Batman V Superman: "Save Martha" isn't Clumsy in the End. (500 words)
"Save Martha... she's my... she's a... she's important ! You should definitely save her ! But she's not my mother. Obviously I don't have one, I'm a God !"
Up until today, I always agreed that Superman saying “Save Martha” and repeating the name felt kinda awkward and made the scene look clumsy. I didn’t mind the “why did you say that name ?” part. I think Batman’s reaction is fine.
On a deeper level, I always thought everything was perfect. Using the fact that both mothers have the same name, using Batman's traumatic story, I don't think the screenwriters could have come up with a better idea than this one.
Now when it comes to superman not saying "my mother." Superman’s godliness/alphamanliness is emasculating men. There’s a question of gender involved. From the beginning of Man of Steel Superman is written as the ultimate alpha male. There is a scene for nearly every male character to be emasculated by Superman’s existence:
1. The kid in the bus.
2. The truck driver who fancies the waitress who suddenly doesn’t care for him anymore.
3. General Swanwick both when Superman destroys a satellite at the end of Man of Steel and when Lois triggers Superman’s intervention in Africa in BvS.
4. Steve Lombard from the daily planet who courageously saves a woman’s life and will remain invisible to her because she only sees Superman.
5. Wallace Keefe is the incarnation of what happens to men because of Superman. He gets both his legs cut off = phallic symbol.
6. Lex Luthor, the smart guy, is also emasculated by the fact that an “all muscle no brain” should make people dream.
7. And eventually, Batman the human vigilante becomes harsher because Superman’s attitude makes his actions insignificant, hence the Batmark on criminals’ chests. He wants to remind people of his existence.
So, when Batman faces Superman, he wants to prove him that he is flawed. He wants to make him “bleed” as he says. There’s no need to kill him truly, making him spill some blood would be enough, forcing him to admit that he is no god is the purpose. Which actually is the reason why they team up so easily afterwards. I was very unsettled by how easily many people could think that it’s the sole fact that their mothers have the same name which brings them together.
I watched the movie for the fifth time today and eventually understood an element that had bothered me until that moment: why did Lois had to intervene at the end of the confrontation between Batman and Superman ? She is the one to say “it’s the name of his mother.”
If Superman says “save Martha,” it's because he doesn’t want to confess that he has a mother. He doesn’t want to admit that he isn’t a god, that he has “weaknesses.” It’s not a clumsy coincidence that he doesn’t say “Save my mother,” he is deliberately distanciating himself from her, he doesn’t want to acknowledge the existence of his mother but at the same time cannot bear the idea of her death, of course.
So yeah, “Save my… euh… save Martha.”
This modification of his discourse actually underlines that Superman has been enjoying being the hero who saves the day. And when Senator Finch raises the question of how Superman chooses whom to save, this “Save Martha” gives us the answer. Superman saves people according to media coverage => when his interventions will make him look like a god. He wants to be in the spotlights, whereas Batman dutifully and humbly remains in the darkness.
And now, I realise that the reason why Superman wants to be looked upon as a God isn't intrinsic to his personnality. It's Jor El's fault. He's tried everything he could in order not to need to resort to this and still be loved by humans. Man of Steel told us the story of how he failed at finding a place amongst humans as one of them, even Lois only loves him because he is Superman.
A hopeless girl who is going to die burnt alive, on TV, on the day of the dead. That's perfect publicity for... Godman !