Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of, if not the most, anticipated film of 2016. The Zack Snyder directed picture, making cinematic history as it pits The Dark Knight against the Man of Steel on screen for the first time, is set for release on March 25th. A lot has been said of the film by critics and fans, all seemingly offering their two cents on a film almost guaranteed to be polarizing. As a fan of the upcoming film and as What’cha Reading’s resident Superman nerd, I’m just like so many who have scoured the internet and combed every area for any detail I could find. This year’s San Diego Comic Con offered a significant amount of insight into Batman v. Superman and with EMPIRE magazine releasing a cover story, the people have even more information on the secretive Warner Bros. picture. As a Batman v. Superman enthusiast and Superman nerd, I believe you could never reread the same information too much, nor feel shamed for seeking positive reassurance on something you love. With that said, I’d like to present to you What’cha Reading’s take on this whole Batman v. Superman thing. Why are they fighting? What is Dawn of Justice leading to? How could DC possibly expect to beat Marvel? These are some of the questions I seek to address for you, the fan(s), and hopefully leave you with something more to contemplate that’ll make the next 237 days go by faster! With this first installment, we are going to learn more about Batman’s role within the upcoming film, along with a closer look at what sets Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader apart from the rest.
So far this year we have seen two Batman v. Superman trailers. The first one, a teaser, established our first look and understanding of the world of DC, post 2013’s Man of Steel. For the last son of Krypton, it isn’t a good time to be Superman. After saving the world from General Zod (Michael Shannon), but nearly destroying Metropolis, the world is now contemplating where this savior/alien/false god fits into our perceptions of life on earth and the universe. Is he just a guy trying to do the right thing? Is he a savior? Or is he a messenger of a much bigger threat – a devil from the sky? It seems that the world is split on whether they support Superman or feel he doesn’t belong. While it’s been confirmed that this isn’t a Man of Steel 2, the 2013 film is certainly The Hobbit to the DC Extended Universe’s The Lord of the Rings if you will. Without the events of Man of Steel, we would not have a Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This should please any self-respecting Superman fan as it’s clear that he is being used as the catalyst for the formation of the DCEU, which is the term being used for their film slate. (Think MCU or Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
This was the first, and only, official plot summary released so far. Also, I would not be surprised if this is what adorns the back of the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice toys when they release in January.
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.
While the teaser does exactly what it was created to do – tease, the trailer released during SDCC and later online, offers audiences their best glimpse into what Zack Snyder and company have created. It also worked as the B12 shot to many fans feeling that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was off to a rough start. It also silenced many naysayers that didn’t support the film and Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The trailer also makes clear one major aspect that once again should reassure Superman fans. Despite the title, this is very much a Superman movie. While it’s not the standalone picture that Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman) believes will eventually happen, it’s the second time we get to see him on screen. It’s also worth pointing something out that many have overlooked – Henry Cavill is the first on-screen Superman since Christopher Reeve to appear twice on film. Now that’s worth mentioning to friends, family, fans and strangers.
Man of Steel faced a significant uproar with its widely debated ending. During the finale, General Zod and Superman have a fight that leads them to Union Station. (Chicago doubled for Metropolis.) Superman gets Zod in a headlock and Zod targets a family trapped in the ensuing chaos of the fight. He unleashes his heat vision and tells Superman that if he loves these people (humans) so much, he could mourn for them. Superman, while still locked with Zod, begs him not to kill them. Zod responds with “Never!” and so Superman snaps his neck. He then falls to the ground and screams at what Zod forced him to do – kill. I never understood why so many considered Superman to be heartless in this movie. As a Superman fan, I loved everything about Man of Steel and it was a modern reinterpretation of the then 75 year history of the icon. Superman didn’t kill because he wanted to, he killed Zod because he had to. There was no other option presented to him in the scene and it not only serviced the story in a dramatic way, but was a massive set up for 2016’s Batman v. Superman. Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer have said that they always intended on addressing the controversial ending so it wasn’t as if the end battle and kill was gratuitous in any way.
Setting up the DCEU’s version of Bruce Wayne/Batman by placing him within the ending of Man of Steel is a nearly perfect, if not perfect, way to establish the world’s most popular comic book hero. By taking contextual and visual inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is equally a smart creative decision. Revealed in the upcoming issue of Empire, “Initially I thought, ‘I’m older, it doesn’t seem like the right sort of fit for me,’” said Ben Affleck. “Then Zack pitched me his concept for this older, more broken, kind of f**ked up Batman. It was something we haven’t seen. We have seen that Batman is willing to cross the line to protect people. That vigilantism has been a part of his character all along, and we are tapping into that mentality when faced by something as potentially as deadly as Superman.”
“We are playing him 45 or 46,” director Zack Snyder confirms. “He has been Batman for 20 years. All the history is there. Was there a Robin at one time? Possibly. We want to assume that Batman has reached this point in his life and career as a superhero, and Superman represents a sort of philosophical change. He is a paradigm shift for Batman: ‘I’ve been fighting criminals all my life, trying to find justice, and now I am confronted with a concept that is transcendent to me.’ In the face of Superman, a man robbing a bank doesn’t matter. He’s having a crisis of conscience. ‘Am I really just a vigilante who stalks the alleys of Gotham?’ It is rich stuff that he deals with. Ben does an amazing job.”
For a long time many believed that Ben Affleck was not the right candidate for the role. He’s a proven actor and filmmaker with successes such as Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo, and Gone Girl. It’s been reported that he will be directing and co-writing the first solo Batman film within the DCEU (with Geoff Johns of DC fame), along with appearing in August 2016’s Suicide Squad as Bruce Wayne/Batman. In fact, we catch a glimpse of him within the SDCC trailer for Suicide Squad. In Empire magazine, it is revealed that the Batman appearance in Suicide Squad serves as a prelude to the establishment that Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), The Joker (Jared Leto), and several other inmates at Belle Reeve Penitentiary are there because of him.
While it’s only been four years since we last saw Batman on screens with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (July 2012), make no mistake that the Batman of Dawn of Justice is the same character or set within the same universe. He is very much his own Batman and not supposed to be anything like Christian Bale’s. With that said, Nolan’s take on Batman with his The Dark Knight Trilogy gave way to audiences getting Man of Steel. Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas serves as executive producers on the Zack Snyder film, along with Nolan writing the story.
“Right from the beginning it is different tonally from where those movies are. You know, DC is an ancient world in a lot of ways,” Snyder said, praising Marvel while emphasizing the core differences between the Marvel and DC Comics. “I can see how people would want to make it this big, intense rivalry. Listen, they are so great. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy…our films are a bit more serious. They deal with things that are a little darker. Things that place them in our world. If it was a Batman movie it would be a much more difficult proposition because of how good Chris’ movies are. We live in gratitude to those movies. Chris set a tone for the DC Universe, and separated us from Marvel in a great way. We are the legacy of those movies.” – Deborah Snyder
The Dark Knight Trilogy, much like the 90’s Batman: The Animated Series have left an undeniable imprint on a generation of fans new and old. It is without question that Ben Affleck’s Batman will leave fans speaking long after Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice ends. With this version of Batman, we know he is set to appear in four additional films, and will be the first actor to have played Batman the longest on film. If you were to ask me, I’d tell you that’s pretty definitive. As What’cha reading has been making their way through Batman: Animated we have seen that Bruce Wayne is always shown to be a playboy. It’s an aspect of the character that we’ve never fully seen within the The Dark Knight Trilogy. with the exception of a glimpse at Bruce’s lifestyle in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Affleck says that the film plays up Batman’s age, as well as the more public persona of Bruce Wayne. “He really keeps up the image of the playboy, actively,” he says. “So you have more of a dichotomy which I thought was really fun, and a little sad, like the aging playboy.”
On bringing the Batmobile back to the big screen
“[Truly] an emotional process – it’s about what feels right. I showed Zack and Zack said, ‘Cool.’ Sometimes it just clicks. These films are very grounded. THere will be tons of CG, but also a lot of real stuff – especially with Batman. Of course, building a car from scratch is challenging. The car drives, jumps, pretty much does everything. We got the best people.”
A sexy looking tank
“He is not driving a Formula 1 car, he’s driving a tank that is very sexy looking. Batman is rougher, tougher, and grungier. So everything is rough: the weapons, the suit and the car. There are machine guns mounted on the front. When you first see the Batmobile, it is being fixed. It is not – boom! – coming out of the garage brand new. It is scratched, damaged.”
On being inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Tumbler
“Batmobiles are often designed very low to the ground, something classical. That didn’t feel fully comfortable for us. I thought the Tumbler was a revolutionary design, with the suspension very high up. I wanted to combine the two vehicles. I wanted something of a motorcycle, too: big wheels, suspension, exhausts.”
On bringing it all together
“With The Justice League coming, it influences my designs of the Batcave, the Batmobile, the Batwing. We are creating a world for Batman – every set, every prop, is real. We have to be ready for what’s next.”
There are several aspects rumored about Batman v. Superman such as Jena Malone’s mystery role (Is she Carrie Kelly Robin? Is she Batgirl?) to the inclusion of Halt and Catch Fire actor Scoot McNairy. Until further is revealed, we can not speak to who they may be. There isn’t much longer to wait and we do know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) will play Thomas Wayne. We see this in the movie. We also have had our first look at Jeremy Irons portrayal of Alfred and he looks great. It’s an exciting time for Batman and DC Comics fans as Warner Bros. is readying themselves for the launch of their DC Extended Universe.
Here are a few things to think about:
- It’s revealed in Empire magazine that Bruce Wayne has lost a few people in his life. We know Thomas and Martha Wayne are gone. But one notable aspect of the production is that there is no Commissioner Gordon. Could he have died somewhere within Bruce’s already 20+ years of fighting crime?
- We have a glimpse of a paper that reads “You Let Your Family Die” & “The Joke’s On You… HA HA HA” scrawled across… Robin’s costume! It’s pretty much a guarantee these messages are from the Joker. But does the Joker know that Bruce Wayne is Batman?
- “20 years in Gotham. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way? He has the power to wipe out the entire human race and we have to destroy him.” – Bruce Wayne
Stay tuned for Batman v. Superman 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Superman.
Editor’s Note: As you can tell Steven is a big fan of Ben Affleck as Batman. What about you? Do you have a favorite? Let us know by voting in the poll below and feel free to tell us the reasons for your choice in the comments!