Both DC and Marvel have potential game-changing movies slated for release just weeks from each other in 2016. On Marvel’s side, Captain America: Civil War is set to disrupt the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and set the tone for the entirety of the much touted “Phase 3”. While Marvel has the fan base and the good will to ensure their reign as current box office champion remains intact, DC is, of course, looking to change the conversation in their favor as they pit two of the most iconic superheroes of all time against each other for the first time in cinematic history.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a do or die moment for Warner Brothers, DC, and the long term plans for their DC Extended Universe. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t somewhat excited to see Superman and Batman face off against each other, but some fans are wary after the experience of the film’s predecessor, Man of Steel, left a bad taste in their mouths. Still, early buzz for the film has been positive, with praise being given to the film and its leads Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck’s portrayals of the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader, respectively.
Add to that the cinematic introduction of the most iconic female superhero of all time, Wonder Woman. Played by Gal Gadot (Furious 6), Wonder Woman’s addition represents a potential sea change for the boy’s club of superhero movies and, like her co-stars, early buzz has been positive, to the point that some are saying Wonder Woman steals the show in Batman V Superman. While her exact role in the story as a whole is largely unknown at this time, a new interview with one of her co-stars offers a few hints about the character’s direction.
Affleck recently spoke with EW about Dawn of Justice in which he offers a few clues about his role and the overarching vision for Batman in the new series. He also spoke at some length about both Wonder Woman and the actress portraying her, giving us a tantalizing glimpse over what’s to be expected from director Zack Snyder’s latest superhero opus. He begins by describing Batman as:
“Projecting in some ways his own sense of failure, his own sense of disillusionment, his own cynicism onto Superman, having at one point been certainly much more idealistic about what he was doing. He’s also always been kind of a dark guy. You can’t go out at night and avenge crime the way he does, obviously, without a darker view of the world, but you can see that this probably contributes in some degree to the greater cycle of violence. And that doesn’t put an end to crime. There’s a line about weeds just cropping up and criminals are like weeds, you just pull more of them and they grow back. He’s very disillusioned and very bitter. He’s bitterly disappointed in the past that he’s lost [Robin] who fought by his side. That character’s death must have been devastating to him, and he’s suffered. We get the sense that he’s suffered a lot of devastating losses before this movie even starts.”
This is more or less in line with what we’ve already known about Affleck's version of Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman. For some time now, we’ve heard that "Batfleck" will be an older, more cynical Batman than we’ve previously seen on film before. It’s certainly an interesting take on the character, and the comics have long toyed with Batman as the haunted hero. While it’s certainly easy to see how this outlook can color one’s perception of an alien with godlike powers walking the Earth with us mere mortals, it seems as though Batman will find hope in Wonder Woman.
“It inspires in him the idea that well, if there’s one of these kinds of people out there, then maybe there are in fact more. If there are more, then maybe that’s hopeful and also terrifying to him, because then they could make humans even more powerless — or they could serve on our side. You’ve got to remember that Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and if he suspects that there may be more, and if he suspects in particular that Diana may be somebody special, he gets inspired.”
Affleck also praised Gadot's performance as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman, adding:
"She’s particularly beguiling and inspiring. Gal as an actress, I think is spectacular. It’s an incredibly hard part to pull it off, and she pulls it off with ease and grace, and it’s also just really fun to watch. I think it’s exciting to him that she’s out there and, ultimately, without giving too much away, he realizes that it’s not only exciting, but also necessary that he finds more of them if they are, in fact, out there."
Exactly how Wonder Woman 'inspires' Batman in Batman V Superman is up in the air at this point. However, so far the film's trailers do seem to indicate that Diana serves as the catalyst to end Bruce and Clark’s open hostilities of each other in the face of a bigger threat coming from the likes of Doomsday. Presumably, of course, this is the Dawn of the Justice League that’s alluded to in the film’s subtitle, and it offers an interesting dynamic to play with.
Batman and Superman have long had an uneasy trust in the world of DC Comics, with neither character ever fully coming around on the other. This almost suggest Wonder Woman’s role as being a sort of peacemaker in the Justice League, inspiring her cohorts into some sort of resolution for the greater benefit. While the charaters of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman form a sort of unofficial, de facto triumvirate as leaders of the Justice League, it makes sense to have Diana play the cool-headed matriarch dampening the flames of her partners’ distrust for one another.
It’ll certainly be fun to watch how this all plays out on the big screen, regardless of how it plays out. It’ll also be interesting to see if the DCEU can put a dent into the MCU’s solid monopoly on the superhero genre. DC has a lot of ground to make up in their battle for box office supremacy, but one thing that’s for certain is that when two heavyweights go up against each other—whether it’s Batman vs. Superman or DC vs. Marvel—the fans are the ultimate winners.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 16th, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19th, 2020.