Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a 2016 American superhero film based on the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is a follow-up to the 2013 film Man of Steel and the second film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was directed by Zack Snyder, written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, alongside Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the first live-action film to feature Batman and Superman together, as well as the first live-action cinematic portrayal of Wonder Woman. In the film, criminal mastermind Lex Luthor manipulates Batman into a preemptive battle with Superman, who Luthor is obsessed with destroying.
The film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con after the release of Man of Steel. Snyder stated that the film would take inspiration from the Batman comic book series The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller but clarified that it would follow an original premise. The incarnation of Batman in the film is different from the character’s previous portrayal by Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy, serving as a cinematic reboot of the character. The film is also inspired by narrative elements from “The Death of Superman”. Pre-production began at East Los Angeles College in October 2013 and principal photography started in May 2014 in Detroit. Additional filming also took place in Illinois and New Mexico, concluding that December.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City on March 19, 2016, and was released in the United States on March 25, 2016. Following a strong debut that set new box office records, the film experienced a historic drop in its second weekend and never recovered. Despite grossing $873.6 million worldwide, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2016, it performed below expectations and received generally unfavorable reviews from critics. An extended cut, dubbed the “Ultimate Edition”, features 31 minutes of additional footage and was released to home media formats later in 2016.
In June 2013, Warner Bros. announced that director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer would return for a Man of Steel sequel, with the studio considering a 2015 release for the film. The following month, Snyder confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con International that the follow-up to Man of Steel would feature Superman and Batman meeting for the first time on film. Goyer and Snyder would co-write the story, and Goyer would write the script despite saying in 2006 that a ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ film “is where you go when you admit to yourself that you’ve exhausted all possibilities … an admission that this franchise is on its last gasp”. Christopher Nolan was involved in an advisory role as executive producer. Snyder and Nolan considered having Man of Steel share continuity with Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, but ultimately decided against it. Given The Dark Knight Rises (2012) ended with John Blake (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt) taking over as Batman for Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Snyder agreed that a connection between the two franchises could have “complicated things” for Batman v Superman as audiences would commonly expect to see Bruce Wayne slug it out with Superman instead of a different character using the Batman alias. According to Snyder, the film would take inspiration from the comic The Dark Knight Returns.
In November 2013, Snyder clarified his film would not be based upon the aforementioned graphic novel. “If you were going to do that, you would need a different Superman. We’re bringing Batman into the universe that now this Superman lives in.” Batman v Superman marks the first appearance of Wonder Woman in a live-action, theatrical film, which Warner Bros. had been developing as far back as 1996. In December 2013, Chris Terrio was hired to rewrite the script, due to Goyer’s commitments to other projects. Further commenting on the influences, Terrio revealed that the film would draw inspiration from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Italian semiotician Umberto Eco’s 1972 essay “The Myth of Superman”, and the W.H. Auden poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” which contrasts the quotidian details of normal people’s lives with the epic struggles of mythological figures. According to him, “In superhero stories, Batman is Pluto, god of the underworld, and Superman is Apollo, god of the sky. That began to be really interesting to me — that their conflict is not just due to manipulation, but their very existence.” The Joker and the Riddler were supposed to appear in the film, but Snyder ultimately decided to cut them from the final script.
The film’s official title, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was revealed in May 2014. Snyder stated that having the “v” in the title instead of “vs.” was a way “to keep it from being a straight ‘versus’ movie, even in the most subtle way”. Henry Cavill later stated, “I wouldn’t call this a Superman sequel […] This is Batman versus Superman. It’s a separate entity altogether. It’s introducing the Batman character and expanding upon the universe, which was kicked off by Man of Steel.” Forbes noted that although the film originated as a sequel to Man of Steel, it was “revamped into a backdoor pilot for Justice League and/or an eventual stand-alone Batman movie.” As part of a settlement with his heirs, this is the first Batman production that lists Bill Finger as a co-creator. In April 2021, Terrio revealed that his script was never titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while Snyder indicated that the name of the film was decided by studio executives and that he fought for the abbreviation of the word “versus” in the title. Potential titles that the pair had initially wanted included Justice League: Foundations, Justice League: Rising, and Son of Sun and Knight of Night.
- Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman:
A billionaire socialite and owner of Wayne Enterprises who dedicates himself to protecting Gotham City from its criminal underworld as a highly trained, masked vigilante. The Batsuit in this film is made of a form-fitting fabric as opposed to the armored suits in previous portrayals, and a mechanical suit is also featured which Batman uses in his fight against Superman. On Batman’s suit, Zack Snyder commented “I had a really strong idea about what I wanted to do – I really wanted to do sort of a fabric-based Batman; not what’s become the more normal, armored Batman. That’s how we evolved it.” Unlike previous versions who spoke in a deeper voice as Batman, this version uses a voice modulator to distort his real voice. Affleck stated a well known billionaire would likely have his voice recognized. When asked what makes this Batman different from the previous portrayals, Affleck said this Batman “is a little older, he’s a little more world-weary. He’s been around the block once or twice so he’s a little wiser but he’s definitely more cynical and a little darker and more jaded”, adding that Batman has gotten “more exposed to the violence and the criminal element of that world over time.” The film’s Batman was influenced by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which shows Batman in his 50s. Snyder said, “I definitely wanted an older Batman. I wanted a war-weary Batman. That’s why, in a lot of ways, Ben was really perfect for me – we kind of aged him a little bit. It worked really great. I’m really excited about the Batman we created.” On Affleck’s casting as Batman, Snyder said, “Ben provides an interesting counterbalance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.” Affleck praised Snyder for tackling the impact of the destruction caused in Metropolis in the previous installment, saying, “One of the things I liked was Zack’s idea of showing accountability and the consequences of violence and seeing that there are real people in those buildings”, adding, “And in fact, one of those buildings was Bruce Wayne’s building so he knew people who died in that Black Zero event”. Brandon Spink portrays a young Bruce Wayne.
- Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman:
A Metropolis-based Kryptonian survivor and a journalist for the Daily Planet who uses his extraterrestrial abilities to protect humanity. Superman’s suit in Batman v Superman is somewhat similar to that in Man of Steel, but with enhanced, high-tech-style surface detail and a shinier, more metallic-looking cape. A quote written in Kryptonian was added into Superman’s symbol which says “Where we had thought to stand alone, we will be with all the world”. The film addresses the destruction caused by Superman and Zod in Metropolis, a part of Man of Steel that was criticized for being too extensive for Superman, to which Snyder responded “I was surprised because that’s the thesis of Superman for me, that you can’t just have superheroes knock around and have there be no consequences”. On what the public perception of Superman is in the film, Cavill said “In this movie, everyone has split into different directions as to how they feel about this alien”, adding, “Some people love him, some hate him. Other people fear him. Is he a tyrant?” When asked how Superman has evolved since Man of Steel, Cavill said “Superman himself isn’t that different. He does, however, have to deal with a new set of problems because he’s now been revealed to the world. This film is more about how the world in general – and Batman in particular – sees this alien, and less about the evolution of Superman.” Cavill described Superman and Batman as being the “two sides of the same coin. They have the same goal, but use very different methods to achieve it. Understandably, that leads them to clash with one another, and their conflict is a historic moment.”
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane:
A reporter for the Daily Planet and love interest of Clark Kent. About her role, Adams stated that “Lois is still sort of like the key to the information. She’s the girl going out and getting it and figuring it out and putting it together and all of that, so she’s very much involved.” When asked on her thoughts on portraying Lois Lane in the film, Adams replied “I love that she’s fearless. I’m not that way so it’s really fun that she really is not afraid of the consequences.” On Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s relationship in the film, Adams said, “What’s great about this is that, as far as the relationship with Lois and Clark goes, when we meet them you can tell that they’ve been in a relationship for while,” further explaining, “So it was great to get to develop that sort of intimacy and that sort of friendship that I’ve developed with Henry, to get to bring that to the screen.” She also described Clark Kent as being Lois Lane’s connection to humanity and said, “She may have some tunnel vision, but she’s got a job and moral standards. [When] we met her before, she would do anything to get the story – now Clark has instilled some faith in humanity in her. Her relationship with Clark is the closest thing she has to anything faith-based, you know? Although moving in with Clark brings issues.”
- Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor:
An eccentric young businessman and hereditary CEO of LexCorp who is obsessed with defeating Superman. Luthor is usually depicted as bald in the comics while the film’s version of Luthor depicts him with hair throughout the majority of the film. When speaking about his portrayal of Luthor compared to previous portrayals, Eisenberg said, “When you’re doing a movie like this and playing a character that’s already been played, the further away it is from those previous incarnations the better”, adding, “Because chances are, especially with a guy like Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey, you’re not going to get favorably compared.” Eisenberg explained his character’s background as having “a core of reality”, saying, “[Luthor] has a backstory that’s tragic and an emotional inner life that’s authentic. That’s in the movie. It was my interest in playing the character with a real emotional core, and this writer, Chris Terrio’s interest in creating a character that seemed viable in reality.” On Luthor’s behavior and attitude towards Superman, Eisenberg said, “He is a narcissist of the first order but complicated in that way as well in that he is terribly troubled and competitive and vengeful. He looks at Superman not as somebody to destroy but as genuine threat to humanity.” Eisenberg described his role as Lex Luthor as his most advantageous role yet, saying, “In a lot of ways Luthor is more of a stretch than any character you would do in an independent movie, which is normally the place you stretch. So in that way it was not at all compromised. If anything it was the best, most advantageous role I’ve ever been given. The opportunity to do an interesting character on a movie of that scale is incredibly rare.” Eisenberg describes a theme in the film, saying, “It raises the question of how one man can have so much power. These are the kind of things that we talk about authoritarian states. They’re addressing geopolitics in this movie and not in a way that’s pretentious or esoteric”.
- Diane Lane as Martha Kent:
Clark’s adoptive mother. On her role as Superman’s mother, Lane stated, “I always said if I had a son that would be the ultimate test. Raise a good man — there’s something noble about that.” When asked on her experience working with Zack Snyder on Batman v Superman, Lane said she was impressed by Snyder’s imagination and added, “Who gets offered the opportunity to bring such things to the screen for millions of people? That’s tremendous. It’s an honor and a burden, and I can’t imagine shouldering that load.” On Martha Kent’s support for her son Superman, Lane stated, “I think that she’s reminding him he does have a choice”, further explaining, “He doesn’t have to be yoked to this destiny. He can actually feel the pleasure of making the choice.”
- Laurence Fishburne as Perry White:
The editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet and Clark and Lois’ boss. When asked about reprising his role in the film, Fishburne said, “I was happy to come back to the character. I got really excited when I read it and I saw what was at the center at the movie, which was this huge fight between these two titans.” On Perry White’s role in the film, Fishburne said, “He’s dealing with the fact that his medium looks like it’s going the way of the dinosaurs, so that’s a difficult position to be in”, adding, the “good news is he’s got a great reporter like Lois Lane and a new great reporter like Clark Kent who are interested and hungry to do the job.” Describing Perry White’s working relationship with Lois Lane, Fishburne stated, “She’s my favorite child and she’s my problem child.” On his experience filming and his character’s interactions, Fishburne said, “It was really just a couple of days in the beginning with Lois, Clark, and Perry. And the rest was just me with Lois, figuring out how to get her where she needed to go. But the relationships I think were established really well in Man of Steel.”
- Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth:
Bruce Wayne’s butler, chief of security and trusted confidant. Irons described his take on Alfred Pennyworth as being “quite a different Alfred than we have seen so far. Zack Snyder had very clear views about what he wanted. I would just say he’s more hands-on perhaps than just a butler.” When asked what makes his Alfred different from previous portrayals, Irons said, “Zack Snyder, the director, wanted to create a completely different Alfred. So I felt I didn’t have to carry any baggage from previous ones. It’s sort of a reincarnation, if you’d like. I had a feeling I was creating my own Alfred, more of a man who can actually do anything if he has to.” According to Irons, Alfred is “a bit of a grease monkey, and he’s very involved in the decisions Bruce makes.” On how Alfred would be in the film, Irons stated, “He has an interesting history. He’s a very competent man. He’s the sort of man I think anyone would like to be married to. He can sort of do everything: change light bulbs, blow up bridges if he has to.”
- Holly Hunter as June Finch:
United States Senator from Kentucky who heads the political argument on Superman and his actions. Describing her experience on being in the film, Hunter said, “It was really fun to be part of a giant, massive piece of machinery, headed up by Zack Snyder, who is thoroughly at home in that uber mega environment. Most people would have a nervous breakdown with that kind of pressure, and he’s enthralled.” When asked how she got involved in the film, Hunter said, “Zack asked me. He came to me with an offer, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that would be fun.’ It’s fun to mix it up. I have scenes with Superman. He looks phenomenal. And to see Ben [Affleck, who plays Batman] and Henry [Cavill, who plays Superman] together is quite formidable.” On acting in a superhero film, Hunter stated, “Being somebody who’s like a theater geek that I am, I can just go right back to Aeschylus and Euripides and Sophocles. They were writing about gods and goddesses versus humans, and how gods could distort, pervert or help people get what they want. And so, for me, this didn’t feel foreign because that was the translation that it went through for me; that was my filter.” On her character’s views on Superman, Hunter stated, “What is her problem with Superman? That absolute power corrupts absolutely. When power is acting autonomously, unilaterally with no legislation, with no boundaries, with no law, except for the ones that he deems in his own mind, that can be detrimental.” Describing her character, Hunter said, “I thought that, you know, as a senator, she brought her female-ness to the job in how she listened, in her curiosity, in her ability to evaluate”, adding, “[It] felt very female to me.”
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman:
An immortal Amazonian warrior who is the crown princess of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s suit is made out of chrome-painted polyurethane, and she uses her hand wraps and sword harnesses. Gadot described her character as having “many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day, she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence”. Describing Wonder Woman’s compassion, Gadot stated, “It’s all her heart—that’s her strength. I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do.” On her thoughts on portraying Wonder Woman, Gadot said, “You know Wonder Woman; she’s amazing. I love everything that she represents and everything that she stands for. She’s all about love and compassion and truth and justice and equality, and she’s a whole lot of woman. For me, it was important that people can relate to her.” Describing her role in the film, Gadot said, “In this movie you get a glimpse of who Wonder Woman is — she’s being introduced into this DC Comics universe. But we were talking about her strengths, her façade, her attitude. Why is she acting the way she is?” On Wonder Woman’s battle scene with Doomsday, Gadot stated, “I remember after we did that take, Zack came to me and he said, ‘Did you just have a smirk?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he asked, ‘Why? I think I like it, but why?’ ‘Well, if he’s gonna mess with her, then she’s gonna mess with him. And she knows she’s gonna win.’ At the end of the day, Wonder Woman is a peace seeker. But when fight arrives, she can fight. She’s a warrior and she enjoys the adrenaline of the fight.” Gadot also stated “I don’t want people to think she is perfect”, further explaining, “She can be naughty.” On Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman, Snyder said “Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role.” Gadot underwent a diet and training regimen, practiced different martial arts and gained 17 pounds of muscle for the role. Gadot was previously offered the role as Faora Hu-Ul in Man of Steel but declined because she was pregnant at that time; this allowed her to be later cast as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Scoot McNairy as Wallace Keefe:
An amputee employee of Wayne Enterprises who is crippled during the destruction of Metropolis and holds Superman responsible. McNairy describes his character as a type of character who he has never played before and stated “getting into that thing was definitely something I had to wrap my head around emotionally in order to play that character.” When asked if the character was being kept as a surprise until the film’s release, McNairy said “I don’t know if I’d call it necessarily a surprise. I would say it’s a character that lends itself to the story being told.” On his thoughts on being in the film, McNairy stated “Playing in that world with comic books you’ve been reading since you were a kid, being someone in that world, it’s awesome.”
- Callan Mulvey as Anatoli Knyazev:
A Russian terrorist who works for Luthor. On casting Mulvey in the film, Zack Snyder stated, “I just had the good fortune to work with Callan on 300: Rise of an Empire and was very impressed with his incredible talent,” further adding, “He’s a fantastic actor and I’m looking forward to having the chance to work with him again.” On working with Snyder again, Mulvey stated “Zack is such a visionary, so I know it’s going to be an amazing project. Talent as a director aside, people really love working for Zack and being on his sets, which says it all really.”
- Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves:
Assistant to Luthor. On her role in the film, Okamoto said “It was so fascinating. I didn’t have a big speaking role. I used to act as sassy girls all the time as a model so that wasn’t so challenging to me. But I enjoyed it so much, being mean. I tried to be mean.” On Okamoto’s casting, Snyder said “Tao is a striking presence whose beauty is aptly rivaled by her amazing abilities as an actress. I’m really excited to have her joining us on this adventure.”
March 25, 2016
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