Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may not have captured the hearts and minds of all critics and audience members, but despite the polarized reception, most people can agree that the warehouse fight is Batman's best live-action fight scene, if not one of the top all-time comic book movie action scenes, and much of that credit can go to the movie's expert stunt team.
Thanks to an exclusive interview with the creator of the warehouse scene, stunt coordinator and second unit director Damon Caro, Screen Rant has obtained an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of Caro's stunt team performing the "action-viz" or "stunt-viz" before the actual scene was shot. Caro worked closely with Zack Snyder on all of his feature films since Dawn of the Dead, including all of Snyder's DC Extended Universe projects. So, with Snyder moving on from the franchise to pursue other projects, it's a great time to look back at one of the iconic moments they created together.
In the video above, you can see the final warehouse scene side by side with the stunt-viz Caro and his team designed while conceiving the scene. A stunt-viz like this is created for most of their big fight scenes, coordinating with the VFX team where necessary, especially for the bigger brawls or power packed scenes. The Batman Warehouse scene, or as the production team called it, the "Martha Rescue," however, was nearly all practical. Caro says he felt grounding the scene as much as possible was essential for the character.
"...looking at story, looking at character, you could try and make him move like a twenty-five-year-old Batman, but he was a crusty veteran with a lot of miles on him, but obviously he's still a stud, though, right? So he could still do some amazing things with his abilities and his training, but we really tried to ground it all - it was all live-action. There's one digi-shot of when he comes through the floor and whips past camera. We did that more because we wanted him to be more ghost-like where you couldn't see him, but other than that it's all live-action. There's a couple wire shots on the guys, and Batman drops in on a wire, but it's all him in the suit doing it, and that was important to the character and his age, in addition to all the things you just stated. So yeah, that was all a big part of grounding us and how do we present this correctly."
After seeing the scene, many fans were quick to compare it to the style of action seen in the Arkham video games, but Caro says he gets that question a lot, but he's never even seen a trailer for the games. His inspiration for his action scenes comes first and foremost from the script, but also from the way he's thought Batman should move and fight in the comics he read growing up.
That’s funny because several people have asked me that about the Arkham game, and, no, I had never ever seen the game or a trailer or anything. I had seen some of the earlier Batman games, obviously, but it was really cool to hear, almost like the universal consciousness was at work... I’ve been involved in several different methods of martial arts since the age of 10, so I had a very specific mindset of how Batman should fight, the technique, the styles and influences that I had in my head for a long time. Obviously movies and comic books from my youth influenced me. I’m talking a long time ago. Enter the Dragon. Road Warrior, Mad Max, etc. When I create action I try to do it from whatever space I’m currently in. I look at the script and let the action be guided by story and the characters. I don’t really like imitation, I like to create something from the moment.
Obviously I’m a product of great martial artists that come before me, and people involved in cinema, and, obviously I have influences that go deeper than I even know, but I feel like it’s more real and honest in the moment to create from your own space, and I guess maybe there is something here and there where I say “oh, I saw this movie once and they did this cool thing,” but not for this scene, no, it was all just from being a lifelong fan. Unfortunately I don’t have time to play games that often anymore. Last game I was good at was Halo. The first Halo, so that’s how old my video game skills are, but the [Arkham] comparison, people have asked me that many times, so that’s kind of cool, that we basically brought a video game character to life, which was another perk to it.
The Martha rescue scene was the first scene shot for Batman v Superman because, as Damon says, they like to "hit something big first." After the storyboards are provided to Caro by Snyder (sometimes drawn by Snyder personally, other times by artist like Jay Oliva), Damon and his crew put together a stunt-viz as a sort of proof of concept for the scene before presenting to the production heads. As seen in the video above, the final product is almost shot for shot identical. While there's lots of disagreement on the storytelling of Zack Snyder's movies, his visuals and action are far less divisive, and it's clear his stunt team's hard prep work plays a big role in that success.
Martha Rescue Scene Stunt-Viz Credits
Director, Action designer: Damon Caro
Stunt coordinator: Tim Rigby
Co-designers and Camera: Ryan Watson, Wayne Dalglish, and Guillermo Grispo
Riggers: Shawn Kaults, Steve Upton, Jimmy Hart, Shawn Robinson.
Performers: Rich Cetrone (Ben Affleck's Stunt Double), Matt Rugette, Allen Jo, Lateef Crowder, Paul Darnell, Victor Lopez, Mike Justus, Justin Williams, Jake Swallow, Sam Locc, Steve Brown, Freddy, Boucieges, Albert Valladares, Ryan Watson, Wayne Dalglish, and Guillermo Grispo
Edit: a previous version of this article credited Damon Caro as the assistant director. It has been updated to accurately reflect his role as second unit director.
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