Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Fortune.com recently ran a fun profile of Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor Jr., before it was announced that LexCorp would provide free wi-fi at New York Comic Con. Eisenberg, as Luthor, recalls the actor’s role as Mark Zuckerberg in 2010’s The Social Network, quick-witted, intelligent, kind of whiny, a business wunderkind. This version of Luthor inherited his business from his late father, and seems well-spoken, thoughtful, and humane. This is a major departure from prior interpretations of the often cold and heartless Lex Luthor: Batman vs Superman’s Lex is so evil that he’s vegan! This news, like the rest of the esoteric marketing, has stirred fans to question this reading of Luthor: he doesn’t seem very threatening.
Batman vs Superman also reinvents Batman, and unlike Luthor, this Batman definitely is threatening. This new Batman is wide, aged, and tough, taking more than a few notes from Frank Miller‘s seminal graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. According to the movie’s costume designer, Michael Wilkinson, the wide bat on Batman’s chest purposefully resembles the symbol from that graphic novel: Batman vs Superman is wearing its influences on its sleeves. Batman’s armor near the end of this teaser trailer is clearly out of the book, and a specific shot from the new trailer is straight from the first cover of the original serialized Dark Knight Returns.
Luthor and Batman aren’t the only reinvention in the film. Its subtitle, Dawn of Justice, hints at WB‘s plans to spin a cinematic universe out of this movie, flipping Marvel’s approach on the same idea. Whereas Marvel made many singular films before having the characters meet each other in 2012’s The Avengers, WB is starting off their universe by putting a large fraction of the Justice League into the first movie. Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman appears in the trailers; and theres the poster featuring what might be the coolest looking Aquaman ever, played by Game of Thrones‘s Khal Drogo, Jason Momoa. In classic esoteric fashion, the poster reads “unite the seven,” hinting perhaps that these aren’t the only heroes that might find their way into the movie. Is the poster asking us to put together the Justice League? If so, who make up the seven? Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman make four; Variety recently reported that Ray Fisher will play Cyborg, and the Latino Review recently reported that Jena Malone will play Batgirl. Whatever the seven is, WB’s cinematic universe plans have been announced, and it looks like we’ll see much more than seven heroes in the near future.
Much of what we know of Batman vs Superman’s plot also seems to be inspired by The Dark Knight Returns. In that comic, an aging Batman takes on Superman, who is at that point an agent for the United States government. Like that graphic novel, the movie seeks to answer that eternal question, the one geeks have waged wars over for years: which World’s Finest would win? The Man of Steel or the Dark Knight? The Last Son of Krypton or the Caped Crusader? Time will tell. Any seasoned comic book veteran knows that most of the time when superheroes get together to fight, they end up getting together to fight something else anyway.
The newest trailer places Bruce Wayne in the forefront of the calamitous events at the end of Man of Steel, where Superman and his fellow Kryptonian General Zod destroy much of Metropolis just throwing each other against buildings. Is Batman putting Superman on trial for this wanton destruction? Many wacky rumors have rose and fell since the movie’s announcement, some more bizarre than others. On Reddit, fans speculate about about any detail left vague, and sometimes about details that are pretty clearly defined already. Some fans believe that Batman vs Superman takes place in an “alternative dimension” from the Man of Steel universe; at least one fan believes that Batman vs Superman takes place in the same universe as the Christopher Nolan films, and that perhaps Batman isn’t Batman at all.
Some of the savvier fans wonder who the “real villain” will be: the big winner on that front was Doomsday until a 3D artist working on Batman vs Superman revealed that the villain will not be Doomsday. Some believe that the bad guy will be a resurrected General Zod, Michael Shannon‘s villain from Man of Steel, or as a failed clone Bizarro version of Zod. Maybe the most bizarre rumor came from General Zod himself. Shannon told Vulture that his character now has “flippers instead of hands” (and that because of this strange costume choice, he ended up stranded in a Porta-Potty, unable to open the door). Unfortunately, Shannon later admitted that he was just joking.
Will Batman vs Superman live up to the hype? Will any of our questions be answered? We’ll figure out the truth, justice, and American way all about this and more when Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice lands in theaters on March 26, 2016.