“I never feel that you play Batman; you play Bruce Wayne. It’s really where your investment is and it pays off into the Batman side of things. Zack approached me and had a really specific take on the character: this was not a guy who was 25 and mourning the death of his parents and decided to become a vigilante but instead was a guy who had been a vigilante for 20 years and [is thinking], ‘What’s the point? Is it worth anything?’ and who then loses friends during the ‘Black Zero’ event and blamed Superman… and channels all his rage and disillusion about him.”
So says Ben Affleck, setting the scene for the superhero slugfest that’s been controversial since the very moment it was announced. It is both a sequel to Zack Snyder’s equally controversial Man of Steel and a cinematic take on some of the themes first introduced in Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns, one of the graphic-novels that revolutionised the comics industry almost thirty years ago. That story ended with a climactic clash between an aged, cynical and weary Bruce Wayne/Batman and a compromised Clark Kent/Superman who’d become little more than a government stooge. They had both been heroes, but approached their place in the world – and the duties that covered – in very different ways.
It’s that ‘Black Zero’ event – the devastating battle that caused so many (largely off-screen) casualties in Man of Steel that kickstarts the animosity between the two ‘heroes’…
“I think it’s interesting to note that these two guys who are at total odds in this movie actually want the same thing in truth. I mean… that’s the question people ask: ‘WHY Batman versus Superman? Why are they fighting..?’ because they see them both as good guys. And the movie kind of points out that two people who both consider themselves good guys can find themselves on opposite ends of a complex, “Affleck offers.”The story for Bruce Wayne begins with this ‘black zero’ event, which they call the end for the Man of Steel. Zod was fighting Superman, there’s lasers ripping apart buildings, things are blowing up and he goes rushing back to his building in Metropolis because of his people that he wants to take care of and get out and see if they’re okay. When he arrives he’s only in time to see a building get sawed in half and you know what happens to the people that were in that building. That leaves that scar on him and is what drives him through the rest of the movie…”
“When it comes down to Batman, Clark/Superman doesn’t agree with the way he carries out justice,” Henry Cavill counters. “He understands that Batman is trying to do this ‘justice’ thing but Clark’s view is entirely different. His view is: ‘go about it in an ethical manner ‘where Batman is: ‘At any cost inflict justice’. And that’s essentially where they come to blows because they’re trying to achieve the same thing but through entirely different methods.
“A lot of people want to direct their fear against something and whether it be everyday real world stuff or whether it be this new god in the sky or whether it be them praising this saviour or hating him. These are the things that he faces. He’s still trying to do the right thing – and do the right thing by everyone – and ignore the slings and arrows. But at the same time try and find an understanding and get a closer connection to humanity. He has a connection to humanity through Lois (and Martha and Jonathan as well when he grew up) but otherwise he needs to study humans and their reaction to him so he knows how to be and how to best serve the human race,” he continues. “The setting of the world is a world in which Superman exists for the first time and so it’s a world in turmoil, in flux and it’s the human response, so you see the human response in Batman who fears him. You see the human response in Lex Luthor, who hates him because he hates a part of himself.”
Perhaps the boys and their toys can have some sense knocked into them by the third superhero at the party, even though she doesn’t make the title. Wonder Woman arrives to shake things up in the form of Gal Gadot.
“I think now is the time to bring Wonder Woman in because we have Superman, we have that baseline, we have the flipside of the coin – which is Batman – and we’re missing that third essential piece of the triangle, which is the female power and how that is approached and how justice is approached from that direction,” Cavill explains.
“I give Gal credit: she’s just a movie star. She’s beautiful, strong, assertive, a really good actress. She’s exactly who you would want for that part!” Affleck agrees.