Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice officially opened Friday, but plenty of people have already seen it and formed an opinion. Some fans loved it, but many critics did not. Beyond calling the film joyless, one of the chief gripes from critics is that the film is overstuffed, with too many scenes that don’t seem to contribute anything to the central narrative.
Arguably, the most confusing of those “unnecessary” scenes is a jarring dream sequence that sets the table for the plot of the upcoming Justice League movies. And frankly, it’s pretty exciting.
Caution: major spoilers ahead.
In the scene, Wayne has a vivid “Knightmare” set in a horrible Mad Max-esque desert dystopia where he is ambushed as he tries to buy Kryptonite. Zack Snyder broke down the scene in a behind-the-scenes IMAX featurette:
Batman fights back against jack-booted, Nazi-like soldiers with Superman patches on their jackets, as well as horrible, winged insect-people, before being subdued. The scene then cuts to Batman in chains. As Superman approaches, the soldiers bow in his wake. Then Superman rips off Batman’s mask and blames him for Lois Lane’s death.
In a flash of lightning, Bruce Wayne is suddenly back in the Batcave at his computer, looking up at a masked figure bursting through a hole in spacetime right above him.
“Listen to me now,” the man yells. “It’s Lois! Lois Lane! She’s the key!” Then, seconds later, amid screams, “You’re right about him! You’ve always been right about him! Fear him!”
So what could this sequence possibly mean?
If you left the movie utterly perplexed about that scene, you’re not alone. The dream has little to do with the film’s narrative and is never addressed again. But a closer examination of the scene points to the big bad guy the Justice League will inevitably have to face in movies to come.
The first clue is the Omega sign carved in the desert landscape. The second is the crazed winged creatures.
These point to only one villain: Darkseid.
Darkseid is DC’s equivalent of Marvel’s Thanos. (In fact, the original comic artist who created Thanos in the 1970s based him on Darkseid.) Darkseid is a dictator from the planet Apokolips intent on controlling the universe and free will.
Darkseid wreaks havoc using his Omega Beams, energy that shoots from his eyes and hands that can concuss, disintegrate, or generally destroy anything. In his efforts to conquer the universe, Darkseid uses Parademons, winged fighters genetically engineered in laboratories on Apokolips.
Traditionally, the only power strong enough to stand up to Darkseid is Superman, which could be a bit of a problem because, based on the dream sequence, Superman seems to have ended up on Darkseid’s side somehow.
As to who is screaming at Bruce Wayne through his computer screen?
That is almost certainly The Flash.
Though his outfit is patchwork, the man has a Flash-like appearance and resembles the man we see later in the film who is confirmed to be The Flash when Bruce Wayne sees security footage of him stopping a convenience store robbery at lightning-fast speed.
So how is he communicating with Bruce Wayne through some otherworldly wormhole? In some versions of the comics, The Flash can literally run through time with the use of a cosmic treadmill. There’s also the possibility that The Flash isn’t traveling back in time, but is communicating from an alternate universe.
The DC multiverse was established in the 1960s so that infinite versions of superheroes could exist on infinite Earths without causing continuity problems in the greater superhero canon. For example, both the currently running CW series The Flash and Batman v Superman take place on present-day Earth and feature The Flash, but they have nothing to do with each other.
However, comic authors occasionally take advantage of this multiverse by having characters cross over from various universes. In theory, Batman v Superman’s Bruce Wayne could be on Earth 1, while The Flash is reaching out for help from Earth 2, an Earth in an alternate universe.
At this point, there are still a lot of directions Zack Snyder and Co. could go in with the Justice League plot. But thanks to this one pivotal scene in Batman v Superman, the picture is a little bit clearer.