Chatter pours over ‘Batman v. Superman’
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’
Ben affleck (left) plays Batman and Henry Cavill is superman in “Batman v superman: Dawn of Justice.”