At the beginning of 'Batman v Superman', a firefight breaks out, and a private military contractor employs unique ammunition to kill several people. The ammunition becomes a significant plot point throughout the film.

Here's what we know about the ammo:

  1. It is a "prototype" ammo.
  2. It has a very distinct appearance, even after being fired.
  3. It can be readily traced back to the Villain of the film.
  4. It lacks the necessary power to penetrate a thin notebook.

So here's my question:

Is there any in-universe reason for the Villain to issue this ammunition to his mercenaries, rather than just giving them dirt-cheap, readily-available ammo? Is it ever described as having any special qualities which make it worthwhile?

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    To make Lois subplot move – Liberi Apr 5 '16 at 12:57
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    to add something else to distract you from the lack of a real plot? – Himarm Apr 5 '16 at 13:18
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    I remember reading on another post here that the ammunition exploded or dissolved or something after entry to leave no trace of it. It was meant to implicate Superman in all the deaths. I don't remember seeing that explanation in the movie, though. – TheIronCheek Apr 5 '16 at 13:35

I don't think this plot element is explained very well, but I think we can "guess" what the point was, based on where it came from and who provided it.

(Note: It's almost impossible to discuss this bit without spoilers, so stop reading now or else...)

The idea of that incident in the desert is that Lex Luthor is trying to set up Superman as a bad guy. The "private security" team that's supposed to be guarding the tribal lord were actually plants. They were specifically told to turn on the locals as soon as it looked like Superman was going to show up. Later, we see witnesses from the area describing the scene as hearing Superman flying in, and by the time they got to the compound, everyone was dead.

Note that no one else knew how many people were supposed to be there or realized that a whole security team was missing.

In order for this plan to work, though, it can't be obvious that the victims were shot. There's no reason for Superman to shoot anyone. So, the most reasonable explanation here is that the special ammunition was something that would do two things:

  • Cause wounds that look different from traditional gunshot wounds -- wounds that could potentially be mistaken for heat vision or super punches or whatever.
  • Would not leave traces in the body.

Note that neither of those things is too far fetch: certain kinds of bullets are known to effectively "disintegrate" inside the body, causing a lot of internal damage. Presumably these bullets were just designed to build on that theory.

The bullet that hit Lois' notebook didn't hit a person, didn't impact any bone or heavy tissue, didn't bounce around inside the body, etc. It was fired into a stack of paper sitting on top of a pile of sand that dispersed it's kinetic energy much differently than a body would. So it didn't fragment and disintegrate as intended -- that's how Lois was able to find it later.

To be clear, I'm not claiming it is actually possible to build such a bullet -- it might be, it might not, I'm not an ammo expert. But I'm pretty confident that this was what Snyder was trying to get across in the movie.

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    I kept thinking that something along those lines would be revealed, but I don't remember it being mentioned at all. – Liesmith Apr 5 '16 at 19:11
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    I have a very strong suspicion that a bunch of useful exposition got left on the cutting room floor because the movie was just too long; perhaps even-longer directors cut will shed some light on it. – KutuluMike Apr 5 '16 at 19:31
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    "Should we cut the scene that explains the plot, or the 250 million dollar action sequence?" "Management says cut the plot." – DCShannon Apr 5 '16 at 23:08

In terms of an in-universe explanation, there really isn't a proper one. The unique ammunition was being used because it was being used - Lex is a fan of using his technology, and these henchmen weren't just random henchmen, but a pretty trusted elite force that would eventually be in charge of handling his Kryptonite shipment, so they deserve every advantage he can give them. If someone could trace back to him, it isn't necessarily crippling to him or his plans.

I think there are a few holes in the idea that they would have been a part of framing Superman personally, especially since the head CIA(?) guy was able to identify to Lois who the manufacturer was (and you could assume would have some idea of what they do as a result), and that multiple people knew and were keeping it on the down-low, etc. Maybe as other people have speculated, they were going to go down that road and then cut some of it, but as far as the released movie goes, I'm not satisfied with that theory.

Out-of-universe, the bullet sub-arc exists entirely to give Lois something to do, and make her seem like a competent investigative journalist who can go toe-to-toe with very important people. Even if it meant something in-universe, it would have done so only through this way. Without this arc, Lois would have pretty much no screen time.


I don't buy the fact that the bullets are designed to disintegrate or tu just don't seem like bullet wounds.

They are just the tie that the script uses to get to the bad guy. And the way they to this is through the bullet that Lois find.

The bullet is stucked into her log. This doesn't means that the bullet is lesser effective than a normal one. In fact, compact paper has quite good resistance level against penetration. Adding to this, the bullet could have hit the log after ricocheting against a wall or the ground, losing part of it's energy.

The only thing we know for sure about the bullet is that it's not deformated after impact, which is something quite odd, as normal lead bullets usually get very deformated after a high velocity impact, even against soft tissue (lead is not a very hard material).

So... the ammunition is not of lesser quality, in fact it's probably quite higher quality than average.

There is nothing in the plot to frame Supes directly related to the ammunition. It's only the loose tie that allows the script to continue on.

  • 1
    This looks like a comment on KutuluMike's post, not an answer in and of itself. – FuzzyBoots Apr 5 '16 at 16:06
  • Not, it doesn't in fact I'm discussing points addressed directly in the question – Bardo Apr 5 '16 at 16:27
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    I'm not certain I follow. It looks like you're discussing the likelihood that the ammunition is meant to disintegrate, or to be used in framing Superman, things that don't show up in the question, but do show up in Mike's answer. – FuzzyBoots Apr 5 '16 at 16:33
  • I'm discussing directly, among other caracteristics of the ammunition, if the bullets lacks the necessary force to perforate a notebook. Which is directly addressed at the question. – Bardo Apr 6 '16 at 6:23

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