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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Batman v. Superman: My Thoughts on Potential Cases

Linda Holmes of NPR has an fun article about the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. The title of the sequel will be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Holmes notes that the "v" in the title is typically used in the titles of court cases, pointing out that the title is not going to be "vs." or "versus." Accordingly, Holmes reaches the hopeful conclusion that Batman v Superman will be a legal drama, rather than a typical superhero movie.

Holmes provides a few examples of what the plot of the movie may be. The first is:

Batman sues Superman over an incident in which Superman accidentally picks up Batman's cape at the dry cleaner's, which leads to the revelation that Superman only sees black and white, which renders his colorful costume very ironic. Batman v Superman!
As somebody who has just graduated from law school, and who has seen Man of Steel, I join in Holmes's hope that Batman v Superman will be a legal drama rather than a repeat of its loud, humorless, two-dimensional, and destruction-filled predecessor. I thought that I would throw out some of my own bar-review-inspired ideas for the plot of the sequel.

Batman builds a summer home at the North Pole next to Superman's fortress of solitude. Sparing no expense, Batman builds the walls of his house using Kryptonite, which harms and upsets Superman. Superman sues, arguing that Batman's building materials are a nuisance, but Batman responds, arguing that Superman is an abnormally sensitive plaintiff.

Batman's Wayne Industries supplies the government with military equipment, including drones. Superman's antics in Man of Steel's pointless final scene cause the government to lose faith in the efficacy of drones, and Batman sues Superman for tortious interference with his government contracts.

Batman and Superman destroy the recently rebuilt Metropolis while combating an extraterrestrial supervillain. In the chaos of the battle, Batman, Superman, and the supervillain cause innumerable wrongful deaths and building collapses. Batman v Superman details the litigation that inevitably follows. The supervillain is killed in the final battle, and due to his extraterrestrial nature, the plaintiffs are unable to properly serve a representative of his estate. Superman is sued easily, because he has no disguise and any clever plaintiff's lawyer can identify him. Because Superman is jointly and severally liable for the damage, Superman ends up being found liable for all of the damages caused in the fight. Superman, however, can easily discover Batman's identity using X-Ray vision (though this raises its own host of evidentiary concerns), and sues Batman to recover Batman's share of the damages.

In a bold (or lazy) move, Superman v. Batman director, Zack Snyder, decides to repeat some of his previous directorial butchery, and take the movie-crossover approach, with particular emphasis on the legal implications of superheroes' mischief. Worried that tensions in Ukraine will push Russia and the United States to a civilization-ending nuclear war, Ozymandias decides to make Superman the common enemy of all nations. Ozymandias uses seismic devices to collapse most of Metropolis's buildings, making the destruction look like a Kryptonian's handiwork (this isn't much of a stretch, considering Snyder's earlier interpretation of Ozymandias's plot). Batman's Metropolis branches of Wayne Industries are destroyed as a result of this scheme, and Batman promptly sues Superman for the damage to his property. Superman maintains that he is not to blame, but he doesn't have any convincing proof, and the trial against him proceeds. The movie ends with a Perry Mason-style courtroom reveal where Lois Lane rushes into the courtroom before the verdict is announced with an envelope containing Rorschach's journal.

Continuing with the crossover approach: Perry White becomes concerned when Steve Lombard stops coming to work. White asks Lois Lane to investigate, and she quickly discovers that Lombard's true identity is Doug Stamper, President Underwood's recently-deceased minion. Lane receives an email from an unidentified government official who promises to tell her everything. Lane sends her familiar-looking errand boy, Clark Kent, to meet this official in a DC metro station. The unidentified official turns out to be President Underwood, and he erroneously assumes that his earlier strategy for dealing with Zoe Barnes will work on Clark Kent. After pushing Clark Kent into the path of an oncoming train, Underwood realizes that his assumption is incorrect as the train comes to a sudden halt upon colliding with the unharmed Superman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne, always ready to honor is parents' legacy by riding on monorails and subways, is on the train, and suffers whiplash as a result of this collision. The movie takes an anticlimactic turn by spending all of its remaining time dealing with the tedious intricacies of Batman's personal injury lawsuit against Superman.

Again, all of these ideas are simply my hopes for what Batman v Superman will end up being, but I must confess that I don't have much faith in the quality of this upcoming movie.


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