briarwood: Gal Godot as Wonder Woman (Default)
Morgan Briarwood ([personal profile] briarwood) wrote2016-07-25 11:24 am

Fic: The Memories That Haunt Us (0/5)

Title: The Memories That Haunt Us
Author: Morgan Briarwood
Fandom: Batman v Superman (DCU)
Wordcount: 95,000
Rating: Teen

Summary: An alternate take on how events might have unfolded after Man of Steel - three superheroes come together just in time to save the world...and each other.

Links:

Read the whole story on AO3

It's too long for LJ, but there's a copy on my Dreamwidth:

Chapter 1: In The Aftermath
In the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Metropolis, Diana Prince travels to the USA in search of Kal-El, Bruce Wayne finds his efforts to identify Superman interrupted by a horrific series of murders in Gotham, and Lois Lane helps Clark Kent make some decisions about their future.

Chatper 2: Beneath The Masks
Diana comes face-to-face with Clark Kent; Bruce Wayne takes his campaign against Superman to the next level; and Lex Luthor acquires something that threatens to expose Diana's past.

Chapter 3: Batman and Superman
An assassin targets Batman; Lois interviews Lex Luthor; and Lois's determination to interview a suspected terrorist leader ends in tragedy.

Chapter 4: One Bad Day
While Clark struggles with the consequences of his actions in Nairomi, Lex Luthor's plot to destroy the superheroes reaches its deadly conclusion.

Epilogue: Dawn of Justice
Now he knows they are out there, Bruce wants to find the other super-humans.

My commentary on the story



I promised the story in August, but the bright side of going on holiday and having it rain almost every day, is I had loads of time to write, edit and re-write. So here we are! It's finished!

In March 2016, I went to see the clunkily-titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the cinema. I will admit, it was with some apprehension. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why anyone would want to pit the two heroes against each other. Shouldn’t they be, by definition, on the same side? But I had enjoyed Man of Steel, with just one caveat (which isn’t the same problem everyone else seems to have with that film). But my optimism was wasted. BvS was, well, a hot mess.

The following day, I began to write, well not a review exactly, but more an attempt to explain to myself why it was so very awful. There was so much in the film to like, but somehow the overall impression overwhelmed the good beats.

I came up with the following:

  • Bruce Wayne was an idiot who failed to see through the villain’s transparent attempts to manipulate him. This is not a good way to portray a character who is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective (Sherlock be damned.)

  • Superman was just plain boring. This is always a challenge for Superman movies and TV. Clark Kent is interesting. His alter-ego is too damn perfect to be an interesting character, but it has been done successfully. Not this time.

  • The religious imagery ticked me off. It's over-used and lazy storytelling. These are iconic characters in their own right; it felt...disrespectful to force a Superman=Jesus thing into it.

  • Far too much of the story required the viewer to be familiar with the comics. And not just the parts of the comics you can pick up from popular culture. Obscure stuff. The dead Robin, the parademons, the time-travelling Flash, the references to Injustice, Darkseid and Apokalips (stupid spelling!)...this is not shit that the regular movie-going audience (i.e.me) was going to know. And without that background, key plot points made no sense at all. You literally needed a primer before watching the movie.

  • Apparently the director couldn't tell the difference between Wonder Woman and Selina Kyle for the first half of the film.

  • Even if I could accept the premise that Bruce Wayne wanted to kill Superman, how he went about it seemed totally illogical. And if he's a deranged madman, then he ain't any Batman I recognise.

  • Lex Luthor also made no sense. No reason was given for why he wanted the superheroes to kill each other. I couldn’t see how he could possibly benefit. Also, he is supposed to be a genius, not a hyperactive child. Lex Luthor is human, but a worthy adversary for Superman - this means he has to be exceptional. In this movie, he’s an idiot. (Just imagine for a moment that the ending played out the way he intended: Batman dead, Superman dead... oh, and an unkillable monster on the rampage! Yeah, there’s a plan! Not.)

  • How in hell did Batman get off that crane and into the Batmobile so fast? (As plot holes go, that one is up there with “who’s driving the boat?” for bugging the hell out of me.)


Anyhow, before I knew it, I had 2000 words of fiction based on a movie I didn't even like. Initially, it was just meant to be a missing scene: the Metropolis clean up that begins the first chapter of this story. But it quickly became more.

What I set out to do is write an alternative version of BvS. One in which the characters would be recognisable from the film, but also more true to their canon selves. One in which the conflict between the heroes would feel natural not forced. One in which Lois Lane would have more to do than just get rescued and where if Batman or Superman killed, the reader would not be able to see it as gratuitous.

I found an article online that purported to be a summary of an earlier, much better, version of the movie, and I have borrowed some elements from that. I also had a couple of pictures in my head - just moments - that I knew I had to include. The photograph of Bruce Wayne taken the day after the invasion: I’m not artist enough to reproduce it but that image was so clear in my head I had to use it, and it became a key plot point in the first part of the story - a motivating factor for both Clark and Diana. There’s a moment I shamelessly borrowed from my favourite Batman comic: Hush - Batman’s rope being cut as he flies above Gotham (though who and how and what happens after he falls are all very different in my version). And there is the moment when Clark almost outs himself as Superman during a basketball game, because he’s concentrating so hard on not using his superpowers he forgets he’s not breaking a sweat.

Some things in the story surprised me. When characters seem to take over and take the story in a direction I never planned, I take this as a sign I'm doing something right. The appearances of some other DC characters in the story - Nightwing and Green Arrow - came about that way, as did the low-key romantic plot line between two characters I didn't see as a couple until I found myself writing it. And it was then that I realised the big Batman v Superman smackdown wasn’t going to happen in this story. The movie managed to wedge Batman into that position (rather unconvincingly even so) by creating a character who is extremely isolated. As soon as I brought Nightwing - Dick Grayson, the first “Robin” - into my story, I could no longer convincingly write that Batman. It couldn’t work, because this is a guy with friends and family who are there when he needs them. So while there is conflict between the heroes, and while the denouement does play out with similar beats, this isn’t a Batman bent on murder.

In trying to stick fairly closely to the movie’s sequence of events, I have inevitably ended up with some elements that don't quite work. A couple of scenes from the movie are duplicated here, but I've tried to give them a different spin, or to show the same moments from a different point of view. But this is a work of prose, not a movie and there are some things that work well on the big screen and simply don't when written down - those I have changed or even left out. But I hope anyone brave enough to read this story will enjoy it, at least more than I did its original inspiration.