In Batman v Superman, Superman is called by Senator Finch to some kind of Congressional Hearing to account for what happened in the desert

where Lois Lane was trying to interview some kind of warlord, and a bunch of mercenaries turn against the warlord's henchmen and murder everyone (except Lois), then flee just before Supes arrives to save her.

It's made clear in the movie why this hearing happens and who the real instigator is. It's less clear how the Senator or anyone who has seen Superman use his powers would suspect him of any wrongdoing.

Do they believe Superman uses

bullets (since even without the evidence of the special bullets that Lois uncovers, everyone is clearly dead with gun wounds)

to fight?

Is there anything I missed from the movie that might make Senator Finch's suspicion of Superman's wrongdoing more justified?

Maybe she suspects him of being reckless, but not of committing the actual deed? I don't recall the exact dialogue.

  • 2
    This is one of the only valid criticisms I've seen of this movie's plot, and it's a good one. Superman doesn't use bullets. WTH.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 23:12
  • It is an important question, that 'bullet' stuff confused me for a while. I'll be going to watch the movie again, will note down her dialogues this time :-)
    – ABcDexter
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 23:26

4 Answers 4


Superman isn't being accused of killing those people personally per se.

In the act of saving Lois, he set off a chain of events. The person testifying was seemed to infer that the violence was set off by his arrival, but more importantly talks of events that happen afterward (Superman leaves with Lois) as well. The power vaccuum left after Superman leaves has more violence in the surrounding villages, and that's where her parents died etc., with the implication that a properly planned action might have accounted for that and brought order/security to the entire impacted area.

Senator Finch makes the statement (paraphrasing): "We've been so focused on what Superman CAN do, we've never asked what Superman SHOULD do" for that reason. Superman acting on his own doesn't take any level of international action or politics into account, he may not fully understand the consequences of his action, inadvertently foil negotiations, discussions, change or introduce new power dynamics and vaccuums etc. By nature, he doesn't consult or coordinate with any other power that is operating in the area. He's being blamed for acting without that understanding, which occasionally does cause additional causal violence even despite the people that he can/does save in acting in the first place.

  • Right! Now I remember that quote by Senator Finch. Makes sense. So Superman is not accused of murdering the henchmen, but instead he is accused of acting recklessly and without consulting the US government?
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 2:17
  • However, there is still something that doesn't make a lot of sense to me... what does the mercenaries killing off the warlord's henchmen have to do with it? I thought someone was trying to set Superman up for murder, but in light of your answer, this doesn't seem to be the case. In which case, why murder the henchmen? (And why use "special" bullets, for that matter?)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 2:19
  • I think it's a time-continuity thing, from what I remember. Mercenaries killing off the Warlord's henchment is what leads him to take Lois away, which is what triggers Superman to appear. Before that, the Warlord may have thought CIA were tracking Jimmy Olsen, but wouldn't think he'd be in immediate danger. The firefight puts him in a feeling of imminent danger, and makes him threaten Lois while the mercs scoot. The bullet suplot is really weird because that entire arc just goes nowhere - although I guess it gives Lois Lane something to do and makes her seem like a competent reporter?
    – DariM
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 2:41
  • Although it may be too strong to say that Superman is not being accused of murdering the henchmen. Superman was present at a scene where the Warlord's henchmen were killed and he personally took out the Warlord. No one else except Lois Lane is a witness to the event, and no one knows who the mercenaries were. It could be that Senator Finch is not-directly-accusing-but-not-explicitly-exonerating him so as to conveniently give her call for him to be brought into control more urgency.
    – DariM
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 2:46

My memory is not perfect, and I won't watch the movie again to answer this question, but I believe Superman was being blamed because he saved Lois. In other words, what happened was that there were more people in the same condition of Lois, and he opted to choose Lois instead of the more people. He was being blamed for the deaths of the people that he did not save. Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • That makes some kind of sense. I'll be seeing the movie again soon. I'll watch out for that.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 0:22
  • 1
    Were there people there besides Lois who weren't employed by the warlord?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 0:33
  • 1
    +1 Ooooh... that makes some kind of sense... Not a lot, though, and of course the logical implication of using Superman's power in the optimal, most benefitial to mankind way, ultimately leads to him becoming a transitional power source. I wonder if Senator Finch was going to ask him precisely that before her untimely end :P
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 1:05
  • 1
    @Andres F. It may not make a lot of sense, but I am pretty sure it did happen in the movie. That may be part of the reason I won't watch it to check
    – CHEESE
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 2:01

It's a common misconception that Lex staged this massacre in the desert frame Superman for killing them.

If that's your assumption you immediately question the ridiculousness of that premise because Superman should be easily exonerated by the cause of death… small arms fire and Superman doesn't need guns to kill anyone.

However that's based in two assumptions: First, assuming that Lex was trying to frame Superman for murder; and Two, assuming, exonerating evidence would be readily available.

Assumption One

No one sincerely believes that Superman murdered anyone. That wasn't Lex's plan and it wasn't the result either. If they sincerely believed Superman killed an entire terrorist cell, would they invite that person into the seat to government power unchecked? Of course not!

In fact, Lois directly challenges Secretary Swanwick with the idea… if he believes Superman is a murderer he's free to discard the bullet… and we know that instead, Swanwick acts as if Superman is innocent.

Okay, what WAS Lex's plan then? Lex's goal was to call into question the collateral consequences of Superman's actions for a number of reasons.

  • First, simply to screw with and test the Man of Steel;
  • Second, to provoke government oversight which he could leverage into access; and
  • Third, to cause the public to question Superman.

The public narrative created by the incident is that Superman unilaterally elected to save Lois. Superman's intervention compromises the warlord and destabilizes the region when the Nairomi government comes and retaliates against the weakened warlord; and the villagers occupied by the warlord become collateral to that conflict.

Superman is accused of performing unilateral state-level interventions without the consent or the will of the people.

Assumption Two

The second assumption, that evidence would be available, whether the fact that the General's men were shot dead or that the bullets were exotic. Remember, that Lex knows everything and initiated everything at this point. Anatoli Knyazev is armed, informed, and paid for by Lex.

Lex knows the CIA are there, that's why Knyazev knew to look for and reveal the tracer. Lex is relying on exposing the CIA to provoke the General into taking Lois captive and bringing Superman in.

Lex knew that between the cagey movements of these terrorists, the CIA's involvement, and the Nairomi government, there would be no exonerating evidence coming out of the event.

Note that a tracer implies difficulty in accessing these terrorists. It is so difficult that the CIA had to use Lois Lane's credentials just to get close. So it's hard to get at the evidence in the first place. Then the Nairomi government suppresses evidence because they commit atrocities against the occupied villagers.

Finally, the CIA suppresses and classifies the information because from their perspective, it was their agent getting caught which caused the catastrophe. If there was no CIA, Lois gets her interview and goes home, end of story, no international incident with Superman.

That means evidence didn't matter. Not using suspiciously expensive contractors, not using experimental bullets, not their sudden departure, and not even leaving Lois Lane as a witness!

Nothing exonerating was going to get out to the world at large. Consider the three pieces of evidence that did get out.

  • First, you have Lois Lane's account. However, as a Daily Planet reporter with known ties to Superman, she's considered biased… even Swanwick accuses her of inventing a conspiracy to reestablish Superman's halo and her own.

  • Second, you have the experimental round, explicit tangible evidence, which Central Intelligence suppressed to a degree that even Secretary of Defense wouldn't go on record to disclose.

  • Third and finally, consider who Congress is listening to. The status quo is that Superman is a beloved public savior with godlike power… if you are going to call that into question during a public hearing, you had better believe you want the best possible evidence before entertaining such a serious accusation against Superman. Yet who do they present? What is their best evidence? It's the testimony of a village refugee who can only give a second-hand account to Superman's actions and a first-hand account about the military response. She wasn't at the compound, she didn't see what happened, she only experienced the tragic aftermath. Insofar as Superman is concerned, she is literally a hearsay witness. If the best the United States Congress can produce is hearsay, then it's clear they didn't get or have access to forensics, ballistics, bodies, photos, or any kind of real evidence.

Lex knew that, planned for that, and that's why it didn't matter how the terrorists died.

Ammunition addendum - Why specialized ammunition?

  1. Whatever specialized utilitarian benefit they were developed for - Greater reliability, longer shelf life, whatever. Pursuant to the above, without fear of trace, why not use optimum equipment?

  2. Conspiracy canary - Lois isn't exactly right in her brief to Perry. It's not that the rounds aren't traceable, it's that they aren't traceable by HER. They're preeminently traceable by Lex. In fact, Lex confronts Lois about that on the helicopter pad, indicating he knows what she's been up to and chasing down- when she counters that she's proven his involvement his retort? "Unfortunately, that will blow away like dust in the desert." He's not above a cover-up and the rounds are a tiny trace bit of evidence he can use to track who is trying to track HIM. Anyone or anything that's coming close via the ammo only ends up on HIS radar FIRST before the person trying to figure out the origin does... because they only people who know are in his pocket. So using the proprietary rounds act like a marked bills or a dye pack. Even if the Nairomi incident is airtight, the rounds allow any snoops to be sniffed out and "blown away like dust."

  • Not bad! But why did the CIA suppress the evidence, and why were there experimental rounds to suppress? (Note: "it doesn't matter if there were experimental weapons" is not the same as saying "let's use them", especially since there wasn't any real need).
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 22:55

The bullets that were being used by the extremists were special,a prototype developed by Lexcorp, as after entering the body they would kill and leave no trace of it. Hence,on inspection it would have appeared to Senator that the people were not killed by guns but by Superman himself...

The bullet is due to react with some organic matter and hence when it hits Lois diary,it does not decompose...

  • 2
    Do yo have any proof of how these bullets work? Maybe from the novelization or a Word of God statement from the director?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:40
  • Where is this stated in the movie???
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:44

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