The Martha thing was bad enough — but, if you believe the internet right now, it could have been a lot worse.
In recent days, a story has begun to circulate in regards to Zack Snyder and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. At a recent Q&A, Snyder discussed, well, a lot of things. But besides his ideas about Batman killing people, he spoke about the infamous scene where Batman and Superman stopped fighting when they realised their mothers were both named Martha. He was quoted by Screenrant:
Snyder also joked “maybe Martha [Wayne] didn’t die, and that she got put into Witness Protection in Kansas.”
Kansas, of course, is where Martha Kent lives. So the implication there is that “Martha” is not two separate women but one, and Batman and Superman are stepbrothers. But Snyder didn’t literally say that. He implied it. And jokingly, as Screenrant said.
The story continues over on Slashfilm, where that quote was originally reported as follows:
Interestingly enough, Snyder also revealed that at one point, they considered making Martha Wayne and Martha Kent the same person. An idea was floated that after Martha Wayne was shot, she didn’t die. Instead, she was put into witness protection somewhere in Kansas, under the name Martha Kent. This idea is wild, and I almost wish Snyder and company had gone for it, even though it would be kind of shitty for Martha Wayne to just flat-out abandon her son and make him think he was an orphan.
Is the writer making a logical assumption about the Kansas quote? Sure. Was that Snyder’s implication as well? Yes. But the actual quote wasn’t there originally, nor was the context or admission that it is an assumption. In the article, it’s presented as fact.
io9 reached out to one of Snyder’s representatives and they confirmed that the entire exchange was completely tongue-in-cheek in the context of the Q&A. This was never something actually considered for the movie. The video is now online and you can see for yourself.
By the end of the statement, Snyder is clearly laughing, and the audience is in on it, but one can understand the interpretation that this was a real consideration. Here’s the full quote:
Although we did have an idea that maybe Martha didn’t die and that she... got put in witness protection (laughs begin) in KANSAS (more laughs, including Snyder). I’m just sayin’...felt like it was possible. Anyway! You can only push it so hard.
But you can see how quickly these things can spread.
As it turns out, Screenrant’s original post did not include “joked” as it was written from a transcription from someone not in attendance, and /Film wrote the story as it was presented, seemingly seriously. After both articles were online, the Screenrant reporter who was in the room added the “joking” context one might not get from a straight transcription, which of course /Film never saw. Once /Film did, it edited the story to include the words “Snyder also joked” in place of “Snyder also revealed.”
But that doesn’t matter to the internet. The story was online, got noticed by writers and was quickly posted to websites, as is often the case with these kinds of things. Then it just became a big game of telephone. And outside of specific blogs, people shared screenshots on Twitter that got retweeted without anyone looking into it further, and so on and so on. Pretty soon, Snyder’s joke became the truth. Even if it’s not.
So there you have it.