Chat­ter pours over ‘Bat­man v. Su­per­man’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIES - By John An­der­son Newsday

In a time much like our own, su­per­heroes have lost their lus­ter. The good they do has been marred by de­struc­tion. The pub­lic has lost its faith, the mood is grim, and one twisted hu­man — re­sent­ful of the pow­ers he doesn’t pos­sess — con­cocts a plan to bring the caped cru­saders down.

If that sounds like the plot to “The In­cred­i­bles” (2004), it cer­tainly is. “But it’s prob­a­bly a trope in all su­per­hero sto­ries,” said ac­tor Jesse Eisen­berg, who plays ma­ni­a­cal arch-vil­lain Lex Luthor in “Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice,” des­tined to be the big­gest movie of 2016 since “Dead­pool.” “The pub­lic adores su­per­heroes be­cause they have power, and there’s a per­son who feels slighted be­cause he lacks a lot of power. Which would be me.”

“BVS,” which will ma­te­ri­al­ize today out from un­der a cloak of en­forced se­crecy among cast, crew and press, is the first movie to bring to­gether the twin mon­u­ments of su­per­hero-dom: Su­per­man (Henry Cav­ill), the emi­gre from Kryp­ton whose pow­ers have vir­tu­ally no lim­i­ta­tions; and Bat­man,akabruce­wayne(ben Af­fleck), the dark knight of vengeance, the heir of notso-stately Wayne Manor, the crusader for jus­tice who de­cides that Su­per­man needs a spank­ing, and he’s just the one to de­liver it. Mean­while, Lex is lurk­ing.

“I’m not sure what I can say with­out be­ing sued,” said Eisen­berg, who be­gins the movie not bald, as per the tra­di­tional Lex Luthor, “but I can say gen­er­ally that my char­ac­ter goes through a vis­ual trans­for­ma­tion.”

“It’s killing me not to be able to talk about stuff,” said Cav­ill, who is repris­ing his role from 2013’s “Man of Steel,” and said that “Bat­man v Su­per­man” is largely about “Su­per­man grow­ing up.”

“It’s an imag­in­ing of what the world would be like if a Su­per­man re­ally ex­isted,” the ac­tor said. “I think it would be fair to say that some peo­ple would be re­ally en­thu­si­as­tic about it, some a lit­tle less so, and a large por­tion would fear him, who would be pos­i­tive he was the bad guy. That re­al­ity is ap­par­ent in the movie from Su­per­man’s per­spec­tive — peo­ple will re­act to you with fear. He’s been ex­pect­ing that — Pa Kent warned him about it — but he wasn’t ex­pect­ing peo­ple to ac­cuse him of be­ing the bad guy.”

The film picks up at the end of Su­per­man’s epic clash with his fel­low Kryp­to­nian, General Zod, with Me­trop­o­lis in vir­tual ru­ins and Bat­man con­vinced that Su­per­man’s ac­tions have wrought as much bad as good. He pre­pares for bat­tle. Su­per­man, mean­while, in res­cu­ing his in­trepid re­porter girl­friend, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), from the mid­dle of an aborted CIA ac­tion against a Boko Haram-style ter­ror­ist group, is ac­cused again of creat­ing havoc. Should be­ings with al­most un­lim­ited pow­ers be able to ex­er­cise them when and where they want? The pub­lic is on the fence. Not so Bat­man. Or Luthor, who is given a dif­fer­ent kind of por­trayal by Eisen­berg than he was given back in the day by, say, Gene Hack­man.

“It’s a fun, ex­cit­ing movie, but it’s darker and has deeper philo­soph­i­cal themes, char­ac­ters deal­ing with ex­is­ten­tial crises, which to my mind are very mod­ern — and un­usual for this genre of movie,” Eisen­berg said. “And that’s what makes it, for me, as an ac­tor, more re­lat­able and more in­ter­est­ing be­cause it’s not just the the­atrics; it’s a real per­son.”

As is usual with fan-boy­ori­ented ac­tion movies based on comic books, the on­line ag­i­ta­tion has been close to vir­u­lent: Af­fleck came un­der at­tack for his cast­ing as Bat­man, and Eiseneberg, too, at least to a cer­tain de­gree. (“But they don’t have the script,” he said, “so they don’t know how the char­ac­ters are be­ing tai­lored.”) Di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der says that on this movie in par­tic­u­lar, the feed­back — which isn’t re­ally feed­back, since the com­men­ta­tors haven’t seen the movie — has been “ex­haust­ing.”

“There’s this very tense amount of in­ter­est, a level that’s so pas­sion­ate and so deep,” he said. “By the way, it’s an up­town prob­lem to have peo­ple care that much. But like I say, it is ex­haust­ing.

hat “Bat­man v Su­per­man” gen­er­ates — to its credit — is a con­ver­sa­tion about the philo­soph­i­cal and even the­o­log­i­cal ques­tions that are raised by the ex­is­tence of su­per­men. “Lesser heroes can’t shoul­der the same amount of myth­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion,” Sny­der said.

For Cav­ill, all the anx­ious chat­ter sur­round­ing the re­lease of the movie comes un­der the um­brella of “en­ter­tain­ment” — that the vir­tual en­thu­si­asm/ out­rage over the story and cast­ing and out­comes is all part of the same ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Ev­ery­one will ar­gue till they’re blue in the face, at­tack­ing this hero, or this vil­lain — it’s all part of it.” Some peo­ple, he said, don’t like the way he plays Su­per­man. “That’s fine; it’s all part of it. I en­cour­age cre­ative thought. If it’s not cre­ative, if it’s just de­struc­tive, it’s kind of point­less. But if they’re be­ing con­struc­tive with their crit­i­cism, then that’s great.” Alvin and the Chip­munks: The Road Chip (PG, 86 min.) an­other “squeakuel.” Bartlett 10. The Boy (PG-13, 105 min.) HH ½ a young amer­i­can woman (lau­ren Co­han) takes a job as a nanny in a stately English manor, only to dis­cover that her charge is a porce­lain doll, called Brahms, which her elderly em­ploy­ers (Jim nor­ton and Diana Hard­cas­tle) treat like a beloved, liv­ing son. Creepy if hardly cred­i­ble, with a de­riv­a­tive plot twist that is un­likely to sur­prise ex­pe­ri­enced hor­ror fans. Cine­planet 16, Desoto Cinema 16, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cinema 8. The Choice (PG-13, 111 min.) an­other ni­cholas sparks’

Clay Enos/warner Bros. Pic­tures via ap

Ben af­fleck (left) plays Bat­man and Henry Cav­ill is su­per­man in “Bat­man v su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice.”

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