Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is the first time live-action versions of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) will share the big screen. The two DC heroes are known for being close friends and they have an extensive history of working together in the comics and other forms of media, but Snyder's movie will place the duo at odds with each other - just like Frank Miller did in the highly praised The Dark Knight Returns comic book.
Following the events in Man of Steel (in which Superman saved the planet, but General Zod's invasion caused mass destruction in Metropolis), BvS will have Batman viewing Superman - this new hero who's Godlike - as a threat. Batman V Superman's SDCC 2015 trailer revealed more about the conflict, but many questions about the dynamic between Batman and Superman remain. Now, Snyder has elaborated about the character motivations and commented on the rumor that Warner Bros' wants to see more of Batman, and less of Superman, in BvS.
While talking to The Daily Beast, Snyder explained that Batman will obviously receive a fair amount of attention - his name is in the title, after all - but that's because they're presenting a whole new cinematic version of the incredibly popular hero; one which draws blatant parallels to Millers' work:
“It’s a different Batman than the Batman that was in the Chris Nolan movies, so we have a little bit more explaining to do - and you just had a whole Superman movie. But I think only in that way, because you need to understand where Batman is with everything. And that’s more toward the beginning, but it evens back out as it goes on.”
Batman and Superman may have drastically different ways of battling evil, yet their views on the bigger picture often remain the same. Snyder stated that the cinematic version of the two heroes will still share important views, but the difference in physicality (i.e. Batman's a well trained human; Superman's a titan) will play a key role in their relationship:
“They’re actually opposite sides of the same coin. It’s interesting because Batman’s a man and Superman’s a god, if you think about it in those terms. So their relationship is very contentious. What Superman sees as Batman’s limits, Batman sees as Superman trying to control him, acting like an absolute dictator.”
Snyder added that he and Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo) focused on displaying "the humanity of each character" and attempted to justify what it would take for these two heroes to "unravel" one another. The director also stated Batman and Superman's clash is "based on each others’ understanding of the other’s weakness." Seeing as Batman is wearing armor in the trailer and it's confirmed Kryptonite exists, most fans are well aware of the fact Batman will utilize Superman's weaknesses - both physical and mental - in an effort to "win" the conflict. What Superman views as Batman's weakness - aside from Bruce's physical limitations - is another matter.
Batman V Superman not only has the task of establishing that relationship - and understanding - between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but it also must pave the way for the future of DC/WB's movies. Snyder praised Terrio's writing on BvS, and credited Christopher Nolan - the director of the previous Batman trilogy - for setting a tone that they strive to duplicate:
“Chris Terrio and I worked on [Batman v. Superman] script, and he did an amazing job. It’s great fun, but it also has an eye toward the future - it’s going toward Justice League. Early on, once we decided that we were going to put Batman in the movie, then I was like, ‘Okay, good! Because you know what that means? It means the floodgates can open!’
It’s a tricky process, setting up the DC universe, or Justice League. The credit goes to Chris Nolan because he set the die for the DC Universe in a great way that I tried to emulate. I look at it as more being mythological than, say, bubblegum. And I think that that’s appropriate for Batman and Superman because they’re the most mythological of our superheroes.”
The director also clarified on his previous comments about Steven Spielberg's belief that superhero fatigue will eventually set in:
“I feel like he’s [Steven Spielberg] right. But I feel like Batman and Superman are transcendent of superhero movies in a way, because they’re Batman and Superman. They’re not just, like, the flavor of the week Ant-Man—not to be mean, but whatever it is. What is the next Blank-Man?
Didn’t he say it was kind of like the Westerns? But there are still great Westerns. I think it’s whenever anything becomes a ‘genre,’ you have to sort of look at it and try to understand it.”
The comment about Ant-Man is guaranteed to ignite the ongoing Marvel vs. DC argument between fans - despite the two taking completely different approaches to superhero movies - but it's also important to note he's using it as a comparison to prove just how iconic Batman and Superman truly are.
Ant-Man was a hit, but it wasn't nearly as big (pun totally intended) as Marvel Studios' other projects. Could Marvel create a great cinematic future for its tiny hero? Absolutely. Will Ant-Man one day be as popular as Batman and Superman? Very unlikely, and that appears to be Snyder's point. Many heroes will appear on the big screen in the upcoming years, but few will be viewed as Batman and Superman's equal - in terms of maintaining popularity throughout the years, that is.
Snyder's vision of Superman was polarizing, and seeing as the BvS trailer didn't have a lot of dialogue from Superman, it's still unclear how the character's followup will be handled. Snyder clearly wants to give moveigoers a good look into Clark Kent's psyche, so that's a promising approach. (Not providing proper insight into Superman while the world judges him would be a big mistake.) Whether or not he delivers a compelling Superman arc is, of course, a whole different story.
As for BvS' Batman, Affleck certainly looks excellent in costume and the actor is passionate about the role, but only the final film will reveal whether a majority of fans love this new version of Batman, or if it becomes just as polarizing as the handling of Superman was in Man of Steel. After all, it does look like Batman snaps someone's neck (the desert sequence) and he potentially kills gunmen in the trailer (via his vehicle). Could this Batman be completely okay with killing his enemies or is there important context we've yet to see?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; 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; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.
Source: The Daily Beast