Warner Bros. Pictures will attempt to fully launch its DC shared comic book movie universe in 2016, in between director Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Batman V Superman in particular will build on the events that transpired in Snyder’s Man of Steel, exploring the aftermath of that film – and Superman’s (Henry Cavill) game-changing fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his forces, known as the Battle of Metropolis – while at the same time, introducing new versions of characters like Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg).
Similar to how Marvel Studios often released prequel comic books to its film releases, WB and DC have begun releasing comic backstories for Batman V Superman. We previously reported on one such comic book, titled “Field Day”, that has been included with boxes of General Mills cereal (itself, the latest example of synergistic marketing for Snyder’s film), but now additional prequel comic books have been released – further fleshing out the backstories for both returning characters like Amy Adams’ Lois Lane (from Man of Steel) and new players in Batman V Superman, such as Senator Finch (Holly Hunter).
These five Batman V Superman prequel comic books – all of them written by Christos Gage (Legends of the Dark Knight, Thunderbolts) and penciled by Joe Bennett (who’s been illustrating Marvel and DC comics alike since the 1990s ) – are now online and you can read them in their entirety over at CBM. Below, however, we’ve put together plot summaries for each story, breaking down the most interesting details they reveal – along with how they confirm things we’ve heard about Batman V Superman (and the larger DC Extended Universe) to date.
The Batman prequel comic story revolves around DC super-villain Firefly (seen recently in live-action form on the TV show Gotham), as he and a pair of thugs attempt to break into a building in order to (what else?) set it on fire. As we’ve heard a lot from the people working on Batman V Superman (cast and crew alike), Affleck’s Dark Knight has grown tougher and more ferocious with the passage of time. The younger of Firefly’s two thugs mentions that he’s heard Batman has “gotten hard… brutal”; his co-worker agrees, noting that Batman used to be about “finesse” when it came to his crime-fighting, but is now bigger on brutality and intimidation tactics. We get a taste of that when the Dark Knight shows up – wearing a breathing apparatus so that Firefly’s attacks won’t affect him and delivering several bone-crunching blows to the super-villain, prompting the two thugs to drops their guns the moment he glares at them. After the police show up and take all three criminals into custody, we also see that Lex Luthor was watching the whole incident via security cameras.
The Lois Lane prequel comic book revolves around a standalone incident, wherein Lois confronts Mr. Hanford (the CEO of Hanford Technologies) about his dealings after the Battle of Metropolis – including, how he illegally sold Kryptonian technology collected from the aftermath. The tense exchange even sees Lois held at gunpoint, but she prevails and Hanford ends up arrested for his crimes. Thereafter, Lex Luthor announces that he is taking over Hanford technologies and it is revealed that he plans to hold onto the Kryptonian tech himself (in private, that is). This incident might even be referenced in Batman V Superman, as trailers for the film have specifically shown Lex admiring artifacts that appear to be from the Battle of Metropolis, including a giant chunk of Kryptonite.
The Senator Finch prequel comic book revolves around a meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, wherein one General Elkins estimates than a Kryptonian male like Superman could devastate Metropolis and wipe out “approximately half of its inhabitants” in less than thirty minutes – if he wanted to. The General also expresses concerns about Superman being an alien with unknown physiology, raising questions about whether he’s susceptible to conditions like dementia or PTSD – things that could make him extremely dangerous. Senator Finch mentions that preparations are being taken for a future alien attack and their “best people” are working on that, before leading a vote to assemble a committee dedicated to studying Superman – before, in private, asking the General to tell her more about what he knows for certain about the Man of Steel. Going by Batman V Superman trailers and TV spots, Finch has only grown all the more wary of Superman (with additional seeds of doubt planted by Lex Luthor) by the time Snyder’s movie picks up.
The Superman prequel comic book comes the closest to feeling like an actual discussion that fans have had about Man of Steel, in that it revolves around a panel of commentators breaking down the process of what Superman does when a train malfunctions and is about to derail off the tracks, as we watch the incident unfold moment by moment. The Battle of Metropolis is briefly mentioned and doubts are raised about whether the Man of Steel did everything he could to protect the people of Metropolis during that event (sound familiar?), but the main issue raised is Superman’s unwillingness to intervene during wars in countries around the world – even when it involves something like evacuating refugees who have been caught in the crossfire – during the buildup to the events in Batman V Superman. At the end, we see this is yet another show that Lex Luthor has been watching.
The Lex Luthor prequel comic book shows Lex speaking at a press event, discussing how he’s now excited to rebuild LexCorp Tower in the aftermath of the Battle of Metropolis. Reporters mention that Luthor’s commitment to rebuilding Metropolis has inspired other corporations and organizations, which were planning to move away from the city, to not do so (if only to avoid the bad PR it could produce) and compares him to being a “hero,” like Superman. Luthor is noticeably unhappy about the Superman comparison (even as Supe’s train-saving actions are referenced), but smiles and waves it off, saying he simply doesn’t know enough about Superman to comment on “that particular controversy.”
Luthor, later speaking in private to his assistant Mercy Graves (played by Tao Okamoto in Batman V Superman), mentions that he doesn’t know enough about Superman for real and likewise criticizes the Man of Steel for staying out of political conflicts. And in case it wasn’t already clear enough that Luthor is really obsessed with Superman in particular, we see he now (literally) spends a lot of his time in a room that is full of monitors feeding him news and security camera footage, learning everything there is to know about the Man of Steel.
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.