The ending to Man of Steel was so controversial that for the follow-up film, the filmmakers decided to retroactively turn that controversy into a plot point. Much was made about the fact that, during Superman’s climactic battle with General Zod, a massive amount of collateral damage ensued in downtown Metropolis. Critics argued that Superman would inherently know to steer the fight away from the populated area, while others countered that this was a Superman in the infancy of his crime-fighting career and, essentially, didn’t know any better.
Whichever side you fall on, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice promises to address this head on as Batman’s main beef with Superman is that his actions at the end of Man of Steel destroyed one of Bruce Wayne’s buildings and, in the process, killed some folks. That’s an entirely understandable point of contention, and it bubbles to the point that Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight feels that Superman’s powers are too unwieldy and must be checked.
It was a smart move on the part of Zack Snyder and screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and should make for a fascinating dynamic between the titular superheroes. But Henry Cavill, having lived through the backlash to the Man of Steel ending, has some thoughts of his own.
Speaking with EW, Cavill was asked if Superman would act differently now as opposed to in the nascent stages of becoming a superhero, and the actor said it’s not a simple as that:
“Let’s say now, [if] Superman has the same threat again, that’s a different story. He would, of course, bring collateral damage to an absolute minimum, but in that, he’s just trying to survive because if he doesn’t, the planet’s gone. That’s the excuse I make for Superman. He’s fresh and he’s new, and it’s very easy to point out the faults in someone after they’ve done it, but put yourself in their shoes and see what happens.”
When asked if Supes may be suffering from “survivor’s guilt” when we pick back up with him in Batman v Superman, Cavill countered that he’s still very much a character in the process of growth:
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a survivor’s guilt. I mean, that’s a different kind of thing because he’s above the threat. I think the most difficult thing for him at this stage of the story is that he has just come to terms with the fact that he is really, really quite powerful and he hasn’t found any major vulnerabilities yet, and despite this, despite the enormous power that he has, he still cannot do everything, and he really struggles with that. It’s not just a quick, ‘Okay, I get it. I can’t save everyone.’ That takes a long time to work out.”
Indeed, that may very well be a plot thread that continues through the upcoming Justice League saga, and while it remains to be seen if Kryptonite will be introduced in Batman v Superman, Cavill says Superman’s greatest weakness remains psychological:
“For me, when it came on to Superman’s weakness, it’s inside him. It’s the fact that he does really love humans. He loves what they bring to the world, he loves this planet and who he lives alongside, and he wants to really, really help them. We could go deep into the psychology of what that means and what that makes ones intentions on a daily basis when you’re a super-powered alien.”
And the fact that Superman essentially “cares too much” makes him an easy target for a battle-worn, grizzled Batman:
“That’s his weakness, that he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He doesn’t want to scare anyone, and in that you can take advantage of him. It makes it very easy to take advantage of him. … This is someone who is a complete amateur, and he’s facing up against someone who is very well versed in the arts of war.”
Much has been made about the fact that Superman can basically win every fight with Batman with a single punch, and based on Cavill’s comments here, it sounds like the answer will be that Superman, essentially, pulls every punch for fear of seriously hurting Batman. I’m curious to see how that dynamic is sustained throughout the course of the film, especially as things get more contentious.
We don’t have long until we find out. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters on March 25th. Catch up on our recent coverage of the film below.
- Batman Gets Punchy, Alfred Gets Sassy in New ‘Batman v Superman’ TV Spot
- ‘Batman v Superman’ Box Office Tracking at $140 Million Opening
- ‘Batman v Superman’ R-Rated Version Details Revealed; Which Character Was Cut from Theatrical?
- ‘Batman v Superman’: See 11 New Photos of the Superheroes Facing Off
- ‘Batman v Superman’: EW’s Anthony Breznican Gives a Quick Review of the Film