Sunday, December 2, 2018

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Justice League Scenes 13-14

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 13 (Cyborg discovers Batman's identity) and Scene 14 (Diana discovers Batman's hanger) of Justice League.

  • Cyborg's apartment and family photo
  • New abilities
  • Batcave camera and Batman's identity
  • Autumn, what year?
  • The Flying Fox
  • Bruce and Diana's relationship
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Contributors: @ottensam @derbykid @raveryn @wondersyd @NBego
Bonus Content:
BvS Giveaway information:

<Transcript below>
Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. In this podcast, we analyze the Warner Brothers films that are part of the Justice League Universe, also known as the DCEU. This episode was written by myself with Alessandro Maniscalco, Rebecca Johnson, Sydney, and Nick Begovich. You can find us all on Twitter and you can follow the show @JLUPodcast.

Sorry for the hiatus in November -- it was a very busy month for me at work, and then of course there was some family travel, but I’ve come out the other side and so we’re excited to continue forward in our conversations about Justice League, and I’m very excited for the next origin story in the Justice League Universe, coming soon with Aquaman. But right now, in this episode, we are going to briefly cover Scene 13, which is Cyborg learning Batman’s secret identity, and then Scene 14, which is Diana Prince arriving in the Batcave.

So going into Scene 13, we can think back to the two prior scenes that involved Cyborg. First, there was Scene 6 when Alfred and Bruce were discussing Victor’s genius IQ, his football scholarship at Gotham City University, and the fact that he was listed as deceased. And then there was Scene 8 when Vic was talking to his father at the apartment. In that scene, Silas Stone was predominantly concerned with the possibilities of the change engine, aka, the motherbox. But we also saw that Vic was having a lot of trouble coping with his new powers, which are changing every day, and also trouble coping with the fact that he has alien voices in his head and things that are out of his control.

Vic explicitly mentioned people worrying about the next alien invasion, and him wondering if it might be himself. And since that scene, we have actually witnessed the beginning of the alien invasion -- specifically, Steppenwolf’s arrival on Themyscira and his capturing of the first motherbox.

So Vic was right to be worried about the alien technology that his father was so infatuated with, and which he used somewhat recklessly to save Vic. Now, here in Scene 13, it is again a nighttime scene, inside the apartment where Cyborg is in self-imposed isolation. The first shot is focused on a framed family photo, which is a nice visual parallel to Scene 6. Both scenes opened up on family photos, although now we are in the bedroom. And in the bedroom, we can see that Vic’s bed is nicely made -- he hasn’t even tried sleeping in it recently. Perhaps he doesn’t need to sleep anymore, or maybe he can’t sleep, because of all the information flowing through his head at all times. As the camera pulls out, we see Cyborg, with his hoodie and his trademark red glow, sitting in the corner, his head in his hands. And as he comes into view, the sound and commotion of all that information becomes audible to us.

Cyborg jerks his head up as he hears Victor Stone’s name being mentioned, and we can recognize Alfred’s line about Vic being “deceased.” So Cyborg is even accessing some sort of audio equipment on Bruce Wayne’s private jet. One would assume that Bruce has pretty high-tech security measures on his information, but this shows Cyborg’s next-level technological abilities because he accesses it without even trying. And this won’t be the last time that some Justice Leaguers make short work of Bruce’s state-of-the-art defenses.

We cut to a close-up of Cyborg and he’s looking at his hands, as if he’s just realized that yet another new capability has come to him. He opens his hands and a visual display is constructed in front of him. It’s a pretty cool effect, though I don’t think this exact power will ever be used again in the film.

But we see the photographs of Vic Stone on the GCU football team. This new power and the information are both surprising to Cyborg so he closes it down for a second, but then he leans forward and opens his hands back up. He intuits how to scroll and he goes through to a photo of Bruce Wayne from the Wayne Hanger Private Security Camera. He scrolls again and sees Batman, with an image taken by the Gotham Bank Rooftop Camera. And next, from a Batcave Cam, he sees Bruce Wayne in the Batsuit, with his cowl off. An identity protected so carefully for 20 years, Cyborg is so powerful he cracked it in a matter of moments. He scrolls again and sees the batmobile, but the important information has already been shown. Cyborg knows who Batman is, and he knows that Batman was talking about him. Presumably, off screen, Cyborg will look into it a bit more and he may even see everything that Bruce has gathered thus far about the parademons and the three mysterious boxes. We also find out later that Cyborg also determines Wonder Woman’s identity as Diana Prince.

So Vic is getting information about his eventual league mates, but at this point he is still very much isolated, and he still doesn’t really know the implications of his origins as Cyborg. In a quick scene without any dialogue, it does an efficient job of reminding us of Cyborg’s tumultuous mental state while also planting a couple seeds for later when he eventually interacts with both Bruce and Diana.

Since Cyborg was looking at Bruce and the Batcave, it transitions pretty smoothly to Scene 14 where we are headed to the batcave. We have a flyover establishing shot where we see the lake and Bruce’s lakehouse from Batman v Superman, and we know an entrance to the batcave is hidden just below that water. The trees have a bit of orange and dark red color to them, so being in the New Jersey area this is probably October, or early November. People who are real continuity hawks might be wondering exactly what year this is supposed to be. Details like this aren’t really my strong suit, so for those of you who have worked this all out, let us know -- but just briefly, if we assume BvS took place in the autumn of 2015, then it seems as though the Lois and Martha stuff earlier in the film is probably in 2016 sometime. Bruce was presumably gathering info from Lex’s notes and monitoring parademons right away after Superman’s death, but he grew a beard and went up to meet Arthur Curry, and we don’t know exactly how long it’s been since he did that. When he met Arthur, it was right after a king tide, which might mean January, but not necessarily, because king tide is not a technical term, and by some definitions, there are four king tides throughout the year, where the tides are higher because of the alignment of the sun and moon relative to Earth. We also don’t know exactly when Steppenwolf arrived on Themyscira, but we can presume that Diana probably acted very quickly upon seeing the warning fire from her mother.

So my best guess is that this is probably the autumn of 2016, roughly one year after BvS. It would put Justice League about a month of two after the ending of Suicide Squad, when Bruce got the files from Amanda Waller, so that kind of makes sense. But I can’t prove the timeline. And another interpretation, one that’s fairly simple, is just to say that this is the autumn of 2017, because that’s when the film was released.

Anyway, we cut into the batcave and we see some audio analysis on a computer screen as Bruce is working in his shop but also trying to figure out the sound that the parademon reacted so strongly to in Scene 2. The computer is cycling through several different alarm sounds, and then Bruce points out to Alfred the one that sounds like the right one. Alfred says he’ll try to use that sound to rig something into the suit. It might give Batman an edge if he faces more parademons in the future. This is a common screenwriting tactic called setup-reminder-payoff. Scene 2 was the setup, when we saw the parademon kind of flustered by a specific alarm sound. Why, we don’t know, but it’s something we were clearly supposed to notice. Then, here in Scene 14, we have a “reminder,” which is to help us make sure that we noticed the setup and we remember it for later, so now keen movie watchers are expecting a payoff later in the film. And of course, we will have the payoff later, when Batman is doing his would-be suicide run before the final battle.

This screenwriting technique is very practical, but it also feels a bit sloppy. Like I said, there’s no real reason that we’re given for why this particular sound would be especially problematic for the parademons. Nor is this alarm sound thematically connected to other story elements. Hippolyta did light a signal fire, which is kind of like an ancient version of an alarm siren, but I don’t see any meaningful connection between those two things. And the parademons are drawn to fear -- they smell it -- but I don’t personally see how that fear angle connects to their inability to put up with this siren.

It’s also a bit odd that Bruce is doing this so long after his actual interaction with the parademon where he first heard the siren. That was before he grew a beard and went up to visit Aquaman. In most people, auditory memories decay fairly quickly, and so if you wanted to find the precise sound that you heard, your best bet would be to do it as soon as possible. Not weeks later. Although, granted, Bruce Wayne is not “most people,” so maybe we can let that slide.

We pull out to a wider shot and we see that Bruce is working on a large aircraft, which we will later find out is the flying fox, fittingly named after the large species of bat -- flying foxes are the largest type of bat and they can be 4 feet wide and 3 pounds heavy, found predominantly in India and the Pacific islands.

As we’re looking at the flying fox ship, Diana strides into the foreground. Then we go to a nice angle where Bruce is tightening something with a wrench in the foreground, and Diana steps into the background, out of focus. The dialogue opens with a nice bit of banter here, building on the great repartee they had in BvS. Bruce says that he spent millions on the building’s security, and Diana replies casually, “Yeah, it looked expensive.” This is the kind of humor that we love, because it fits the situation and continues the dynamics between these two characters, with Bruce used to being in control of every situation, and Diana consistently putting him in his place, like she did in BvS several times. This is also a scene where there are no immediate threats nor any big dramatic tensions, so the humor is welcome and doesn’t take away from anything else. This is why we prefer situational humor like this rather than a steady stream of on-the-nose quips.

Bruce turns away from his work and says a simple “hi” to Diana. She smiles in response. And speaking of Bruce and Diana’s relationship, they seem comfortable enough with each other that perhaps they have been staying in contact since Clark’s funeral. But they haven’t been too close, because as Alfred said on the plane, Bruce has her number but seemed to be too reluctant to use it, even though there were some important dangers arising. Even if they don’t check in with each other regularly, they did go through something incredibly dangerous and incredibly important in BvS, so that type of shared experience can make it where you’re able to reconnect with someone fairly quickly.

Diana asks about the new ship. And Bruce responds that it’s a prototype troop carrier. So as an audience, we were naturally wondering what it was, and now we get just enough information to presume that it will be used later in the film to transport the Justice League. Diana looks at the ship and says, “I once knew a man who would have loved to fly it.” Then she looks down in a somber moment -- a quick but meaningful connection to the Wonder Woman film and Steve Trevor. This is also a setup for later, and Bruce and Diana will have some personal drama relating back to Steve and to Diana’s long-term response to losing Steve. We will have some further thoughts when we get to that scene when Bruce needles Diana about Steve’s death, and Diana shoves him for it. For the time being, we’ll just say that we like this subtle moment a lot better. We see Diana’s sadness and the fact that, even a hundred years later, she still feels that loss. Many things still constantly remind her of him. And we also get this unspoken sense that perhaps Bruce can fill somewhat of the role that Steve had for Diana. We saw some of their flirting in BvS, but that was before we knew of Diana and Steve’s love story. What will that flirting and potentially budding relationship between Bruce and Diana mean when she still carries the grief with her? Of course, when you’ve lost a romantic partner, you do not need to completely move on from them in order to find a new love -- hopefully new partners can respect and deal with the fact that there was love and loss in the past, and it is never totally wiped away. But it can be a source of tension, and the implication that perhaps the new partner is not living up to the standards set by the prior partner.

Regardless of the romantic angle, which wisely was hinted at but not fully developed in this film, there is still a platonic sense in which Bruce is sort of standing in for Steve, relative to Diana. In Wonder Woman, we saw that Steve was a world-weary soldier who was sort of jaded, but still very much a good person and a self-sacrificing hero. He gave up his own pursuit of happiness in order to do what he could in a larger fight for justice. Steve helped to show Diana the positive side of mankind. Here, Bruce has also been world-weary and jaded, but he is trying to be a better person following the events of BvS. He has also sacrificed his personal happiness in many ways, in pursuit of his version of justice. And in this movie, we will see Bruce struggling to make a sacrifice similar to what Steve and Clark have done before him. But Bruce’s move toward self sacrifice is a bit different, because he is doing it because he fears he is past his peak -- whereas Steve and Superman were clearly still very much in their primes.

Another parallel between Steve and Bruce in relation to Diana is that they both partner up with her to form a team. With Steve, he and Diana went to recruit the Oddfellows. And here, Bruce and Diana will end up partnering to try to bring together the Justice League -- the new age of heroes.

To end the scene, Bruce says that they’ll need more than a pilot. He thinks there is an attack coming. And Diana, having received the message from Themyscira, says, “Not coming, Bruce. It’s already here.” And that will launch us into the scene where we find out what Diana already knows about Steppenwolf and invasions from Apokolips.

End of Episode

Thanks for listening. And to show our appreciation for your patient and continued support, we are doing another giveaway. This time, thanks to Alessandro, we are offering up a Blu-Ray, DVD, digital combo pack of the ultimate edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s an unopened copy of the movie, so you can either keep it as a collector’s item or perhaps it would be a good gift for someone later this month. Or, although this would surprise me given the nature of our audience, perhaps you don’t actually own BvS and you just need it for yourself. But anyway, for your chance to win the BvS ultimate edition, just tweet #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and #JLUPodcastGiveaway, or if you don’t have Twitter you can email with your name and shipping address. Patrons are already entered in the giveaway, but they can get multiple chances to win with a tweet or email. That’s #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and #JLUPodcastGiveaway on twitter. The Snyder Cut of course refers to Justice League, but whenever we look back at the brilliance of BvS, it reminds us how much we want the true follow-up. So that’s why we’re asking for the ReleaseTheSnyderCut tag, as well as JLUPodcastGiveaway.

Speaking of our patrons, you can join us at -- patrons are automatically entered into all giveaways, and that starts at just $1 per month. At the $4-level you also get access to bonus content like my review of Teen Titans Go! to the Movies or my discussion with Alessandro about the future of the DCEU. Or, if you’re hearing new rumors about casting for Matt Reeves’ The Batman, you could go back and listen to my conversation with Nick about all the cinematic incarnations of Batman.

Also, the $4 patrons will get access to our forthcoming analysis of Man of Steel. So if you’re a fan of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, go to and consider joining us for that Man of Steel analysis.

And yes, we are planning to cover James Wan’s Aquaman, so look for that later this month, too. That will be in the main podcast feed.

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