There are a number of odd things that take place in Batman v Superman – the jar of piss, the request to use the Daily Planet’s helicopter for personal use, the storytelling gaps wide enough for Doomsday to fall into – but the most egregious of all seems to be the one most overlooked.
It takes place right before the much-hyped fight.
It’s been nearly two years since the Battle of Metropolis (a new watermark for collateral damage) and Bruce Wayne has had it with the Man of Steel: he’s prepared a Kryptonite-tipped spear and has got his Batarmor shined and polished.
And he doesn’t just work out; he works out hard.
He goes for the weighted belt pull-ups; he does some battle ropes; he even pushes his Batprowler sled. You could argue that much of this is some form of conditioning, but you could also argue that he’s doing what we’ve seen a number of heroes do before a big fight: get one last, pain-tinged, sweat-soaked workout in.
From a storytelling perspective, it makes sense: the man has to pump himself up for the big battle.
But from a fitness perspective, it makes about as much sense as a jar of Granny’s Peach Tea in a Senate hearing. Bruce Wayne may know many things: how to look svelte for those flirtatious dinners, to build a structurally sound Batcave beneath the sewers of Gotham, but one thing he does not seem to understand here is rest and recovery.
Director Zak Snyder, the man who brought male fitness to the moviemaking forefront with 300’s Legion of Lean Bodies and Man of Steel’s superhuman Cavillry (okay, that’s a weak one), should know better. He’s got his own gym in the middle of his hangar-situated office and he works out four times a week. Notice I said four times and not seven. Snyder obviously knows about the importance of rest and recovery, and some of that is about as active of recovery as you can get: directing an action blockbuster.
A couple years ago, I bought hardcore into the teachings of Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha, taking great pride in my Alpha lifts and dreaming of delicious cheat days, but after two months of consistent workouts, I did something mind-bogglingly stupid. I did a heavy lower-body workout the day before a full-length soccer game. I figured I’d have enough time to recover, but a hyperextended, sprained knee told me otherwise. I didn’t do anything I hadn’t done a thousand times before, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t take much, and it set me back significantly and killed my momentum.
Now, I’m saying this as a mere mortal.
I had no superhero fights on my lineup card, but you can see where Wayne’s logic falters. If I can sprain my knee from simply running around on a cold day, then imagine what kind of deep shit Batman can get himself into with the Last Son of Krypton.
By the time Batman arrives at the fight, I’m not sure if his suit of armor is to protect him against Superman or to protect his clearly recovering body from breaking down even more.
And I get it; Ben Affleck worked out for a solid two years.
You have to applaud a person for that kind of dedication, and Hollywood loves to do it with those shirtless workout scenes.
It doesn’t have the most cinematic feel to have Alfred mixing up protein shakes while Bruce Wayne walks by and says “Hey, I’m gonna go for a walk. Gotta stretch out those tight hamstrings, amiright?” We’re never going to see Batman sitting down to a nice, healthy meal of chicken and rice.
We want to tear off the brakes and streak downhill, and so we too skip out on recovery.
Outside of doing his research and learning his new enemy’s mother’s name (seriously), Bruce Wayne should have trusted that what brought him to his place in Gotham lore – the brains, the hard work, the intense dedication – would be enough to win the battle.