[WARNING: There will be MASSIVE POTENTIAL SPOILERS for Batman V Superman ahead.]
If you were having trouble getting excited for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, or feared that the movie might not jumpstart a shared Justice League universe as quickly as you would hope, then the latest development should put your mind at ease. The comic book community was sent into a frenzy as an anonymous fan appeared online with a bold claim: they had seen a test screening of Zack Snyder's film (a test screening that Heroic Hollywood movie scooper Umberto Gonzalez claimed did in fact occur) and were ready to spill the beans.
Overlooking the breaking of a signed non-disclosure agreement, and instead offering up the firsthand - rumored - information to droves of hungry fans, the number of Batman V Superman details, spoilers, and positive impressions are almost too much to keep up with. When newly confirmed cast members of DC's upcoming Justice League movie can slide to the bottom of the heap, you know it's a feeding frenzy.
To help fans catch up on the development quickly and clearly, we've sifted through the many Reddit postings, replies, and questions to pull the most irresistible details - offering some context and further explanation as needed. No doubt, the posting could be total fabrication but with other insiders suggesting a test screening might have occurred, it was worth sifting through the poster's claims. So if you're eager to hear who might be playing the new Green Lantern, the new characters from the Batman universe who could appear in the film, as well as details on the claimed third act Justice League team-up - and are willing to have those twists POTENTIALLY SPOILED - then read on at your own risk.
The Knightmare Sequence is Only a Dream
To start things off, the Reddit poster (named 'ViolatedNDA') confirms that the hotly-debated 'Knightmare' sequence - in which Batman (Ben Affleck) takes to the desert sands to track down Superman's armed guards, is taken prisoner, and later battles alien invaders in a losing battle - is, as has been reported before, a nightmare haunting Bruce Wayne throughout the film. It's fueled not by actual developments in the story, but by paranoia (partly encouraged by the fact that he didn't give Zod's warning message in Man of Steel its due attention).
According to the poster, the sequence isn't shown in a continuous thread, but spliced throughout the length of the movie, fractured, with viewers putting the scenes together themselves. The movie actually opens with one such nightmare, likened to "post-traumatic stress disorder" symptoms for Bruce, following the destruction of Metropolis. This explanation fits with the early assumptions that the scenes depicted were a worst case scenario in Bruce's mind, and the structure will apparently keep up the multiple timelines Zack Snyder put to use in Man of Steel.
Batman Really Enjoys Dealing Out Pain
The first trailers for the movie showed that this take on Batman was about as brutal and ruthless as comic book fans are likely to see on screen, with a handcuffed criminal seen not just beaten, but with a Batarang seared into his flesh. This 'Bat Brand' is apparently a good indication of just what lengths Bruce Wayne is willing to go to in policing Gotham City's underworld. But the added twist? He likes it.
According to the poster, Batman can even be seen grinning ear to ear as he inflicts pain upon one of his suspects, which is the first of many clues that this version will not just be rough, but might actually put off some viewers, coming to see Batman as more of a villain than an anti-hero. Add the word that he'll be frequently bedding women to the previous reports of Bruce participating in underground cage fights, and Ben Affleck's version of Bruce should be interesting, if nothing else.
Jena Malone is Playing Barbara Gordon
Keeping up the focus on Batman for the time being, the leaker also confirms that Jena Malone - having worked with Snyder on Sucker Punch - will be making an appearance as a famous, red-haired Batman ally. But it isn't Frank Miller's 'Carrie Kelley' she'll be playing, but Barbara Gordon, daughter of former Commissioner Jim Gordon, and the hero bound to be not just Batgirl, but Oracle. The movie includes Barbara - in a wheelchair - already claiming the title (or role) of Oracle, with her injury implying that the version of The Joker seen in Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" will be adhered to, at least in broad strokes.
For those who haven't read that comic, it follows Barbara Gordon - years out of actually fighting crime as Batgirl - as she is ambushed by The Joker, shot in the spine, and left for dead. She survived (as did her father), but was confined to a wheelchair as a result. Physically removed from the fight, she instead focused on gathering intelligence and coordinating Batman's team of heroes as Oracle. We've already explained why Barbara, Oracle, or her Birds of Prey could mean big things to DC's Extended Universe going forward, but if Malone's role is only a small one, that will only fuel rumors that Warner Bros. is gauging interest in a possible spinoff.
Jim Gordon is Retired - Not Dead
Fans of the classic Batman movies and cartoons were distraught to hear rumors that as part of Zack Snyder's re-imagining of the Batman world, Jim Gordon would be dead, having passed away some years before the movie begins. According to the anonymous poster, that isn't the case. Gordon has retired from the job, but he's apparently still alive and kicking off screen (not a hard fact to establish if Batman is sharing scenes with his daughter).
All things considered, the move is effective as a twist on the usual story, while also giving Snyder time to cast the role, if he plans to down the road. It's hard to think of a meaningful part for Jim Gordon to play in a story involving Superman, Wonder Woman, and Doomsday, so perhaps it's best to simply leave that question unanswered. And until we see how effective Barbara proves to be, it's hard to guess just how invested Snyder or Affleck would be in exploring the character down the line.
Dick Grayson Lives - But Jason Todd is Dead
The cloud of rumors, confusions, and contradictory details surrounding Robin the Boy Wonder has been impossible for even die-hard fans to make sense of, but the test screening details help shed some light on the situation. As the trailer's shots of a defaced Robin suit, the details surrounding Barbara Gordon's injuries, and the larger plan for Jared Leto's Joker indicate, Batman V Superman will maintain the "Death in The Family" comic story in which Jason Todd, the second Robin, is murdered by Joker.
Apparently, the action will be shifted from Afghanistan (in the original comic) to Wayne Manor, with Joker beating Jason nearly to death - although his face is obscured, and only Joker's glove is visible holding the famous crowbar - before setting the mansion to explode around him. The result: Robin is killed, and Bruce Wayne's once-beautiful manor is reduced to the burned-out husk seen in the film's trailers.
But what of Dick Grayson, the first Robin? According to the leaker, Barbara confirms that he's alive and well, although he has gone into hiding somewhere in DC's movie universe (and yes, Suicide Squad is a possibility). It's also confirmed that The Joker is the one taunting Batman with letters and newspaper articles, sending multiple messages in the film, leading Bruce and Alfred to discuss a plan for bringing him down once Superman is dealt with (these conversations have supplied some of the lines of dialogue in the trailer, misunderstood to be referencing Superman instead).
Since Batman V Superman is rumored to be set after Suicide Squad, it seems that The Joker will have escaped Arkham Asylum - after being put there by Bruce following Jason's murder - and his infiltration of the Batcave to deface the costume is Bruce's last straw. So, to be clear: Jason was killed, Dick lives. And no, there's no mention of Red Hood just yet.
Batman's Rogues Gallery Get a Ton of Nods
Since the movie spends time in Gotham City's darker corners, and the Batcave in particular, Snyder didn't miss out on the chance to pack in plenty of easter eggs and references to other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery. There are multiple Riddler question marks visible throughout the film, and even a glimpse of a freeze gun - the weapon of choice of Mr. Freeze - visible in the Batcave.
We would warn that fans shouldn't put too much emphasis on these nods to the source material, since it's almost certain that they won't all be addressed in Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie. The rumors surrounding that solo poject have varied wildly, with some claiming the movie will adapt Jason Todd's 'Red Hood' rebirth completely, and more recent rumors claiming Will Smith's Deadshot will jump from Suicide Squad to team up with the Dark Knight. So for now: there are confirmed easter eggs for fans looking to find them, but don't hope for too much more than that.
Scoot McNairy is Playing Jimmy Olsen
Finally, another rumor can hopefully (and allegedly) be put to rest, with the test screener confirming that Scoot McNairy (Argo) will play Jimmy Olsen... just not the version most Superman fans are used to seeing. Jimmy will, as suspected, have lost both of his lower legs in the Metropolis attack, and is present in the Senate hearing when Superman is called to the carpet for the destruction caused by his fight with General Zod.
But Jimmy isn't looking to blame Superman - instead he defends him, despite the price he had to pay. It's a clever move, since this new version reveals Jimmy to be writing an online news site dedicated to Superman's heroics around the globe, placing him alongside Lois Lane as one of the only people coming to the Man of Steel's defense with as much passion as his detractors. Whether this means he'll find work at The Daily Planet remains to be seen. And re-imagining Jimmy Olsen as a "blogger" is guaranteed to get fans talking.
The Senate Hearing Ends with a Man of Steel Character's Death
It may have made perfect sense to see Superman reporting to the United States Senate following his role in the death of untold thousands (at least). But it sounds like Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) will be out for more than answers, working with Lex Luthor to outright smear Superman's name, and pin the entire blame on his shoulders. The trailer have alluded to as much, but the Senate hearing itself is home to some destruction of its own.
Apparently, the hearing is bombed, and it sounds like Senator Finch will be killed in the destruction - along with a Man of Steel character who Zack Snyder actually used to kick off Batman V Superman's marketing. We hesitate to even confirm which character will be killed, since the moment will hopefully be built to with purpose, but... let's just say that fans of a certain military man who heard firsthand how "hot" Superman appears to women... won't be sticking around much longer.
Batman & Superman Fight Twice
With a title like "Batman V Superman," you would hope that the fight would be one worth remembering. Apparently, fans can look forward to not one, but TWO battles of the title superheroes. For the first showdown, Batman relies on his Batmobile to even the playing field, soon learning that it's still no match for Kryptonian physiology. It sounds like it's this fight that ends with Superman cornering the Batmobile, and tearing it open to stand face to face with the Dark Knight.
The poster doesn't explain how that situation is resolved, but Superman clearly comes out on top. The fight that follows, however, has Bruce bringing some more impressive weapons into the fight. And judging by the spoilers coming next, it's safe to say some Kryptonite could give his battle armor an extra edge. Superman holds back in this fight, since he seems determined to prove he's not a threat, hence his claim that "if he wanted it," Batman "would be dead already."
No excuses though: Batman comes out on top, delivering a variation on the famous victory(?) speech from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" - the same one delivered by Harry Lennix at Comic-Con 2013 when the team-up/battle was first announced. And once Batman gets the edge on Supes, he doesn't stop there...
Batman Keeps Superman Prisoner in a Kryptonite Cell
Instead of taking the lesson to heart, and realizing that Superman - who now knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman - hasn't exposed him to the world, Bruce takes another path. He takes the Kryptonite-weakened Superman into his Batcave, and throws him into a specially-constructed cell lined with the same radioactive material (as suspected, with some help from Lex Luthor). The poster likens the cell to the Hulk containment cell from The Avengers, but not quite as large.
In the end, Superman escapes when Alfred (Jeremy Irons) releases him without Bruce's knowledge. It's a twist the reveals Alfred isn't to be messed with, and is already starting to see what Bruce does not. It's a source of some tension (and further heated discussions) between the two, and another prime example of Batman being positioned as the unlikeable side of the showdown.
Classic Batsuits Get a Cameo
If all this reported time spent in the Batcave has you hoping for even more easter eggs, then fear not: classic Batsuits are in store. Predictably, the details of the other Batsuits in storage are tricky to catch on the first viewing, but the poster singles out two in particular: one that resembles the style and shape of Michael Keaton's rubber body armor from Tim Burton's Batman (1989), and a version of the classic grey and blue suit with the yellow logo.
Rumors had long claimed that Ben Affleck's actual suit would bear that same color scheme, but it sounds like it will be relegated to a trophy case. There is also a similar room in the Batcave containing Robin's suits, fighting staffs, and even a motorcycle. That kind of commitment to a character that won't even appear in the movie is a strong sign of just how dear Snyder holds the source material - and if Dick Grayson is set to return, having his things laid out would make the transition easier.
Lex Goes Bald From Kryptonite Poisoning
When Jesse Eisenberg landed the part of Lex Luthor, fans asked the same question: would he go bald? The query was offered in the same breath as criticism that he was too young, too un-threatening, or simply too miscast. Eventually, promotional photos confirmed that he would be sporting a slick scalp like other Luthor actors before him, but his wealth of obvious wigs in the trailers since has muddied the waters.
According to the poster, it's the same proximity to Kryptonite that cost him his health in the comics that's at work in the film. It's a total coincidence that Lex even realizes Kryptonite can weaken Superman, simply keeping it on hand as a reminder of the Battle of Metropolis. He sets out to find more once he realizes it holds the key to bringing down this 'false god,' but the substance will apparently cost him his hair - a small price to pay, perhaps?
Diana Prince Is Introduced as The Themyscira Ambassador
Finally, some details on the female component of DC's 'Big Three' - Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Fans of the Amazonian princess will be happy to hear that she doesn't simply appear at the end of the movie, as some had suspected (a theory supported by the most recent trailer). Introduced as Diana Prince, the Themyscira Ambassador visiting Metropolis, Diana is an outspoken opponent to LexOS, the new venture from the tech-genius Lex Luthor's company.
It's because of this corporate mission (and foresight on her part, no doubt) that she seeks out Bruce Wayne, looking to win him to her cause, since Wayne is already familiar with Lex's... eccentricities. As the trailers and official images have shown, Diana and Bruce have more than business on their mind, seeming to recognize a bit of themselves in each other. It's not yet love, but an understanding that neither is quite what they seem.
Wonder Woman's Combat is a Mix of Batman & Superman
The poster confirms that when Wonder Woman makes her debut, she's wearing the white cloak seen in leaked concept art. Once the cloak is tossed aside, it's the classic weapons she puts to use in combat: shield, sword, lasso and gauntlets. Those skeptical of the heroine's more fantastic history should know that the lasso's special ability (forcing any man to speak the truth) isn't explored, as she only uses the lasso as... well, a lasso.
According the the test screener, the impression given by Wonder Woman in combat is that she's something of a mix between Batman and Superman (just like the comics). She fights with the skill, grace and precision of Batman, but with the god-like power of Superman behind it. The review of Gadot's performance in general is glowing, so if the combat is just as rewarding, then the upcoming solo Wonder Woman movie could have some positive buzz generating soon.
Doomsday is a Mutated General Zod
No real surprise here, since the rumors of General Zod's corpse being acquired and experimented upon by Lex Luthor has been circulating from the beginning. That is very much the case, with Lex simply "experimenting" on the body, mutating it until Doomsday is the result. It's Wonder Woman who actually gives the creature its name, and just as Doomsday's defenders claimed, the fight will see the creature growing larger spikes, resembling the comic book version more and more as the fight wears on.
No comments are made regarding the twisted, commandeered Kryptonian technology we analyzed in our discussion of the full-length Batman V Superman trailer, but it seems to all fit towards one larger story. Lex gives Batman Kryptonite in hopes that he'll bring down Superman. When he fails, he goes to extreme measures, using mad science to bring a mutated Zod to life, and sending it after Superman without much thought.
And in case you're wondering, yes, the trio manage to kill Doomsday to end the fight (or DO they?!).
Lex Develops An Anti-Alien Drone Army
Once Doomsday fails, Lex reveals that he has an even more dramatic plan up his sleeve for the movie's third act, once again based on the hijacking and mutation of Kryptonian technology. Remember those defense drones from Man of Steel, which tried to kill Clark when he first boarded the Kryptonian Scout Ship, and later attacked Lois Lane? It sounds like Lex cracked their code, creating entire swarms of these drones to hunt and kill alien beings.
As is usually the case with superhero movies, it doesn't sound like the drones will be particularly memorable years from now, serving to give the heroes a new enemy to fight (like Age of Ultron's drones, The Avengers' Chitauri, etc.). But when they start to do their thing, they immediately prove why Lex Luthor is a bit too maniacal for his own good - since it isn't just Batman, Superman and Wonder woman they draw out and into the fight...
The Justice League Assembles in The Third Act
That's right, the drones are a big enough threat to pull nearly every member of the Justice League out into the open. We can only assume that a flaw in the drones (or a truly evil twist on Lex's part) sends the machines after innocent people everywhere, requiring superpowered heroes to work not necessarily together, but alongside eachother.
This report directly contradicts the recent claim that Dawn of Justice would merely end with a montage sequence showing each hero in action. In fact, the test screener confirms that there is no real post-credits scene or stinger to speak of. That might be a bit disappointing, but make no mistake: audience members will (allegedly) get to see each and every member of the coming Justice League in action - and in costume. Including characters which have apparently been cast in total secrecy...
Dan Amboyer is The New Green Lantern
In what is certainly one of the most shocking reveals, if proven to be true (and seriously, you can't help but feel bad for Warner Bros. if they've kept the secret this long), Hal Jordan himself makes not one, but two appearances in the course of the film. Once as a pilot, and again as a member of the Green Lantern Corps - in full costume. Oh, and he's played by Dan Amboyer (Younger), replacing Ryan Reynolds in the role.
Apparently leaping into the action creating constructs of fighter jets, among other military paraphernalia with a simple quip of "What? You didn't think I'd join the party?" Hal wastes no time in showing how this version will differ from the previous one. With a costume described as "practical with CG effects," the suit sounds classic in every sense, with white gloves, domino mask, and green and black color.
The costume isn't a shock, but the actor certainly will be, since Amboyer (like Cyborg actor Ray Fisher) is better known for his stage performances than big screen ones. But after packing on the muscle over the past few years - and certainly having the look of Hal 'Hi-Ball' Jordan - a younger Lantern looks to anchor the upcoming Green Lantern Corps reboot, expected to be joined by John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner... everything is fair game at this point.
Ezra Miller's Flash Will Debut in Costume
Another surprise that will delight fans, if true, is that Batman V Superman will also offer the first look at The Flash (Ezra Miller), showing just how powerful he can be when donning his red suit and moving at his top speed. The costume is described as a suit made of the same material as Superman's technical undersuit, with armor plates added, in addition to his yellow boots (and glowing lightning, of course). It's Ezra Miller under the mask, but given the cowl - which fans of The CW's Flash are now used to - it's hard to make out much of his actual face.
The impression given to the test screening attendee was that The Flash could really be the most powerful member of the team, making even Superman seem to be moving at a snail's pace when going flat out. But in keeping with the source material, the speedster doesn't take the fight too seriously, showing a youthful, playful side that will no doubt help to distinguish him from the rest of the super-serious members of the Justice League. And the commitment to time-honored comic book tradition doesn't end there...
The Flash & Green Lantern May Not Be Strangers
According to the source, "Flash and GL have great banter, so we know they've known each other for a while." How you read this potential detail likely depends on your experience with each character. Speaking objectively, introducing two brand new heroes who already share an existing relationship could seem like a misstep - especially if you're of the mind that Marvel's way of introducing main heroes one by one is the right way to go.
On the other hand, this is the exact same approach taken for DC's New 52 relaunch of the "Justice League" comic (a comic we've maintained is as close to a script for a Justice League movie as one could get). And in the history of DC Comics, the friendship between The Flash and Green Lantern - a police scientist and a space cop - has been one of the most constant relationships around. In the movie world, that isn't just a sign that the comics are acting as a roadmap for Snyder and co., but a possible sign that both Ezra Miller and Dan Amboyer will be turned to to provide the youthful energy opposite their older co-stars.
Their older, and more terrifying co-stars, that is...
Jason Momoa's Aquaman Will Appear
As the rumors have suggested for months now, Jason Momoa's tattooed, armored Aquaman will make his first appearance in DC's Extended Universe in Dawn of Justice. The introduction will also happen when Lex's drones take to the seas, as Aquaman appears to defend ships and their crew from the drones, before heading to the mainland along with the rest of the heroes.
As expected from Momoa's casting, the design of his character, and the unspoken need to prove that Aquaman is not just as deadly as the other famous Justice League heroes, but deadlier, it's his action scenes which may end up being audience favorites. The action sounds as brutal and relentless as his fans would hope for, and while he isn't seen talking to fish, his emergence will likely please his most vocal defenders (ourselves included).
Ray Fisher's Cyborg Will Appear in Costume
Yes, even Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg makes his debut in the film, if the poster is to be believed. As expected, the character - played by Ray Fisher - is first seen in a televised football game between Metropolis and Gotham. After scoring a touchdown, the star athlete informs the reporter that he wishes his father was there to see it - with an absent father, Silas Stone a pretty consistent element of Cyborg's backstory.
Unfortunately, just as he does in the comics, Vic decides to pay his father - a LexCorp scientist - a visit. Not long after, Doomsday's breakout occurs, mortally wounding Vic, and forcing his father to take some extreme measures. According to the source, "he awakes from his coma and freaks out at the sight of his new robotic enhancements. He then escapes from the LexCorp lab and sees all the drone chaos." Since Lex was spending most of his time investigating Kryptonian tech, it's those same weapons used for Vic's Cyborg form (arm cannon, shoulder missiles, jetpack, etc.).
It's a Self-Contained Story, Not a Justice League Cliffhanger
As crowded as the story may seem, the leaker's impressions are consistently positive, implying that each character serves their role before handing the story off to the next supporting characters, allowing the story to progress naturally. In the same way, the massive threat in the movie's third act pulls each hero out in their own way, taking on the enemies using their own style of attack. Once the threat has been neutralized, the movie doesn't do what many suspected.
Instead of setting up a massive new enemy like Darkseid or Brainiac, with the team "knowing about each other and agreeing to work together again if anything bad happens like this... Batman was reluctant." If that sounds like too neat and tidy an ending - or exactly what fans have been saying would be most likely - then we would remind readers that it's still a theory and rumor at this point. But if it's true, Snyder and Warner Bros. may have an excellent place to end things: with audiences and fans on their side, and without a massive cliffhanger they'll be forced to deliver on in the next movie.
Lex Doesn't Want To Work With Amanda Waller
It wouldn't be a shared universe without a nod to the Suicide Squad releasing months later, but it isn't a villain cameo, or even the suggestions of mystical powers that links the two. Surprisingly, it's Lex Luthor's backroom dealings in Washington that plant the seed. When asked why Lex doesn't combine his efforts to investigate and take down Superman with those of A.R.G.U.S., he claims that the woman in charge is someone even he doesn't want to try working with.
That may not be the A.R.G.U.S. connection fans would hope for (especially as it pertains to Green Arrow), but the report backs up the promotional interview in which Lex speaks about the shadowy government organization with even more shadowy motives. In the end, there's probably no harm in starting small, with knowing winks to a film that is gathering plenty of buzz on its own.
Those are all the massive, most impactful spoilers and details we could pull from the torrent of rumored leaks, and we hope they'll be taken as reason for excitement. Be sure to let us know which of these details you think hold the most promise, and which ones you're most concerned (or least convinced) by!
Batman V Superman:Dawn of Justice will hit theaters on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016, Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017, Justice League on November 17th, 2017, The Flash on March 23rd, 2018, Aquaman on July 27th, 2018, Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019, Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020, and Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020.