Stars dis­cuss long-awaited su­per­hero bat­tle

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Josh Rot­ten­berg

For­get Hil­lary ver­sus the Don­ald. Hol­ly­wood has its own clash of the ti­tans com­ing, and it’s likely to be yuge.

Comic book fans have long de­bated who would win in an all-out bat­tle be­tween two of the su­per­hero realm’s most for­mi­da­ble icons, Bat­man and Su­per­man. In di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der’s “Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice,” in the­aters March 25, that heavy­weight ti­tle bout, which has been de­picted nu­mer­ous times in the comics, most fa­mously in Frank Miller’s clas­sic 1986 se­ries “The Dark Knight Re­turns,” will fi­nally play out on the big screen.

A fol­low-up to Sny­der’s 2013 “Man of Steel,” the su­per­hero mashup sees a venge­ful Bat­man (Ben Af­fleck) tak­ing on Su­per­man (Henry Cav­ill), whom he views as a threat to hu­mankind, even as a mu­tual foe emerges in the form of psy­cho­pathic tech ge­nius Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisen­berg). Bud­geted at $250 mil­lion, “Bat­man v Su­per­man” rep­re­sents a crit­i­cal gam­bit in Warner Bros.’ bid to ex­pand its DC Comics cin­e­matic uni­verse and unite all of DC’s mar­quee he­roes, a la Marvel’s “The Avengers.”

On a re­cent af­ter­noon, we spoke with Af­fleck, 43, Cav­ill, 32, and Sny­der, 50, about the su­per­sized stakes be­hind one of the year’s most highly an­tic­i­pated comic book epics. This is an edited tran­script.

Q: How did the idea of putting Bat­man and Su­per­man to­gether in one movie first come up?

A: Sny­der: It was born from a con­ver­sa­tion about what to do with Su­per­man (af­ter “Man of Steel”), what to face Su­per­man off against next. I was also re­ally in­ter­ested in ex­pand­ing the comic book uni­verse. I think Chris (Nolan) did an amaz­ing job with those three Bat­man movies he did, but, to me, those worlds are very self-con­tained. If Green Lan­tern came into the Dark Knight movies, you’d be like, “That’s weird.”

I re­ally wanted the “Man of Steel” world to be a world where other DC char­ac­ters could ex­ist. So I was talk­ing to Chris, and I said, al­most off the cuff, “What if Bat­man was the bad guy?” And once you say that, you can’t take it back. I mean, who’s a bet­ter guy to fight than Bat­man?

Q: The ob­vi­ous ques­tion you face right away is how do you have th­ese two bat­tle? Bat­man has amaz­ing fight­ing skills and weapons, but Su­per­man is ba­si­cally indestructible and could just throw him out to Saturn if he wanted to.

A: Af­fleck: It’s a credit to what a good guy Su­per­man is. Put it this way: It takes an hour of sto­ry­telling to make it plau­si­ble. You don’t just ring the bell at the be­gin­ning, and they go out and start fight­ing like “Alien vs. Preda­tor.”

Sny­der: It’s cool to have the setup where it’s like, “This guy is a man. This guy is a god.” They do fight, and the fight is com­pelling. That’s the fun, that you have th­ese two ti­tans of that uni­verse, and we got to use that play­ground to set them at each other. And the mythol­ogy is so rich, you can mine it all day.

Q: Ben, you’ve said you were ini­tially re­luc­tant about play­ing Bat­man. You once said star­ring in “Dare­devil” “in­oc­u­lated” you from ever play­ing an­other su­per­hero.

A: Af­fleck: I just thought it wasn’t a good fit. But I went in and met with Zack and saw this kind of vis­ual 360 of posters and draw­ings and ac­tion fig­ures and an­i­mat­ics, and I was to­tally blown away. All of the sud­den I saw some­thing I’d never seen be­fore and hadn’t even imag­ined. This genre is the big­gest fo­rum for telling sto­ries in the world right now. You get the big­gest mega­phone. But this movie is us­ing the genre to ex­plore re­ally in­ter­est­ing themes. And just for me per­son­ally — you men­tioned “Dare­devil” — I thought, “I want to be in one of th­ese movies that works.”

Q: There have been sev­eral ac­tors who’ve played Bat­man. How did you set about mak­ing him your own?

A: Af­fleck: What I liked about Zack’s vi­sion for it is that it’s sort of an ex­is­ten­tial Bat­man. He’s a guy who’s not ac­tu­ally in the throes of be­ing Bat­man but look­ing back and ask­ing him­self, ‘Was it worth it?’ He’s a gray­ing Bat­man and more of a slug­ger and more of a man be­cause he’s more vul­ner­a­ble. He’s feed­ing some hole in­side him — (burn­ing a brand into) crim­i­nals at night, go­ing to th­ese un­der­ground fights, hav­ing some woman in his bed from some ran­dom en­counter. He’s func­tion­ing but not in a healthy way. He’s a haunted and bro­ken guy.

Q: Henry, this movie brings some darker di- men­sions to Su­per­man, whom we of­ten think of as the sim­ple em­bod­i­ment of pure good­ness.

A: Cav­ill: Right, cer­tainly in some pre­vi­ous live­ac­tion adap­ta­tions of Su­per­man he’s been — I don’t know if “sim­pli­fied” is the right word, but some­thing around there. But there is a com­plex­ity to Su­per­man that is very preva­lent in the comic books. It’s just a mat­ter of bring­ing it out, which is tricky to do.

Q: “Dead­pool” was made on a much smaller bud­get and wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pected to be a mas­sive hit. This movie is al­most the op­po­site of that: The bud­get and the ex­pec­ta­tions are huge. How do you see the stakes?

A: Af­fleck: Look, in the broad sense, from a longterm port­fo­lio per­spec­tive, Warner Bros. has al­ready won. They own this vast un­der­ex­ploited (in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty) that is DC. They’re go­ing to make all th­ese movies re­gard­less. Zack spent two years of his life on this movie, and we put in months and months. We are truly, deeply in­vested in this movie. We want the movie to be good. We want to be proud of it. I want to make a movie that my kids think is cool.

KIRK MCKOY/TRIBUNE NEWS­PA­PERS

Ac­tors Ben Af­fleck (Bat­man), from left, Henry Cav­ill (Su­per­man) and di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der bring the su­per­heroes to­gether in an epic bat­tle in “Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice.”

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