An epic Super Hero journey like no other.
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?
The biggest icons in comic book history come together on the big screen in a single, coherent world where each of their back stories and different adventures can now create a tapestry within the richness of the DC universe.
Snyder Snyder directed from a screenplay written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, based on characters from DC Comics, including Batman, created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger, and Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, starring Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo) as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero 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. And with Batman and Superman at war with each other, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it has ever known before. 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.
To examine Superman from another perspective, Batman’s perspective.
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.
To bring Batman organically into the story, we learn of Bruce Wayne’s own experience during the Black Zero Event in Metropolis, and how he has begun to take a proactive approach toward destroying what he now perceives as the enemy. This unexpected turn of events and view of the Bruce Wayne and Batman characters were key factors in drawing Ben Affleck to the role.
“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.”
“When I was a kid, I was a fan of the character, particularly Frank Miller’s Dark Knight,” Affleck states. “While ours isn’t the same story, what interested me about playing our version of him was that, on one hand, he was very much in keeping with the Batman we recognize, but he had evolved into a bit older, more world-weary slugger nearing the end of his tether, and that was really intriguing to me. Superman’s actions cause a rage in Bruce Wayne that is almost irrational, and that desperate anger and hatred was a fascinating place to build from.”
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/ Man of Steel
“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.”
Like Affleck, Cavill is conscious of the worldwide affection for his character and the responsibility that goes along with it. “Superman genuinely matters to a lot of people,” he states. “The more people I’ve met since playing him, the more I’ve realized that the decisions we make in telling his story now and in the future must take into consideration their care and love for the character.”
“I think that these characters and stories are not only highly entertaining, but they provide a terrific example of what to do or not do, how to behave or not behave, and enable us to compare ourselves and our actions against them,” Cavill continues. “In the last film, the world was attacked by aliens and nearly destroyed. That event thrust Superman into the public eye, and since then he’s continued to try to do the right thing and get a closer connection to humanity, but he’s left questioning whether humans really want his help or not.”
Bringing the two worlds together
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.
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.”
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.
Developing the story.
In developing the story of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the question arose as to whether or not such a Superman can openly exist in 2016, or if he is purely a creation of a more innocent time. Can all that he stands for survive in a world as complicated as ours, with so many competing and conflicting agendas and alliances? With today’s all-access 24-hour news cycle, how does one fight for global truth and justice without fear of indictment?
The filmmakers determined that after the details of a seemingly successful rescue are somehow turned against him, the world, too, begins turning against Superman—his country’s government and media, and even a fellow crime fighter, leading the charge.
“When we started talking about what would be Superman’s challenge for this next movie, we knew we couldn’t find bigger physical stakes than the destruction of the Earth,” Zack Snyder says, “so we had to make the emotional stakes higher. And who is a more worthy foil for a philosophical war than Batman? Once you say that out loud, it’s hard to go back.”
“It’s no secret that Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is my favorite comic book and contains what I would consider the coolest Batman/Superman philosophical confrontation,” Snyder says.
With all the elements of the film in place, Zack Snyder finds, “The thing I’m most excited about is that we get an opportunity with ‘Batman v Superman’ to take the biggest icons in comic book history and bring them together on the big screen in a single, coherent world where each of their back stories and different adventures can now create a tapestry within the richness of the DC universe. When you say Batman, when you say Superman, when you say Wonder Woman, these are names people know and love. To see them now getting a chance to interact and have their adventures intertwined, well…that’s just an incredible thing that I think everyone is going to be super psyched to see.”