likely Swanwick will die. This also makes sense in terms of Lex stirring things up and trying to blame Superman in the public eye and blame Batman in Superman's eye.

Clark returns to the damaged building and locates Batman's signal jammer, and becomes convinced that Batman framed him and is indirectly responsible for General Swanwick's death. Superman returns to Metropolis in search of Batman, but Bruce manages to evade him. He learns about Kryptonite from Luthor's files and steals samples from it from a LexCorp outpost stationed in the Indian Ocean where the World Engine was first activated. Meanwhile, Diana lures Kniazev and his men into a trap and confronts them. Kniazev escapes, but Diana manages to interrogate one of his soldiers, using the Lasso of Truth to force him into revealing where the super-humans are being taken.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 55%
We have not seen anything to confirm these scenes, but they make logical sense from the stuff that came before.

Batman attracts Superman to the abandoned neighborhood being rebuilt by Wayne Enterprises and fights him with an armored suit, Kryptonite-based weapons and several buildings and vehicles that have been booby-trapped with Batman's arsenal of anti-Superman weapons. The fight is vicious and ends with Superman victorious. Batman urges Superman to kill him, but Superman refuses. Batman then reveals that the fight was designed to test Superman. When pressed for the signal jammer, Batman declares innocence, and they join forces to locate the true mastermind behind the conspiracy.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 95%
We've seen quite a few shots from this fight. It makes sense as a way to end the fight with both Batman and Superman surviving and saving face. Obviously we don't know this outcome to 100% certainty, but I'm thinking this is actually how it's going to go. The signal jammer appearing in a prequel comic also makes me pretty confident about that aspect of it.

Simultaneously, Diana locates the Cadmus facility in the outskirts of Metropolis and observes the experiments being conducted therein, particularly on Aquaman, and the ongoing development of the biotechnological weapon, Doomsday. Wonder Woman infiltrates the facility and rescues Aquaman, but he leaves her behind and returns to the ocean. Luthor's men, armed with advanced weaponry, spring to action, forcing Wonder Woman to flee. Luthor later informs Cale that the Cadmus facility has been compromised, and that they only have no resort to protect their careers.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 50%
This plot synopsis included Doomsday and he was then confirmed in the second trailer. The reason I'm not putting this likelihood higher is that I'm not sure if Wonder Woman is going to be this involved this early in the movie. I thought maybe she would be more Diana Prince for Acts 1 and 2 and only come out as WW in Act 3. As I noted before, it's a bit odd that the plot synopsis did not mention Alfred in the character arc that led Batman to the big fight with Superman.
Batman leads Superman to the Batcave, where they deduce Luthor is behind everything. Diana arrives and reveals that she knows their secret and exposes Luthor's experiments at Cadmus. Superman is infuriated that Luthor has been weaponizing the technology stolen from Zod, as he still blames himself for all the damage it caused.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 40%
The trinity together for the first time, but not in battle. The "I thought she was with you" line from trailer 2 makes me a bit skeptical of her being totally involved with Superman and Batman this early, but maybe they only know her as Diana at this point. And maybe it is still a big moment when she arrives in full force as Wonder Woman to lead to the "Is she with you?" banter.

Superman introduces Lois to Batman and Wonder Woman and they join forces to expose Luthor. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman attack the Cadmus facility to rescue the remaining prisoners, but are then attacked by Doomsday, who has been deployed by Luthor and Cale. Superman fights Doomsday while Wonder Woman helps the remaining prisoners to flee and Batman retrieves data from the Cadmus' servers and fights Kniazev. Meanwhile, Lois infiltrates LexCorp Tower using the signal jammer while Jimmy creates a distraction to find a way to disable Doomsday.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 50%
This all makes sense but the one thing that's bothering me is the fact that Superman, in trailer 2, is standing right behind Lex when he apparently unleashes Doomsday ("the devil will do it!"). I'm not sure how that gibes with the plot synopsis.

Doomsday marches to Metropolis, and Cale learns that Luthor has sub-programming in Doomsday to maximize collateral damage to further damage Superman's reputation. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman battle Doomsday in Metropolis, and are joined by Aquaman, who wants to repay his debt to Wonder Woman and get revenge against Luthor. Together, the heroes manage to minimize collateral damage and avoid innocent casualties, but Doomsday is still able to adapt to their abilities and overpower them in combat.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 50%
Not sure. I would probably bet money on a smaller role for Aquaman than this suggests, but I have no hard evidence to disprove this section.

Mercy catches Lois and they have a fight, but Lois manages to locate Doomsday's systems and insert a sub-routine that allows Alfred to disable the servers. Cale attempts to terminate Doomsday, but Luthor reveals that she can't. When she attempts to expose Luthor, he kills them and makes it appear to be suicide. Without LexCorp satellites uploading battle tactics directly into his mind, Doomsday becomes more vulnerable to attacks, but continues wreaking havoc and causing wanton destruction. Victor is caught in the crossfire while helping innocents and severely injured. With Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman all struggling to protect the innocent, Superman realizes what he must do and soars into Space with Doomsday. He flies into the Sun, with Doomsday still trying to kill him, and they disappear in an explosion. Superman is believed to have sacrificed himself, but emerges from the Sun and returns to Earth as the planet celebrates his victory.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 30%
I think the space flight makes sense as a way for Superman to deal with Doomsday, but will people harp on him again for killing the villain? The filmmakers may go out of their way to make Superman use nonlethal means (maybe sending Doomsday to the moon or another planet). The main reason I have this section ranked pretty low is that it does not account for Lois's rooftop scene with Lex and it also does not account for the Empire magazine article, which said that there would be an action scene with Lois and Batman together.

A few days later, Superman speaks to the Congress once again and speaks in favor of his new allies, as Batman is embraced by the public as reality and the police charges against him called into question, Wonder Woman continues helping people in impoverished countries, Aquaman continues fighting for the environment, Victor is transferred to S.T.A.R. Labs' C.Y.B.O.R.G. Program, Senator Cale is framed of having authorized Doomsday's deployment, and, although Luthor covers up his involvement, his role in creating Doomsday and other Kryptonite-based weapons is exposed and his company loses its military contracts as a result. Superman concludes his statement by revealing that "a new age is dawning." Luthor is drinking in his office when Superman arrives and they discuss recent events separated by a glass window. Luthor accuses Superman of being the end of human achievements, Superman claims that Luthor takes himself as superior to other humans, and is terrified that for all his wealth and power he is still beneath all the heroes that fought in Metropolis and fight everyday for an ideal grander than themselves. The ideal of justice. Luthor vows to destroy Superman. Superman claims he'll be waiting.
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 75%
I think the spirit of this resolution is what will happen in the movie, even if the details aren't all the same. I think we will end up with Luthor avoiding direct connection to the main damage, but Superman and Batman will know, and I think there will be a traditional Superman-float scene at Luthor's window.

The script concludes with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman meeting at the Kent Farm to discuss Luthor's actions. Superman points out Luthor won't stop, and there'll be others like him. Aquaman claims to have affairs in his "home", but is willing to assist if necessary, as the heroes have earned his respect. After he departs, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman decide to find others like them of this new emerging race of meta-humans to form a line of defense against Earth and those who seek to bring it harm. Batman points out to reports of a red blur in Central City stopping bank robbers. Superman asks what happens next. Wonder Woman says "recruitment."
Likelihood of Legitimacy: 70%
Heroic Hollywood did report on a Flash blur stopping a robbery, but it's unconfirmed. And we have seen set photos from the Kent farm, with Lois in attendance in overalls at the farm. The plot synopsis doesn't mention Lois specifically, but it makes sense for her to be there. The plot synopsis doesn't mention any other Kent farm scenes, so if the plot synopsis is true, then that would mean Martha saying that Superman doesn't owe the world a thing would actually be advice to him as he's thinking about the future and the Justice League... not as he's grappling with dilemmas in the middle of the movie.

OVERALL, I stand by my earlier claim that this plot synopsis was based on an early draft of the script. It got lots of things right even before they were confirmed (e.g., the high-society scene with everyone in attendance, the Bruce/Diana flirtation, Kryptonite, Doomsday, Lex with the Senator, a Congressional summit, Lex with Kryptonian tech and Zod's body) but it is disagrees with other stuff that we know is in the movie (e.g., Knightmare Batman sequence in Afghanistan, Lois and Lex on the rooftop, Superman standing behind Lex and kneeling to Lex, Lois and Batman action scene). So I think we're going to see this general outline to the movie, but there will be some significant changes, so it will still be a surprise to see what we actually get on March 25th.

1 comment:

  1. Certain features of this plot synopsis have increased their probability of being legit. Reports in early March indicate that KGBeast, aka Anatoly Kniazev, is a character in the movie. Vague details of Diana's role match with the details in the synopsis, and EW also mentions Lex Luthor causing some mass murder and using it to cast suspicion over both Batman and Superman in the other person's view. Could that be the attack on the Capitol?