‘Batman vs. Superman’ Director Zack Snyder Explains Why Batman Breaks His Own Rules
A darker, edgier version of Batman is far from new, especially to comic book fans acquainted with the work of Frank Miller. Zack Snyder took some inspiration from Miller’s Dark Knight books for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, giving us Ben Affleck as an older, more cynical version of the caped crusader. But there’s at least one aspect of the new Batman that has raised a few eyebrows among fans, and if you’d like an explanation, Snyder has one for you — sort of.
In Batman v Superman, Affleck’s Gotham superhero not only breaks one of Batman’s rules — he breaks the biggest of them all: he kills people. Traditionally, Batman doesn’t use guns or kill criminals, but it has happened occasionally in the comics and on screen. Here, Snyder kind of explains his decision to HeyUGuys:
I tried to do it in a technical way. There’s a great YouTube video that shows all the kills in the Christopher Nolan movies even though we would perceive them as movies where he doesn’t kill anyone. I think there’s 42 potential kills that Batman does! Also, it goes back and includes even the Tim Burton Batman movies where this reputation as a guy that doesn’t kill comes from.
Collider found the video Snyder is referencing, though some of the kills are more indirect or sort of Batman-adjacent:
According to Snyder, his Batman doesn’t necessarily kill bad guys outright, and while there is basis for it in comic book canon, he was a bit hesitant about having the caped crusader shoot someone in the head:
So, I tried to do it by proxy. Shoot the car they’re in, the car blows up or the grenade would go off in the guy’s hand, or when he shoots the tank and the guy pretty much lights the tank [himself]. I perceive it as him not killing directly, but if the bad guys are associated with a thing that happens to blow up, he would say that that’s not really my problem.
A little more like manslaughter than murder, although I would say that in the Frank Miller comic book that I reference, he kills all the time. There’s a scene from the graphic novel where he busts through a wall, takes the guy’s machine gun…I took that little vignette from a scene in The Dark Knight Returns, and at the end of that, he shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun. One shot. Of course, I went to the gas tank, and all of the guys I work with were like, ‘You’ve gotta shoot him in the head’ because they’re all comic book dorks, and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna be the guy that does that!’
But now he is the guy that did that. It’s a little strange that Snyder expresses hesitance over having Batman kill baddies when he was downright gleeful about introducing Jimmy Olsen, only to have him shot in the head within 60 seconds. Regarding that strange cameo, Snyder said he wanted to have “a little fun” with the Superman character. He definitely has some weird ideas about fun.
A History of Batman On Screen, In Pictures