With a title like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s clear that director Zack Snyder’s superhero clash of the titans will simultaneously give us a battle between the two most iconic superheroes in history and begin fleshing out a much larger cinematic universe that includes caped crusaders beyond the Dark Knight and Supes. When it comes to the former, reintroducing a new iteration of Batman so soon after Christopher Nolan’s unforgettable trilogy was no easy task, but Snyder and Affleck found an “in” by aging up the superhero.
A USA Today profile on Batman v Superman explains where we find Batman at the beginning of the film, with Ben Affleck speaking to the character’s existential crisis:
The director didn’t want a younger Batman coming to terms with the murder of his parents and being inspired to wreak vengeance on the criminal element, Affleck adds. His caped (and often armored) crusader is “a guy who had been through that experience already for many years and was kind of burnt out and asking himself what the point of it all was and going through an existential crisis.”
When it came to approaching the character, however, Affleck sees Bruce Wayne as the bigger opportunity to forge new territory:
“Batman is covered up by a suit and sometimes a car and sometimes a lot of vehicles and weapons, whereas Bruce Wayne is much more naked — it’s just you and a suit of clothes. You can’t really play Batman because Batman is different things to different people. We project our own things onto the mythology of what Batman is, and he has to be able to be projected upon. With Bruce Wayne, you have to bring something distinct and new and different.”
And while there will certainly be plenty of contemplation and character development, the title of the film must be delivered upon. Superman is an alien with inherently stronger powers than Batman, and Henry Cavill says the film addresses the one-sidedness of the fight by equating Superman to a dad playing sports with a bunch of kids:
“He can sure as hell take Batman out if he wants to, and Batman takes advantage of that,” Cavill says, comparing Superman’s constrained Clark Kent side to a dad playing football with a bunch of children. “He’s not going to go all-out against the kids because he’ll end up smashing people around. It’s the idea of still wanting to have fun but no one gets hurt, so you’re being careful about where your knees and elbows are going. That’s what Clark is for me, but Superman is far more relaxed. Superman is dad just being dad at home.”
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice must also live up to its subtitle, however, and Snyder was more than happy to play with the other characters that we’ll see much more of in the two-part Justice League saga.
“I love Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman, but having Flash and Aquaman and Cyborg and to see them all standing together, it’s a pretty dorky and cool experience for me. Basically every one of those characters has a logo that you would recognize without them standing there, and that’s a hard thing to achieve in this pop-culture world. We have history to draw on, but we also have these new frontiers to forge.”
The non-Batman, non-Superman hero that gets the next most screentime in BvS is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who is currently in the midst of shooting her very own standalone feature Wonder Woman with director Patty Jenkins. She’ll be introduced in Batman v Superman, however, and Snyder was delighted to have the opportunity to flesh out another piece of iconography:
“She’s a powerful female superhero, which is a thing we haven’t had for a while. She’s a piece of IP that basically exists in pop culture in a way where every kid’s got a Wonder Woman T-shirt and they don’t really know why. I want to give the why back to that.”
Cavill, who got to start it all with Man of Steel, is thrilled to get to expand this superhero universe with a diverse range of characters:
“There’s a whole world of fantasy in comic books, and if you just focus on one small portion of it, you’re never going to get the full magic of it. Now that we’re introducing all these other characters and really building the universe to a far larger place than just a simple alien’s life on Earth, it really makes it extraordinarily interesting.”
Could we see a film, somewhere down the line, that features Superman, Batman, and Joker on the same giant screen? Anything’s possible given the ambitious slate ahead of Warner Bros., so here’s hoping Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gets things off to a swell start when it opens in theaters on March 25th.
For more on the expanding DC Cinematic Universe with Suicide Squad, including Batman’s cameo in that villain-packed feature, click here.