At the time of this writing, we are just eight months away from the theatrical release of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the film is going to have a big presence at this week’s San Diego Comic-Con 2015. Snyder and a majority of the movie’s principal cast will be at the event, with the hope being they deliver a panel for the ages and get the masses excited for the crossover event.
Even though Dawn of Justice is technically a follow-up to Snyder’s own Man of Steel, it’s become apparent the last couple of years that the film is not a “sequel” in the traditional sense. Introducing a new cinematic interpretation of Batman and laying down the foundation for a fully realized Justice League movie universe seems to be its primary concerns, with even Superman himself admitting that’s the plan.
In the highly-publicized EW cover story about Batman v Superman, Henry Cavill essentially reiterated earlier statements he made about the nature of the film’s story, saying that it’s not just about continuing Kal-El’s journey:
“As far as the individual character is concerned, this is not a Superman sequel. It’s more of an introduction to Batman, an opening to Justice League, and an expansion of the world that was created in Man of Steel.”
Superman fans were a little upset that their favorite hero wasn’t going to get another solo vehicle before he started playing with other “metahumans,” but perhaps this angle will work best for the narrative. Snyder recently stated that it’s important for the events of comic book films to have serious ramifications for the characters. After the world-changing actions that took place in Man of Steel, it makes sense for an “expansion“ of the world to take place, exploring how Superman’s arrival impacted the planet at large instead of having another small-scale story that’s just about him.
And besides, it’s not like Clark Kent is going to be relegated to the background. Based on what we saw in the teaser trailer, Snyder definitely has the Last Son of Krypton on his mind, as a great deal of the footage dealt with how the people responded to Superman and how Kal-El is dealing with his newly minted status as a “false god.” So in that way, Batman v Superman represents the next step of the character’s journey, albeit with some more high-profile “supporting players” than your typical superhero follow-up.
In the meantime, those yearning to see Superman be placed front and center once again shouldn’t fret. Though it hasn’t been officially scheduled yet, WB executives have confirmed that a standalone Superman film is coming through the pipeline and will be released some point before 2020. That’s something the actor is very much looking forward to, saying that when all the pieces fall into place, there will be ample opportunity to dive deeper into the Superman mythos:
“There’s plenty of time for individual Superman sequels. He’s a tough character to tell. People like the darker vigilante. I think it speaks to the human psyche more easily rather than the god-like being that we can’t really understand. Once we have a more expansive universe we can delve more into the character of Superman and hopefully tell more stories.”
Cavill makes an interesting point about the difficulties filmmakers face when making a Superman movie. Because of his powers, the character is virtually indestructible, having hardly any weaknesses to even the playing field in a fight. He has few enemies who can realistically challenge him, which typically makes Superman action boring to watch (since there are no stakes). By placing Kal-El in an ensemble cast, a director can find new and interesting ways to incorporate him, giving him fresh challenges to face on an emotional level, as well as physical. That’s part of why some people liked Man of Steel, as Snyder arguably found a way to make the alien relatable for us regular humans.
At this stage in the superhero movie game, the old school way of setting up individual character series is antiquated and honestly doesn’t cut it anymore. As evidenced by films like Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, the new mantra is “go big or go home.” That means there isn’t always room for a solo story about one hero, but as long as the story the movie tells is well done, few will be complaining. And based on the cast’s reaction to Chris Terrio’s screenplay, Batman v Superman has a lot of intrigue – regardless of who the protagonist is.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.