Our Conversation with the Batman v Superman Super-Team
Batman v Superman is nothing if not ambitious. Although Marvel paved the way to blockbuster superhero films, DC was there first, including the Big 3, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Serious ambition was the only way Warner Bros (who own DC Comics) could compete on the big screen. Beyond the characters, Batman and Superman have dual roles as regular people and superheros, illustrating the debate between power versus will and whether or not they have to lose themselves into these characters and what helps them get there faster, the little boy hero complex or the adult male hero complex, the cast had a lot to say.
Ben Affleck: “I have too many complexes to sort through, any of them will do, really! (laughs) I think you are on to something when you talk about the will versus strength of Batman. I think one of the reasons that this character has resonated since the FDR administration with audiences regardless of the way the country has changed or politics and pop culture has changed is that you have a guy who on the one hand is powerful and exciting and can do things we all wish we could do, but is also still a human being and struggling with his own vulnerabilities and fragility and struggling with his own will.”
“He is kind of accomplishes things through force of will and that was fun and exciting to play. I think I tapped into equal measure my adult geekness and kid excitement for this movie. Everyday there was something new to geek out about and be excited by and say ‘I can’t believe I get to be in this movie’ and it was exciting everyday.”
Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman) was not concerned about being accepted as the Amazon Princess for the first time on the silver screen, “You can’t please them all. For me, being an actress, my responsibility is not to pay too much attention to all the noise around me, but to pay attention to the script, to the director and protect the character and try to tell her story the best I can and I can only do my best.”
“It’s a huge honor to be the one who got this amazing opportunity to tell such an important story. I feel very, very grateful. I never planned on being an actress and I never planned on being Wonder Woman and everything happened, so I’m incredibly grateful and happy and I’m in love with what I do.”
Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman): “Gal did such a great and amazing job. She made all the scenes that I was in with her better. Made me better. She’s my favorite part of the movie, when she shows up, and I don’t want to give anything away, but she helps me out! She’s a terrific actress and I think Wonder Woman is going to be very good.” Henry Cavil (Clark Kent/Superman) added “Gal cuts a fine fit as Wonder Woman. She brings something particularly statuesque, something otherworldly to the character and it’s remarkable to see.”
On immediate/first reaction to the title of the film and would it ever have been called Superman v Batman…
Zack Snyder: Honestly, Batman v Superman, for me, from a philosophical stand-point, is that I wanted to put the human versus the god-human first and for me, I don’t know about these guys, if they heard the title first or the concept, however while the notion is crazy, at the same time the road is well established that leads to Batman v Superman. Them being pitted against each other in the comic books is not a thing we made up.
Ben Affleck: The Dark Knight Returns is something that obviously had that precedent before with the Frank Miller book and having seen that I was already tuned into what it could be and I was hoping that was the angle Zack was going to be taking. He had the little sculpture from that up in his office and I thought ‘this guy is definitely on the right track’.
Henry Cavill: I agree with Ben, I had read the comic books, especially the Frank Miller one, and also the relationship in the comic books between Batman and Superman. The idea was nothing but exciting because we’re opening up the cinematic universe for all of DC.
On entering a complex world combining so many heroes…
Diane Lane (Martha Kent): You just don’t think the stakes can get any higher and they we find out they can! It’s definitely thrilling to witness the film and the final product and see my thread in the tapestry and how it reverberates throughout the story. Also, selfishly it was really great to have both films be the commencement of this huge production and Martha provides a gentle beginning comparative to where we’re headed. It’s nice to break in the crew and have the first day of school all together.
Laurence Fishburne (Perry White): I’m a huge fan and comic book reader and collector and have been since I was a kid. For me, this is a movie I have been waiting to see for 35 years and I can’t even believe I’m in the movie!
How about the new face, with a new direction and temperament of the primary villian, Lex Luthor? Jessie Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) told us “It’s certainly strange and unnerving to be criticized for a part you haven’t yet been able to screw up! I think I also would have been surprised to read that I was playing Lex Luther without having had access to this wonderful script and this incredible character written by Chris Terrio, who created a character who I thought was suitable for me.”
“If you look at just the canon and the mythology and this history of Superman, I might not be the first person to come to mind, but if you read the script and understood how the character was contextualized in this kind of modern era and the way he was written I knew that I could do it well and I at least hoped that after people had seen the movie they would understand that I was more appropriate than they had originally feared”
Some say art imitates life, it’s probably truer to say that art reflects life. With the two biggest comic companies presenting BvS and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, both feature a backdrop story about how involved the government should be in harnessing the powers of superfolk – where does individual freedom come in, and where does society’s safety come in? Who’s to decide who or what is safe? These are things Americans consider in every election.
On what it was like to have such a character specifically written for you in the DC Universe, Holly Hunter (Senator Finch) said “It is liberating in comparison to everyone else who is on this panel. It was lovely to have a character who was in the midst of this mayhem in the story and bring some sense and sensibility to the proceedings and to be dealing with a character that is as combustible as Lex, especially as Jesse’s Lex is, a volatile and complicated and emotional as he is, it was really a fun ride to take with him. We navigated the waters of staying incredibly open and curious to what his point of view was and then as knowledge accumulates to arrive at a decision that I felt was rational and reasonable.”
On advice to women out there in regards to female superheros and female empowerment…
Gal Gadot: “I have a four year old daughter and she just adores princesses and at the same time she would tell me that the princess was so weak and she falls asleep, the prince will come and save her. kiss her and he’s the hero. I’m so happy to be the one that’s going to tell the Wonder Woman story, which is such an important story to be told and I’m grateful for it, but I also think it’s so important for girls and boys to have a strong female superhero to look up to and the more the merrier. There is plenty of room for many more women to come and I’m very, very happy to be a part of that.”
On the significance of both Batman and Superman having a mother named Martha and it creating a bond…
Zack Snyder: “When we were talking about that whole aspect of the movie and what is the thing that humanizes Superman for Batman, it seemed very interesting for us to kind of think about it in those terms. He’s basically looking at someone who now has a mother and that’s different and he become different in that moment.”
“To Batman, the idea that this, what he would consider an alien or otherworldly creature, who could care less about humanity and bring himself to a place that would normally be very emotionally difficult for Batman to even get to and he had whipped himself into such a fever that he had achieved the thing that maybe that was even particularly difficult for him. To kind of now see that guy look in a mirror, that was the idea and fans, I don’t know how they’re going to feel about it.”
Ben Affleck: “I actually forgot that their mother’s had the same name, but it is one of my favorite scenes in the movie as a fan when Batman meets Martha Kent.”
On becoming a superhero veteran love interest…
Amy Adams (Lois Lane): “You never really get used to it as the scale is always so impressive. Every time I walk on set I’m completely blown away and what has been so nice is getting to know everyone over the course of the years and to bring these relationships that we’ve all established over the course of working together and getting to use that in the film. We grow as the characters grow, so it’s been a real joy to get to come back with all these lovely folks again, as well as, all of the news ones who I am just absolutely in love with.”
On a sequence or moment from the film that will always be remembered…
Diane Lane: “My scene with Batman was the first time we saw Ben in all of his Batman regalia, so that definitely stands out at memorable. Ben in this role and how fabulous he is!”
Ben Affleck: “It was a very unnerving day, the first day wearing the suit and being on camera and you think ‘well, here it is … I’m really doing this’ and it was really nice to have Diane there as a friendly face and a great actress who kind of looked at me saying ‘it’s going to be okay’ and I really appreciated that!”
Henry Cavill: “It’s tough for me to say while shooting because I was in a green room at the time, but certainly I feel like I felt it after watching the movie, but the third act for me in particular resonated and it was probably while watching the movie that I felt the most and got to step outside of the actor and was part of the audience.”
Amy Adams: “I’m going to go with the bathtub scene (laughs) I’m just kidding, it was actually horrible trying to protect my modesty in unflattering garments while like the demi-god stood above me with his shirt off, I was like low self-esteem for two weeks after that (laughs). I had so much fun on this film and I love working with Henry so much and really getting to come back to that relationship in a richer way was awesome, but there’s a moment in the third act with Diane that became one of my favorite moments. It was just a quiet moment between two women and as an actress I like quiet moments.”
On looking at Batman and his duality of character and Superman’s overall changes
Ben Affleck: “There’s a store called Millionaire Picnic, which is still open I think, where I bought the Frank Miller book when I was younger and that was the first comic that really took my appreciation for this genre to another level. It was at the time when people were doing a lot of innovating in that way and “Watchmen” came out around the same time, which was newer and more adult, complicated and sophisticated ways of looking at this world started to be developed in the comics genre. It took the movie business 20 years to catch up, to be willing to mine this genre and these stories for really complicated, interesting and resonance rich stories, but it has now obviously.”
“Zack has said often times that he felt Bruce Wayne was a mask or a character that he put on as much as Batman was and he liked the idea that there was kind of ritual of just putting on the suit and getting ready, the way he looked and the whole thing was kind of like putting on a mask to the world and presenting this alter ego Bruce Wayne person to the world. I thought that was interesting and I like the idea that both Bruce Wayne and Batman were both really sort of unhealthy people, who engage in unhealthy behavior at night as a result of psychological scars they bore from childhood. That duality was something really interesting to explore.”
Henry Cavill: “For me this felt very much like the development of Superman, of the character we know and love from the comic books. We are still not there yet. We are looking at the guy growing up, he’s become this Superman after discovering he was Ka-El (sp?) in the first movie and now he’s facing off against this second guy and it’s a tough outing for him because it’s against a psychological enemy, as opposed to a physical enemy such as Zodd was and we see him make mistakes. We also see him grow from those mistakes and learn from them.”
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