Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will bring the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) and the Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck) together on the big screen for the first time, while at the same time setting up the first Justice League film due to arrive in 2017. Both Batman V Superman and the Justice League movies are being directed by Zack Snyder, who likewise helmed the Superman origins re-imagining and franchise reboot, Man of Steel, that will serve as the first brick in the wall for the upcoming shared DC movie universe (aka the DC Extended Universe).
Whereas Snyder used modern CGI and digital filmmaking techniques to realize Superman’s powers on the big screen in Man of Steel and will do the same for the Justice League’s other super-powered team members (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and so forth), Batman represents a different challenge to bring to life on the big screen, in that he’s the most human member of the team, in terms of his physical abilities and vulnerabilities alike. The character in general ought to feel more grounded than his peers for released reasons, and Snyder has offered his assurances that this quality shall be carried over in Batman V Superman too.
Here’s the related quote from Snyder, in the latest issue of Empire Magazine:
“It has been really fun using Batman as the answer to Superman, because he’s not flying around and acting crazy. He’s just driving around in his Batmobile, doing his Batstuff. We were able to do a lot of this practically. Batman brings that back. Figuring out how to mix Batman’s practical approach with Superman has been an awesome experience…”
While such Bat technology as the Batmobile will be realized through practical effects in Batman V Superman – much like it has been in previously-released live action movies featuring the Dark Knight – there are nonetheless key digital components to the character and his gadgetry, too. For example, the armored suit (modeled after the costume that Batman wears in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic book) worn by Affleck in Snyder’s film was created by using CGI. Similarly, Batman V Superman trailer footage released to date has shown Affleck’s Caped Crusader flying around in what’s clearly a digitally-rendered Batjet, in order to battle Superman and… other larger than life threats that emerge in the movie.
Of course, the sheer scale of Batman V Superman necessitates the use of CGI to compliment the practical effects used to bring Batman and his weaponry to life, much like, say, the scope of the Star Wars universe made it impossible for director J.J. Abrams to rely on nothing but practical tools and effects while making The Force Awakens. Abrams shot a key sequence from his Star Wars film in the IMAX, but Snyder has revealed that he attempted to “up-the-ante” even more in his new comic book movie adaptation – by shooting a larger chunk of the project using IMAX cameras.
“I’m not sure how long those cameras are going to be around. But I have never shot digitally.”
IMAX does appear to have replaced 3D as the technology that filmmakers currently use when they want their films to have some extra visual pop, as evidenced by the increasing number of films that’ve either been partly or largely photographed in the format (see also Christopher Nolan projects like The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar). Snyder and his frequent cinematographer Patrick Tatopoulos – back working together on Batman V Superman after the latter had to pass on Man of Steel due to scheduling issues – have never been known to back away from the challenge of going bigger, and their DC Comics adaptation calls for as much.
The question surrounding Batman V Superman in general is whether it’s going too big too fast – more in terms of its world-building and introduction of Justice League characters than its visual style, truth be told (though Snyder has certainly been criticized for the latter in the past). 2016 is the year where Warner Bros. and DC will finally kick off their shared film universe properly with Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, so we’ll find out soon if their “go big” approach pans out the way these studios are hoping for.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is 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 then Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.
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