Sunday, March 19, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 73-74

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scenes 73 (Lex Shaved, Lois Engagement ring) and 74 (funerals) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

  • Revisiting "my world" from the last episode
  • Lex Luthor's shaved head
  • Perry and the Daily Planet headlines
  • Martha's hands and Jonathan's photo
  • Lois's engagement ring
  • Clark Kent funeral at the Kent farm
  • Superman funeral in Washington DC
  • A quick look back at "Is she with you?"
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Follow us @JLUPodcast on twitter
Daily Planet Article:
Surprises for Lois:
Man of Steel Answers, A Beautiful Truth:
Trinity comic book:

Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. In this podcast, Alessandro Maniscalco and I share our analysis of the DC Films from Warner Brothers studios. Right now, we are finishing up our analysis of Batman v Superman headed toward a special anniversary episode for March 25th. And after that we will look back at Suicide Squad and also gear up for Wonder Woman, which we are very excited for, of course.

So this episode is going to cover Lex’s head shaving, Perry’s newspaper headlines, and then the funeral scenes in Smallville and in Metropolis. Before we get into those new scenes, though, we need to revisit the death of Superman for just a little while. In the last episode, we talked about Superman’s line, “You are my world,” and we mentioned several prior moments where the idea of world and my world was thread throughout the movie, but we forgot one instance that was pretty important. It’s Jonathan Kent’s story up on the mountaintop. Thanks to gridpoint, Joe Green, and TibiCogitate for reminding us of that connection. I can’t believe I forgot it but I’m going to blame it on the midnight recording session. But anyway, Superman finds his calm and his center and he says to Lois that she is his world. This gives him the strength and focus to find his way forward in a complicated society but also in the immediate situation of facing Doomsday, a monstrous creation of man. When Superman says this line and centers himself in this way, he is really taking both of his human parents’ advice. Martha’s advice back in Man of Steel when she said to gain focus by making the world small. And also Jonathan’s advice from earlier in Batman v Superman when he told the story of the horses drowning. That story was about how doing heroic deeds can have unintended consequences, and you have to find a way to cope with those consequences and not get overwhelmed by everything and get frozen by second guessing yourself. This was important for Superman to hear after the Capitol bombing, but it was also important for him to hear that Jonathan’s way of dealing with it was through Martha, his wife. Jonathan said that she showed him there was good in this world, and in fact, he said, “She was my world.” So now we go back to the death of Superman, and Superman is following his father’s lead. He has Lois as his touchstone to the good in humanity and he calls her “my world,” which allows him to save the entire world and stop worrying about what unintended consequences there might be in killing Doomsday. Fittingly, once Superman stops worrying about the possible negative repercussions of his actions, he actually ends up having very positive repercussions, as we’ll see with the funeral scenes and the denouement of the film.

I also like these connections from the death of Superman moment back to his relationship with the Kents because it shows in a new way how important the Kents are to Superman’s development, but in this universe it’s a lot more than just folksy advice and milquetoast morality. The Kents gave him examples and the support Clark needed to make it through some really difficult challenges. It’s also fitting that it was Clark’s human parents and his human partner who got him through the stress and turmoil caused by humanity.

And by the way, in the last episode we mentioned some echoes of the birth of Kal-El in the scene where Superman dies. And we wanted to point out that Andy Grail’s tumblr page at has some nice illustrations of the visual connections. There are the streams of light coming down in several scenes, for example. Also, Resident Grigo reminded us of some connections to the comics. He said that the "you are my world" bit connects to the Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey story. Resident Grigo also pointed out that although the character of Superman had been around for 54 years when he was killed, Superman in that particular comic universe was actually still relatively early in his career. There was the Post-Crisis reboot of the character by John Byrne in 1986 and so that was only 6 years before the Death of Superman, and within the comic universe itself, it was actually only a couple years into Superman’s career. He was not a pure ideal, messiah or anything like that yet. So BvS, with Superman more than 18 months into his career when he dies, is actually pretty similar the duration in that comic universe. Then, a lot of the idealism and supreme confidence came after the Death of Superman.

Alright, so let’s move into the actual new scenes for this episode. We have Scene 73 that features Lex getting shaved and prepped for his stay at Belle Reve penitentiary. This is the same facility that is featured in Suicide Squad, and in the extended cut of BvS we find out that Lex is only temporarily at Belle Reve and that he will be moved to Arkham Asylum.

I like the placement of this scene because it gives us a link between Lex and the Death of Superman. Even though Lex is not the kind of villain who was directly involved in the final physical battle, he was of course the cause of the trouble and of Superman’s death. The scene starts on the floor with a clump of his hair landing, and they add a nice sound effect to give it dramatic effect. Then we cut up to a close-up of Lex and I think it’s great how we have Lex being shaved into his bald form right here so that bald Lex corresponds precisely to the post-Superman era, but it’s also like a mark of guilt, that he was the one who killed Superman.

In terms of the character design, I like that they didn’t just start with a bald Lex from the beginning. Instead, we see Lex getting his head shaved so it has more meaning and will have more meaning in the future when we see bald Lex in movies, such as Justice League. And I also like that he has a scene later with the shaved head. I also like that that scene features a Lex who is in a different mental place than he was at the beginning of the movie. It makes the baldness a marker of a character shift, not just a new look.

These shots of Lex are framed straight on, with Lex looking down the barrel of the camera. It’s a shot that locks us in on Lex and how demoralized and angry he must feel. It’s a chance for us to think back through what we know about this character -- he was the smartest guy in the room and he knew it and he reveled in it, but now he’s in a prison suit being shaved. He wasn’t smart enough to get away with it and that is probably driving him crazy. His current situation also contrasts drastically from his prior scenes. In his first scene, he was confident and charismatic at LexCorp. Later he was cocky with Senator Finch before the Capitol bombing. And of course the helipad is probably the best contrast because he was on top of the world and he had Superman bowing down before him. But Superman found a way to thwart Lex’s ultimate plans and now we see a defeated Lex and, for once, a silent Lex. Gone are his twitches and mannerisms for the moment; we just get him sitting and stewing in a very simple shot. So this new look is significant as it marks a change in the character both physically and mentally.  Seeing Lex in an orange jumpsuit is also reminiscent of All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison’s epic Superman story.

After the clippers comes the clean-shaven head, which is revealed by pulling off a white towel. In the special features on the blu-ray, you can see Zack Snyder talking to Jesse Eisenberg about this shot and he calls it a Kubrick shot where you start with your head down and then pull up slowly, looking straight into camera. Kubrick is one of my favorite directors, along with the Coen Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock, and many people who have analyzed the themes and motifs in Snyder’s movies have compared him to Kubrick in his layers, hidden meanings, and use of visual motifs. And it is true that Kubrick often staged things symmetrically around center frame, and that’s what Snyder did here, with the two guards behind Lex positioned symmetrically and blocked to move in tandem as they come forward to remove him from the chair.

But overall, this scene gives us the in-universe explanation for Lex’s baldness, which we assume will carry forward in any of his future appearance. He may keep it as some kind of reminder or some other reason. Although some may criticize the reason for Lex’s baldness in this movie, because he is shaven rather than truly bald, we give it a lot of credit as a new take just as there have been different takes on it through the history of Lex’s character. And being manually shaven rather than actually bald is kind of like the Joker’s white skin in The Dark Knight, which was makeup rather than bleached skin.

Several past versions of Lex’s character had his baldness be a direct result of some action by Clark or Superman. Although this BvS baldness is not a direct result of Superman’s actions, it is still a result of Superman’s existence. Had Superman never existed, Lex would have never gone through the sequence of events in this film that led to his incarceration. He probably could’ve continued forward as the son who took over his father’s billion-dollar business and the public may not have actually realized how mentally ill he was. Money covers all manner of sins.

I personally am glad that they didn’t make Lex’s baldness the reason for his hatred of Superman, like happened in the Silver Age of comics. I’m bald, and it’s really not that bad at all, nothing to go all megolomaniacal over.

And we also wanted to say that it’s fitting that it was mankind that gave Lex the shaved head, a governmental institution winning the day over Lex, giving us a contrast to when he thought he could have a Senator eating out of his hand, or maybe it’s a fitting retribution for the fact that Lex blew up the Capitol. Lois was the one who built the case against him, but it is the government and the people who incarcerate him and shave off his locks to reveal what had been hidden beneath his idiosyncratic yet charming facade.

The other thing we wanted to address in this scene was just to go back over Lex’s plan -- where it succeeded and where it failed. Lex was definitely a very formidable villain because he was the puppet master for Keefe and Bruce and Mercy and the news media. He successfully learned of the heroes’ secret identities, and when Senator Finch stood up to him he had her and her entire committee blown apart. Lex also succeeded in creating Doomsday and killing Superman. He also contacted Steppenwolf on Apokolips. So he accomplished a lot more than most superhero movie villains. But even though Lex always had contingencies and felt like he could never lose, he did fail in his ultimate goal of turning everyone against Superman and against the notion of god. It backfired when Superman became a public martyr, saving the world from the monster Lex created, rather than Lex saving the world from Superman.

So in the end, Superman found a way to prevent Lex’s ultimate goal. But Lex’s previous plans were pretty much foolproof. Our listener Trent Osborne from YouTube laid it out well: (quote) “In Africa, if Lois is killed then Superman isn't all powerful and this might very well push him over the edge; Superman being too late benefits Lex anyway. If he saves her then the plan continues. Even if he saves Jimmy before everything goes wrong, Superman is still interfering in this international situation, which would have a similar outcome, Lex wins. The CIA can't throw Lex under the bus since he knows they were there and would drag them down with him. They can't kill him since he makes their ammunition. Lex effectively has the CIA in his pocket. Africa can't fail, it's virtually impossible. The hearing gets even more brilliant, Lex choosing Wallace pretty much guarantees its success. No one is going to ask an amputee if they can double check his chair, it's insensitive. Even if Superman does scan the chair and get suspicious he can't do anything. What does he do, ask if he can disassemble an amputee’s chair whose condition is partially his fault? By choosing Wallace the bombing pretty much can't fail, it's virtually impossible. Everything with Lex is like this, you can't pick apart Lex's plan. Terrio planned for every possibility, he actually considered every nit pick people could think of, this is an attention to detail unheard of, he actually becomes more and more brilliant the more you try to pick him apart. That is truly impressive writing right there, and Terrio deserves massive praise for that kind of level of foresight.” (end quote)

But of course Lex’s final plan with Doomsday, the one that he didn’t really plan from the beginning but the one that he concocted once he gained the information from the scout ship, did fail because Lex did not foresee Batman coming around and working with Superman, he probably didn’t foresee Wonder Woman stepping forward to join the fight, and then of course there was Superman’s sacrifice in the end. Maybe Lex did not foresee this courage and selflessness or this ability to forgive because Lex does not have those traits himself, but regardless, the Trinity did come together and stop Doomsday while also reviving Superman’s public image. On the helipad when Lex had said that the people “have to see the blood on your hands,” it ironically ended up being Superman’s own blood that they saw, which is a redeeming kind of blood and an inspiration, rather than having someone else’s blood on his hands like Batman’s or Lex’s.

To say it another way, we have Planet G from YouTube, who we’ll paraphrase here. “Lex's goal was to corrupt the image of power as good, then destroy it, by corrupting Superman and killing him. At the point of Superman's death he has achieved his goal. In the public's eyes Lex still hasn't answered for the Capitol bombing and a monster has emerged from the alien craft. So the corruption of power is now even deeper, and Superman the good dies. Right at this point Lex has won, but of course we know that the world later embraces Superman's heroism and it inspires others, including Lex actually who we see later starting to reformulate a new plan to use the cosmic threat to his advantage. So this whole storyline right until after Superman's death establishes Lex as a credible villain. You feel as though he can legitimately achieve his goals and he won't​ just be a villain who tries a plan but loses to the hero in some staged third act to make the heroes "look cool.” Instead, Lex wins, he doesn't know how to lose, and BvS positions him fantastically as a protagonist that is a credible threat where consequences are likely.” So that is well said from Planet G.

Now we’re going to move on from Lex Luthor, although I do also want to say that I think another reason it was great that they had his shaved head here at the end is that it really gives the sense that Lex is going to wreak more havoc in the future and he’s so sociopathic and deranged that it makes me really want to see how he might show up in future movies. So I think this is a great way to resolve his character for this movie that is early in the Justice League Universe but it leaves him around for other things possibly in the future. We know he’ll be in Justice League, probably in a small role, but could he also come back in a Man of Steel sequel or in a movie that involves Darkseid himself? It’s fun to think about and it’s impressive that they gave him the comeuppance he deserved here, where he has to be subjugated to the institutions he derided and he has to bear witness to the world that now adores Superman and a world where more meta-humans are now going to come out of hiding. But the filmmakers also kept him around and left us with the bald-headed Lex for future films.

Okay, onward for real now. We get a long shot amidst the Daily Planet’s printing press and then Perry White enters frame, somberly waiting to see how the paper looks before it hits the newsstands. Perry probably doesn’t stand down there every single day as the issue runs, but this issue is obviously historic. And it’s also personal, because as we’ll see in a second, he turns pretty quickly to see the article about his own reporter, Clark Kent.

I like this moment overall because the somber Perry contrasts with the wisecracking, comic relief Perry that we saw throughout the first couple hours of the movie. Like the contrast we just talked about with Lex, the characters were great throughout the movie but now seeing them in a different emotional state really gives these moments the weight of an ending and a movie that has taken us somewhere different than when we started.

Still in the same shot, Perry pulls a newspaper off the line and then holds it up so that we can see the headline --- “Superman Dead.” This confirms to the audience that he really is dead, and this is also a nice homage to Action Comics 685 which had the Daily Planet on its first page, and the headline in that comic was also “Superman -- Dead.” Looking further at the movie version of the paper, the sub-heading reads “Night of Terror Morning of Loss”. This shows that there were really two huge news stories that people needed to comprehend -- first, what the heck was happening that night in Metropolis. They knew about the power surges and the black outs, they saw Doomsday emerge and they saw the glowing orange explosion in space, but everyone is still probably learning the details about what actually happened and who was involved. Some people, when they only had social media information or rumors, probably thought Superman was responsible for the calamity but now that they can get corroborated stories from real news organizations, they can get the true story. And having this accurate news (and actually believing the news) is probably part of what allows everyone to rally around Superman rather than staying divided.

So the Doomsday battle and destruction is one story, a “Night of Terror,” and then the other story is the death of Superman, “Morning of Loss.” Perry opens up to the inside and we see two stories side by side. “Daily Planet Reporter Clark Kent Killed Reporting Gotham Battle” is on the left and “LEX LUTHOR Arrested in Connection with Capitol Bombing” on the right. Notice that the photo credit under Clark Kent is Clay Enos, who happens to be the actual set photographer from BvS and other DC Films.

These stories shouldn’t be taken as canon because they aren’t written by the filmmakers and they don’t go through all the approvals that the script does. They contain grammatical errors and also have repeated portions just to fill the space needed. But there are some interesting things to notice, just for fun. In the Lex Luthor story, he is arrested primarily for the Capitol Bombing but there are actually 36 federal charges. The article talks about the evidence tying Lex to the Capitol bombing, including things like the metal in Wallace Keefe’s chair that Lois actually uncovered as shown in the extended cut. The article also talks about the new suspicions that Lex was also behind the African incident, and it mentions the SWAT team abduction of Lex in the scout ship, which is of course included in the extended cut and which was released as an extra scene online even while the movie was still in theaters.

We will post the entire legible text of this story on our blog at, where you can also find all the transcripts of our episodes, by the way. But we aren’t going to read the whole article here, we just want to pull out a few things. First of all, this article, even though it’s written by Gavin Evans instead of Lois Lane, it confirms that Lois was absolutely essential in bringing down Lex. It’s also interesting to note that the article leads with the Capitol bombing rather than the Doomsday attack, so at this point there is much more direct evidence connecting Lex to the Capitol bombing than to Doomsday. This lack of evidence supports Alessandro’s idea that we’ve mentioned earlier that perhaps Lex thought he could control Doomsday and that Lex could’ve possibly been the hero to come in to save the day after Doomsday killed Superman. This may have at least been one of Lex’s contingency plans. But of course, as we saw, Lex could not actually control Doomsday, and it is very unlikely that he would’ve been able to get away without any evidence tying him to the scout ship and Doomsday’s creation. In other words, even though at the time of this Daily Planet printing the authorities don’t have a lot of rock solid evidence tying Lex to the whole process of creating and releasing Doomsday, they did arrest him in the scout ship and so it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they build that case too and can add Doomsday to Lex’s list of charges.

Some other tidbits from the article, Lex’s full name is Alexander Joseph Luthor, so he and Clark share a middle name. It says that the FBI now has access to investigate his personal residence, which we’ll see at the very end of the movie, and they’ll also be investigating his corporate offices and his LexCorp labs. The article lists some of the connections between the billionaire villain and Russian operatives, though it doesn’t list Knyazev by name. We see that 69 people were killed in the Capitol bombing, mostly Senators, Senate staff, and members of the press. It also talks about the public division over Superman’s role in the world and it ends by saying that Superman’s sacrifice made many of the detractors’ protests seem petty and near-sighted. The article also talks about Superman as a great asset to humanity, a “peacekeeper in a world dying of a thousand cuts.”

The article also confirms what we’ve been saying all along, that Lex’s goal was to tarnish Superman’s reputation, making him take the blame for the Capitol bombing and the deaths in Nairomi. And it also clarifies that people believed it was Superman’s influence in the region (i.e., his presence and interference) that caused the collateral damage, not that Superman necessarily murdered everyone personally. This nuance comes through more clearly in the theatrical version than the extended version with the latter seeming to explicitly frame Superman for the deaths. Although that doesn’t dismiss the fact that Lex could very well have intended to frame Superman for directly committing those murders, but the perception was that Superman’s interference in foreign affairs is what caused the calamity, which was enough to start outcry against Superman anyway.

The article also talks a bit about LexCorp as a company and how Lex made the company his own in the mold of a 21st Century tech firm. The article explicitly mentions his narcissism and the creation of his own megacorporation. The article also has a reference to the question of other super men and women on the planet, that is, Lex’s meta-human thesis. Once the authorities search Lex’s records, they might actually find the meta-human files he has collected. They already know about some of the meta-humans, or at least Amanda Waller and the people at the top of the Pentagon do, but by the time Justice League rolls around, I think it’s going to become much more obvious for everyone. But right now at the end of BvS, the public doesn’t yet know about all the meta-humans and they don’t know about the Batman-Superman fight, nor do they know that Lex was behind the pitting of Batman against Superman and that he was behind Doomsday.

Thankfully, we still have one more scene with Lex, which we’ll cover in our next episode, and there we’ll see his reaction to the charges and how he deals with the new state of affairs.

The arrest of Mr. Alexander Joseph Luthor yesterday has shed new light on recent investigations into the bombing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Luthor, who is currently being held without bail at the Belle Reve Penitentiary Prison has proved uncooperative when questioned by authorities according to our sources.
Mr. Luthor has been arraigned on 36 Federal Charges. Federal and local law enforcement believe this number will rise as the investigation expands. Court ordered search warrants were issued to Lex Luthor and the Board of Directors of his multi-billion dollar franchise, Lexcorp. Giving the FBI widespread access to his private residence, Corporate offices, and Lexcorp Research Labs.
Forensics has already linked a proprietary metallurgical compound specific to an undisclosed project developed by LexCorp with the attack.
According to sources close to the FBI, a particulate found in LexCorp Research Labs during the search matches the wheelchair at the crime scene, it is evident that a wheelchair made from this material was used as the vehicle to transport the bomb into the building, undetected by the Capitol’s —
(from Reddit) stringent security measures. It appears that a sophisticated plot devised and executed by Mr. Luthor to discredit Superman was the foundation of this subversive and deadly attack. The bombing at the Capitol has taken the lives of 12 senators including Senator June Finch of Kentucky and produced another 57 casualties, among those, some of the most respected members of the public and press. Senator Finch had called the widely publicized hearing to assess Superman’s involvement in the recent massacre in Nairobi, which killed sixty men, women and children and injured dozens more in Mali. Investigations into LexCorp’s involvement in this incident are currently underway. False claims that Superman’s influence in the region caused this collateral damage have since been dismissed too little, too late for our city’s hero. Superman’s fight for what is good in the world had come under scrutiny since the bombing. Many believed that he had become a vigilante, spurring protests across the city and nationally.
Congress had summoned Superman to appear before a congressional subcommittee. The subcommittee, chaired by Senator Finch, had convened to ask him about his… OFFSCREEN … particularly during the alien attack over Metropolis. The list of his heroics grew every day. However, some felt that an unchecked power as great as Superman undermines the US government in its abilities to conduct the business of the people both at home and abroad.
SWAT Team Storms Kryptonian Scout Ship
Other issues discussing the threat to the United States and its allies from other aliens whom may other be following Superman to Earth or who may already be here among us. We still have no idea how long Superman has been on the planet, how many other Super men and women there might be and what their intentions are. These are just a sampling of questions the Senate Subcommittee wanted to address. Tensions were high the day of the hearings to begin with… OFFSCREEN … doing more harm than good. They cite the Black Zero Event as an instance were countless lives were put in danger, as one protestor was quoted as saying, “Because he brought his fight here, and bashed a whole city into rubble in the process.” Luthor’s arrest throws the whole argument into question as he single-handedly cost the US public the lives of many of their loved ones and ??? of fear entrenched in some humans, not aliens, are capable of. But the question is, who will save us now?
This in hindsight seems petty and near-sighted given the ultimate sacrifice paid by Superman. Lex Luthor will surely be judged in history for his part in the downfall of one of humanities’ biggest assets. A peacekeeper in a world dying of a thousand cuts.
The authorities now know that Mr. Luthor had made it his purpose in life to destroy the reputation of Superman and turn the tide of public opinion against the super hero. All for the narcissistic gain of a troubled young man.
Lex Luthor, son of Lionel Luthor Sr., founder and CEO of LexCorp, a well respected and extremely successful businessman known for pioneering design and fabrication of industrial equipment. His sphere of influence and commerce spanned from mining equipment to aeroparts, from the US to the far reaches of the globe. Building a family fortune rivaling the Rockefellers, LexCorp became a Fortune 500 company in the early eighties. After his death Luthor, becoming the sole heir of his father’s fortune, inheriting vast holdings in real estate and business. A stock portfolio that is said to be in the hundreds of millions. Lex Luthor, following in his father’s footsteps, saved that fortune to create his own vision. ???? his father by ??modeling?? his own mega corporation after the biggest in Silicon Valley. LexCorp became known as the Google or Facebook of Metropolis, eventually building one of the largest skyscrapers in the east coast. The face of his 21st century corporate venture (?) was on the outside built on the ???? tech-savvy (the rest of the column was unreadable)
The FBI has already secured statements confirming alleged kidnappings, attempted murder and coercion. Several of Mr. Luthor’s business associates, some say “hired guns”, are said to be ??associated with?? the Russian Mafia or have worked as violent mercenaries in the most dangerous conflicts in the world – conflicts where everyone involved had a total disregard for human life and human rights. Warehouse fires at both ???? ???? and ???? Docks by the Gotham Seaport uncovered a series of brutally mutilated bodies. As adjoining (?) part of the warehouse undisturbed by ??? was clearly used to hold hostages. This too had ???? talked (?) to an underworld and his associates (?) where Lex Luthor pulled strings. Hopefully all of these allegations will firm up ???? the ???? future investigations. Legal experts believe the ???? process will be long and drawn out. ???? Jaggars (?), a partner in the law firm ????, ???? and Jaggars (?) (Can’t decipher the rest/gave up)

In the Clark Kent story, there are a few nuggets that might be interesting as we look ahead to the Wonder Woman and Justice League films. There’s a passage in the story where it says that the past “few years have change[d] how we humans see ourselves in the universe. We are most definitely not alone, and the images of spindly green men that are no match for our human physique could not be further from reality. In truth, the men from outer space look just like us. They may already walk among us. They may have been among us for thousands of years.” This also ties in a bit with the prequel comic for Man of Steel where Kara Zor-El left the scout ship and went somewhere on Earth thousands of years ago. Another connection between Man of Steel and this article is that there’s a bit of an unofficial explanation of how Clark Kent got his initial job at the Daily Planet. The article says that he was hired based on the recommendation of Lois Lane. So that should satisfy some people who have complained that it was unrealistic for Clark Kent to be hired so fast without formal journalistic training. As for me, I don’t even think that that explanation is needed because in Man of Steel they explicitly say that he’s a “stringer,” not a staff reporter. That means the Daily Planet only had to pay him if and when he turned in a professional-quality story. If he wasn’t up to the job, he just wouldn’t get any pay. Simple as that. But he clearly was up to the job and advanced over the years. In the article on his death, it says that he actually ended up winning the Elliott Prize for investigative journalism.

As many people have discussed online, there is a big difference here between this article in BvS and the way Clark Kent was handled in the comics. In the original Death of Superman storyline from the comics, Clark Kent was reported as missing amidst all the destruction caused by Doomsday. Lots of people were missing, in fact, and Clark Kent was conveniently one of them. In the movie, however, Clark Kent is not missing but clearly announced as dead. This has concerned many people because it seems like it is going to make it hard or impossible to bring Clark Kent back in future films, such as the Man of Steel sequel, which is in active development at Warner Brothers. But the Man of Steel Answers podcast has this covered where Doc brought up the idea of people faking their own death. It actually happens quite frequently and it’s not too far-fetched in this case. Clark Kent could simply return later, alive and well, and he could explain that the reports of his death were simply a cover story so that he could go off the radar and do some sort of deep investigative reporting, perhaps under an alternative identity, with no one suspecting that he was Clark Kent, because Clark Kent is supposedly dead. This is somewhat plausible given that Kent is already an award-winning investigative journalist.

So that’s an idea, and the comics are full of creative people coming up with ways to bring characters back into the story. It’s happening right now, in fact, in the Superman comic books. So we shouldn’t assume it’s impossible to bring Clark back to life in some creative way. In terms of the storytelling of Batman v Superman itself rather than the universe as a whole, I think it was fitting to have Clark and Superman both die because it sets up these beautifully fitting parallel funerals, which together serve as a bookend with the Waynes’ funeral at the beginning of the film.

Clark Kent was one of our own, and he will be sorely missed. Clark was one of two reporters who stayed in Gotham to cover the Battle that raged over the skies of both Metropolis and Gotham, and eventually would claim the life of not only Mr. Kent, but of Superman as well. The exact circumstances of his death are still coming to light, but we do know that he was killed doing what he loved. Clark Kent was born in Kansas in 1980, and came to Metropolis only two years ago. On the recommendation of fellow reporter and friend Lois Lane, he was hired to the Daily Planet as a junior reporter and quickly rose through the ranks. His insights and investigative skills were immediately apparent, he was assigned to follow bigger and bigger stories for The Daily Planet, and broke several of his own. His capacity for getting to the essence and truth of a story was rewarded last year when he received the Elliot Prize for Investigative Journalism for the second time. This was a first for any of the reporters on staff at The Daily Planet. He worked tirelessly to make sure that his reporting was not only in-depth, but that it was able to connect to the common man. He was thorough and dogged in his pursuit of any story he was reporting. From the smaller human interest stories to the larger news of national interest, his grace, style and never ending charm will be sorely missed. Clark was an only child and is survived by his mother Martha Kent. He will be buried in a small private ceremony outside Smallville, Kansas on the family farm.”

The article in the Daily Planet about Clark Kent actually mentions that he will have a funeral in Smallville, Kansas. So that gives us a nice transition to the helicopter shot of the Kent farm, where we see a line of vehicles going out the Kent driveway alongside the fall crop of corn. Some fans may be wondering exactly how it worked for Superman’s body to be recovered from Gotham and transported to Kansas as Clark Kent without everyone learning the secret identity. Arrielle75 on YouTube, for instance, wondered “how Superman's body secretly got from the death scene to Kansas, keeping his body away from the government. She pointed out that the Batwing was destroyed, and Wonder Woman can't fly. But she thought that since the government did not have Superman's body at the end, probably Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lois were somehow responsible for the quick transportation of Superman's body, securing his secret identity.

To answer this question, I think there are fairly straightforward explanations that are possible. First of all, Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne are both right there at the death of Superman and both have quite a bit of power and pull in their own respective spheres, and they both would have a desire to respect the body and return him to Smallville, if possible. Maybe they did that separate from the government, but we can also remember that Swanwick is the Secretary of Defense and he was not only overseeing the military engagement with Doomsday but he also has a personal relationship with Superman and Lois Lane. So he would’ve had the power to pull some strings or make some things happen if Lois Lane asked him, for example approving a covert mission to re-identify the body as Clark Kent and then to classify the contents of Superman’s coffin. Regardless of the exact details, with friends like those, it’s plausible that they could get the body back to Smallville and cover up the fact that the Superman tomb is empty. And we do know from the extended cut that Bruce Wayne helped out with the Smallville funeral, so it’s already confirmed that he was involved.

But regardless of how we answer the question, I personally am glad that the filmmakers didn’t include unnecessary details in between the shot of Lois holding Superman’s body and this scene here where we see Clark in his coffin in Smallville. To me, this is not the time to get overly concerned about logistical details, this is a part of the film where we are supposed to flow with the emotions and the grief and to see everyone’s reactions to the sacrifice that Superman made. In other words, this whole sequence is more about emotional storytelling rather than the nuts-and-bolts of who recovered Superman’s body, who knew about it, who approved of its removal, who oversaw the Metropolis funeral, and so forth. In fact, I think the comics back in 92-93 kind of missed the mark when they had an angry Lois yelling about the body and a bunch of people fighting over it and then trying to resuscitate it. I think the way BvS handled it was more respectful and in good taste.

Next, we see a brief shot of the viewing being held inside the house. The family dog is at the foot of the coffin with his head resting on the rug. This setting sends me back to Man of Steel and a younger Clark walking up the driveway with a big smile on his face, hugging his Mom in joy over having found the answers he was looking for. And I remember in that scene that Martha was worried about losing her son but he assured her he wasn’t going anywhere. Thinking of both movies together, we can really empathize with this tearful Martha who is physically safe now but who has lost both her husband and her son. Imagine being terrorized like she was and petrified, but then being rescued only to learn that your son was killed. I’m sure she would’ve willing given up her life if it meant Clark could still be alive.

But even without all of that context, we have the emotional beat of a mother grieving her son. And she places a photo of Jonathan Kent on Clark’s arms, representing the idea that they are together in death. This indirectly links to the post-death comics in which Superman meets a critically-ill Jonathan in the afterlife. It also directly links to the mountaintop scene from earlier in Batman v Superman, so if audience members had not yet connected Jonathan’s story about the flood to what Superman had been going through, they should be prompted to make those connections now. We can also think back to Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who predicted that the world might be harsh on Clark once he revealed his true self, and we’ve now seen that he was right about that, but Jonathan also said that he hoped Clark would one day, when the time was right, stand proud before the human race and that, when that day came, he would change the world. Well, now we see that the day has come and Clark did change the world by saving it, and although he is no longer standing before the human race, he did make his final stand on behalf of the human race and they will indeed follow in his footsteps.

Here at the Kents, we have a bare, unvarnished wooden coffin. It’s a simple coffin that aligns with the down-to-Earth upbringing that he had and it’s part of the larger juxtaposition between this funeral and the one that we’re about to see in Metropolis. Zack Snyder also includes here a close-up of Martha’s hand on Clark’s. This is the first of several hand shots that tie together these scenes.

And Deo Robinson from YouTube noticed a parallel between this scene and the beginning of Man of Steel: Deo said that “In MOS, Kal-El, as a baby, was held by his mother Lara after his birth before he was sent off. In BVS, after death, his Earth mother Martha held his hand before she sent him to be buried.” So these are beautiful bookends to the two films. There are also, of course, the funeral bookends of BvS by itself, but we’ll talk about those in just a few minutes.

We also have to say how fitting the music is here. Hans Zimmer brings back the simple Clark Kent theme on piano and it works incredibly well. And then the music transitions to the Kryptonian soundscape right when we cut to the planets hanging in the bedroom above Lois. This reminds us of Clark’s extra-terrestrial heritage, but we also see Lois, who had a very deep and human connection to him. She isn’t with the group at the viewing. She is seeking isolation in Clark’s bedroom where she likely feels close to him.

Martha comes in, and it’s really great that these two women have each other in this time of mourning, and to further prove that they were both Clark’s family, the two people who knew him most completely, we have Martha coming in to deliver a letter from Clark. Martha explains that Clark sent it to Smallville so that he could surprise Lois the next time they were out there visiting the farm. This scene has a nice parallel to the earlier scene with Clark and Lois in the apartment. @GloriousWayne on twitter laid the two scenes out together, but the main idea is that Lois is in the room in both scenes and then a person comes in from the left and talks about a surprise. In the apartment, Clark said that he wanted to surprise Lois with dinner. In this scene, Martha says that Clark wanted to surprise Lois with the engagement ring.

We get a close-up on the envelope, with both Martha’s and Lois’s hands. And then when we cut back to Lois, Martha gently touches Lois’s cheek and then brings her hand to her own mouth as she continues her crying. This emphasis on the hands I think is a very nice touch for these scenes because hands have a lot of character and they seem to me to be a reminder of mortality but also caring and touch, connection between people. We started with Martha’s hands, showing clear signs of age and a full life lived, and now we pass along to Lois’s hands which are featured with the engagement ring and later with the soil at the gravesite.

So the envelope contained an engagement ring from Clark to Lois and this shows us even more about how far Clark’s and Lois’ relationship had gone during the course of the two movies. It also helps to emphasize the sacrifice Superman made because of the love he was leaving behind. Lois kind of gives a half smile and we connect with her in this moment that is normally a happy event, receiving an engagement ring, but of course for her it is very bittersweet. We imagined her feeling that conflicted sense of joy that Clark wanted to commit to her in that way but then also the pain of him being gone and them not being able to have that future together.

This idea of Clark and Lois being engaged also connects to the comic book version of the Death of Superman because Lois and Clark were already engaged at that time in the comics, and that brought even more weight to Lois’s grief in that story.

So with this engagement, it becomes even clearer how much she meant to Clark, as if it wasn’t obvious already, but some people seem to have missed it. There are others, however, who really appreciated Lois’s role in this movie. Rebecca Johnson (@derbykid) and Desiree Rodriguez (@BoricauDesiree), for example, had a twitter conversation about the question of who actually won against Lex. It wasn’t Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, nor was it Senator Finch we would add, but it was Lois Lane. She figures it out, she puts him in jail… Rebecca and Desiree appreciated that the movie showed that bad guys can't all be defeated with fists but with The Truth, and truth was a strong theme for Lois's character.

Additionally, @AndyWarth on Twitter said that Lois sees Clark most completely. The world sees him as Superman, Martha sees him as her son Clark, but Lois sees both and helps him reconcile both sides. So yeah, Clark saves her because duh, he has powers... but Lois saves him from the world, from hatred and from himself.


Now we move into Scene 74 and the dual funerals. The bagpipes come in playing Amazing Grace and we can see the bagpipe player walking in front of the horse-drawn wagon on the farm. This led me to wonder about whether the Kents are Scottish Americans, and although the name stems from the county of Kent in Southeast England, there are lots and lots of Kents so it is possible that they descended from an offshoot of the family that came to Kansas by way of Scotland or maybe Ireland. There is also significance to the bagpipes in that Clark died in the line of duty. Originating from Celtic tradition, bagpipes were played at Irish and Scottish funerals which consisted mostly of firefighters and police officers, the most difficult jobs which the Scotch-Irish people were forced to work. These work-related deaths were then met with traditional funerals including the mournful bagpipes.

The other thing we noticed here, aside from the beautiful Midwestern cinematography, was the return of the horse motif that has frequently accompanied tragedy throughout the movie. There was a riderless horse at the Battle of Metropolis, the extended cut had horses in Africa, there was a screaming horse at the Capitol bombing, and now there are horses at both of his funerals.

By the way, these scenes really resonated for me personally. For Scene 73 I mentioned how I too am bald, and here in Scene 74 it was great to see a very realistic looking family farm. I grew up on a farm and my father’s family were farmers in Nebraska, just north of Kansas. The multiple out buildings, the silo, the rusty farm implements alongside a dirt path, it all looks very much like the farms I’m familiar with. Kudos to the set designers here, at the Kent farm which I believe is actually located in Illinois.

We cut from the humble funeral procession in Smallville to the full regalia of the Metropolis funeral, starting with the jets flying overhead and then one jet pulling up in the missing man formation. There is a whole military procession with flags flying, soldiers lining the sides of the street, and the coffin draped in an American flag. It is ironic that Superman is so embraced by the American establishment now because at the beginning of the movie they were irate with him for intervening in Africa and having him being construed as an American actor.

The design of this wide shot of the Metropolis funeral was confirmed by Larry Fong on twitter as being based directly on the JFK funeral procession. And one of our listeners, Daniel Paredes from YouTube, pointed out that there are a few parallels between BvS and JFK. First, he said simply the death of a world figure is a clear parallel, as shown visually here. But also the inspirational "if you seek his monument look around you" moment strikes the same emotional response as that of Kennedy's eternal flame. Daniel also said that both deaths represented an unrealized hope for a better world. And this leads to a difference in that the Justice league can fulfill the hope, but America is still striving to fulfill Kennedy's "hope for America."

Next we cut back to the farm field, where the brown corn stalks form a perfect visual palette to match the somber mood of the event. The corn also highlights the black clothing of the people in the funeral procession. And by the way, people often think that corn is green when it is harvested but that’s only true for a very small minority of corn, specifically, that which is actually going to be eaten as corn-on-the-cob. Rather, the vast majority of corn is harvested late in the fall after the plants have turned into the brown color seen here in BvS. That color also matches the wood coffin and we have a really good shot from behind the two women, Martha and Lois, with the coffin in center frame between them.

We also wanted to mention something about the extended cut, even though our analysis is focused on the theatrical. But Deo Robinson noticed that not only are Pete Ross and Father Leone present at the funeral in Smallville, reprising their roles from Man of Steel, but there also happens to be a grown up Lana Lang in attendance. She was played by an actress named Emily Peterson. It can be hard to spot her, but right after Leone's prayer over Clark's grave in the extended cut, when everyone is leaving, there is a shot of a very emotional-looking young lady in a greenish sweater with her hands in her pockets walking alongside a blonde lady.

Anyway, the next cut is back to Metropolis where we see cannons firing a salute to the fallen Superman. Snyder filmed these canons in the same way he filmed the Wayne murder. We go to slow motion and we see the cannon barrel recoil as it fires from left to right, just like Joe Chill’s pistol. A few moments later, there will be a slow motion shot of the large casing hitting the ground, very similar to what we saw at the beginning of the movie. Now, as we’ve tried to talk about all through this podcast, it’s one thing to include a visual echo within a film, but it’s another thing, an even better thing, if that visual echo carries with it some deeper meaning for the themes or the characters. In this case, as with most of the visual parallels in BvS, there is a deeper meaning. The two funerals show the full span of Bruce’s character arc. At the beginning, in Scene 1, Bruce felt like a powerless young boy and he had the beginning of his fall that dragged him down into vengeance for most of the movie. Now, at the end in Scene 74, Bruce has finally pulled himself out of his downward spiral and he will reclaim his positive sense of purpose. In fact, @derbykid pointed out that the song “Amazing Grace” could very well be applied Bruce as the one who was lost but now is found, blind but now he sees. We’ll talk more about this in the next episode when we get to Bruce’s closing monologue, which is the counterpoint to his opening monologue in Scene 1.

The funerals also led several listeners to think about the ideas of death and rebirth. We have Bruce and Batman, as we were just saying, and we kind of get the rebirth of Batman here, leading us forward into Justice League. There was also the death of Zod and his perverted rebirth as Doomsday, and now we have the death of Superman but we can look forward to his rebirth in the future.

We can also look across both films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and see that the first was based around births and the second was based around funerals. The musical composers seemed aware of these connections because @derbykid observed that in depicting Clark’s death, we hear a reprise of the soundtrack from Kal-El's birth.

Looking beyond the films, there are some clear connections here to the original Death of Superman comic books and the subsequent arc called “Funeral for a Friend.” The large public funeral connects directly to Superman: The Man of Steel #20, written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Jon Bogdanove. It is because of this comic that we’ve assumed this funeral procession in the movie actually takes place in Metropolis, but we don’t actually know that for sure. It’s possible it could also be Washington DC or en route to Arlington cemetery, but if that were the case then that would mean that the Superman monument in Metropolis does not actually contain his coffin. Based on the comics, we are assuming the funeral was actually leading to the Metropolis monument and that the scene later when we see the candlelight vigil is just later in the night at the same location as where the funeral procession was heading.

But back to the comics, there is also the silver S emblem on Superman’s black costume when he returns and it looks similar to the emblem on Superman’s black coffin, it’s just that this new silver one has the S-shape from the films of course.

Although there are some homages here to the comics, there are also some important contrasts. Thinking about Funeral for a Friend in particular, which was written by Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Dan Jurgens, and others, with art by several artists, including Jon Bogdanove and Rick Burchett, who I met last year at the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois. One of the biggest differences that stands out to me is the kinds of people who were in attendance at Superman’s funeral. In the comics, there are dozens and dozens of other heroes from throughout the extensive DC universe. And there are also lots of people in the crowd who were personally saved by Superman in the past. They are crying for him and talking about the times that he saved them. In the movie, on the other hand, there are no super heroes at his funeral in Metropolis. Instead, Bruce and Diana are in Smallville. And in the movie there are thousands of people who did not know Superman personally but who were nevertheless inspired by his example and his selflessness. Yes, they were probably saved by Superman at least twice -- once at the end of Man of Steel and once at the end of BvS when Superman stopped Doomsday, but that is a general type of saving rather than the personal kind of saving that people talk about in the comics, like Superman literally pulling them out of a fire or stopping their abusive father. To me, it is more meaningful for Superman to have the outpouring of support that he gets in the movie because he has touched people indirectly, which is a much broader form of influence than having to interact with everyone individually.

Of course, as we mentioned last episode, the comics and the movie have different sorts of deaths for Superman, so they shouldn’t be exactly the same here in the funerals. In the comics, Superman was the first and greatest hero, but he was one superhero amongst many, and those other superheroes came to Metropolis to pay their respects. In the movie universe, however, he is not only the first superhero but still basically the only superhero. He is the pioneer who bore the burden of having to figure out how a superhero can operate in this realistic, complex world. He had to deal with all the reactions of the government and the public and the media and the billionaires as they try to figure out whether they can trust a superhero with such powers. These ideas of Superman being the first superhero and the filmmakers taking that notion seriously was covered very well by Man of Steel Answers in his episode on a beautiful truth.

And by the way, I mentioned Jon Bogdanove and Rick Burchett. Well I actually got to hear them talk on a panel about the Death of Superman storyline from the comics and what it was like behind the scenes when it was happening. They said that it had actually been a running joke for years in the Superman story meetings that they were out of ideas and so they should just kill him. But then in 1992, when DC was asking for something big in the Superman books, they actually realized that this wasn’t a joke but that they could actually tell an epic story about the death of Superman. But it’s kind of ironic that one of his most famous stories came from the idea that they were out of stories. I think this also speaks to people’s expectation that you should tell as many stories as you can about a character before you tell the story of their death, but Zack Snyder and company took the risk and did the unexpected. They killed Superman quite early, before he had established himself and while there was still controversy surrounding him, both in the movie universe and out here in the real world. This served as a wake-up call, hopefully to all of us, that we shouldn’t take Superman for granted and that we should really admire and appreciate his selflessness and his capacity for good, even amidst strife. And as we’ve said before, I think it worked really well to have the death inspire Batman and Wonder Woman forward in their own character arcs and I think it will be great to have several heroes rally around the memory of Superman in the movies as a different kind of story than them rallying around a fallen Superman that they had known for a long time, as in the comics.

We’re going to give the last word on these funeral scenes to our listener Casper Richter. He said the following on YouTube, which we are going to paraphrase: “Superman’s death and funeral was not a classic funeral, where all miss him, but a guilty proof of how humanity betrayed the man who could so easily have dominated them but instead only protected them. The people of BvS wanted to turn him into everything and nothing. A devil, an angel, a savior and a figure they could lift up and then crush. Superman's only rewards for his love of the earth, for his faithfulness and forgiveness of mankind was to be a figure of controversy and then to die. And only now does the world see Superman's true self, but it’s too late.
Superman is the immigrant from the stars who did not get a chance to speak. And perhaps only now during the funerals do people understand Superman's choice to help the world. Therefore, the funeral is silent and heavy with guilt and loss, just like it would be after the execution of an innocent. In the novelization of MOS, says Jonathan Kent, "You are the proof that we are not alone in the universe, Clark. You are a MIRACLE." Yes. Superman was a miracle. But the world was hateful and vicious against him and therefore they could not see him for more than an Alien. Only now, when he is gone do they understand the gift he left behind and the miracle he really was.”

Thanks, Casper.

End of Episode

So that’s our analysis of Scenes 73 and 74. We only have two scenes left and we are going to cover them in our next episode -- we have Bruce, Diana, and Lois at the cemetery and also Batman making a special visit to Lex in prison. Then we will have our special anniversary episode about BvS. Thanks to everyone who submitted their thoughts -- we will be putting everything together this week.

And one last thing we wanted to mention here. Going back to the Trinity fight, we covered the “Is she with you” line, but we missed a cool angle on it. One of our listeners, but I apologize I forgot to write down who it was, said that Superman’s, “Is she with you?” is actually kind of a joke or a ribbing of Batman. Wonder Woman had just said that she killed things from other worlds before, so Superman may have been thinking, Oh, here’s someone who wants to take out Kryptonians, which Batman had been wanting to do throughout most of the movie, so Superman turns as says, “Is she with you?” Kind of like, does she get her thirst for alien blood from you Batman, who just recently had a Kryptonite spear pointed at my chest. I hadn’t thought of the line that way, but it does make sense as a way to interpret the line and it shows Superman is a good sport and is willing to forgive Batman for his antagonism.

And going once more to Deo Robinson from YouTube, he said that the "Is she with you?" exchange made him think of the "Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman: Trinity" comic book by Matt Wagner. In that comic, Batman admitted that given her powerset and nature, he figured that in some way, Wonder Woman must be related to Superman, maybe as a distant cousin. I had read that comic and liked it very much, but I forgot about that exchange. Thanks for the connection, Deo.

And thanks to all of you for listening. Be sure to check out the Suicide Squadcast for the DC news and listen to the Man of Steel Answers back catalog if you want to dig into Man of Steel or BvS some more.

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