Speaking of the reason of confrontation between his Superman and Ben Affleck's Batman, Henry appeals to the crossover moment, where you can see Affleck's Bruce Wayne looking on as a building is destroyed by Zod’s undulating heat-vision blast from Man of Steel’s climactic battle: “What happens there is one of Bruce’s buildings gets destroyed and he’s trying to save all the people inside the building and he can’t,” he says. “So he is this angry person who fears what Superman may do. Why are they just going to trust this superpowered alien? What if he does decide to turn against us?”
Henry also was asked about his competition in physical shape with Ben Affleck: “We were training with different people, so there was no direct comparison,” Henry shrugs. “But there's always going to be competition between two men if they want to be superheroes. It’s a matter of making that a nice healthy bit of competition as opposed to negative competition.”
Henry recalls his feeling during the moment in the costume test where there was Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman at the same time: “When you stand there, you realise, ‘Oh wow, this is history right here. It’s really history — comic-book history.’ And when you see the photo, that’s when you go, ‘OK, cool, right. I get why people were standing there agog during the photoshoot.’”
Read the full article below.
Thanks to FiftyShadesAS for the scans!
“I want you to remember, Clark... the one man who beat you.”
The biggest comic-book superheroes have always dealt in iconography. There’s no need for a ‘Hi, my name is...’ sticker when you have a giant red ‘S’ emblazoned on your chest. And it’s easier to strike fear into the heart of your foes when your cowl is instantly recognisable, even in shadow.
The power of a logo – or crucially two in combination – was spectacularly felt in Hall H of San Diego’s Comic-Con, on Saturday 20 July 2013, when Zack Snyder announced his Man Of Steel follow-up by having actor Harry Lennix (MOS’s General Swanwick) read a choice quote of Rank Miller dialogue, before the auditorium’s giant screen revealed Superman’s famous logo, swiftly paired with the Bat-symbol.
Yep, Batman and Superman — arguably the two most famous superheroes on the planet — are finally going to meet on the big screen, and as the Miller dialogue (taken from seminal 1986 comic-book miniseries The Dark Knight Returns) suggests, they’re not exactly going to be bosom buddies. The reaction in Hall H was nuclear. A Batman V Superman movie was pitched at Warner Bros in the early ‘005, with Wolfgang Petersen set to direct. but it ended up being mothballed. That was before the current comic-book renaissance was in full flow. It was before Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man had even swung into the picture. You don’t really need a roof-lifting Comic-Con reaction to tell you that, today, the big-screen team-up of these two titans is a pretty big deal.
Talking to Total Film about the moment he stumbled upon the Pandora’s Box of an idea, director Zack Snyder remembers, “I said, ‘What if Superman fought Batman? That would be cool. What if Bruce Wayne got to kryptonite?’ Then that’s the kind of thing. once you say it out loud one time... it’s hard to beat it.”
Released in summer 2013, Man Of Steel was a fresh start for Superman, reimagining the character with a distinctly sci-fi slant. Arriving just one year after Christopher Nolan had rounded out his Dark Knight trilogy, it marked a new beginning for Warner Bros’ DC characters. While there were hints at an expanded world (a Wayne Enterprises satellite was glimpsed during the Superman-Zod bust-up), it was very much a solo outing for Krypton’s favourite son, establishing him in a real-world setting.
Batman’s popularity is evergreen, but could it be too soon to reintroduce audiences to Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter ego, particularly after the success of Christian Bale’s run in the cape? “The interesting thing is, Batman’s been around for 75 years or something,” says producer Charles Roven, who also worked on Nolan’s trilogy. “As different writers tackle him, the movies in how he’s interpreted are [different]. Obviously Chris’ Batman was different to Tim Burton’s, and Zack’s is different again.” Snyder concurs, explaining, “as far as American mythology, he’s kind of a thing that does get reinvented from time to time. I had some conversations with Chris Nolan about what he thought. We discussed it a lot, like what the tone would be, what the mood would be, how I would make it different.”
With the universe rebooted afresh, a new Batman was required (Christian Bale’s not existing in this timeline). Step forward Ben Afﬂeck, in his second superhero outing after 2003’s Daredevil. Initially, there was no one more hesitant about the casting than Affleck himself. “I was very sceptical when Zack came to me,” he tells Total Film, on a break from location-scouting his next directorial project (an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night). “I'm obviously older than who has historically, typically been cast... I was surprised. I didn’t exactly understand what he was going for.”
Despite feeling dubious, he agreed to let Snyder show him some concept art and pitch the story he envisioned, which won Afﬂeck over. “I got really inspired by what he was doing. If I felt we were trying to do the same thing that those guys have done beforehand with Christian, I probably would have shied away. But because it’s within the Batman canon, but a very different take on the character, I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not too soon.’”
It’s seemingly impossible to cast a superhero these days without some sort of online backlash (even Christopher Reeve would’ve probably been given a hard time if Twitter was around in 1978). Someone who knows a bit about that is the incumbent Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent, Henry Cavill, a Brit portraying an American Icon. “It’s funny because no matter who gets announced, people always throw their hands up in the air and complain, that's just the nature of it,” says Cavill, who’s interrupted by his dog (the appropriately named Kal) during our chat. “But Ben has done an absolutely fantastic job. He's brought something to Batman that no one else has brought before.”
So. how do you go about reinventing Batman? Especially if, as Snyder attests, Christopher Nolan set the “unapologetic” tone for the DC movies on the big screen? Well, if Bale essayed Batman's Beginning Affleck has found the Caped Crusader at the end of his rope. “He's a little more mature,” confirms Roven. “He's been doing it for a long time. Maybe jaded by it and darkened by it. He’s tougher. He’s different.” If Batman’s never been the most approachable superhero, don’t expect Afﬂeck’s version to have a cuddly side. He’s been around the block, leading a successful crime-fitting campaign in Gotham City, and has kept the streets clean using some ‘questionable methods’. “He's still a vigilante,” adds Roven, “and he's technically still wanted by the police.”
The 50m+-viewed trailer hints at a greying Bruce Wayne, tormented by the death of Robin; freezeframe it at the right moment and you’ll see a memorial statue dedicated to the Boy Wonder, scrawled with taunting graffiti (we're guessing by Jared Leto’s Joker, who'll be formally introduced in Suicide Squad, later in 2016). Viewers with super-vision also noticed a crossover moment, where you can see Affleck's Bruce Wayne looking on as a building is destroyed by Zod’s undulating heat-vision blast from Man of Steel’s climactic battle, have a quick Google of ‘Batman V Superman Man Of Steel gif’ if you missed it. Though BVS:DOJ is set approximately 18 months to two years after that event, a prologue will detail the Wayne's-eye-view perspective. Cavill otters a bit more detail: “What happens there is one of Bruce’s buildings gets destroyed and he’s trying to save all the people inside the building and he can’t,” he says. “So he is this angry person who fears what Superman may do. Why are they just going to trust this superpowered alien? What if he does decide to turn against us?”
It’s that anger that’ll manifest itself in one of the film's crucial selling points. “One of the interesting things about Batman is he functions in some ways as an antagonist: you have to remember, this is Batman versus Superman,” teases Afﬂeck. “He's found himself in a place of harbouring a tremendous amount of rage for Superman. So it’s how he got there, and what that’s done to him, and what that’s done to people around him like Alfred, who are, I think, very scared and worried for him. It’s something that's interesting and new.”
Yep, versus. This isn't just a team-up of two icons. It’s a showdown. Although Snyder sees it differently to your standard protagonist/antagonist dichotomy. “You kind of have to understand both of their point of views,” the director says. “I think you’re sympathetic to both, in a weird way. It’s inevitable, like two trains heading at each other on the same track.” When it comes to the brawl itself, no one’s willing to divulge any specific details, although the word ‘epic’ is thrown around a lot (Snyder admits that he spent five months “drawing” the film). “It's an epic clash of iconography,” is Affleck’s take, while Cavill predicts “a seriously cool spectacle... There’s only so much I can say, but it’s epic. Really very cool.”
For Snyder, it was important that the fight not betray the movie’s internal logic, no mean feat when one side of the equation is a superpowered alien, and the other is, when it comes down to it, rich, capable, and generously muscled, but ultimately human. According to Snyder, “the advantage that Batman has is the goodness of Superman; the compliance to fair play that Superman has… Batman knows how to exploit Superman.” So, Batman will use his wits and resourcefulness, not to mention a souped-up supersuit with armour that makes RoboCop’s get-up look like a leotard. And, of course, don’t bet against Batman making use of Kryptonite somewhere along the line.
To ensure the Dark Knight had suitable agility within the cumbersome armour, it was created using CGI. with Afﬂeck forced to don skintight chequerboard ‘visual effects pyjamas’, which he describes as “the most humiliating, ridiculous thing in the world.” Not that you'll glimpse it in the finished film. “You can move freely, and they can put [the suit] on digitally... It's a little bit more humiliating to wear, but it's easier for the digital effects guys. You can see who the priority is,” he laughs.
According to Deborah Snyder (Zack's producing partner, and wife), the digital tech has come on leaps and bounds in the short time since Man Of Steel: “We were able to do so much more with the digital doubles in Batman V Superman than we could do before, and that wasn’t that long ago.” While the synthespian stunt doubles might come out to play for the big dust-up, there's no CGI massaging when it comes to the actors filling out their supersuits. Cavill sculpted his physique into tip-top condition for Man Of Steel, but he’s 10lbs heavier still this time out. Given the stakes of BVS:DOJ, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there might be an element of macho competition in the training… “We were training with different people, so there was no direct comparison,” Cavill shrugs. “But there's always going to be competition between two men if they want to be superheroes. It’s a matter of making that a nice healthy bit of competition as opposed to negative competition.” Affleck quickly shoots down suggestion of between-takes weightlifting competitions. “I’m not sure I would have won many of them,” he smiles. “[Henry]’s pretty strong: he had a one-movie jump on me for the training side of things.”
For his part, Affleck underwent an impressive transformation to get into Batman-mode, piling on 30lbs of muscle over a 14-month period: packing on mass while shooting Gone Girl meant costume designers had to keep opening up the back of his clothes. In his ‘regular’ Batsuit, his ultra-bulky silhouette looks almost square. “Rather than doing the shredded, ripped model version of a superhero, I just put on as much muscle as I can, to look like a UFC fighter or an American football player, or something like that,” says Afﬂeck, who’s dreading doing it all over again for sequels. Taking into account the shorter ears on the cowl, the overall look of this incarnation of the Batman harks back to the comic-book proportions of Frank Miller’s work; while BVS:DOJ is not an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, Snyder admits he couldn’t resist paying some visual tribute to Miller.
Given the brutally direct face-off the title Indicates, it's almost easy to forget that Batman V Superman isn’t simply a two-man show. The expanded cast indudes Jeremy Irons (as Bruce's trusty butler, Alfred), Holly Hunter (as a scheming senator suspicious of Supes’ power), and, in a wildly leftfield piece of casting, Jesse Eisenberg as the most famous villain in the Superman canon, Lex Luthor (see above, re. general furore when a spot of unexpected casting is announced). Snyder initially met Eisenberg for another part, having been previously discussing “the usual suspects that you’d imagine for Lex.” But alter meeting The Social Network actor, he couldn’t shake the idea of casting him as the big bad, and screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo) tweaked the screenplay to suit the 32-year-old. Eisenberg himself might not have been best placed to realise how far his casting would have differed from the expected interpretation of the character; he freely concedes that “the phenomenon of comic books completely passed me by… I've seen none ofthe movies.”
He did, of course, watch Man of Steel in preparation for BVS:DOJ. So, given the Bats-Supes conflict that defines the film, where does a villain like Lex fit in? “He is a lot of the things we know about the character,” offers Eisenberg. “What’s unusual about this character in this version is he looks a lot like me. It's a very modern take on this otherwise historic and iconic diameter. He has a, I would say, recognisably modern psychology, whether it's being used to charm or destroy, and has a kind of... it’s difficult to phrase it.”
Cue some very Eisenbergian bumbling and deliberation. “He doesn't sound like this, by the way,” he chuckles. With minimal green-screen, lots of dialogue and scenes with Holly Hunter, he says the experience “felt more similar to a Jane Campion movie than it did to a superhero movie.”
Even after getting himself into character (including an eventual head shave in keeping with the classic look), Eisenberg still found it odd being on the opposite side to the heroes. “It’s strange acting with people like Ben Affleck, having to condescend to someone like him,” he laughs. “Off set, you're thinking of this person in reverential terms, and then on set I condescend him, really quite nasty…”
But Batman and Lex Luthor aren't the only significant additions to the line-up since Man Of Steel. In fact, there’s another new character whose inclusion is at last as historically important as the clash between Superman and Batman. BVS:DOJ will mark the first time DC’s (and the world’s) most famous female superhero, Wonder Woman, will appear in a live-action feature (Avengers Assemble’s Cobie Smulders got to voice a minifigure Wander Woman in The LEGO Movie last year). Israeli am Gal Gadot — currently best know for a supporting turn in the Fast&Furious franchise — won the coveted role after a global search was narrowed down to a pool of five actresses, who then did a chemistry test with Ben Affleck. “I think it was a couple things," says Deborah Snyder on how Gadot eventually landed the part. “She was amazing in the scene. There was a real connection. Just magical. That’s a quality that’s inexplicable. She also just had the drive. We felt she would hang in there with us.”
After months of top-secret auditions (she went into the earliest auditions blind), Gadot beams when she talks about playing the character. “Even in my very best dreams, I could never dream about getting the role of Wonder Woman,” she smiles. With pressure on filmmakers and studios to deliver powerful female characters to stand up in the male-dominated superhero world, there is a lot riding on this portrayal. “It feels like there’s a responsibility just because there’s a lot of expectation,” says Gadot. “But it feels great. I really feel like I'm in the best hands.” According to Zack Snyder. “[Gadot's] confidence is the thing I was most attracted to. Her kindness and her confidence, kind of as a combination. It’s what you’d expect Wonder Woman to have.”
If plot specifics on Batman and Superman are on lockdown, then details on Wonder Woman might as well have been excised to the Phantom Zone. No one, from director to producers and cast, will be pressed on quite how Wonder Woman (AKA Diana Prince), will fit into the story. Although expect her presence to have a big impact.
“That I think is an interesting story point,” says Snyder. “I don’t think it's time to ruin that yet. But I will say that they share a mutual interest. They — all three of them — are in a weird way looking for a similar thing. They’re on the same track.” You suspect that Snyder and co realise that they don’t need to say much to attract attention: putting Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the big screen together is the kind of history-making event that demands a ringside seat. Superman's been around since 1938, with Batman arriving the following year; Wonder Woman debuted in 1941. By comparison, most of Marvel's big guns were introduced by Stan Lee during the '60s. This has been a long time coming. Even the costume fitting was epic. “There was actually a moment in the costume test where there was Batman, Superman, and we were testing the Wonder Woman costume at the same time,” says Snyder. “They were all standing there. I was like, ‘Oh my lord, this is crazy.’ It’s crazy enough just to see the two of those guys together. Once you see the trinity...”
Cavill remembers the moment well. “When you stand there, you realise, ‘Oh wow, this is history right here. It’s really history — comic-book history.’ And when you see the photo, that’s when you go, “OK, cool, right. I get why people were standing there agog during the photoshoot.” With so much at stake regarding Wonder Woman's portrayal, emotions were running high... “The first day that she was in costume on the set and she came out, I literally got teared up,” reveals Deborah Snyder. “It didn't really hit me to how historical the moment was, because she's not been on the big screen ever. She's 75 years old next year.”
As the subtitle suggests. Dawn Of Justice will just be the start of Warner Bros ‘Expanded DC Justice League Universe’ (or ‘the sandbox’, as Roven calls it). Next up will be megavillain merger Suicide Squad — featuring the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, et al — in August 2016, but the following entry into production is the Wonder Woman solo film, another little bit of history in the making. It makes sense that she’d have the next standalone movie, as — according to Snyder — her role in the film is linked to the future of the Justice League. “She’s able to bring her story as the tease of more to come,” he says. “I think once you’ve seen this movie, you’ll realise why they immediately wanted to go and make her own standalone movie, because [Gal]’s just incredible,” adds Affleck.
Filming on Wonder Woman is set to begin in London next month, with Monster’s Patty Jenkins at the helm. It’s one of eight films in development in the extended universe, including solo outings for Aquaman and the Flash, and a two-part Justice League movie. The expansion is overseen by a brain trust comprising Zack and Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, screenwriter Chris Terrio, DC’s Chief Creative Office Geoff Johns and other advisors. It's unsurprisingly consuming the Snyders' lives right now. Regardless, their spirits are indefatigable when it comes to the world building. “I’m happy to take a load off!” Zack chuckles about sharing the characters with other directors (Jenkins is in charge of Wonder Woman, while James Wan will helm Aquaman). “You can’t really be upset about it or Tired,” he adds. “It’s a crazy, amazing job to have to worry about the Flash or Wonder Woman, or what Cyborg’s going to do in this scene. It’s not a thing anyone can complain about...”