The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!
WHO WILL WIN?
Batman and Superman. Gotham and Metropolis. Lex Luthor, Doomsday and—for the first time ever on the big screen—Wonder Woman. With its stellar lineup of heroes and villains and bigger and better battles with even more at stake than the destruction of the Earth, Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is an epic Super Hero journey like no other.
Pit the two greatest heroes in the world against each other and the unthinkable becomes inevitable in the form of a truly seismic clash: Batman, the underground vigilante, a knight in the darkness, and Superman, the unbeatable alien in the sky—who can possibly win such a war?
Nearly two years have passed since Metropolis suffered a battle unlike anything Earth has ever seen. Many lives were saved, but one man can’t forget those lost in the annihilation, and now Bruce Wayne lives with a simmering rage that has begun to boil over into a feeling of powerlessness, the kind that turns good men into vengeful warriors. Indeed, it’s the very stuff of nightmares that drives the Batman to leave his mark on the criminals of Gotham, even as he turns an eye toward the greater prize.
Director Zack Snyder states, “We felt an interesting way of beginning this story was to examine Superman from another perspective, Batman’s perspective. Bruce doesn’t know who Superman is; all he knows is what the public knows. He blames him for the lives lost in Metropolis, lives that he felt responsible for. His hatred has been building up inside, and now, all this time later, he’s finding reinforcement of those feelings in the media.”
For two years, Superman has soared to the rescue of countless victims around the globe and the world has praised his god-like abilities. But with unavoidable destruction in the wake of good deeds, the collateral damage from his efforts is finally causing many to question those who will only see what he can do, without debating whether or not he should. It’s a question he has even begun to ask himself, thanks to the machinations of one masterful mind hell-bent on his humiliation…and destruction.
“When we find Superman, he’s been dealing with everyday life as a Super Hero, but there’s a distinct shift happening in how his heroic efforts are viewed, thanks to the unintended consequences of those acts,” Snyder continues. “Every action has a reaction; one guy’s rescue leaves another in distress. We wanted to explore the reality of saving people and what intervening can really mean. The classic idea with Superman is that he’s a good guy trying to do the right thing and that he isn’t political, but in truth, in today’s world, it’s impossible not to be, no matter your intentions.”
Ben Affleck stars as Bruce Wayne/Batman, who has been following news of Superman closely since what came to be known as the Black Zero Event, which culminated with Superman’s catastrophic combat with General Zod. “I think the story really sets the stage nicely for understanding why Batman wants to fight Superman,” he says. “It’s logical to assume that they’d be friends since they’re both good guys, but this film takes a more nuanced view of how these characters might exist in the real world and what sort of complications might come about as a result of their abilities and actions.”
“Superman is beginning to face the exact challenges Jonathan Kent was worried about,” observes Henry Cavill, who reprises his dual roles as Clark Kent and the Man of Steel. “The world is filled with fear after being attacked by aliens and literally shaken to its very core. Despite having what they look to as a redeemer, the people need to direct their fear at something. In the meantime, Superman is still trying to do right by everyone and ignore the slings and arrows.”
But certain arrows will be harder to deflect than others, and if Bruce Wayne, as Batman, is intent upon acting out a revenge fantasy on Superman, how might one describe his fellow industrialist Lex Luthor’s reasons for undermining the “red cape”?
As screenwriter Chris Terrio observes, “Both Bruce and Lex are billionaires, both are orphans, and both are obsessed with Superman’s absolute power. They have, at a point, the same agenda: stop Superman at any cost. But Bruce’s motives are basically good, while Lex is pathological.”
All three men—Clark, Bruce and Lex—are products of what was bequeathed them by absent fathers or memories of fathers who are gone, another theme explored in the story. Each man is struggling in his own way: Bruce, who is older now than his father ever was; Clark, who is righting wrongs for a ghost; and Lex, whose relationship with his father was…less than idyllic.
“Lex Luthor has always been one of the great DC villains. And one of the most epic stories in the canon was when Batman and Superman squared off against each other,” offers producer Charles Roven. “As we sought an expansion of the universe with this film, we felt that bringing these characters together was natural. Metropolis needed rebuilding, Lex is the city’s major benefactor, and he and Bruce Wayne actually share similar business enterprises in the manufacturing and digital worlds.”
After what took place at the end of the previous film, it just might be plausible, the filmmakers posited, that Bruce and Lex would direct a common anger toward Superman.
Screenwriter David S. Goyer notes, “Super Hero movies tend to happen in a vacuum—epic damage happens and everyone just sort of goes back to what they were doing. In our view, it would really scar not just the city or the nation, but the world. It wasn’t intentional on Superman’s part, but a lot of people became fearful afterwards, and that’s the impetus that causes Bruce to become suspicious of him. Lex uses that wedge issue, that nascent mistrust brewing in the general public, to foment that.”
“We had left the Easter eggs in the previous film—the LexCorp truck on the street of Metropolis, the Wayne Industries satellite above,” Roven adds, “allowing us to go where we felt the story and characters would lead us.”
To convey Batman and Luthor into Superman’s newly established world in an organic way would require careful handling. “Everyone wants to see Batman and Superman in a film together, and everyone wants to see them fight,” says producer Deborah Snyder. “It’s a thrill for anyone who loves comics, and Zack is not only a director but a huge comics fan as well.”
With both Super Heroes—and Luthor, for that matter—appearing in comics for more than seven decades, there was a wealth of beloved source material to turn to for ideas. “We wanted to introduce a version of Batman that hasn’t been seen on screen before,” she continues. “One who’s been doing this a long time so he’s seasoned, but perhaps a little too long, so he’s also jaded. If you’re constantly fighting crime in the way Batman does, over time how does that affect your body? How does it affect you emotionally?”
Similarly, to carry Lex Luthor into 2016, Terrio recalls asking himself, “What would a capitalist gone mad look like today?” Looking for real-world inspiration from many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, he found an environment that “often cultivates eccentricity as a virtue and rewards outside-the-box innovation.” Adding those qualities to a damaged psyche, he re-imagined Lex as “a younger, brilliant, post-modern villain aware of his own villainy who has chosen to use his wealth and power to bring down one whose own power appears limitless.”
The filmmakers not only brought the figurative worlds of Batman and Superman together for the first time on film, but their physical worlds, too. Of course, along with Batman comes the Batcave; super-cool, super-stealth vehicles, the Batmobile and the Batwing; and his cache of self-forged weaponry. Geographically, Gotham City and Metropolis were re-envisioned as sister cities-cum-cross-town rivals, with only a minor body of water between them, allowing for action to take place on both heroes’ turfs. But it’s a non-resident of either locale—one who comes with her own unique set of tools—who drops in to make an unforgettable impression on both heroes: Wonder Woman.
“Once we had Batman in the story, all I could think was, ‘Is it crazy to bring Wonder Woman in, too?’” Zack Snyder recalls. “For me, as a longtime fan, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the comic book trinity, and I knew movie audiences have been dying for Wonder Woman. I thought it would be amazing to include her as a way to introduce the character into this world.”
Though the Amazon warrior’s appearance is brief, her timing is impeccable, and she definitely intrigues both men. Gal Gadot undertakes the role in the film, joining a powerful cadre of actresses in equally strong female roles: Amy Adams, reprising the role of journalist Lois Lane; Diane Lane returning as Martha Kent; and Holly Hunter as Senator Jane Finch, who goes toe-to-toe with both Superman and Lex Luthor.
Jesse Eisenberg infuses Luthor with a strangely manic aplomb while Jeremy Irons maintains composure—and minds Batman’s techno-gadgetry with ease—as Alfred, a cool counterpart to Bruce Wayne’s darkly obsessive nature. And Laurence Fishburne revisits the role of practical Daily Planet editor Perry White, who struggles to keep Lois Lane on track, and to keep track of Clark Kent.
In fact, despite Perry’s firm stance against it, Clark is chasing down a story across the bay in Gotham that involves the activities of Batman, unaware that the very man he’s seeking to expose is secretly on the hunt for him. With neither man willing to back down, and with Lex Luthor’s plans on a deadly course for Superman, can these two Super Heroes ever overcome their differences to confront an even greater threat?