Wednesday, January 25, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 64

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 64 (Superman and Lex in the scout ship, Metropolis blackout) from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

  • Thoughts looking back at the warehouse rescue (friends and capes)
  • Lex's countdown timer
  • Continuity error with Superman's arrival?
  • Three meanings of "Right, wabbit?"
  • Lex won't let Superman win
  • Extra lines in the extended cut
  • Blackout in Metropolis and canted angles
  • Doomsday hatches from his egg
  • Lex as creator, Doomsday as devil
  • Fist and abomination!
  • Thoughts from listeners (Deo, kain, Marco, Casper)

Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco.

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
Lex Essay:

@JLUPodcast on Twitter

<Transcript of the episode>
Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. This podcast features scene-by-scene analysis of the Warner Brothers movies that are part of the DC Justice League Universe. This analysis is written by myself and Alessandro Maniscalco.

We are going to be talking about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder. In our last BvS episode, we covered Batman’s warehouse rescue and Lois Lane throwing the kryptonite spear into the water. With regard to those scenes, we wanted to mention a few quick things before we move on. First, although we did mention Damon Caro last time, who was a stunt coordinator and second unit director on BvS, we failed to give credit to Guillermo Grispo and Ryan Watson, who are fight choreographers and certainly had a big hand in the warehouse rescue scene. Also, with regard to Christopher Nolan’s fight sequences as compared to those in Batman v Superman, it was actually Grispo, not Caro, who said that BvS was raising the bar substantially.

Second, we forgot to talk about Batman’s cape. There has been an ongoing debate in the fan community about the practicality of wearing capes. That debate has even shown up in movies like The Incredibles, which went anti-cape, and the show Supergirl, which went pro-cape. Well, in the warehouse rescue scene, it’s kind of interesting because near the end of the fight Batman is pulled down by his cape, so that gives a little indication that maybe it’s not wise for him to have the cape. Maybe it was a slight disadvantage in the fight. But then, at the end of the scene, we see that the cape was absolutely crucial as he uses it to shield himself and Martha Kent. So it is good to see a confirmation of capes, and that’s actually right before Martha mentions the cape explicitly.

Third, and this goes a bit farther back to the end of the Batman-Superman fight. But we forgot to acknowledge the great match-cut transition between Batman throwing the Kryptonite spear to the side and then the cameraman picking up a video camera from the same position on screen.

And the last thing we wanted to say about the warehouse rescue is that there was one small but important piece that we forgot to cover in our prior episode, and one of our listeners, I’m Batman Man 39 from YouTube, made a good point about it. The moment was at the end of the warehouse rescue when Batman says to Martha Kent, “I’m a friend of your sons.” Some people didn’t like this line because they thought it rang hollow -- Batman and Superman were just fighting minutes earlier and they do not yet have a basis for friendship. But putting the line in context, Batman is trying to comfort Martha Kent, and this is an efficient way for him to say that he’s working with Superman, he knows Superman’s identity as her son, and his rescue mission was approved by Superman. He’s not going to say all of that stuff with a fire burning behind him and wounded enemies still in the building, but he can communicate the gist of those ideas by saying that he’s a friend of Superman’s.

Alright, moving on into Scene 64, which features Lex Luthor and Superman in the scout ship -- specifically, inside the genesis chamber that is now cooking up Doomsday. The scene starts with the cooking timer that Lex used back up on the helipad. Many people call this device an egg timer, and it’s fitting here because Doomsday is about to break out from his egg. And I think this sort of kitsch, low-tech device is also fitting for the hipster version of Lex Luthor who wears sneakers and polka-dot shirts. He has is own sense of style and certainly cares about presentation, and so it really fits with the character, in my opinion, that he would have this generic white cooking timer.

Now, some people have said it was sort of contrived that Lex gave Superman a countdown like this, but I think it makes sense. First of all, as the Man of Steel Answers podcast explained, a big reason Lex orchestrated the Batman-Superman fight was to distract Superman and Batman from all the activity at the scout ship as he was making Doomsday. So by setting a timer, he gave Superman some leeway for a little bit less than an hour, making sure that Superman didn’t just go really fast to kill Batman or save Martha and then return to the scout ship. Superman had a bit of time to think about how he was going to approach this dilemma and to try to convince Batman to stop, all of which gave Lex the time he needed. And second, the countdown makes sense because it wouldn’t really work for Lex to just say, “I have your mother and I want you to kill Batman, but there’s no real deadline… just whenever you get around to it.” That wouldn’t work at all, so there had to be some type of time limit set by Lex, and an hour was a logical choice because it made sure Superman wouldn’t rush off way too fast but it also made sure Lex had the time he needed at the scout ship.

Now, as we’ll see in this scene, the scout ship’s computer is counting down Doomsday’s time till animation and it’s just a few seconds later than when the cooking timer goes off. But there’s a big final energy surge that’s needed right at the end. Presumably, even 20 to 30 minutes earlier, Doomsday wasn’t quite ready to be born, or hatched, or whatever.

So the scene starts with the cooking timer. It is still ticking, but we can see that it is just about to buzz. As Lex is waiting and grabs the timer off the shelf, he is actually looking a bit nervous or agitated, perhaps because he had hoped to already get word that either Superman or Batman was dead. Anyway, this a big moment for him, so it makes sense that he will be somewhat worked up in anticipation, and this is another moment where the facial ticks and mannerisms that Eisenberg established for the character really pay off. The timer then expires, and so this is now the predetermined time when Kynazev had been ordered to kill Martha Kent. So because Superman has not yet returned with Batman’s head, Lex is now assuming that Kynazev is murdering Martha Kent, as arranged, and Lex should be getting a phone call to that effect momentarily.

Right after the ding of the cooking timer, we see Superman fly in and burst through to the scout ship room with Lex. The sound design includes a great contrast between frail Lex’s high-pitched ding and the heroic Superman’s deep sonic boom. Now, back when BvS was still in theaters, I worried that this was a continuity error. Scotty V from the Superman Homepage Radio KAL podcast brought this up and I agreed with him at the time --- it seems like a mistake in logic that Batman saved Martha because Superman had to go take care of Lex. But Superman doesn’t actually get to Lex until after Batman is done. The phone call coming in just a few seconds proves that Batman’s rescue happened before this scene with Superman and Lex -- so it’s not that they’re happening simultaneously. So it seems like Superman could have gone to save Martha quickly and then came right over to Lex.

So at the time, I thought this was technically a mistake, but I considered it pretty minor because what we get as a result is so awesome. We get Batman in the greatest Batman fight scene ever put to film. And it is important thematically that he save Martha on his own. We also get Superman and Lex there for the release of Doomsday, which is also character-wise what needed to happen.

So I thought it was a minor mistake, but in thinking about it more, and after talking to some listeners about it, like Marco Antonio Najera (@manthx) on Twitter, we noticed that Superman bursts in right after the timer dings. Maybe this wasn’t just a coincidence of timing but that Superman was actually waiting just above the scout ship until Lex’s time limit expired. Why would he wait? Probably to give Batman the maximum amount of time possible to save Martha, because if Superman came in too early, Lex might make a call to Knyazev to immediately kill Martha. Why wouldn’t Superman go help Batman save Martha and then come to the scout ship afterward? Because Lex says “Fly off and Martha dies.” Meaning Lex somehow would have known if Superman had gone off in search of Martha, and he would’ve definitely known if Superman showed up at the warehouse, and therefore Superman had no choice but to stay within the designated confines of Lex’s parameters. It is of course possible Lex was bluffing about that part, but knowing him, that’s unlikely.  The other reason to come right to the scout ship instead of going to help Batman is because Superman needed to come monitor the activity at the scout ship and keep tabs on Lex. If something more concrete had already been happening at the scout ship, then Superman wouldn’t have waited -- he would’ve intervened earlier, before the timer went off. How does Superman know precisely when the timer goes off? He probably used his super hearing. Although he can’t hear anything from anywhere at any time, we do know that he can hear specific sounds from hundreds of yards away as long as he is focused in on those sounds.

So the timer dings, Superman bursts in, and we see Lex in the foreground with his back to Superman, who’s slightly out of focus in the background. Lex knows it’s him without looking and says, “‘Late, late’ says the white rabbit,” another one of Lex’s many references to literature and pop culture. This one is a reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. And it actually happens to be yet another reference to Lolita, as well. After saying, “White rabbit,” Lex says, “Right, wabbit?” This is word play just like Humbert Humbert is famous for in Lolita. And Humbert also made allusions to Alice’s Adventures in the book Lolita. The Lolita author, Nabokov, even said that Lewis Carroll was like the first Humbert Humbert and Nabokov translated Alice’s Adventures into Russian. So this is even more evidence that Lex Luthor in BvS is written as a sort of Humbert Humbert character, but instead of a dangerous infatuation with young girls, Lex has a dangerous infatuation with meta-humans and godlike figures.

Now, Alessandro took an even closer look at the “Right, wabbit?” line, and it really shows how much of a genius Chris Terrio is. There are a few different layers of meaning to the “Right, wabbit” line. In literal syntax, Lex is asking rhetorically if he is correct while calling Superman a Wabbit. But the word “right” can also mean morally good, which ties into our previous analysis of the Lex Helipad scene with regard to Superman’s morality and god being all-powerful versus all-good. Thinking of right as meaning morally good, we can then think about the word wabbit using its primary definition -- wabbit means weary or exhausted, and Lex surely expected Superman to be exhausted following his battle with Batman. This exhaustion may have even been part of Lex’s plan to make Superman more vulnerable when he has to face Doomsday. On a broader scale, this line can be read as a comment on how exhausting it is for Superman, and anyone else for that matter, to uphold their moral codes. Indeed, throughout the movie, we have seen how exhausting and burdensome it is on Superman to try to be good in this cynical, misinformed world.

There is yet another meaning to this “Right, wabbit” line. Wabbit, in the context of computer sciences, means a self-replicating malware. And so Lex, the silicon valley type tycoon that he is, might also be calling Superman a self-replicating malware. The Wabbit virus was one of the first computer viruses back in the 1970s, and analogously, Superman is one of the first meta-humans to arrive on Earth and indeed, to Lex and even the US Government, once Superman arrived on Earth it seemed more of his kind, beings with extraordinary powers, started sprouting up just like a wabbit would do on a computer.

Amazing stuff, as usual, from Chris Terrio. He seems to enjoy this word play and multilayered meaning just as much as Lex Luthor does. And by putting so many layered meanings into basically all of Lex’s lines, they have done a great job of showing and giving the feeling that Lex is smarter than everyone around and he knows he’s smarter than everyone -- he’s certainly smarter than most of the audience members.

Now, going back to the White Rabbit reference, and having already established Lex as a mad scientist, his reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland evokes the Mad Hatter character as a possible way to assess his state of mind. The Mad Hatter is also a Batman villain who influences and controls people. Taking this into consideration, people’s complaints that Lex is a rip off of Riddler or Joker are quite astute, but not in the way that they thought. Lex, the genius that he is, does cleverly use aspects of Batman’s villains against him. He discovers Batman’s true identity and explores his psychology as Hugo Strange has. The use of the urine jar in the capitol scene combined with getting Wallace to “stand for something” and using his wheelchair to blow everyone up, including his own assistant, Mercy, holds a droll irony and disregard for life akin to something the Joker would pull. The little red notes are like riddles the Riddler would leave cluing Batman in that he is overlooking what is happening to him right in front of his face. All of this is in an effort to influence and manipulate Batman, hitting him where it hurts, just as the Mad Hatter and Black Mask do, while playing to his fears like the Scarecrow. Lex learned everything there was to know about Batman and used it against him. It just goes to show it takes a Superman villain to take Batman down. And now, in Scene 64, he is just as mad as a hatter to think he can control Doomsday.

Continuing on, Lex is now facing Superman and doesn’t seem too surprised that Superman is here without Batman’s head. Lex says, “Hmm...out of tricks, out of time, and one bat head short.” I love it how he nods his head right as the timer splashes in the water. Superman crosses his arms, still showing the scratch mark from Batman but feeling pretty confident that they have foiled Lex’s plan, because at this point Superman just thinks it was a plan to force Batman and Superman to fight. So for a moment we actually have Superman and Lex both feeling confident in the scene together, because Superman doesn’t know about Doomsday and Lex doesn’t know that Batman saved Martha. We see how each character behaves in their confidence -- Superman is stoic while Lex patters on with his inside jokes and wordplay. The phone rings and Lex makes a reference to Gotham roast, again, showing absolutely no empathy or concern for the fact that that would be a human being burned alive.

He answers, saying, “Break the bad news.” But instead of Knyazev, it’s Batman on the other end, who retorts, “I’d rather do the breaking in person.” This line is Batman’s contrast to Superman’s earlier line about how he would bring Lex in “without breaking” him. And Batman’s threat of violence might be because he is not yet fully redeemed from his ultra-violence, that will come later after Superman’s sacrifice, but it might also be just a threat, meant to put Lex in his place, rather than an actual fact that Batman would break Lex if he had the chance.

Anyway, Batman catches Lex slightly off guard. And Superman punctuates this moment by telling Lex, “You’ve lost.” But Lex immediately regains his composure, with his contingencies upon contingencies, and he says, “I cannot let you win.” And we’re analyzing the theatrical version, as we usually do, but there are some important additions here in the extended cut. Lex has a line where he says he doesn’t know how to lose, Superman says, “You’ll learn,” and then Lex says, “I don’t hate the sinner, I hate the sin. And yours, my friend, is existing.” Our listener, Deo Robinson on YouTube, said that he believes those lines were meant to sum up their relationship as a whole, not only in BvS but Superman and Lex throughout the whole comics mythology. Luthor was used to being the guy on top and asserting superiority over others. But then, when Superman arrives, he begins to slowly but surely lose it all ("You've lost"), driving him to scramble around trying to regain what it is he is losing ("I don't know how to lose"), but continues to experience failure because Superman dares to stand in his way ("You'll learn"); which ultimately causes Superman to become his greatest enemy and the source of his belief that he himself is mankind's greatest son and that Superman is nothing more than a fatal hindrance ("I hate the sin. And yours, my friend, is existing"). So thanks for those thoughts, Deo. You rock.

We also wanted to add that Jesse Eisenberg actually seemed to refer to this line about hating the sin when he was interviewed about Lex. Eisenberg said, “He views Superman as just existentially wrong. This guy should not exist. And that creates a very dangerous person.”

Now, when Superman says, “You’ve lost,” the primary meaning is clearly that Lex has lost in terms of failing to execute his plan with Batman and Martha. But from our perspective as audience members, it could also mean that he’s lost control and gone over the edge. We just saw Batman come back from the edge, so it would be fitting if Lex goes further over it. And then in the extended cut, Lex’s response is “I don’t know how to lose.” Note that he doesn’t say that he never loses or that he has never lost. His specific words are in reference to how to lose. The implication is that you don’t lose until you’ve given up trying, and Lex doesn’t give up. He doesn’t know how to lose because he isn’t a quitter. And he certainly hasn’t given up on killing Superman, especially given he’s got Doomsday lined up to finish the job. Superman’s response, then, in saying “You’ll learn” is maybe that he intends to put an end to Lex’s scheming for good, so Lex will have to experience what it means to lose, a lesson imposed by Superman himself.

The extended cut lines about Superman’s sin of existing is also a clear connection back to the helipad scene, because “sin” is clearly a religiously-tinged word and so harkens back to the problem of evil. And the conclusion of the problem of evil argument is that a benevolent, omnipotent god cannot exist, so this connects to Lex saying here that Superman can’t exist. Of course, the logical argument is that such a godlike person can’t possibly exist in the first place, but Superman does exist, just as Senator Finch said, so rather than admit he is wrong or change his perspective, Lex is remedying the situation by killing Superman and taking him out of existence.

In the theatrical cut, though, this is a bit more straightforward and we simply get from Lex the line that he cannot let Superman win. “I gave the Bat a fighting chance to do it, but he was not strong enough. So if man won't kill god, the devil will do it.” The god and devil part at the end brings in the religious overtones, even in the theatrical cut, and we still get the connection to the helipad scene -- Lex is still aligning Superman with god and he still wants to kill god through DD.

The blocking in the scene is also really effective here, as Lex turns away from Superman and walks toward camera as he says, “The devil will do it.” This reference to god and devils also connects back to his scene in his father’s study with the angels and demons painting. There, he had said that maybe the roles are actually reversed between angels and demons. And now here, he has created Doomsday, who he has just referred to as a devil, and the devil is coming from below, but in Lex’s mind, Doomsday is actually here to do good -- to rid the world of god or Superman. So in Lex’s mind, it is Superman from the sky who is evil, and it is the devil in the form of Doomsday who will actually do the good act of killing Superman.

With regard to killing Superman, I do want to say that, in my opinion, it wasn’t just that Lex wanted Superman dead. He wanted to have Superman dead after public opinion was turned against him, after he had exposed Superman’s limitations in terms of the problem of evil, and after Lex had exerted his power over him by having him bow and bend to Lex’s will. Also, Lex wanted to try to kill Superman without it being pinned on himself, so that required more planning.

But, all of that has happened now, and so he’s ready for the kill. And even if, at the end, it might turn out that he gets caught, he actually doesn’t care as much anymore because he has learned lots of information from the scout ship and that has probably put everything into a much broader context -- thinking maybe about Apokolips and the new gods. So anyway, right on cue, the scout ship animation countdown finishes and we see an enormous electrical charge shoot into the Doomsday egg. This brings us to a common misconception about this scene --- many people think that Lex only threw the switch to complete Doomsday after he got the phone call from Batman. So then people think that Doomsday was only a contingency plan because of the possibility that Batman might fail to kill Superman. But if you watch the scene closely, you will realize that the countdown for Doomsday’s animation was already going on since before the timer went off and before the Batman phone call. So Lex had already fully set it into motion to animate Doomsday. This confirms the Man of Steel Answers interpretation of Lex’s plan, which is that he wanted to release Doomsday regardless of what happened between Batman and Superman. Yes, Doomsday was a sort of contingency but it was not only a contingency. As Man of Steel Answers explained, Doomsday was also the perfect embodiment of Lex’s worldview -- that power is never innocent, that supremely powerful beings or supermen are best understood as evil monsters. Superman presenting himself as an altruistic hero cannot stand, but Doomsday is a truer and more accurate face of god. And I would also add that Doomsday is Lex’s chance to play god, to create life, “blood of my blood.” And so he was not going to give up that chance to bring Doomsday into the world, because that’s the inherent contradiction at the core of Lex Luthor -- he hates god and yet he wants to be god. And maybe that’s even a part of why he hates god, because he isn’t god. And maybe that’s also saying something about humanity -- maybe we try to love god but secretly we resent the fact that we aren’t god ourselves.

Anyway, the final animation of Doomsday requires an even larger amount of electricity than before, and so we pull out into wide shots of Metropolis and we see a large blackout that expands across the city. We can see heroes park and the Superman statue in relation to the scout ship, which sets the stage for some action about to come in a couple minutes. We also see Metropolis as it prepares to face another devastating encounter, the first one was in Man of Steel and this time it’s at night and with a power outage rather than during the day and facing a gravity weapon. It is two very different visual palettes between MoS and BvS in their final half hours.

We also see some shots inside the Daily Planet where the lights are flickering, and then we go into the Pentagon and get some canted angle or Dutch angle shots, which are used to give us a sense of unease and tension with what’s about to happen. Anderson Cooper is on TV, talking about the possibility that this is a “Larger terrorist attack.” So not only do we get the physical stage set for the final battle in Metropolis, but we get the recurring motif of the media and the news reporters as a bridge between the public and their interpretation of worldly events, and we also see Ferris and Swanwick, who will be a part of some major decisions in a few minutes, as they operate on sometimes incomplete information.

Coming back into the scout ship, we get a wider shot of Doomsday in his egg and we have a striking complementary color scheme, with blue lighting in the ceiling and an organic orange color down in the fluids of the genesis chamber. This visual contrast emphasizes the significance of what’s about to happen. Lex says, ““Ancient Kryptonian deformity.  Blood of my blood.” So we can assume that Lex learned about Doomsday, and how to create him, from the archives on the scout ship. Using Zod’s body and his own blood, Lex created some sort of mixed-species clone. There may have also been other ingredients that were not shown to us. After all, we can see lab equipment, including a microscope, set up in the genesis chamber.

Now, the pride with which Lex says “blood of my blood” and how he shows the wound on his hand, which had been wrapped up until now, emphasizes the pride that Lex has in his creation.
Another one of our YouTube listeners, kain702, said the following about Lex here, in connection to Man of Steel: “Lex's blood in Doomsday is a perversion of the destiny that Jor-El wanted for Kal. In MoS, Kal's blood was supposed to bring back the people of Krypton and Kryptonians and humans were supposed to co-exist peacefully and learn and grow from one another. However Lex, in trying to subconsciously become a god and a savior (in place of superman), creates life that is violent and nearly mindlessly destructive (an abomination to both kryptonians and humans). Also on another level, consider the implications of Lex as a character. He represents what evil is in 21st century America: disseminating through mass media and personal interactions inflammatory and manipulative narratives disguised as information, playing off of the grey areas of morality to slowly bend people to his influence. He pretends to be multiple public figures according to who he is trying to manipulate (philanthropist, scientist, private defense contractor, young charismatic tech mogul, sympathetic orphan, etc.) but in the end, when you cut him open, all he boils down to is mindless hate, bigotry, and violence (represented by his master plan- doomsday).” Well said, kain702.

Interestingly, in the “Empire of Lex Luthor” featurette, there is footage of a deleted line from the scene where Lex says “Ancient Kryptonian deformity. It obeys only me, and born to destroy you.” This line was then changed to blood of my blood to be less explicit and to convey more meaning along the lines of what Eisenberg says about Doomsday, which is that (quote) “Lex creates Doomsday, tells Superman he is born to be your destroyer….Lex has a kind of Freudian psychology.  He creates kind of a son, he thinks of Doomsday like a son...he has this almost paternal feeling for Doomsday, but Lex determines that that is the best way to destroy Superman.” end quote.

Lex then goes into the final part of this scene with a flourish: “Born to destroy you. Your doomsday.” And this is Lex’s final scene as an active threat, so he is kind of metaphorically passing the villain baton to Doomsday, because Lex is not the sort of villain that you actually have to fight in the climax of a superhero film. He is the sort of villain who plans and connives and manipulates, but he gets others to be his muscle or a physical threat on his behalf. As we said before, this is part of why we think it worked really well to have Lex and Doomsday both in this movie -- they complement each other really well, and they tied in the creation of Doomsday to the themes about god and the devil, good and evil.

We see Doomsday writhing inside the egg and, to me it’s pretty amazing looking CGI. We’ll talk more about the overall design of Doomsday in the next episode, but upon his birth, he has smooth skin and no bone protrusions yet. Superman is temporarily in disbelief of what he is seeing, and he probably never imagined the scout ship and the genesis chamber could be used for something like this. It is also some new and disturbing information about his homeworld, if this really is a Kryptonian-designed deformity.

Then we get Lex’s final line in the scene: “Now god is good as dead.” This is classic Terrio, having Lex put his new spin on the classic phrase, “God is good.” And, as usual, this line has a bit of a double meaning. Lex has recognized Superman as being labeled a god. So in this respect, he is simply stating that Doomsday will kill Superman. However, Lex also might be saying that Doomsday will bring about the death of the supernatural god, creator of the universe. As we pointed out in our analysis of Suicide Squad, there actually was a creator god in the Justice League Universe but that god left Earth a long time ago and no longer intervenes in any Earthly affairs. So Lex may be thinking back to all the negative things he has had to survive, and that the world has had to survive, and if that god will allow Superman to die and Doomsday to live, then that creator god must really be dead, or at least dead to Earth, so basically god as we typically conceive of him is about to be proved dead.

Doomsday stands facing Lex, with Superman in the background behind Lex, and Lex seems very confident and comfortable, even happily taking in Doomsday’s roaring, slimey breath. But then Doomsday seems to get agitated. He stretches out his arms and throws off some of the scout ship gear, and then throws a massive punch right at Lex. Superman flies in and catches the punch, which starts off the Superman-Doomsday fight, which we’ll cover in our next BvS episode.

But we definitely have to say here that Superman catching the punch like that was a stroke of genius. Earlier, on the helipad, Lex accused Superman of being worshipped like a god, but Lex was angry at god because god wasn’t there to save him from daddy’s fists and abominations. Well, here, Superman is literally there to save Lex from a fist and an abomination. This is an amazing payoff to that helipad scene, and it also shows the goodness of Superman as a character -- he always has the instinct and the will to help, even his enemies, saving them from their own creations.

Our loyal listener, Casper Richter, pointed out some of the connections between this scene and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. He mentioned the quote in Frankenstein, where the monster says, "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!" The structure of this line is kind of similar to, "If man won't kill God, the Devil will do it." Based on this parallel, Casper pointed out that Lex has taken up the monster's role and directs his revenge against what he regards as God, that is, Superman.

And when Doomsday attacks Lex, it mirrors not only Frankenstein’s monster, which attacks Victor Frankenstein, but it also mirrors Doomsday’s comic origin where he attacks Bertron, his creator. Bertron wanted to use Doomsday as a tool to gain power and rule over people. He believed he would be able to control Doomsday. Bertron and Lex were motivated by very similar reasons, and faced the same results. With both of them being mad scientists, this makes Doomsday’s origin in the movie true in spirit to the comics. And in the comics, Doomsday remembers each time that Betron had sent him to be killed and re-cloned, so maybe it is possible that Zod retains some hint of a memory from when he was alive, which motivates Doomsday to kill Superman.

End of Episode:

So that’s our analysis of Scene 64. We have just a few more thoughts about Superman and Lex, because this is the last time we’ll see them together in the movie. We just saw that Superman was showing mercy to Lex, just like he did earlier on the helipad when he said he’d take him in without breaking him. Speaking of Mercy, Lex’s assistant’s name was Mercy Graves, a character from the animated universe and the comics. Back in Washington DC, we said that Lex showed no mercy to Mercy Graves. But recently on twitter, @SuperheroSpot made a connection that we missed. Not only is Lex’s assistant named Mercy, but Bruce’s assistant is named Grace. Mercy and Grace, doesn’t seem like a coincidence. @SuperheroSpot said that perhaps this is symbolic of Lex not receiving mercy but Bruce eventually receiving Grace. We would phrase it a little bit differently -- that even though Lex didn’t show mercy and Bruce didn’t show grace, they both actually did receive mercy and grace, respectively. Lex received mercy from Superman, as we just said, and eventually he even receives mercy from Batman when Batman refuses to brand him at the end of the movie. But here in Scene 64, Batman is not yet feeling too merciful. On the phone, Batman said that he’d rather do the breaking in person. But Batman will get there, after he recovers from his fall from grace---after he sees the grace of Superman in the final sacrifice.

Now, earlier in the episode we mentioned our listener Casper Richter. Well, he had some additional thoughts inspired by this scene, so we are going to paraphrase some of those, too. Casper wondered if some people may have been uncomfortable with BvS because they actually identified somewhat with Lex, but didn’t want to admit it. Lex is like millions of people who maybe think they’re smarter than everyone else and who don’t believe in the goodness of others. Casper also drew some interesting connections between Lex in BvS and the character of Alexandra in Superman: Earth One Volume 3. Casper also had some thoughts about Man of Steel and about the comic book Superman: The Dark Side. In that comic, Darkseid stored the anti-life equation inside Superman, and in Man of Steel Jor-El infused Superman with the Kryptonian codex. The explanation in Man of Steel was that Jor-El was preserving the genetic information about Kryptonians, so that Superman might later revive the species, perhaps in concert with humans on Earth. But Casper wondered if the filmmakers might also draw on The Dark Side comic book and factor the anti-life equation into the codex somehow, which might be part of what brings New Gods to Earth in Justice League. Something to think about anyway, and thankfully we have less than a year to wait, plus we know that Lex Luthor will be making an appearance in Justice League, so maybe we’ll find out more about why and how he contacted Apokolips, if that’s what happened.

To close, we just want to refer everyone to Man of Steel Answers and to the Suicide Squadcast, as usual, and we also want to let people know that m_leigh_media from Twitter posted a really nice essay about Lex Luthor in BvS. You can find it on and we’ll put a link in the show notes ( She gives great insight into Lex’s mannerisms and his way of thinking from the perspective of someone who has a similar mindset and idiosyncrasies -- not that the author of that essay is a villain or has evil tendencies, but just that she is able to identify with Lex’s social interactions and his mental state sometimes. So check that out, and thanks for listening.

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