Among the many contentious moments in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the infamous scene in which Batman ceases his assault on Superman after learning that their mothers share the same name. The “Martha Scene” has since become a frequently discussed moment for fans who continue to argue over the quality of Batman v Superman and now storyboard artist Jay Oliva has shared his take on the scene during an interview with ComicBook Debate.
Oliva elaborated on how the film sets up the fact that Batman has PTSD and that the name Martha “triggers” Bruce Wayne by prompting flashbacks to the moment his mother was murdered:
“[…] I thought, did they not understand what that whole point was? I mean, the whole reason why the movie starts with the death of Bruce’s parents is to set up the fact that that traumatic effect has bascially given little Bruce, and now adult Bruce, PTSD. He’s had it all his life. I mean, it’s something that I even did in Dark Knight Returns Part 1. I played up the fact that he has PTSD. If you notice I do flashes… when the train goes by overhead it’s flashing on the ground and that gives him those flashes of when his mom gets killed. So, at that early stage I was already playing the fact that you had a Batman who had PTSD, you know? So, Zack was just setting that up and if you watch that film, really, without having any kind of preconceived notions or whatnot or just waiting for the ‘Martha scene’… he sets it up. So, that way at the end when Batman’s gonna kill Superman, the ‘Martha’ is a trigger to get Batman out of this kind of bloodlust vengeance.
In fact, Oliva explained that he believes Superman was aware of that fact that using Martha’s name could be a way of reaching out to the Caped Crusader:
“In my head, I put together the fact that the reason why he didn’t say ‘save my mom’ was that Clark already knew who Batman was, because remember Clark’s an investigative reporter. He already figured out who Bruce Wayne was and I think he knew Bruce Wayne’s past because everybody knows about the Wayne’s being murdered. Of course, he may not know but I think he put two and two together and knew that in order to get through to Bruce, would be to have to, you know, appeal to, you know, the word Martha, about the name of his mom who also happens to be the name his mom. But he’s trying to get through to this guy who, again, has this bloodlust.”
The storyboard artist then commented on why believes the film received ‘underserved’ criticism:
“Yeah, people say, like, ‘oh, both of their moms are named Martha,’ and I was like, ‘yeah, it’s been that way for the last 75-80 years, you just never noticed that? Did you want us to change it to something else?’ For me, I enjoyed it for what it was and I was proud to have worked on it and collaborated with Zack and everything. For me, it was kind of undeserved, the kind of critical response to it. Like I said, they fixated on things that they just read in a review and somebody who was watching it wasn’t paying attention or wasn’t critical… ’cause the thing is that there are journalists who do their homework and they know how to critique a movie and review it, and then there are people who are bloggers who just watch a movie and give you their opinion. Like, ‘oh, I hate it because Superman didn’t smile enough.’ Like, really? So, that’s your whole point? You want him to smile a lot?
Frankly, the fact that Superman and Batman’s mothers have the same name was a surprise to very few who care enough to continue arguing over this scene and Oliva stated little more than the obvious, as most understand the intent behind the sequence but criticize it for poor execution.
Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
Directed by Zack Snyder, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice stars, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD.