What drew you into this?
Zack Snyder: Weirdly, I think if we had not evolved the project the way we did, it would have been more intimidating. If, for instance, someone came up to me and said, “Hey, do you want to do a movie where Batman fights Superman,” I would have been like, “Ok. Ease back a little bit.” But because it kind of evolved over time, by the time we were shooting, it was the first time I realized 100%. I think at the camera test when I was actually looking at Batman and Superman in their costumes then I realized “Oh Shit! That’s going to happen.” Amazing and fun and an honor to deal with this icons. It’s great.
In regards to having these iconic superheroes and you have been down this path with Man of Steel and this is new for you Ben. What went into working out your own identities and then pitting them against each other?
Henry Cavill: Again, as I always say, it’s going to the source material. There’s a lot of psychology in Superman. It’s the one way you can find a crack in the shell. When it comes to playing the character, especially in this movie, we still see the growth of Superman before seeing the finished product of what we know and love from the character in the comic books. It was just delving in the psychology and weaknesses they’re in and playing with the relationship between him and Lois and him and Martha; and then of course the conflict he has when facing the likes of Batman.
Ben Affleck: For me, there was enough material in the screenplay that Chris Terrio wrote with Zack’s direction, there was plenty for me to grab onto, and use my imagination to try to build this character. It’s certainly daunting because of the people who have played this character before and the great filmmakers. More recently Christian (Bale) and Chris (Nolan) did three brilliant movies and all the guys who went before them. There’s that element of healthy respect you have for the project and for the characters and their history and it raises the bar certainly. I felt it was in really good hands with the script and with Zack and that is where I focused my attention.
Can you talking about working with Gal Gadot?
Ben Affleck: She’s the best. Gal did such a great and amazing job and made all the scenes that I was in better and made me better. She’s my favorite part of the movie when she shows up and without giving anything away but she helps me out. She’s a terrific actress and I think “Wonder Woman” is going to be very good. It’s a lot of fun. I’m excited to keep working with her.
Henry Cavill: It’s tough to sound genuine but it’s repeating that. It’s true. Gal cuts a fine figure as Wonder Woman. She brings something particular, something statuesque, and something other worldly to the character. It’s remarkable to see.
When casting announcements are made and it’s not what the fans expected, how do you deal with that when you hear it from social media or other places.
Zack Snyder: I cast Henry first and they were like, “What is he doing? He’s lost his mind!”
Jesse Eisenberg: It’s certainly strange and unnerving to be criticized for a part you haven’t been able to yet screw up. I think I would have been surprised had I read it was playing Lex Luther without having access to this wonderful script and this incredible character written by Chris Terrio, who created a character that I thought was suitable for me. If you look at the canon and the mythology and history of Superman, I might not be the first person that comes to mind but if you read the script and understood how the character was conceptualized in this modern era and the way he was written, I knew that I could do it well. And at least I hoped after people had seen the movie, they would understand that I was more appropriate than they had originally feared.
Ben Affleck: (to Jesse) I wish I had heard you say that two days ago. I would have just xeroxed it for all. That’s very well said.
Gal Gadot: I agree with him as well. Also, you can’t please them all. For me, being an actress, my responsibility is not to pay too much attention to all the noise around me but to pay attention to the script, to the director, to Zack, and protect the character and try to tell her story the best I can. I can only do my best.
Can you talk about your audition process and did you work out for the role?
Gal Gadot: No. It all began when Warner Bros. wanted to audition me to something but would not say what. So, of course I was intrigued and I did the audition and Zack was there and it was great. Two weeks later, they asked me to do a camera test with Ben. I said, “Great! What’s the role?” My agent says, “Honestly, they would not say a word but expect a phone call from Zack.” Zack called me the same night, and says “I’m not sure if you have it in Israel, but did you ever about Wonder Woman? I think I literally went dead for a few seconds, came back to life and try to pull off my best voice, saying “Wonder Woman? Yeah.” Then, I did the camera test with Ben, which was great and Ben is fantastic. Seven weeks later, it was a torture, I literally went thought seven stages of grief. The first two weeks I felt good about that. I had a good feeling. From then on, I started to be angry. It was bad, but finally, seven weeks later they called to say that I got the job. That was it.
Henry Cavill: I knew right away.
For Zack and Deborah, can you talk about launching this expanded universe and expanded franchise of DC movies?
Zack Snyder: Again, I think what’s interesting about the process of this movie and the way it’s evolved is the idea of having Batman fight Superman…
Laurence Fishburne: Is ridiculous.
Zack Snyder: That’s why we made the movie. Not only ridiculous but also once we committed to that ridiculous idea, it was then only that it implies that a whole universe exists where Batman and Superman exist together. I know it seems obvious in the comic book world, but it had not existed really in the movies. But once that idea took root and existed as reality, it was then only I was obsessed. I am and have been obsessed with the trinity and have wanted to see the trinity, that being Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, in a single moment. That’s a thing that I was really interested in trying to get in this movie, not that I didn’t have enough to deal with already but I thought that would be a cool scene. And those conversations are really what led to this Dawn of Justice subheading for the film. We could now and begin to talk about or have conversations about the Justice League and the DC universe could evolve from this. It’s a difficult notion especially with a studio like this that really filmmaker driven and project to project. It’s a difficult notion to say, “Oh, you’re making a movie but it’s actually connected to that guy’s movie and connected to that guy’s movie and it’s all going to be a big, great fun sandbox and we’re all going to play nice in it. It’s a great thing but’s it’s a difficult thing to make appear. That’s what the luck and serendipitous nature of this movie that’s allowed the worlds now to coalesce. It became a plan, and its becoming a thing, but it was only in this infancy that we realized, “yeah oh my gosh,” this can be a thing.
Deborah Snyder: At the same time, I think we wanted to set up and introduce these characters but we also had a really rich story to tell. It was a careful balance about telling the Batman and Superman story and giving a little hint and a tease to this story of Justice League that’s yet to come.
Can you talk about being the overseer of bringing the DC universe to the screen and how hands on you have to be. Does it make you the Warner Bros. version of Kevin Feige?
Producer Charles Roven: It’s a team of us. The team includes Debbie, Zack, myself and (DC Entertainment chief creative officer) Geoff Johns is part of it and obviously the Warner Bros. creative guys. It’s a very interesting challenge but it’s also a lot of fun because even when we were making films that might have sequel possibilities, we never in the past, even with The Dark Knight, thought about what exactly what the next movie was going to be. In fact, when we went from Batman Begins to Dark Knight… and ended Batman Begins with the Joker, we never really had a story. Here we’re constantly thinking in the future, not only how to make each individual film stand on its own, be compelling, be fun, be thought-provoking, have great characters, but we’re also thinking about way down the road, how will these things will interconnect and make sense, and also leave room for other great filmmakers to be involved and to make sure that while we want to get to a certain place, we don’t want to stay too rigid or too fixed on exactly the methodology of how we get there. We have to leave room for the creative process to allow it evolve. And it’s just really exciting and challenging every single day.
How hands on were you?
Gal Gadot: He’s hands on. We’re shooting Wonder Woman and he’s hands on.
Producer Charles Roven: I think wherever you are in the world because we’re making a number of these in different phases, thank God for high technology because you have to stay connected. If Debbie’s in Los Angeles and I’m in London, or Zack’s traveling back and forth or we’re making a film in Toronto, you just have to stay in touch with every form of medium that you can. Every day is long because somewhere in some continent, there’s a portion of one of the movies that you’re working on.
Ben, is it true that you turned down the offer to direct “Man of Steel”? Will you ever want to direct one of the Batman movies?
Ben Affleck: It’s not true that I turned down Man of Steel. I learned a lot from Zack on this movie. One of the really valuable things about it for me, aside from the personal experience of playing the part, was watching a guy who really understands how to make films on this level, with cutting edge technology, combining in camera stuff with visual effects, and stunts and all the tools at a director’s disposal, and seeing how Zack meticulously constructed them using hand drawn storyboards, frame by frame and evolving into the movie that you saw, is a fairly consistent vision. I wondered about directing movies like these before. I’ve wondered about directing movies like this before and it was a really valuable learning experience for me to watch Zack do it and see how he did it . So I felt like, if that day did come, that I definitely picked up a lot of valuable information and tricks.
Would you ever do it?
Ben Affleck: For me as a director it’s about the material and the characters, so if I found the right material I would definitely throw my hat in the ring to direct something on that scale. I’m definitely more embolden now, certainly having learned and watched Zack and Chris put this movie together.
What do you think Clark Kent would ask Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck?
Henry Cavill: I’m assuming we exist in the fictitious reality we set up in Batman v. Superman when you asked me what Clark Kent would ask myself or Ben. I believe Clark would ask something along the lines of, “What do you think the value of Batman is and what do you think the value of Superman is?”
And the answer?
Henry Cavill: That’s a good question. I didn’t even think I would answer my own question. In the fictitious reality, it’s explained very clearly in the movie and I agree with it.
Gal, you became the first Wonder Woman in the movies. Did you ever think you would make it big coming from Rosh HaAyin, Israel? How was your last week?
Gal Gadot: It’s a huge honor to be the one who got this amazing opportunity to tell such an important story. I feel very, very grateful. I never planned on being an actress or Wonder Woman but everything just happened and I am grateful and happy and in love with what I do. Rosh HaAyin is a very small city close to Tel Aviv. Last week was very intensive. I was very excited about it. I had many talk shows. I reunited with the people that I love and working on this magnificent movie. I hope you all enjoy it by the way. You better. We worked hard. It’s great and I’m happy to be here. I’m still in denial. I’m so busy working that I have no time to sit down and relax and enjoy the ride. I am enjoying everything but it will take me sometime until I really understand what is going on.
Holly, what it’s like to have a character written into the DC universe? That character was specifically written for you.
Holly Hunter: I guess that’s liberating in comparison with everyone else on this panel. It was lovely to have a character who was in the midst of this mayhem of this story and bring in some sense and sensibility to the proceedings and dealing with a character who is as combustible as Lex, especially as Jesse’s Lex is as volatile and complicated and emotional as he is. It was really a fun ride to take with him and negotiate the waters of staying incredible open and curious to what his point of view was; and then as knowledge accumulates at his decision what i thought was rational and reasonable.
Diane, you are a veteran of the superhero genre. Was this a different experience? What’s it like to enter a world that big when you are combining that many heroes?
Diane: Well, I didn’t think the stakes could that higher and suddenly they can. It’s definitely thrilling to witness the film in its final product and see my tapestry and how it reverberates throughout the story. Also, selfish it was lovely to have both films be the commencement of this huge production. Martha provided a gentle beginning I would think comparative to where we are headed. It was nice to break in the school and have the first day of school altogether.
Laurence, what’s it like to be an editor?
Laurence Fishburne: I don’t know anything about that. I just learned my lines. I’m really more of a fan. I’m a comic book reader reader, and a collector. I have been since I was a kid and really for me this movie has been the movie I’ve been waiting to see for 35 years. I can’t even believe I’m in the movie.
Gal, did you watch any of the Lynda Carter series of Wonder Woman growing up or when you were researching this role. What advice do you have for women out there who are actresses who are interested in doing films about comic book superheroes?
Gal Gadot: I was too young to watch the TV show. I was minus five but after they cast me for this role, I did watch a couple of episodes. I think that Lynda Carter was a magnificent Wonder Woman and certainly big shoes to fit into. When they cast me for this movie, Zack and everyone had a very clear vision on who Wonder Woman should be and what’s her story and how they want to tell and all I had to do is really give my own notes and input and just embody everything and be her.
I have a four-year-old daughter and she adores princesses. At the same time she would tell me ‘the princess, she’s so weak.’ She falls asleep, the prince will come and save her and kiss her and he’s the hero. S,o I am so happy I’m going to be the one who’s going to tell the Wonder Woman story. It’s such an important story to tell and I’m grateful for it. But I also think that it’s so important for girls and boys to have a female strong superhero to look up to. The more the merrier, and there’s plenty of room for many women to come and I’m very happy to be a part of that.
Zack, it’s a quite a scene in the movie when Clark and Bruce realize that their mothers share same name. Do you think this is something that will be appealing to the fans?
Zack Snyder: It’s from the comic book. When we were talking about that aspect of the movie and what is thing that humanizes Superman or Batman, it seemed really interesting so I think about in those terms in that he’s basically now looking at someone with a mother. He becomes different in that moment to Batman. That he would consider this other worldly creature that could care less about humanity that he could bring himself to a certain emotional place with that be normally difficult for Batman to get to. He whipped himself into enough of a further that he had achieved a thing that was particularly difficult for him to see that guy looking in the mirror. That was the idea. I don’t know how fans will feel about it.
Laurence Fishburne: I forgot that their mothers had the same name, but it’s my favorite moment in the movie as a fan. When Batman meets Martha Kent, it’s fucking heartbreaking!
Diane Lane: Also, it was my scene when we got to experience Ben in his regalia first.
Zack Snyder: It was. That was the very first moment. That was the first day.
Ben Affleck: Although, I discovered Diane in an earlier movie (2006’s Hollywood) where Superman’s mom and I had a different kind of relationship.
Zack, why did you cast Tao Okamoto? For Ben and Jesse, how was working with her?
Zack Snyder: The reason I cast her was because we had this character in the script. I have seen Wolverine and thought that she was amazing in the movie and thought “who is that?” She came in and I met with her. She did an audition that was amazing. “We need to get this woman in the movie if it’s possible.” Since then, she has been an amazing honor to work with ons et and just cool. She’s great.
Ben Affleck: She’s great and fun and smart and we had a great time.
Henry Cavill: I really didn’t get much of a chance to interact. We had one scene where we were in the same room. When we shot that scene I had no interaction with her at the Lex Luthor party, the charity gig. But, in the Congress scene, I saw her across the room and she looked marvelous.
Jesse Eisenberg: I loved working with her. I think we make an unintentionally comedic pair. She plays my assistant but like from a certain perspective we should switch places. She has an unusual and great sense of humor which you wouldn’t expect because because you wouldn’t think that you would need to.
Amy, are you a superhero veteran? Does it get easier? Is there a certain language you need to adopt when you’re playing a superhero character or love interest to a superhero character?
Amy Adams: You never really get used to it. The scale of it is always really impressive. Everything I walk on set, I’m completely blown away. What has been nice has been getting to know everyone over the course of years and getting to have these relationships established over the course of working together and doing stuff like this. We grow as the characters grow and so it’s been a real joy in getting to come back with all these lovely folks.
Ben, what did you think when you first heard the title and how did you come around to accepting it? And for Zack, was this title ever going to be called “Superman v Batman”?
Zack Snyder: It’s funny because “Batman v Superman”…I wanted to put the human in the human/God relationship first. I don’t know if these guys heard the title first before the concept, and I hope they did. One of my favorite question is when someone says, “Batman v Superman? How is this possible?” We made a 2 hour and plus movie that certainly explains it. The notion is crazy but the road is established that leads to Batman versus Superman. Them being pitted each other in the comic books in not a thing we made up.
Ben Affleck: The precedent was set in the Frank Miller book and having seen that, I was already tuned in to what it could be and hoping that was the angle that Zack was taking. He had the little sculpture up in his office and thought, “This guy is certainly on the right track.”
When you first heard it, did you think it was a crazy idea?
Ben Affleck: I didn’t think it was crazy because I had read when I was a kid The Dark Knight Returns where Frank Miller did this comic where Superman had fought Batman. It was really original and interesting and turned the genre in its head. It was a morally gray story and changed the way I saw comic books. I had been familiar with that idea for a long time and when I heard that this was the idea of this movie, I thought that’s brilliant because it’s one of the great ideas in comics that hasn’t been done yet for films.
Henry Cavill: I agree with Ben on that. I knew the comic book, especially the Frank Miller one and also the relationship in the comic book between Batman and Superman. The idea was nothing but exciting because we’re opening up the cinematic universe with all of DC.
Is there a day or two or sequence from that film that you will always remember when you think back on the making of the film?
Diane Lane: I think I shared mine as far as the reveal and Ben in the role an how badass he is.
Ben Affleck: It was a unnerving day wearing the suit the first day and being on camera and you think, “Here it is! I’m really doing this!” It was very nice to have Diane there., a friendly face and a great actress. She looked at me and said, “It’s going to be okay.” I appreciated that Diane if I hadn’t told you that before.
Henry Cavill: It’s tough to say while shooting because I was in the green room at the time, but certainly, I feel like I felt it after having watched the movie. The third act, for me, in particular resonated. It was probably while I watched the movie where I felt the most and got to step outside the actor and was part of the audience.
Amy Adams: I’m going to go with the bathtub scene. I’m just kidding. Just trying to lighten it up. That was actually horrible trying to protect my modesty and unflattering garment while the demigod stood above me. I had lost self esteem for two weeks after that. It’s true. I’m hideous.
Henry Cavill: She’s not and wasn’t.
Amy Adams: I had so much fun on this film and I love working with Henry so much. Comig back to that relationship in a richer way was really awesome. There’s a moment in the third act that became one of my favorite moments. It’s a quiet moment between two women. As an actress, I like quiet moments.
In this movie, Batman and Superman have dual roles. It’s a debate between power versus will. Do you think your characters are more willful than powerful? When you have to lose yourself into these huge characters, what helps you get there faster? Your little boy hero complex or your adult male hero complex?
Ben Affleck: I have too many complexes to sort through. Any of them will do. I think you are on to something when you talk about will versus strength with Batman. I think one of the reasons this character has resonated since the FRD administration, with audiences, regardless of the way the country has changed and how pop culture has changed is because you have a guy, who on the one hand is powerful and exciting and can do things we all wish we can do, but is also still a human being and still struggling with his own vulnerabilities and fragilities and struggling with his own will. He accomplishes things by force of will. That was fun and exciting to play. I think I tapped into equal measure my adult geekness and kid excitement for this movie. You can see from this room. Everyday there was something to geek out and be excited about. I can’t believe I get to be in this movie. It was exciting everyday.
Ben, when you were growing up as a boy in Boston, were you thinking about Batman very much? You also talked with the NY Times about the duality of the character. Can you talk about how you see him in this movie? And Henry, Superman goes through a big change as well. Can you talk about that?
Ben Affleck: There is a store where I grew up called Million Year Picnic which is still open I think. That’s where I bought the Frank Miller book. That’s where I first bought my first set of comics and it was the first comic that really took my appreciation of this genre to another level. It was when people where innovating. It’s when Watchmen came out around the same time. It really knew where adult complicated, sophisticated ways of looking at this world started to be developed in the comic genre. It took the movie business 20 years to catch up. To be willing and mind these stories to be complicated and interesting and resonant rich stories. It has now actually.
(As far as the duality) Zack often said that Bruce Wayne was a mask that he put on as much as Batman was. He liked the idea that just putting on the suit and getting ready and the way he looked. Putting on a mask and presenting this alter ego to Bruce Wayne to the world was interesting. I liked the idea that both Bruce Wayne and Batman were fucked up, unhealthy people who were engaging in unhealthy behavior at night as a result of psychological scars they bore from childhood and that duality was really interesting to explore.
Henry Cavill: For me this felt like like the development of Superman of the character we love and know in the comic books. We’re still not there. We are looking at the guy growing up. He’s become this Superman after discovering he was Kal-El in the first movie and now he’s facing off the second guy. It’s a tough outing for him because it’s against a psychological enemy as opposed to a physical enemy like Zod was. We see him make mistakes and we see him grow from those mistakes and learn from them.
For Zack and Deborah, this movie deals with a lot of things. You definitely have got consequences with God vs Man and the overall theme being family. In light of this, in terms of balance how much of a challenge was it to balance our love for all of those elements in addition to the action that’s automatic in the film?
Zack Snyder: It is a balance but I think when you start to look at the tone of the movie and tone to me is the number one aspect of a film that I’m interested in. This movie is at the same time as the constructive as it is it is self-reflective in some subtle ways in that when you have icons of this magnitude and comic book characters of this magnitude and mythology of this magnitude, there’s a little bit of letting off the hook. We take a heart attack serious but at the same time there’s a self-awareness to the movie that I think you have to in order for the movie to to resonate on any second level beyond us saying, “Look, these two superheroes are fighting and that’s cool.” Chris Terrio has written an amazing script on what power is and what justice is and what our relationship to these mythic characters are. Is it a relationship between God and man? That’s the balance more than the balance between action and drama. That’s natural to the story. You run into conflict. This movie is fun because I got to have fun with these characters to tell a slightly bigger story than just Batman versus Superman. I do think the film is richer and it was fun to work on that idea that this is bigger than Batman versus Superman.
Deborah Snyder: To put these characters in a real world, I think they are easier to relate to. You can never imagine what it’s like to have super powers, but if we see them going through struggles and messing up and picking themselves up, that’s really relatable. I think we like to see stories that mirror ourselves.