The ending of Batman v Superman explained

The caped gladiator fight of the century is finally here, and while reviews haven't been too kind to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there's still plenty to be gained as DC and Warner Bros. proceed into their own cinematic universe comprised of the Flash, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Green Lantern Corps, the Justice League, and beyond. Whether or not DC's big superhero showdown matches up to the likes of Marvel's Avengers flicks and the fight between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War, we're hopeful for the formation of the Justice League and the foes they'll face. Let's look past the lens flares and Jesse Eisenberg's cocaine-fueled portrayal of Lex Luthor, and dive into what we can learn from the ending of Batman v Superman. Can you read spoilers? You will. (Seriously, lots of spoilers ahead.)

Lex Luthor knows about the extraterrestrial baddies

By the end of the film, as with the end of most Superman movies, Lex Luthor ends up in jail for his sinister deeds. Due to the "death" of Superman after fighting Doomsday, it ended up being the Dark Knight visiting Lex in jail. With the good old lights-flickering-and-Batman-appearing-out-of-thin-air-behind-you routine, the Caped Crusader gives Lex Luthor a stern talking to. He was about to brand Lex with his Bat-logo, which is pretty much a giant "stab me" sign in prison, but Luthor reveals he knows what's coming. Using the Kryptonian technology to create Doomsday from General Zod's corpse, Lex Luthor gained access to tons of restricted information about the universe.

The flamboyant schemer told Batman there are all kinds of bad things waiting out there in the depths of space, and they're coming to Earth. This resonates with Batman's nightmare of being decimated by alien forces, where he just happened to perfectly dream up Darkseid's Omega symbol and the armies of Apokolips. Due to the information he learned, Batman decides Lex needs to survive and leaves without even hitting him. While it's likely that Luthor means Darkseid and his armies are coming, there's also a potential for the likes of Lobo, Brainiac, or some other intergalactic menaces to arrive.

Batman's dream about Darkseid's invasion might be real

Batman v Superman may have had an Inception-like level of dream sequences, but there was still a big point to them. The aforementioned Apokolips future dream could have been real to an extent, considering that the dream was immediately followed by a comic book-inspired dream sequence where the Flash from the future warns Batman about the upcoming threat. We're not sure where Ezra Miller hid his long hair in that mask, but his cryptic tease seemed awfully real, despite coming in the near-cliche dream-within-a-dream trope.

If there was some realness to the Flash from the future warning Batman in the present, then what's stopping his previous dream of the Apokolips-apocalypse being real too? It's interesting to see that Batman has seemingly tossed his no-kill policy out the window (based on the sheer number of casualties during the Batmobile sequence and the dream fight), but the Dark Knight better start stockpiling more guns in preparation for Darkseid's forces. If we can believe Lex's jailhouse ramblings during the ending, they're most likely coming.

Batman's rekindled faith in other people

When we first meet Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne, he's cynical and untrusting of nearly everyone, and he has become particularly harsh in punishing the criminals of Gotham. Being Batman for 20 years can do that to you. Presumably, the Joker killed the last Robin (they didn't say who, but we're guessing that it was Jason Todd, the second Boy Wonder), and it's made the Dark Knight even more negative and angry than usual. In a conversation with Alfred, Wayne refers to the number of Batman's allies and other heroes that Gotham saw over the years. Unfortunately, most of them died, quit, or even became bad guys themselves. This veteran version of the Caped Crusader is jaded in the worst of ways. Luckily, he saw a bit of himself in Superman during the movie's titular fight.

Sure, the coincidence of both Batman and Superman's mothers' being named Martha might just be due to an oversight in the DC writing room decades ago, but it made a basic connection that sparks Bruce Wayne's empathy towards the Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne realizes that Clark Kent has the best intentions, and like him, just wants to prevent his mother's death. While it was too late for Martha Wayne, this feeling ultimately led to Bruce Wayne returning to why he became Batman in the first place: not to punish criminals, but to prevent tragedies like the one that scarred him for life. After that encounter and witnessing Superman selflessness during the fight with Doomsday, Batman has a renewed faith in other costumed heroes, which leads to…

Batman tells Wonder Woman they need to make the Justice League

Before Princess Diana was about to hightail it out of the (apparently) Twin Cities of Gotham and Metropolis, she got a message from Bruce Wayne featuring the data he hacked out of Lexcorp's files. In them, there's a picture of the Amazonian from 1918, which will likely be explained in 2017 standalone movie. We also get to see Lex's files about other metahumans. We get to see the Flash stop a crime in the blink of an eye, the potential creation of Cyborg with the help of a Motherbox from New Genesis and Apokalips, and Aquaman…swimming fast.

Unfortunately (most likely due to the negative reception of the 2011 film of the same name), the Green Lantern was nowhere to be found. After Superman's burial, Batman approaches Wonder Woman and tells her that they need to unite the other metahumans to deal with other potential threats. They both have seen Lex's videos, and realize they need to rally these potential heroes to their side and not let any nefarious influences (e.g., Luthor) get to them first. It's interesting that Batman is the founding member of the Justice League in DC's movies, when he's the one you'd expect would be most reluctant to join based on his personality. We pictured Superman and the Justice League adding him last. Imagine Kal-El saying, "welcome our newest member, Batman!" resulting in everyone at the table freaking out, the Flash running out the room, and Aquaman saying, "no way, that guy's bats*** crazy," which would be pretty appropriate, of course.

Superman didn't really die, but the world thinks he did

In accordance with comic book history, Superman "dies" fighting Doomsday. Sure, he just survived a nuclear blast 15 minutes prior, you didn't get to see his face in his coffin, and Batman didn't even check his pulse, but Superman supposedly bit the big one. While a certain number of the population (including Batman at first) saw Superman as a potential threat and a would-be menace, the entire world got to see him for what he was: a selfless hero willing to sacrifice everything to save the planet. This makes Superman a martyr and pretty much erases any questions of his good intentions.

Obviously, a good portion of the film is based on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which ends in an older Bruce Wayne suffering a heart attack after beating Superman to near-death, rubbing it in his face that he easily could've killed him. Likewise, Superman's demise while fighting Doomsday is inspired by The Death of Superman. During Batman v Superman's final scene, we see the dirt levitating off of Clark Kent's coffin, a call-back to the scene where he first learns to fly in Man of Steel. The not-really-a-surprise here is that he is, indeed, still alive. This is kind of the opposite of The Dark Knight Returns, where Bruce Wayne fakes his heart attack in order to continue his crusade against crime in secret and Superman hears a heartbeat coming from Batman's casket. Will Superman be alright when he inevitably rips his way out of his coffin? We'll just have to wait for the Justice League or the inevitable third Man of Steel movie.