There is a visual motif of verticality with Bruce Wayne/Batman in Zack Snyder's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We see this establishment at the beginning of the film, with a young Bruce Wayne falling into the cave. Afterward, we see many scenes of a Bruce Wayne/Batman falling or descending.
"But things fall... things on earth. And what falls... is fallen."
Upon first hearing, one may take this as an oversimplification or common sense. Bruce is not speaking of physics here, like Newton with the apple from the tree. What Bruce is referring to is a fall from grace, a fall from innocence. With his parents' death, how is a child to function now? No child should ever have to see their parents murdered. Wealth and privilege aside, how can a child appreciate their childhood without loving parents? Hence, this begins Bruce Wayne's downfall. He embraces the bats and becomes Batman.
Coming up to Bruce's adulthood is the opening of the film. He arrives in Metropolis via helicopter. Bruce hopes to save the employees of Wayne Financial, his surrogate family, in a sense. Throughout this scene, we see Bruce constantly looking up at the building and the fight between two gods. Unfortunately, Wayne Finacial comes crumbling down. Twice now, Bruce feels he failed to save his family. As he holds and consoles a child who lost her mother in the event, he witnesses the two gods descend from the sky in fire and brimstone. We have Bruce's physical descent; now his emotional/psychological descent from grace.
After Batman's first scene in the film, we see him descend in the elevator. Notice he enters the Batcave in his civilian clothes as Bruce Wayne, not in the cape and cowl. Recall Batman's initial scene with the branding of the criminal. Alfred notes to him about his 'new rules' and how things have changed. Even a civilian who Clark Kent interviews notes a change in Batman as a 'whole new kind of mean in him.' Later, Bruce Wayne attends a party of Lex Luthor's where he meets Clark Kent. However, Bruce is not here to hobnob and network. The plan is to go downstairs to retrieve crucial information Lex Luthor has, which Bruce wants for the destruction of Superman. Note it is Bruce Wayne and not Batman taking up this mission. Fans are accustomed to the Dark Knight Detective breaking into somewhere to obtain information. The difference is two-fold - one because Alfred convinced him to go as Bruce Wayne. Second - this shows that the descent is not only to Batman but Bruce Wayne as well. He is willing to go behind people's backs, into the dark, steal and lie as his civilian identity in public for his mission.
A pivotal scene in the film begins with Batman standing upon a tower with a rifle. The Dark Knight Returns aside - casual fans already see this as a downfall for the character. Why does Batman have a gun - they cry. However, this gun is to fire a tracking device onto a truck carrying the kryptonite. Everything we witness afterward is nothing but destruction and death. Batman racks up thirteen deaths from his crusade to retrieve the kryptonite. He encounters Superman for the first time and retreats home with his Batmobile still in one piece. Fans are used to the Batmobile speeding at ground level, disappearing into a cave or behind a waterfall. Think back to the old Adam West television series; the Batmobile drives out of the cave straight onto the road. In Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Batmobile descends under the lake into the Batcave. As he climbs out of the Batmobile, we see this is not just another day in the life of the Caped Crusader. He takes off his cowl, still intent on his mission, and finally tracks the location of the kryptonite. Again, we see this is Bruce Wayne, not Batman, hell-bent on this crusade of his as he glances at the monitor.
We see Bruce Wayne's/Batman's descent culminate in his fight with Superman. What begins as a street fight, takes up to the roof by Superman, with Batman plunging him down into the building. As the battle wages on, we see Batman get the upper hand. With Superman knocked out, he proceeds to throw the man over the railing, descending multiple stories down to a painful fall. What is chilling is how Batman chooses to grapple his way down to the ground floor. It is not enough to throw Superman over and call it a day. He continues in his assault on Superman. He throws him around, still seeing him as an alien threat; and not as a person. Batman refers to Superman's parents as well, saying, "your parents taught you that you mean something, that you’re here for a reason." Sadly, Batman tears this down with his nihilism - "the world only makes sense if you force it to." It sounds like disgust towards the values of Superman - truth, and justice. Not only that, but it sounds like an objection to God, that God means nothing. All of this said, through a shattered helmet, with part of Bruce Wayne's face on display. All of this, before he plunges the Kryptonite Lance of Longinus into God.
By this point in the film, we see Batman's fall from grace. Here is a man with no faith at all, no belief in change. No doubt that Superman is all powerful, but not all good in Bruce's eyes. Superman, or God in this sense, killed or is at least willing to let the good people of Wayne Financial die. God is dead to Bruce now, and he must kill God, a.k.a. Superman.
Batman takes a devil-may-care attitude when dealing with criminals. Notice his lack of trust when first meeting Diana. His relationship with Alfred is rocky at best. One scene depicts the philandering playboy Bruce Wayne as accurate, not an image. Bruce wakes up in his lakehouse with a woman in bed, clothes strewn across the floor, and a bottle of wine on the nightstand. Alfred even jokes how the next generation of Waynes will inherit an empty wine cellar. One may wonder why to bring any of this up. Bruce is known for being with many women - Catwoman, Talia, and so forth. However, most if not all of the women in Bruce Wayne's life are or once were legitimate relationships. One-night stands are not his m.o. Plus, Bruce Wayne is hardly a drinker. James Gordon notes in The Dark Knight Returns how Bruce fooled us with his ginger ale, pretending it was brandy. One must refrain from drinking to stay mentally and physically sharp, in Batman's case. Hence, his shift towards drinking and sex with a random girl represents a downturn for our Caped Crusader. With the death or loss of God in Bruce's eyes, one can see this as a life of sin now.
Luthor mentions how devils do not come from beneath us, but they come from the sky. Luthor is inciting Lucifer, the fallen angel from Heaven. Batman's debut in the film has him tucked up in a ceiling corner, lurking over the police. The hostages downstairs point up to Batman, referring to him as not human but as it. Batman writer and editor Denny O'Neil has mentioned before in medieval art the depictions of devils and demons. Upon close inspection, they usually have wings like those of a bat. Marry this to Luthor's comment of devils descending upon us, is Batman himself not a devil then? Well, there is hope, as the answer is a resounding no.
Upon Lois' arrival, Batman does not plunge his spear into Superman. Instead, he learns of Superman's cause - the want and desire to save his mother. Finally, Bruce remembers why he became Batman - to rescue any other child from losing their mother. He pleads with Clark to allow Batman to save Clark's mother, as he says, "Martha won't die tonight." When Batman arrives at the warehouse holding Martha captive, the thugs expect a frontal assault. Most fans expect the traditional descent from above, through a window perhaps, ala Batman Forever. Instead, Batman rises, bursting through the floor! Bruce Wayne ascended in the dream to become Batman. He saves Martha, referring to himself as a friend of her son's. In a way, Batman is reborn as he ascends to save the mother he could not when he was a child.
Batman's descent shows the message of hope within Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, due to that hope being Superman. After the loss he has endured, there is no reason to continue to fall into the abyss. One can choose to hold on and pull yourself out, especially if you have the right person by your side who can help you see the light outside that hole.
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