It’s been nearly two weeks since Warner Brothers released DC Entertainment’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Over that time, the film has ridden a roller coaster of public perception. An initial barrage of savage reviews seemed to spell doom for the film, but it brought in record-breaking box office in its first weekend before taking a huge plunge in its second. After its release, the film has been meticulously debated on social media, with fans and casual movie-goers alike debating it’s merits, tone, approach to the characters and seeming plot-incongruities. One of the most debated elements of the film were the several seemingly non-sequitur “dreams” that are referred to in marketing materials as the “Knightmare.”
WARNING: Some Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoilers ahead.
The sequences follow Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne blacking out and envisioning himself in a post-apocalyptic war-zone. Clad in his cowl and trench coat, Batman engages with other rebels before being betrayed to a group of soldiers bearing Superman’s insignia. He puts up a valiant fight, before he’s subdued by winged demonic creatures. He’s then brought to Superman himself, who chastises Batman for “taking her away” from him before blasting him with heat vision. Bruce then seemingly awakens only to be confronted by The Flash, who tells him that Lois Lane is the key to fixing things, and that he’s delivering the message “too early.”
Many observers of the film were confused by the sequences, and discussion raged on social media as to what the “dreams” meant and how they tied into the film’s overall plot. Longtime comic book fans like myself likely looked at the scenes differently, as numerous Easter Eggs throughout indicated what they truly represented. Early on in the Knightmare, the omega symbol of longtime DC villain Darkseid is shown burned into the ground indicating that the Earth had been invaded by his forces. This is confirmed later by the flying creatures, which are actually the shock-troopers of Darkseid’s army known as parademons. It’s been long-speculated that the villain would be the lead antagonist of the upcoming Justice League film as he serves as the impetus for the team’s formation in the team’s latest Geoff Johns-penned comics origin.
The presence of the aforementioned elements led myself and others to believe that the sequence had little to do with Dawn of Justice, but will rather tie in to the later JL film, either as a vision of the future or from an alternate universe where Darkseid has succeeded in conquering the Earth. Perhaps one where Lois Lane’s death has driven Superman mad, similar to the successful Injustice video game. This is also bolstered by the warning from The Flash, a character whose long been able to travel and send messages back in time and through various universes.
In an episode of the Empire Podcast, director Zack Snyder seems to justify the future/alternate universe Flash vision theory, saying,
“I think it’s okay to look at the extended dream sequence as an impressionistic view of a possible future… That’s… in the sequence, so I’m not like spoiling anything or making up anything that you didn’t see. So the connection with the Flash… part of that sequence, you can speculate if, whether or not Flash is coming from that reality or another one, but that’s the fun stuff to try and figure out exactly what Flash is saying to Bruce and what he means… we know, so… we’re not making it up.”
While Snyder’s comments don’t confirm the specifics of the scenes, they definitely imply that there’s much more to it than a simple dream sequence. Surely, speculation over it’s true nature will rage until the 2017 release of Justice League, and perhaps even loner depending on how that film plays out.