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.
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. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder (Zack Snyder’s wife) are the film’s producers. Here is what several members of the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” team said when they gathered for a Los Angeles-area press conference for the movie.
Zack, you’ve made a lot of big-budget movies. Was making “Batman v. Superman” intimidating for you? What drew you into this movie?
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 percent. I think at the camera test when I was actually looking at Batman and Superman in their costumes then I realized, “Oh, sh*t! That’s going to happen.” Amazing and fun and an honor to deal with these icons. It’s great.
Henry and Ben, what went into working out your own characters’ identities and then pitting them against each other?
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.
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?
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 — I don’t want to give 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.
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.
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. At least I hoped after people had seen the movie, they would understand that I was more appropriate than they had originally feared.
Affleck: I wish I had heard you say that two days ago. I would have just Xeroxed it for all my answers. Very well said.
Gadot: I agree with him as well. Also, you can’t please them all. And, 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 (Zack), and protect the character and try to tell her story the best I can. I can only do my best.
Gal, can you talk about your audition process?
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? Literally, I think 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 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 part, and that was it. And here we are.
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 …
Fishburne: Is ridiculous.
Zack Snyder: That’s why we made the movie. It’s not only ridiculous but also once we committed to that ridiculous idea, it was then only we were like, “So 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 had taken root and existed as reality, it was then only I was really 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 thing to see. 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 fact that the Justice League and the DC universe now could evolve from this. It’s a difficult notion especially at 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 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 kind of 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.
Charles, 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 Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige?
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.
Gadot: He’s hands-on. We’re shooting “Wonder Woman,” and he’s hands-on.
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?
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 direct a Batman movie?
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 emboldened 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?
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?
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?
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 specifically for you into the DC universe?
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?
Lane: Well, I didn’t think the stakes could higher and they suddenly we find out that we can. It’s definitely thrilling to witness the film and the final product and see my thread in the tapestry and how it reverberates throughout the story. Also, selfishly, it was very lovely to, on 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 all together.
Laurence, what’s it like to portray a newspaper editor?
Fishburne: I don’t know anything about that. I just learned my lines and said them. I’m really more of a fan. I’m a comic-book reader and a collector, and have been since I was a kid. 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 “Wonder Woman” series growing up? What advice do you have for women out there who are actresses who are interested in doing films about comic-book superheroines?
Gadot: I was too young to watch the TV show. I was minus 5 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 4-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.” So 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.
Hunter: I love that you said “girls and boys.” I love that.
Zack, it’s a quite a scene in “Batman v Superman” 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 otherworldly 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.
Fishburne: I’ll tell you how fans will feel about it. 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 f*cking heartbreaking!
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.
Affleck: Although, I discovered Diane in an earlier movie [2006’s “Hollywoodland”) where Superman’s mom and I had a different kind of relationship. No offense, Henry!
Zack, why did you cast Tao Okamoto? For Ben and Jesse, how was it working with her?
Zack Snyder: The reason I cast her was because we had this character in the script. Honestly, 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 and joy to work with on set and just cool. Yeah, he’s great
Affleck: She’s great and fun and smart and a great actress. We had a good time.
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 Congress, I saw her across the room and she looked marvelous.
Eisenberg: I loved working with her. I think we make an unintentionally comedic pair. She plays my assistant, although from an aesthetic perspective we should switch places. She has an unusual and great sense of humor which you wouldn’t expect, because you wouldn’t think that you would need to.
Amy, you’re 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?
Adams: You never really get used to it. The scale of it is always really impressive. Every time 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 bring these relationships established over the course of working together and then doing stuff like this and getting to use that in a film. We grow as the characters grow and so it’s been a real joy in getting to come back with all these lovely folks again and all of the new ones that I’m absolutely in love with.
Zack Snyder: She just have dial up the moxie.
Adams: I just have to dial down the moxie.
Ben, what was your immediate reaction 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 God/human 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 questions is when someone says, “Batman v Superman? How is this possible?” We made a two-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.
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 I thought, “This guy is certainly on the right track.”
When you first heard it, did you think it was a crazy idea?
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 grey 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 mined yet for films.
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.
For more info: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” website