What we currently know about Batman Vs Superman

Feature James Peaty 3 Jan 2014 - 07:50

With Batman Vs Superman still 18 months away, the film's details are only just beginning to come to light. James takes a closer look...

With the sequel to Warner Brothers’ Superman reboot Man Of Steel mere weeks away from entering principal photography, further details of the project have started to leak out, giving us a fuller picture of what’s been going on behind the scenes of the project and what we’re likely to see on-screen come July 2015.

Join us, then, as we delve a little deeper into the forthcoming Batman Vs Superman, to look at the starry line-up who have either confirmed or rumoured to be playing its heroes and villains, and whether the success of the film could spawn a wave of spin-off DC Universe movies.

NOLAN NO MORE

Since the film’s announcement at the San Diego Comic-Con back in July, it’s become increasingly clear that any connection director-producer Christopher Nolan may have retained with the expanding cinematic DC Universe will be in name only. But it wasn’t always like this.

Back in 2010, when the Man Of Steel project was first mooted, such an idea was unthinkable with the studio keen to push the filmmaker’s involvement as producer and co-writer at every available opportunity.

However, in Hollywood terms, three years is close to an eternity, and after Man Of Steel’s strong $662 million worldwide box-office haul the Nolan connection has been deemed inessential to the future success of the franchise.

Despite the effusive – yet in retrospect, somewhat evasive – tone of July’s initial press release, Nolan and wife/fellow producer Emma Thomas have been conspicuous by their absence from any subsequent statements relating to the film. 

While Nolan is undoubtedly busy shooting his upcoming science-fiction movie, Interstellar, there remains a lingering suspicion that his distance from the project may have something to do with the studio’s rather brutal public ousting of former studio head – and early Nolan champion – Jeff Robinov.

Whether this seeming distance is temporary or if it signals a longer term loosening of the ties between the studio and its most successful director remains to be seen. However, one thing does seem certain: Nolan’s future plans clearly don’t contain any serious future involvement with the icons of DC Comics.

TO THE ZACK CAVE

Despite coming onto Man Of Steel off the back of a trio of significant box-office disappointments, director Zack Snyder is clearly now a man on the up-and-up. While his influence on the development of Man Of Steel was limited to shaping a pre-existing script, this time out Snyder is right at the heart of the project, co-authoring the story with screenwriter David S Goyer and having a significant say over how the broader DC Universe will be brought to life.

Unlike Chris Nolan, Snyder is someone very much immersed in comic books and fantasy material, and is a self-declared fan of the work of artists such as Frank Miller, Jim Lee and Frank Frazetta. This influence was especially clear when it came to the visualisation of the world of Krypton in Man Of Steel, as well as the costuming of Superman himself, which had clear nods to those artists in its muscularity and tone.

Working with his regular costume designer Michael Wilkinson once again, the experience of the first MOS film, coupled with costuming an entire universe of characters for his visually sumptuous Watchmen adaptation, will no doubt stand Snyder in good stead not only for the tricky task of translating Wonder Woman to the big screen, but also reimagining Batman’s iconic threads.

Early word claims that Snyder and his team have gone in a direction that eschews the default black, rubberised body armour, which has been the standard setting for the various movie Bat-suits since its maiden big-screen appearance back in 1989. Speaking on a recent podcast, director and long time Bat-fan Kevin Smith claimed to have been shown a picture of the new Bat-suit, which he said clearly evoked the work of DC co-publisher Lee.

Never exactly understated in his aesthetic choices, Snyder’s visual style was arguably the biggest success story of Man Of Steel, so it’s undoubtedly the case that – whatever its potential narrative shortcomings – this sequel will showcase the DC characters and their world in similarly striking fashion.

THE CAST TAKES SHAPE

In amongst all the talk of Ben Affleck’s casting, it seems to have been forgotten that this is still ostensibly a Superman movie. As a result, confirmed to return alongside Henry Cavill will be Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White, and Diane Lane as Superman’s adopted mother Martha Kent is also slated to reappear.

In addition to these returnees and the aforementioned Affleck, it’s also been confirmed that Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been charged with bringing Wonder Woman to life for her first ever big screen appearance. 

Less clear is whether any supporting players from either the Batman or Wonder Woman continuities will makes appearances. Certainly early rumours and industry chatter had pegged Timothy Dalton as a contender to play Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth, while Girls star Adam Driver has been publicly linked with the role of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Batman’s former sidekick.

As for the film’s villains, rumours have circulated that both Jason Momoa (Game Of Thrones) and Callan Mulvey (300: Rise Of An Empire) have been lined up to fill two as-yet-unannounced villain roles, which rumours have suggested could be either Metallo or Doomsday.

However, the most exciting rumour is the recent Variety story claiming that Snyder has offered the role of Lex Luthor to Joaquin Phoenix.

Certainly the appearance of Luthor has been teased since the first film, and more recently director Snyder hinted at the character's appearance during an online Q&A to promote the home video release of Man Of Steel.

While nothing is confirmed as yet, the thought of Phoenix – currently one of Hollywood’s finest character actors – going toe-to-toe with both the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight is a truly exciting prospect. Here’s hoping it comes to pass…

AND THEN THERE’S BEN…

Despite all the recent news and rumours, by far the biggest story surrounding this film is still the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. Seemingly chosen to play an older and more ‘seasoned’ version of DC’s most popular character, the choice of 42-year-old Affleck has not only set the media ablaze, but more importantly shifted the creative balance of power within the film.

With screenwriter David Goyer busy on several other projects, Chris Terrio, the writer of Affleck’s Oscar winning film Argo, has been hired to polish the script before it enters production. While the structure and plot of the film are no doubt already fixed, what Terrio brings is exactly the sort of awards-level sparkle that makes the film just that tiny bit more attractive to top-tier talent such as Phoenix.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Terrio is there because Affleck wants him to be, but this begs the question of how far ranging Affleck’s influence will be in shaping any future big screen appearances by the caped crusader. How heavily will Batman be featured in the mooted Justice League film? Will Affleck take over a potential solo Batman franchise? And how will his stint in the Batcave affect or dovetail around Affleck’s other filmmaking commitments as both an actor and a director?

IN CONCLUSION

It’s hard to imagine that Warner Bros’ aren’t ecstatic with the almost constant chatter about this movie, as the studio has spent more than a decade struggling to generate interest in their various mooted DCU projects. However, by using their two biggest assets, allied to a strong creative team and some bold, headline grabbing choices, they’ve finally gotten the attention they craved, and given themselves a real shot at unlocking the vast potential of the broader DC Comics library on the silver screen.

However, we shouldn’t be complacent about the success of the project and, despite the huge commercial potential the film undoubtedly has, the biggest problem it faces is one of coming to the part just a little too late.

Superman has had two different big screen incarnations since 2006, the acclaimed Nolan Batman series is still fresh in audiences' minds, and that’s before we even consider the onslaught of other superhero movies that Marvel and others have unleashed over the past five years.

No less a figure than David S Goyer voiced his own fears at a recent BAFTA lecture when he said: “….there’s definitely a self fulfilling prophecy that seems to be playing itself out in Hollywood, a sense of the snake eating its own tail. My own Batman film was a reboot from one that had been released eight years prior, and I’ve just written another script in which we’re rebooting Batman yet again, only a few years after The Dark Knight."

It’d take a brave man to bet against Batman Vs Superman (or whatever it ends up being called) becoming a huge success, but there are definite questions marks in the air. Is Henry Cavill’s Superman a defined enough screen presence with only one film under his belt? Will audiences ever really buy Ben Affleck as Batman? And have the studio waited far too long to establish the DC brand as a true rival to the Marvel juggernaut?

In roughly eighteen months we’ll know the answer.

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I was initially excited, like everyone, but the more I've learned the more I think this film won't work. Cast your mind back to that announcement: Superman vs Batman, as inspired from the iconic scene in Dark Knight Returns. Awesome! But then they started piling on extra characters, which I deeply suspect to be studio demands as they try to dig out their own Avengers type movie. "Oh, let's stick Wonder Woman in there, and at least thirty villains". I don't have a problem with Affleck (never have) but I do have a huge problem with the way it's growing from a dramatic confrontation between two brilliant characters to an all-out DC party movie.

I just hope its less dreary than recent DC cinematic efforts, superhero films should be fun.

Well, we have the Marvel films for fun. We have also had the fun Superman films already and the fun Batman films. Look how Batman and Robin turned out trying to be too fun. Why do we need more of the same?

I love how they have taken this (and TDK trilogy) in a new and more 'mature' direction.

P.S I'm not having a go at you or anything, just a healthy debate!

The credits will start to roll, the words "A Zack Snyder Film" will appear and then I'll promptly lose interest.

I agree, it does seem to be snowballing a bit. But it's still just Superman and Batman and so far only one villain has been mentioned I think, Lex Luthor?

We don't really know what Wonder Woman's role will be. We may not even see her as 'Wonder Woman' at all. They may just introduce her as Diana Prince? Or at least, that's all I hope they will do!

I still feel we need to see more of Clarke Kent before we see Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince. We only got a 30-40 second glimpse of him donning his glasses at the Daily Planet.

Hmm, if they are going for the Jim Lee Batsuit Affleck is going to have do some serious gym time!

No villians have even been confirmed yet. Lol how can you not be excited for a movie featuring the two biggest super heros of all time, for the first time ever. Wait until a trailer comes out don't listen to all these false rumors.

So if you know you're going to lose interest, then why even sit down to watch it. Pathetically stupid statement.

Man, with all the characters and actors involved, this is either going to be a huge catastrophe or the best superhero film in years. I hope its the latter...

I just don't trust it. Snyder (IMHO) isn't a very good director, Man Of Steel was nowhere near as good as people said it was and this all seems way too rushed.
Still, it's way to early to be either hating on it or becoming an overly passionate fanboy. I think it'll be safer to lower my expectations for this, though.

**SPOILER ALERT**I liked MoS. Except for Kevin Costner's all dads go to heaven sacrifice. I have to watch it again though because of my kids and my friend's kids runnin around, but what i missed was mostly really strong people punching each other around. And to those that didn't like Zod's exit, hey, superman didn't like it either. He did what was necessary. I give it 4 stars.

My hopes: Wonder Woman + Batman both come to Clark like 'mate, keep it on the down-low, okay? we've been doing this in the shadows for yonks and we don't need your interference.' preferably both before and after a large fight between them.

As long as Warner Bros. is kicking Disney's butt (which they currently are) with movies like "Gravity" and their other non-DC titles, they'll never take the question of whether they can compete with Marvel seriously. And why should they? They're not competing with Marvel. And even if they do successfully develop their DC cinematic universe, they know it's only a matter of time before Star Wars starts paying off for Disney, which means even more non-DC projects for WB to keep up the pace. We'll see a Justice League movie, and a Wonder Woman movie, and a new Batman movie, and probably all the others; but not because WB cares about whether they get made or not.

I know this won't be a popular opinion but I'm suddenly more optimistic about this if Nolan really isn't involved in any significant way. Don't get me wrong, his Batman films were very good (well, the first two were anyway) but he's never struck me as someone who 'gets' superhero films. His Batman never had to deal with that side of things, all three films were far more crime capers than anything else. Which can work well for Bats but not so much when you start throwing Superman, Wonder Woman etc in the mix.

Snyder has had hits and misses in his career but he does get comic book films. Personally I really hope he stops using that shaky cam stuff, actually felt sick after the first hour or so of Man of Steel because of it, but that's just my opinion of course. As much as the Internet might hate him I'm convinced that Affleck is a godsend for DC. Regardless of how his performance turns out (and there's no reason he can't do a good job) he's an accomplished director and writer who is passionate about the material. He's clearly got some level of influence over the project and hopefully Snyder takes full advantage of that.

I know I've been negative on this film in the past and I've still got huge concerns (almost entirely on the script / world building side although I'll admit to being skeptical about Gal Gadot). But that doesn't mean I *want* it to fail, quite the opposite in fact. I'd love to see DC characters on the big screen and done right, fingers crossed it all works out in the end.

As for what we "know" about the movie, this is a pretty good roundup, but you forgot to include what the actors themselves have said about their roles. Gal Gadot, for example, last week said she's been doing all sorts of martial arts training, including work with swords. That suggests, even more than Snyder's previous costuming prowess, we can expect Wonder Woman to wear a serious Amazonian warrior-princess costume; oh, and to kick some serious butt in it.

We can also expect her role to be fairly limited. Everyone seems to be concerned there will be too many characters in this film, but that's just because they've gotten used to the "Marvel Method". I've already written on my own site about how DC can avoid using the Marvel Method and Critical Character Mass at the same time, but to sum up, David Goyer gave everyone the distinct impression this movie would be about BvS, not JL. This is the perfect way to let Superman grow as a character and (re)introduce Batman, a job which really does not need to be done anyway, except to get people used to Affleck in the role. The next step is to let the JL coalesce around them, as they did in the DCAU. You get a couple of heroes doing that in MoS2, like the Flash and WW, making it clear that Superman is the center of the team, and then they can officially form in JL, which WILL give WW and the others time for their own solo movies. (If you think that "sum up" wasn't that "sum", then you should see the full article I wrote.)

We know, moreover, that it will likely go in this direction since Affleck, Snyder, and others have said this will feature an "older, more experienced" Batman, one who can play mentor to the Man of Steel. Superman has a long way to go before he can lead a team, especially with his controversial confrontation with Zod still fresh in his memory. He needs Batman, ironically, to help him be more...heroic. That should be the theme of MoS2, one that would make it the perfect bridge between MoS and JL.

Why should they? Because Gravity won't sell toys. There's no merchandise potential off the back of it at all. Which is fine for a film on its own merits but when they see Marvel managing Billion Dollar Box Office with their stable of characters when some of their crown jewels aren't even with the company... that hurts.

And they do have a problem here. Man of Steel may have made $662m worldwide but in the same year Thor: The Dark World did $630m with all of the difference and more coming at the US box office. And Thor was only in release for 55 days compared to MoS at 98. Let's not forget Iron Man 3 bringing in $1,215m albeit on an even longer run. In 2012 Marvel had merchandising revenue of $6,000m... and while some of that will be off the back of comics and other media the bulk will be movie driven. Of course that's revenue not profit but it's a huge pot of money that WB will be eager to get on their own bottom line.

It's more than that though... WB owns DC and the longer they fail to deliver good movies for their characters the more likely it becomes that the general public will become familiar only with the Marvel stables. Batman and Superman are probably okay on that front, they're big enough pop culture icons to survive being out of the public eye for a long time even if the last film was Batman and Robin. But the rest risk being heavily devalued not just in movies but in all media if they don't get this right.

I'm pretty sure Disney has to split the merchandising with Marvel, just as WB has to split with DC. You know what WB doesn't have to split? The merchandise for movies like "The Hobbit", "Harry Potter", and other franchises the studio "acquires". Besides, they'll never be able to compete with Disney on the merchandising front, not with dozens of cartoon franchises and now Star Wars in their pocket. WB will always be looking for "other revenues". They don't share the focus on DC that Marvel has on...well, itself.

But they have plenty of time for that, anyway. People treat the competition between the Marvel and DC movie universes as if it were a race. It's not; nor is it a prizefight, a game, or anything else that has a time limit attached. WB knows better than anyone that they can take their time developing their DC properties because, well, they HAVE. Since the seventies, they've been taking their time with both Superman AND Batman movies, and now, about 35 years after Christopher Reeve first appeared, they're finally making a movie with both of them on the screen at the same time. What was the penalty for waiting so long? There wasn't one. And that's why it doesn't matter (to WB) how quickly they get a Justice League movie finished, or if they get one finished at all.

The only reason they are throwing every Tom, Dick and Harry in AND releasing it in 2015 is they fear getting a pasting at the Box Office by Age of Ultron.
Marvel should have nothing to fear IMO. Whilst Zack Snyder is at the helm, Superman will never properly take off.

Mad stupid ass scramble to catch up to Avengers! Crow barring every other DC character into this will turn this movie into Watchmen! Squishy characters like Batman will just hinder the cave-in-the-backside-of-your-skull-with-a-building action!
They should just refocus this abt to be clusterfuck of a movie.

Why Gal Gadot? some old dude just copped her butt in a Vin diesel movie and this qualifies her for portraying WW?

As much as I would LOVE to hear Ben Afleck deliver that line, I can't see it happening.

Personally speaking, I reckon that 'Diana Prince' will approach Superman at some point and effectively 'come out' as a Superhero with actual super powers. I don't even think we will see her as Wonder Woman. Of course, that is a massive speculation on my part!

If she has been knocking around for ages, why was she not in Man of Steel and why was Jonathan Kent so hell bent on keeping Clarke a secret if someone else was already around with super powers?

They have cast a very young looking actress, I think we will see the beginnings of her character, not be playing catch up.

Batman we can see when he's old as he is just a vigilante with no powers what so ever, so it's more plausible.

Wow, if only I had given this much time, thought and effort when I was in school...

Eff up.

I'm excited for it. I don't understand why people are acting like WB are playing it "safe," again, no they aren't, Batman and Superman represent the whole idea of superheroes and superheroes on film (since they were first ones to do it), of course its a risk, you've got legacies and expectations. Add Wonder Woman and its even bigger.

I actually don't mind Snyder, he's purely a comic book geek yet people fail to see that when they worship Wheldon. Seriously he like a kid in a candy store when he talks about these characters. And are WB/DC competing against Marvel, no I think they're bettering themselves since they just came of The Dark Knight Trilogy and want to prove that they can still make films like that but with new fresh eyes.

And Ben Affleck is probably the best thing to happen to this project.

That's so sexist! My only gripe is her lack of Bristols.

Nolan wasn't even really involved with Man of Steel. He brought Goyer's idea to WB, they begged him to direct it, and he went on to be a "producer", so that WB can use his name in the trailers and purposely mislead people as to who is directing the film. Goyer has interesting ideas as to how to update comics, but his dialogue is poor and his stories are thematically shallow, combined with Snyder's visually enthralling, but cold, lifeless, humourless directing...and you get what you get.

I'm not gushing on Whedon either. He's a hack imho. The shitty thing is every marvel studios movie will have to play up to / dovetail each new Avengers movie bec of the success of the first one. The cracks in the formula are starting to show...

gud thing Goyer did not direct!

blame the director! she's also equally "impressive" in the borefest that was Knight and Day!

It's almost like I'm being facetious to deliberately wind you up, huh?

Man of Steel : Pathetically Stupid Movie.

What villains have been confirmed? None.
It's not an all out DC Party movie because otherwise they would have gone ahead with the Justice League instead of pushing it back from 2015 to 2017.
This movie is about the initial conflict between the heroes and how they must learn to work together and form the DC's Trinity (which will be the foundation of the Justice League) to face a bigger threat (Lex and some other villain).

Bats and Superman will still have a fight but it wont dominate the entire movie which I had already assumed from the start.
But I am sure there will be loads of cameos.

Fair play. Happy to see his batman. Also be very happy if he then directs himself in a stand alone bats film.

Definitely agree with you, so sick of all this hate coming from people about his casting.
He has come along way since daredevil so can everyone just relax and give the guy a chance. If he fails, which I bet he wont, then criticize him.

Closely followed by Iron Man vs Superman vs Batman, with a sequel in pre-production simply called DC Vs Marvel.

If you keep watching this crap they'll keep churning them out.

You have to remember that people enjoy bitching and moaning.

Was that Superman pun intended? Hehehe

Such whining, commenters. As if any opinion held will deter you from seeing this movie. Who's betting money on "Hope" and "Fear" headered one-sheets?

I don't think having issues with a bad film and its sequel that has had no encouraging news about (beyond Goyer's script being rewritten) to be bitching and moaning. Man of Steel basically made Superman the Team America of superheroes and either badly reinterpreted its characters (Pa Kent) or just skipped giving them any personality or character at all (anyone working for the Daily Planet including Lois). If it wasn't for the S on the chest, I wouldn't have known Superman was in it because I certainly didn't recognise him anywhere. That's not a problem I have with the cast, I think they did the best they could with what they were given (and I don't have issues with the casting for the sequel). I think it's hard to argue that while Zack Snyder can put a decent image together (although shaky cam to add grit and realism to a character that has not business being gritty was a mistake) he can't really tell a decent story or present intriguing characters on screen. Pair him up with a writer as bad as David Goyer and you're just asking for trouble.

David Goyer did a good job consulting and coming up with story ideas on the Batman pics, but if he'd been responsible for writing the script they'd all have been as bad, or worse, than Dark Knight Rises. As soon as they announced Batman with Dark Knight Returns dialogue for this film I was worried. The conflict between Superman and Batman in Dark Knight Returns is based on a relationship that has existed for years. You can't suddenly just jump in and expect them to have that, especially when your Superman is more a callous badass than Batman. Maybe they won't go that way and it will be amazing, but after Man of Steel, I just don't feel comfortable giving Warner Bros money to make films of these characters.

My only wish is that the Batsuit has the caoe from the DC Animated universe and that Batmans' cowl has the white eyes. No eye shadow goddamnit

Whoever started this ridiculous association between Nightwing and Adam Driver seriously needs to read some Titans/Nightwing comics. Nothing against Driver as an actor, but as a die-hard Nightwing fan, that casting would completely ruin this movie for me.

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