This 10-part series is examining each of the 10 upcoming DC Cinematic Universe movies announced Wednesday, October 15, 2014. It will look at known facts, rumors, what’s riding on each movie, casting suggestions, possible plots and odds of each film happening/succeeding.
We know for sure this one is happening, and we’ve got the set pics to prove it! Man of Steel, regardless of its ability to split the fan base down the middle, was a big hit for Warner Brothers and another film in that series was all-but a lock after its opening weekend in June 2013.
A lot was riding on Man of Steel, but that’s small potatoes compared to how much pressure is on Zack Snyder and company to deliver with this movie. You could say the fate of an entire universe is on its shoulders. No pressure.
Under that kind of weight, you need some big guns and BvS is bringing them out. In addition to Superman, now we’ve got Batman and Wonder Woman in the mix along with Lex Luthor and an as-yet unknown “heavy” villain. I mean, there’s got to be one since Superman can’t exactly punch Lex in the face without obliterating him and probably anyone in the general vicinity (more on that in a few).
Since we’re here, let’s break a few things down for you, the fine readers of this site. What does all this mean and what should you look for in the near future? More important; what matters and what doesn’t?
It’s about the money…duh.
While the total costs of this movie aren’t yet known, it’s not unreasonable to expect it to be somewhere close to $275 million (conservative estimate, likely closer to $300 million). And, if successful, you can expect Justice League to wind up breaking all sorts of records for most expensive movie ever made. That’s probably the biggest reason Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice absolutely must succeed financially and critically.
While Man of Steel’s critical performance was split down the middle, audiences responded in the mostly positive sector (to the tune of a worldwide box office take just over $668 million, not including video sales). Those who didn’t enjoy it have let their voices be heard across the internet while those who did continue to enjoy their Blu Ray/DVD copies or have been one of the 20-million+ views for the film on HBO Go. That alone should give Warner Bros. all the confidence it needs to go big with BvS.
That the internet hangs on every little development, real or not, concerning this movie is another good sign that people are planning to see it opening weekend. It’ll be several months yet before we can start looking at how the film is tracking, but if it continues to keep the buzz around it going (like it’s in any danger of slowing down), expect an opening north of $116 million (Man of Steel’s debut numbers).
But what happens if this movie opens strong and then falls off a cliff because people hate it? Anything is possible, so it’s something to consider. If the movie fails to capture a high enough worldwide box office take (between $800 million and $1 billion) it could spell trouble for other DC Comics films. As long as it takes in over $700 million, Wonder Woman and Justice League are likely safe, though Wonder Woman will have added pressure to perform extremely well in order to ensure both sequels and continued forward progress on other spin-off films like The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Green Lantern reboot (stay tuned for more on that in later columns).
If the film is a miserable failure (it makes less than its production cost or severely underperforms to the tune of $600 million or less) then WW and JL are likely done before they get started and all future DC films with the exception of maybe Shazam (dat Dwayne Johnson star power, though) will be put on indefinite hold. But, if we’re looking at pure odds based on just the little bit of info we have so far, it’s far more likely that this film will be a success rather than an abject failure.
This is rumor control, here are the facts
Once an official trailer and synopsis comes out we should be able to put some rumors to bed. Like just how many heroes are actually appearing in this thing? The only ones we know for certain are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. There’s been a long rumor about The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg all having cameos or better. We’ve just recently learned that Jason Momoa is indeed signed to portray Aquaman/Arthur Curry in Justice League parts 1 and 2 and a solo Aquaman film, but his level of involvement in BvS is likely limited, at best. He’s called Zack Snyder a “genius” in a recent interview, so we’ll likely see him for at most a scene in BvS. Don’t look for him to be as involved as some believe, this is about establishing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman first. Ray Fisher is signed on to play Vic Stone/Cyborg in the JL films and a solo outing, too, and he just confirmed he has a scene in BvS. He’s likely going to appear as Vic Stone, pre-Cyborg, so don’t expect any superheroics from him just yet. But you should get used to seeing him around.
What about The Flash? There was a popular rumor floated for a long time that, because he was wearing green-screen socks on the set early in production, Scoot McNairy would be the Scarlet Speedster. We now know that Ezra Miller is cast to play one version of the character (Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen? Smart money’s on Barry) in JL and a solo film, but no mention of BvS from him or the studio. Could he have a cameo appearance in BvS? Maybe, but until something more official comes along, chalk that one and Cyborg up to strictly rumor. And anytime some “inside source” comes along, make sure there’s a name attached to it for verification or file it under click bait.
Now what about the story? We simply don’t know. Production has been very secretive about specific plot points, but some things have popped up on set that are telling. There were anti-Superman protesters, a big Superman statue, a car chase involving the Batmobile and a few other action set pieces involving Superman and Batman. We’ve only seen a little bit of Gal Gadot on set, but she’s not been seen filming in her Wonder Woman attire just yet. Though recent set construction in New Mexico suggests we’ll be seeing Themyscira, the fictional home of the Amazons. That, along with comments from Charles Roven, the film’s producer, suggests her origin will have nothing to do with Krypton as a certain older (but popular enough to give Twitter an aneurysm) rumor suggested.
We’ve also seen very little of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. We know he’s filmed a few scenes and will be involved in more, but Snyder and the production team have been ultra-secretive about every detail with his character, including keeping his head largely covered while on or off set. Could he be bald? Maybe wearing a wig off set? Maybe wearing a bald mask on set? Who knows but the people making the film? Also, who cares?!? And what about other villains? Brianiac has been rumored, as has everyone from The Joker and Metallo to Doomsday and Darkseid. There’s even been light mention of Bizarro floating around, but nothing that gained any traction. It’s not likely we’ll see many Batman villains (if any) since the focus is supposed to be on the Batman/Superman fight/team-up (way more team-up than fighting, I’m betting). There’re certainly story points from Man of Steel that could point to Doomsday and/or Bizarro quite easily, but again, we still haven’t seen anything from the set that tells us one way or another.
Ben Affleck has probably been the most vocal person about the film so far and he’s had nothing but praise for the story, script and director Snyder. Once derided as the absolute worst choice to don the cape and cowl, now that Affleck has been seen in costume through official stills, tunes are slowly changing. The fact that he’s the most physically imposing on-screen Batman ever probably didn’t hurt. Nor did that wonderfully-designed Frank Miller-style Batsuit.
Speaking of Batman-related rumors, the newest one is that Jenna Malone will portray Carrie Kelley, aka Robin, in the film. Now, we know that Batman has been active for some time in this version of the DC Universe. We know that Affleck’s portrayal will be somewhat in line with The Dark Knight Returns version of Bruce, but probably a bit younger than that (described as in his 40s by production officials). He could have gone through a couple of Robins by this point and it would be really interesting and bold to have Kelley there instead of, say, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake or even Damian Wayne. But again, this is all coming from unnamed, unverified sources. Just one source, in fact. A person who claims to have been an extra on the set who spoke on condition of anonymity lest he/she be sued into oblivion by Warner Bros. While this rumor still has little weight, it’s gaining lots of traction, so let’s go ahead and call it what it is: unconfirmed and pure speculation. Remember Scoot McNairy from earlier? Keep that in mind. If she is Robin, great, I’m all for it. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn you about not getting your hopes up/freaking out because it’s not true or maybe the Robin you wanted.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic
So, here’s what we have so far: Only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have substantial roles in the film. Lex Luthor plays a vital, but unspecified role. We don’t know who the super-powered villain will be. Some people love Superman while others hate him. Batman is the veteran superhero of the three and may or may not have a partner. Wonder Woman is an Amazon, though may be hiding that fact at first, and has nothing to do with Krypton. That so much is going into the production of this film it seems Warner Bros. has a lot of confidence in Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio’s vision for the DC Cinematic Universe. If Aquaman, The Flash and/or Cyborg are in this movie, they’ll have barely-there cameos or maybe even post-credits scenes at best. This is about Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman first.
More rumors are likely to hit between now and the March 25, 2016 release date. Some may turn out to be true, more are likely to be false. Never take any unnamed source at its word, no matter how juicy or “believable” you think their story sounds. Part of the fun of these movies is being surprised by the things we see on screen. Knowing it all going in is what sucks the magic right out of it and makes it a melancholic experience. People don’t like feeling anxious, but knowing the surprises going in makes the actual reveals terribly anticlimactic. Not knowing immediately doesn’t mean you’ll never know, just that you have to wait a bit. And maybe we should all learn to be a little more patient. It’s better for a film to take longer in the development process to make sure things are done right (or at least better) than to rush it out just to satisfy people who, quite frankly, come off as too entitled for their own good.
And luckily, while we’re waiting, Marvel Studios has a few movies coming up (Avengers: Age of Ultron anyone?) and there’s some great DC Comics TV out there right now (if you’re not watching Arrow and The Flash, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life). So, let’s give the people working hard on these movies some time to do their jobs, huh?
Come back next Thursday for a breakdown of Suicide Squad!