Even if you’re not the biggest comic book/superhero fan, you’ll have known, with all the excitement ratcheting up around it, of the impending release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film hits Indian theatres on March 25, and now is as good a time as any to have a primer of sorts for what the plot offers. Here’s a quick lowdown for you, before you book those tickets!
Has there ever been a film that brought together arguably the two biggest superheroes in the world? Yes, Marvel may have its Avengers but with all their fan following, the Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man can hardly be said to have the same stature as Batman or Superman. And if the presence of these two towering figures isn’t enough, we’ll also have a glimpse of the “Trinity” — the trio of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — fighting crime together. Incidentally, Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot in this film, will be seen on the big screen after 78 years.
Why this film is a ‘Marvel’ of a sort
While Marvel has always capitalised on the Marvel-verse — a common universe that all its superheroes inhabit, and where happenings in one story/plot have a bearing on others as well, DC has been slower to showcase its extended universe. The Batman and Superman films it has produced so far, as well as TV shows based on DC characters, have tended for the most part, not to have too many cross-promotions. But that has changed with Batman v Superman. Dawn of Justice is the second in a film chain that began with 2013’s Man of Steel. It will put into motion the Justice League Part One film, meant to release in 2017, and Part Two in 2019. All of these films are directed by Zac Snyder.
While Dawn of Justice reprises characters (and actors) from Man of Steel — notably Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane — it also introduces a whole host of new superheroes, beginning with Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg etc. DC is clearly bringing out all its big guns with this film. However, the Joker (played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad) is not part of the film, neither is the “Boy Wonder” Robin. Sigh, we will miss his priceless exclamations.
Spin-offs in the works
If so many superheroes feature in Batman v Superman, it is also because the stage is being set for them to have their own films over this year and the next. Apart from the Justice League films, the DC universe will be extended through films like Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), The Flash (2018), Aquaman (2018), Shazam (2019), Cyborg (2020) and Green Lantern Corps (2020).
So just what are Batman and Superman up to in Dawn of Justice?
Dawn of Justice picks up 18 months after where Man of Steel left off. This is about Superman aka Kal El aka Clark Kent, after the Kryptonian attack on Metropolis. Bruce Wayne aka Batman decides that someone needs to hold Superman accountable, setting the stage for a confrontation and a possible crime-fighting alliance that will someday take the shape of the Justice League.
Superman in the meantime is busy trying to save Lois from all kinds of peril, even as another woman — Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman — is closely observing both Batman and Superman.
Among the plot points explored is a congressional committee being set up to govern Superman’s powers — which does seem like a throwback to the senate trying to regulate the powers of mutants in X-Men.
Does Batman in Dawn of Justice have anything to do with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy?
The short answer is no, and that’s why Christian Bale was not brought in to reprise the character. Dawn of Justice is a reboot, and is set in a universe that’s different from the one that Nolan’s Batman inhabited (Nolan’s trilogy was influenced by The Dark Knight series by Frank Miller, a grittier take than usual on Batman and Gotham). However, its darker tone no doubt owes something to the Nolan trilogy, which moved away from the campy look that had characterised earlier Batman films, such as the ones starring Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney as the caped vigilante.
Who do we think has the best lines in the film?
So there’s going to be plenty of snide repartee between Batman and Superman, when they aren’t fighting each other with their fists. But the best line, in the trailer at least, goes to trusty old Alfred (played by Jeremy Irons) who tells our Batman, “Even you’ve got too old to die young — although it’s not for want of trying. Gal Gadot quipping “Oh you’ve never seen a woman like me” to Batman, right before we see a shot of her in trademark Wonder Woman battle gear, comes a close second.
Oh, and before we end — just because comic books, and superhero films, are so big on alternate universes, here’s a fan’s vision of what Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would have looked like, had it been made in 1995:
And here’s the 2016 version: