Zack Snyder is no stranger to directing film adaptations of popular comic books or dealing with iconic characters. His résumé includes the graphic novels “300” and “Watchmen,” the Superman reboot “Man of Steel” and its brand new follow-up “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and he’s already in preproduction on “The Justice League Part One,” itself a follow-up to the new film. Snyder has always been into going huge on his movies, often combining massive sets with state-of-the-art green screen technology. “Batman v Superman,” which purports to turn the two superheroes into super enemies, is no exception. The action is massive and breathtaking, but Snyder also manages to perfectly combine it with emotional impact. He spoke about the film last week in Hollywood.
Q: So, how come Batman got top billing? Was this ever going to be called “Superman v Batman?”
A: From a philosophical viewpoint, which is the only way I can think about things (laughs), I wanted to put the human in the God-human relationship first. I don’t know if Ben (Affleck) and Henry (Cavill) heard the title before they heard the concept, but I hope they did. I’ve had a lot of questions. One of my favorites is when someone says, “Batman versus Superman … how is this possible?” But, I made a two hour-plus movie that sort of explains it. So, yes, the notion is crazy, yet at the same time, the road is well established that leads to “Batman v Superman.” They had been pitted against each other in the [Frank Miller] comic books. It’s not a thing we made up.
Q: You also have Wonder Woman in this film, as well as snippets of other DC characters, and you’re already at work on “The Justice League.” Has the idea of turning all of this into an expanding franchise been the plan for a long time?
A: The thing that’s interesting with the process of this movie and the way that it’s evolved is that the idea of having Batman fight Superman is ridiculous. But once we had committed to that ridiculous idea it was only then that it was implied that there’s a universe where Batman and Superman exist together. I know it seems obvious in the comic book world, but it had not existed in the movies. So once that idea had taken root, and existed as reality, well, I am and have been obsessed with the Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman), and really wanted to see the Trinity in a single moment. I thought that would be cool.
So, those conversations are what led to this “Dawn of Justice” subheading for the film. Then we could begin to talk about the fact that the Justice League and the DC universe could now evolve from this. The serendipitous nature of this movie has allowed the worlds to coalesce. It became a plan and it’s becoming a thing, but it was only in its infancy that we realized it could happen.
Q: Was it a big challenge to balance the emotional depth of the characters with all of the action?
A: The tone of a film is always the number one aspect I’m interested in. This movie is self-reflecting in some subtle ways. In that, when you have icons of this magnitude and a mythology of this magnitude, there’s a little bit of letting off the hook. We take it very seriously, but at the same time there’s a self-awareness to the movie that I think you have to have in order for it to resonate on any kind of second level beyond just, “Oh, look! These two superheroes are fighting, and that’s cool!”
I think Chris Terrio has written an amazingly intelligent script about what power is, what justice is, and what our relationships to these mythic characters are. All these questions. To me, that’s the balance, more than the balance between action and drama. So I got to tell a slightly bigger story than just Batman versus Superman. Though the dork in me is completely satisfied by that, I do think that the film is richer.
Ed Symkus writes movie reviews for More Content Now.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens on March 25.