Plot holes on their own are not interesting. Most movies have leaps or lapses in logic, and when the film is otherwise entertaining, diverting and well-made you barely notice them. The momentum of a well-told story is able to get you over these small bumps.
But when a movie is poorly made, when the script is shoddy, when the characters lack motivation - all of these things, taken in totality, can outline the failures of a film in a very specific, tactile way. The failure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is monumental, but it is also granular. It isn't that there's one particular thing wrong with the movie, it's that many things are wrong in many different ways. Some of those things are technical - the editing of the first half of the film is very bad, in an almost objective way - and some of these things are bigger picture, like mismanagement of tone or mutilating of characters. But when it comes to storytelling, BvS fails on multiple levels in many small ways, from lazy story construction to characters whose behavior makes no sense to beats that occur without cause and that are seemingly disconnected from the larger story.
Below are ten questions the film left me asking that outline the shape of some of the storytelling failure on display. There are major spoilers ahead. Some of these questions may be answerable, and not just in an apologetics way (ie, any explanation that begins "Maybe" is an apologia drawing from outside the text to fill gaps in the text), but I suspect most are not. At any rate, consider the comment thread below your spoiler-heavy post-release discussion zone.
Why didn’t Superman clean up the World Engine?
One of the most surprising things we learn in Batman v Superman is that the Indian Ocean World Engine is… just sitting in the Indian Ocean. 18 months after destroying, it’s just sitting there. It’s hard to imagine that a giant alien spaceship, powered by god-knows-what that is leaking into the water, is good for the local ecosystem. And it’s hard to imagine that Superman believes leaving the alien tech to be scavenged by just anybody is a very good idea. So why doesn’t he clean it up? Hell, if he had cleaned it up the whole movie might not happen, since the Kryptonite would never have been an issue.
Why is Lex Luthor equipping his death squads with ‘experimental bullets’?
Lex has an overly complex and largely nonsensical plan to lure Superman into action in Africa, and he would have gotten away with it, too… if it wasn’t for the experimental bullets with which he equipped his mercenaries. What? Why would he do that? Even setting aside the fact that he basically left behind bullets that he all but personally signed, why go to the expense? These guys were never supposed to be in contact with Superman anyway, as if the bullets would even have stopped him. And don’t get me started on the fact that Jimmy Olsen, war atrocity victim, has a giant beeping tracking device in his camera like this was a 1960s spy caper.
Why does anyone think Superman shot a whole bunch of people in Africa?
Lex’s plan involves creating an international incident by having Superman show up in this African village. For one thing, why would he expect that to even work? But let’s assume he pulls enough strings to make it happen - he bribes UN officials, he complains to senators, he hires ‘crisis actors’ to give testimony - why the hell would anyone think Superman shot all these guys? They’re all clearly shot dead. Superman, while no stranger to cold-blooded murder, definitely doesn’t need to use a gun to get the job done. No one even questions this? Like, it’s quite clear Superman had nothing to do with shooting a whole bunch of people.
Why does Lex Luthor blow up the Senate hearing and kill his assistant?
At least I think Mercy Graves is killed in the explosion. It’s hard to be sure, but she seems to disappear out of the film after that sequence.
At any rate, the important question is “What does Lex hope to gain by blowing the place up?” He already has the kryptonite in the country, so he doesn’t need to eliminate Senator Jar of Piss immediately or in a particularly grand manner. And everybody knows it was a suicide bombing as soon as it happens - it isn’t like people believe Superman went berserk in the Senate hearing. I’m not even sure why the bombing would turn public sentiment THAT starkly against Superman, which I guess is what Lex was trying to do? I’m not entirely sure what the point of THAT would be, either.
Why does Superman stop Batman in the middle of clearly chasing bad guys and let the bad guys get away?
As Batman is about to get the kryptonite from Lex’s goons Superman shows up, totals the Batmobile, threatens Batman and then flies away. Is Superman stupid? Did he not notice the running gun battle raging around him? Even if he thinks Batman is a menace he must understand the other dudes are also menaces, as they are firing automatic weapons. And yet Superman is way more concerned with chastising Batman. Again, the whole movie could have been wrapped up faster if Superman had stopped Lex’s goons and taken the kryptonite himself and thrown it into the sun or something.
Why is the Knightmare in this movie at all?
I know that BvS is setting up future films in the DC movieverse, but this sequence is so egregiously out of place and has so little bearing on the events of the film that its inclusion is nonsensical and pointless. It also makes no sense - Flash travels back in time to warn Batman in a dream? Huh?
Flash is hard to hear in this sequence, but he warns Batman that he was right all along, and that if Lois dies Superman goes bad. But that doesn’t come into play in the film ever; Batman never is concerned about Lois’ safety - he doesn’t even know she’s ever in danger. Batman never brings the incident up again. It has no impact on the story at all. If you removed it from the film nothing would change beyond the running time.
Why does Superman fight Batman if he doesn’t want to fight Batman?
Superman goes to Gotham to get Batman to help him rescue Martha. I’m not entirely sure what he thinks Batman can do that he, a man with powers of flight, super speed, X-ray vision and super-hearing can’t, but that’s the plan. The problem is that Batman isn’t there to talk - he’s there to fight.
So why does Superman fight him? Why does he keep advancing towards him after he sets off the first trap? Why does he flick him across the lot where they meet? Why throw Batman? Superman could just hold Batman down if he needed to and speak to him. Why is Superman such an asshole?
Addendum: why does Clark Kent follow Bruce Wayne downstairs at the Luthor fundraiser if he has X-ray vision and could watch him from anywhere in the house?
Why does Lois Lane go back for the spear?
I mean, I know why they need the spear, but how does Lois know that? What tells her that Doomsday is Kryptonian? How does she possibly know that the weapon will now be needed?
Addendum: why does Batman lead Doomsday to Gotham? Why not just get the spear and come back to the uninhabited Stryker’s Island, where Doomsday can shoot off his undefined energy powers to his heart’s content? It's especially weird that Batman draws Doomsday to Gotham when his entire story begins with being angry at Superman fighting a massive battle among civilians.
Why does Lex Luthor create Doomsday, and why does he put his blood in the Matrix?
Lex Luthor has little to no motivation beyond the fact that Lex Luthor always hates Superman in all media. I can, grudgingly, accept that. What I can’t wrap my head around is why this Lex Luthor would make an unstoppable killing machine and unleash it on the world. What’s his endgame in this scenario? What does tech billionaire Lex Luthor hope to gain from destroying Metropolis and who knows what else?
Furthermore - why does he put his blood in the Matrix with Zod’s body? Humans, last I checked, didn’t have any special powers that you might want to add to a Kryptonian’s already impressive array of abilities. Is this just Luthor homaging the time the members of the band KISS put their blood into the ink of their Marvel comic book?
Why didn’t Wonder Woman kill Doomsday?
In a moment of heroic self-sacrifice Superman picks up the spear (of destiny. Yay, another shitty Christ allusion for a character who isn’t Christlike) and flies it right into the heart of Doomsday. Weakened, Superman is impaled on Doomsday’s spike, and he pulls himself further up the spike in order to drive the spear into the beast’s heart. Both die.
But they didn’t have to, at least not as presented in the film. Wonder Woman could have done it, or at least given it a shot. We saw that she could take a full blast from Doomsday and get up smiling, so why not let the person who will not be automatically weakened by proximity to the weapon give it a try? Instead she stands around watching, her lasso fairly ineffectual on Doomsday who manages to still impale Superman.
In the original Death of Superman story all of the other heroes were defeated by Doomsday, leaving Superman and the behemoth alone to go toe-to-toe in an epic slugfest where they basically beat each other to death. Superman had no other option but to take it all the way - there was no one left to help him. In BvS an unwounded Wonder Woman stands to the side gawking as Superman pointlessly gives up his life.
If you think you have the answers to these questions, let me know in the comments below.