Since having a child, it has become a rare occasion for my wife and I go to the movies together. On Easter weekend, however, the opportunity for a date night at the movies presented itself. So, Saturday night we went to see Batman v Superman.
In the Christian calendar, it was Holy Saturday, the day that we acknowledge that Jesus laid in the tomb.
I hadn’t read much about the film, and had only seen one or two trailers. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the film was filled with several unexpected twists. One of the most significant – spoiler alert – is when Lex Luther brings Doomsday to earth. For those who know the comic storyline, Superman dies killing Doomsday.
However, for those who attended the film without knowing that piece of the Superman canon, this would have been a surprise. Like the girl watching the film with her mother and older siblings in the theater that I attended. She was about seven or eight and was Team Superman all the way. Whenever Superman appeared on the screen, she cheered for him as if she were cheering on her favorite basketball player.
When you think about it, it’s hard not to cheer for Superman. Amidst all the talk of his crest meaning hope and that the world needs a Savior, we are drawn to what he represents in the midst of a dark world. In fact, it’s this sense of meaning that makes the outcome of Luther’s scheme of pitting god (Superman) against man (Batman) unexpected. As the sword-like hand of Doomsday pierced into Superman, the young girl wailed. I looked over and the girl had buried herself into her mother’s chest, visibly upset at the death of a hero.
Whom she loved.
It was one of those rare moments that reminded me just how sacred film can be. Still, what made this moment more sacred for me was that it happened to be Holy Saturday. It was the day that Christians around the world remember that, after his side had been pierced, Jesus lay dead in a borrowed tomb. The stillness and silence of Saturday creates time to wail at the death of a Savior. It allows us to bury our faces into the chest of our loved ones and weep the loss of a hero.
With the death of a hero, it seemed that all hope was gone. The Savior – whether it be Jesus of our faith or Superman of our films– was gone. And with the absence of hope, there is both a deep sadness and a deep fear that the darkness will take over. Without that hope, there is a sense that everything will fall apart. While this hopelessness is unspoken in Batman v Superman, it is felt by everyone from Martha Kent to Lois Lane to Batman as each grieves in their own way.
As the film ends, Lois Lane drops dirt onto Clark Kent’s wooden casket. Just before the screen fades to black, the dirt starts to rise. An appropriate foreshadowing on the evening of Holy Saturday.
Hope cannot be buried.