The highly anticipated “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” pits one superhero against another in an epic battle. Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
Directed by Zack Snyder, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” stars Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. Here is what several members of the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” team said when they gathered for a panel at 2015 Comic-Con International in San Diego.
For people who aren’t familiar with DC Comics characters, did Batman and Superman ever really fight each other in the comics? Was this an idea that you created for the movie?
Snyder: If you want to talk about the story itself or about the particulars of this movie, it’s definitely based on ideas that we had in a room, talking about what would be cool to see. Now, the idea of Batman fighting Superman is a thing that happens all the time in the comic books. There’s been a lot of talk about my love for a particular comic book — “The Dark Knight Returns” — a comic book that I love. I definitely homage a lot in the movie, as a way of saying to Frank Miller, “You’re a genius, and I think that book is genius.” But the story itself is not that story.
The story itself is something that we came up with on our own. Chris Terrio, who is the amazing writer of the screenplay, is a genius. He worked with Ben [Affleck] on “Argo,” and did an amazing job. That movie is great. He and I just talked about, “How do you make this make sense? What is the ‘why’ of Batman fighting Superman?” We had done stuff in “Man of Steel” that allowed us to create a conflict that really makes sense for this movie is about — and also launch you toward maybe bigger conflicts with maybe with other superheroes. Who knows? I don’t. Well, I do know.
How did you merge the universes of Gotham and Metropolis? What rules did you follow, and what rules did you break?
Snyder: The big rule that we broke was we put Gotham and Metropolis right next to each other. I don’t know if that appeared ever anywhere, somewhere. If you dig deep enough, you can find a justification for just about everything. But it made sense to us and worked for our story that they were kind of “sister cities” across a big bay. It’s like Oakland and San Francisco.
Most of the actors on the panel are playing characters that have been played before by other actors. What do you stay true to in the canon, and what do you invent? Was it challenging for you?
Irons: Michael Caine was pretty amazing as Alfred, so I had big shoes to sit in, but he’s a little different, my Alfred. So I think there are surprises in store. I carried along myself on the explosions around me and the world around me. I tried to make him happy and tried to make him safe and tried to make him grow up a little.
Gadot: For me, with Wonder Woman, I feel like I’ve been given such a huge opportunity to show the strong, beautiful side of women, finally. Wonder Woman has all the strength of a superhero, but at the same time, she’s very sophisticated, loving and has a lot of emotional intelligence. So for me, I feel very, very privileged as the one who is going to bring her back to life. I can’t wait to celebrate this character, and I hop you all enjoy it.
Eisenberg: My character has obviously been in other movies, and there’s always a campy element to the character, but in answer to your question, I think there’s an emotional groundedness to this version of it. I attribute it to the writer Chris Terrio, who is such a phenomenal writer, and gives every character in this movie a real emotional core, even though the situations are heightened and theatrical.
Adams: I wanted to be Lois Lane since I was 5 years old. I watched I think it was “Superman II” on replay over and over and over. But when the opportunity rose, I was nervous. I wanted to make you guys all happy with Lois, but at the same time I was willing and open to bringing a very modern take on her and embrace this really strong woman. It’s this thing with women, where we have this emotional intelligence and vulnerability that I thought was really beautiful that Zack lets me bring to Lois.
Cavill: For me, Christopher Reeve obviously did such a fantastic job, it was dangerous for me to go anywhere near that. So I left that to its own thing. With Zack on “Man of Steel,” I built the character as much as I could, drawing from the canon. I just tried to stay true to the character that we ran with in “Man of Steel.”
Affleck: I think if I thought too hard about the actors who’ve played this part before, I couldn’t have taken the job. [Michael Keaton], Val Kilmer, George Clooney and the great Christian Bale. I talked to Zack about it and said, “Are you sure?” He said, “I have this vision. I have this idea for the guy, and you’re perfect for it.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “He’s at the end of his rope. He’s older, he’s a burnout.” I appreciate that.
The truth is that he took me through the process of creating this character that I quite almost didn’t see. At the end of it, I was even astonished to look at it and go, “That’s exactly what you pitched me, and I wasn’t even I was doing it.”
I had this really weird experience before we started doing the movie, I was getting my kid a Halloween costume. My son is really into Batman, wisely. We went to a costume store in Los Angeles, and it was pretty empty. I was in the aisle, and I hear this: “Oy!” I turn around, and it’s Christian Bale, and he’s the sweetest guy in the world.
And here we are, standing in the Batman costume row. And I said, “Look, man, you’re the best. What do you think? You got any tips.” And he said, “Make sure you can piss in that suit.”
Snyder: We put a zipper on it. Henry, we put a zipper on your suit retroactively?
Cavill: This time.
Snyder: We don’t think of these things. How long are you going to be in it?
Cavill: Just 15 hours. I can hold it.
Snyder: Let me just say that Holly has an original part in the film. I’ve been a giant fan of Holly’s forever. When we were writing the script, I was like, “We need to write a part for Holly Hunter to play in this movie. I don’t care what the ‘f’ it is.” It turns out it’s a super-important part. She’s amazing.
Batman is human. Superman is a god. But Batman is like mega-Batman in this movie, as if he’s augmented. Is this really going to be a fair fight?
Snyder: In truth, it’s a self-preservation concept, not to give anything away. It’s more like enhancing him than protecting him, buying his time, if you will. He’s getting pummeled by a piñata. The rest you have to see, because it’s complicated.
“Batman v Superman” seems to pose a lot of philosophical questions. Did anything you worked through change the way you look at life?
Cavill: It’s kind of tough for me to say. I play a god, so I’m going to step away from this one.
Affleck: Zack and Chris put together some really interesting ideas of Metropolis being a big, successful city, and Gotham City being a place where a lot more downtrodden people live. There’s a ferry where people who work in Metropolis take from Gotham City. And the whole idea of wealth and power engenders fear. There were ideas that were a little too smart for me to understand that the movie was trafficking in. It made it feel real to me and smart and I was even more proud to be a part of it.
Were there any moments in making this movie that you got really excited about how much the audience would be blown away by what you were creating?
Snyder: The truth is, when you’re shooting a movie, there are moments. When we were doing a little photo shoot, and everyone was getting their costumes together. It was Wonder Woman and Superman and Batman, and they’re all standing together. It’s like, “Oh my lord! That’s crazy. OK.” For me, it actually happens long before that, when we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do and drawing and get ideas for different images we’re trying to create.
Normally — this is going to sound really weird — I’m by myself when that’s happening. But there is a moment, like if you do a doodle, it’s like, “Oh my God, I know that. I want to see that. Where are the cameras? Where is everybody? Come on, let’s go shoot this.” So that’s really, for me, the moment. By the time I’m filming, I’ve seen the costume a thousand times.
Affleck: First of all I just want to say that Christian Bale was also buying his son a [Halloween] suit. He just doesn’t hang out [at costume shops]. But, for me, you look at the cast, and you look at the script, and that’s so much of what’s there. And I thought, “You can only tweak a certain amount past that, because you’ve almost kind of made the movie.”
But I remember a day where about two weeks in it, where I read a scene, and I came in and I came in and watched it. And I thought, “Yeah, we should probably shoot it this way or that way.” And Zack set the shot up so that it was one shot, and he put it on a crane, and he came around, and he covered everyone’s dialogue, and it encompassed the scope of what we wanted to do. And I was like, “F*ck it! I would never do that!” I remember thinking that we were in good hands.
For more info: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” website