Whether you liked or hated ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ you cannot deny the time and effort Zack Snyder and company put in to lay the groundwork for future DC movies, and set up villains like Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips for the Justice League to face in the next couple of movies. However, there is some division amongst viewers as to whether one bit of foreshadowing was a dream or a vision of the future, namely Bruce Wayne’s “Knightmare” of a desolate future where soldiers bearing the Superman crest are shooting down resistance fighters, right before Superman himself comes down to kill a goggled and trench coated Batman. And of course, that sequence being immediately followed by the violent visit of the future Flash warning Bruce about “him” makes it even more confusing, though the papers flying through the air when Bruce “wakes up” makes it pretty clear that this was not a dream.
According to storyboard artist Jay Oliva, whose DC works includes another time-travel heavy story ‘The Flash Paradox,’ it was not a dream per say, but more of a memory echo type of thing. In his own words:
“You want to know the answer? Okay… you’ve watched The Flashpoint Paradox, my movie, right? In the DC Universe in the comics, there’s this thing where– it’s a little different than the Back to The Future thing where you can go back in time and change your threads and stuff, but in DC, when you go back in time you create this kind of ‘Time Boom’ kind of thing where lots of things change.
“Okay, so let me just tell you this. Again… I don’t know if this is Zack’s thinking, but this is mine: what if that isn’t a dream sequence? What if what you saw was a Time Boom, a latent memory from the future when Flash comes back? If you look at the cut, he doesn’t go to sleep! He’s waiting for the [Lexcorp file decryption] and suddenly this [Knightmare sequence] comes in, and he’s jogged out of it seeing his own death. And what does he see? He sees Flash. And if you’re a DC fan, you know what’s happening. You know that Flash going back in time, that memory is now coming back to him… mind you, it’s jumbled.”
Oliva goes on to defend the sequence in Snyder’s film by stating:
“The thing is that, it’s meant to be so kind of subtle, most audiences just think of it as a dream. And it’s meant to be that way. It’s just like in the comics when there might be some shadowy figure standing in the background, you don’t know who that character is until five issues down the line. The main purpose of that in the film – because people will probably say ‘why even have it, if it’s not going to be followed through?’ – I’m going to say: ‘Well, it’s there because it actually adds to… Bruce Wayne’s kind of mania. Because he sees this memory. He doesn’t quite know exactly what he saw, all it does is tell him is that Superman is bad.
“And remember, when Flash goes back in time, he tells him ‘you were right about him.’ He doesn’t say exactly who ‘him’ is. The average audience member, and even Bruce Wayne, is going to think that he’s right about Superman, when in fact he’s referring to someone else.”
Lastly, Oliva makes sure to remind us that time travel is a core aspect of the DC Mythology (mainly because of The Flash), and people should not judge too harshly:
“I work with these characters constantly. Hell, I did The Flashpoint Paradox! So I know the whole time thing, and what DC is all about. It’s like ‘Days of Future Past’ for X-Men, you know that the time travel thing is a part of X-Men. Star Trek does that with the reboot. But for some reason, as soon as you do it in a DC film, people suddenly just forgot! Superman turning back time in the Donner films is suddenly okay, and I’m like, ‘Okay THAT doesn’t make sense!’”
Still, it was a lot to throw in to an already bloated movie, and while I enjoy world-building and laying the groundwork for the future, I really think Snyder should have focused on the present storyline and ensuring that the world and characters in ‘Batman V Superman’ were as well-rounded, logical, and memorable as possible.
What are your thoughts on the time-travel in the movie? Do you also wish Snyder had focused on the story at hand? Share your opinion in the comments below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter (@starfro67)