2016 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years in film history - with the release of several high-profile tentpole movies, including: Batman V Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and another new Star Wars entry, among others (X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, Suicide Squad, Ghostbusters, etc). Following the record-setting success of Star Wars - Episode 7, it's hard to predict whether any of 2016's entries will manage to break box office records - even if, on their own terms, many are extremely profitable. The game has changed in Hollywood, where shared universe-building was once a buzz-word, cross-medium storytelling is quickly becoming a norm - as audiences expect bigger, more intricate, movie experiences packed with iconic characters on screen together.
When it was first announced that Batman and Superman would be sharing the screen for Dawn of Justice, fans had no idea they'd also be getting an appearance by Aquaman and a full-on fighting role for Wonder Woman - not to mention a new Lex Luthor (as well as rumored cameos from several other Justice League characters). However, while fans love to dabble in the rumor mill, many were surprised to see the studio outright reveal Doomsday as a larger threat for the titular heroes in the film's latest trailer - causing some to wonder if director Zack Snyder was sacrificing quality character development in order to meet a certain quantity of familiar characters. Now, the director is responding to critics, promising that Batman V Superman will explore the mythology behind Doomsday and lay the foundation for a "coherent" DC movie universe to follow.
In a conversation with The Daily Beast, Snyder attempted to calm the concerns of fans who, for a variety of reasons, have been voicing dissatisfaction with Batman V Superman, its trailers, its casting choices, its story, all before anyone has seen the final cut. Speaking, specifically, to those who were bothered to see Doomsday in the most recent Batman V Superman trailer, Snyder makes it clear that he's in the unique position of determining what is and is not a spoiler, or should be left out of marketing, since he's one of the few people who know what's actually in Dawn of Justice.
“I know what’s in the movie, so I know there’s other stuff. We had a long conversation about just taking ownership of that, of giving it to the audience in a controlled way that I felt was consistent with the escalation of the campaign.”
The director elaborated on his comment, suggesting that he wasn't just tossing Doomsday into the final act; instead, the mythology behind (and creation of) the monster would be explored throughout the film - hinting that there's more to Doomsday than just a mutated version of Zod. Snyder doesn't elaborate on recent rumors that the iteration of Doomsday shown in the trailer isn't the final fully-formed villain as he'll appear in the climactic third-act fight but his comments do suggest that whether or not the creature survives Dawn of Justice, he is (at the very least) an inciting reason for why Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman would decide to organize a group of heroes to protect the Earth.
"Well, you have Doomsday, right? He doesn’t just crawl out of the ground. He has his own mythology, right? So that has to be explored. To us it really made sense to give him to the audience now. I really wanted to make the audience a promise that… though I’m super excited and happy and fulfilled by the conflict of Batman and Superman, there’s also a bigger world to start to think about.”
The filmmaker has used similar wording before, teasing "bigger" threats to come and even though it's unclear how connected (directly or indirectly) Doomsday will be to future villains, it'll be extremely interesting to see where the team is "going with the world." In addition to Justice League, Part 1 and Part 2, we know that Warner Bros. is actively developing Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, Shazam, Cyborg, and The Flash standalone films (plus 2016's Suicide Squad), along with a new Green Lantern movie, so there's no doubt that DC is building toward massive cross-over event movies. Yet, who exactly will tether all the stories together (akin to Thanos in the MCU) remains to be seen - though Darkseid or Brainiac are still frontrunners.
In fact, Snyder even hints that the studio is still working out all the details - learning as they go:
“It is constantly evolving, but we’re starting to get a handle on where we’re going with the world. That’s fun because it allows us now to be driving toward a goal that we don’t have to make up as much. The rules can be the rules, and the movie can exist in a closed universe… it allows us to tie things together. If there’s a movie over here doing this, and we’re over here doing this, now we’re all on the same page. It allows for a coherent universe, which is important. I think that makes the experience a little more satisfying because we know where we’re going, so the misdirects can be stronger and the reveals can be bigger.”
It's too early to tell what reveals and misdirects might be coming in Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad; yet, recent TV spots have already begun to add context for oft-discussed moments in previous Dawn of Justice trailers (including how the Batmobile gets damaged as well as when, and to who, Batman says "Do you bleed? You will.") So, as Snyder suggests, there's reason to believe that many of Batman V Superman's biggest spoilers haven't even been hinted at yet - since most of the film has yet to be officially unveiled to fans.
Of course, for those who are not convinced in Snyder's ability to develop a shared universe out of Batman V Superman - or believe that Warner Bros. is rushing DC standalone movies to play catch-up with Marvel Studios, the director gives another reason to be optimistic: writer Chris Terrio (Batman V Superman as well as Justice League Part 1 and 2) is passionate about balancing realism and mythology in the DC movie universe:
"The great thing about having Chris Terrio as the writer of this project is it’s hard to get him not to do that. It’s in his DNA. When we talk about it in mythological terms we’re always talking about, what does it mean to the world? What does it mean mythologically to us, now? What is the why of all of it?
“Those conversations are a big part of the genesis of all of the ideas. It also offers an opportunity because you have now a variety of perspectives on a single issue. That allows the conversation to be bolder and more lively in the debate, because of these varied points of view.”
It'll be interesting to see how Snyder and Terrio implement those various "perspectives" going forward - especially given that the MCU is beginning to tackle similar territory in Civil War: what happens when superheroes disagree about how best to protect the world? Still, there are enough differences between the two universes to allow DC to make good on what Snyder is suggesting - without appearing as though they're just following in Marvel's footsteps.
While the Avengers each have individual views and goals, the Civil War story is, for now, divided into two factions - whereas what's good for one Justice League hero, may not always be the best option for another. Batman V Superman was forged out of Man of Steel's aftermath, an event that sent ripples throughout the DC Universe. We know that Batman has very strong feelings about Superman's presence on Earth - and that Wonder Woman is inclined to stay out of their fight until Doomsday threatens the world (and her own people by extension). But how does Aquaman feel about the situation and what happens when extra-terrestrials from the Green Lantern Corps are introduced into the picture?
There's enough variety, and significant backstory, included in the Justice League roster to ensure that while the heroes could forge an alliance to battle major threats, they won't always agree on the best way to go about it - and, furthermore, might not see eye to eye once all the dust has settled.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.
Source: The Daily Beast