A lot has happened since Zack Snyder announced the sequel to Man of Steel, and that it would include the Dark Knight himself. Casting decisions, re-writes, added characters, delays - these have all impacted people's opinions on what should be the most anticipated CBM of all time (let's face it, a Trinity movie holds as much clout as the JLA).
While I normally play the role of lowly commenter on this board, I've seen a rash of articles and comments that have inspired me to put my two cents in on the situation. I'm not here to try and convince anyone that the movie will be "amazing" before we even see a preview, or get some kind of plot details. What I am here to do is document what we know so far, and list the positives and negatives associated with them. I want to help clear the air, and try and put to rest some of the doom and gloom that's been going on around here lately. Seriously, when people are saying they're more excited for a Captain America movie than a Superman w/ Batman and Wonder Woman movie, we have problems... no offense Captain America.
Throughout the article I'll refer to Man of Steel 2 (aka Batman vs Superman) as BvS, with Man of Steel being referred to as MoS. Makes things a lot easier for me. I'll tackle the subjects mentioned above, and try and cover all the details. Obviously, this is going to be long, some of this will include my personal opinion, and my optimism, so bare with me.
Scheduling & Rewrites:
The first thing I'd like to tackle is the scheduling and rewrites. BvS was announced in July of 2013, and was scheduled for a July 17th, 2015 release date, giving them two years to finish it, and production wouldn't start until 2014. Goyer, Snyder, and WB weren't exactly clear about how far along they were, but supposedly they were farther along than everyone thought, whatever that means. Two years certainly wouldn't have given them much time to tackle something as big as Superman and Batman in the same film anyway, and the addition of Wonder Woman would've made it even harder :-) In fact, once the studio announced that Wonder Woman (December) would also have a role in the film, the general consensus was that they were rushing the production, and wouldn't have time to mesh these characters together in the same movie.
Then the news came that production was being delayed, Chris Terrio was being brought in to rewrite the script, and the release date was being pushed back to May 6th, 2016. The reactions were mixed, some feeling it was a good idea, and others thinking it was a sign of impending doom. The optimists, in this situation, were definitely right. It appeared as though WB realized it was rushing things, and decided to give everyone more time to make sure this production is fully realized. There are obviously some drawbacks to the delay. It definitely upset a good amount of fans, it makes WB look unprepared to launch a shared universe, they run the risk of coming in at the tail end of the superhero boom, and the delay could reduce the hype going in. But, IMO, this just gives Zack Snyder a better chance of getting it right, which is what many thought he needed anyway.
As for Chris Terrio being brought in to "touch up" the script, that sounded like a blessing to me. Imagine, an Oscar winning writer touching up, or possibly rewriting a script and story written by David S. Goyer. That's been a recipe for success in the past, and helps cover the one area Goyer struggles as a writer, natural dialogue. We all saw MoS, the casual, back and forth, left much to be desired. Bringing in someone like Chris Terrio (along with Oscar winning writer Ben Affleck, but I'll touch on that later) to 'naturalize' Goyer's script is huge, and if he has some input on how to make the story better, so be it.
Casting & Characters:
Here's the big one. The casting for this movie, outside of Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, has certainly caused some controversy. It's understandable, considering they're casting for, what could be, the highest profile CBM of all time. The decisions have certainly thrown many for a loop, especially since none of the castings were on anyone's radars.
Ben Affleck has probably been the most controversial so far, to the point that petitions were created, and grabbed a decent amount of signatures. Again, it's a somewhat understandable reaction, considering some of the actor's past performances. The reaction stems, mostly, from his performance as Daredevil, but there are certainly other performances in his past that might raise some flags for people as well. Affleck's acting abilities are debatable, and obviously are based on peoples' personal opinions.
Here are a few things that can't be debated: The story is said to include an older, wiser Batman, possibly in his 40's. Affleck, being 42, fits the bill there. Perhaps just as important as portraying Batman, is portraying Bruce Wayne (and Bruce Wayne's public persona), and considering Ben Affleck has lived the wealthy, playboy lifestyle for most of his adult life, and has actually experienced Hollywood's version of "adversity," he should be able to pull that off pretty easily. Also, not that this matters too much, he is definitely the closest (if not an exact match) to the stature and build of Bruce from the comics. At between 6'2"-6'4" and 200+ lbs, we're sure to get a physically imposing Batman. Other positives to keep in mind with Affleck are, he is a very talented director and an Oscar winning writer, and since there's a chance he'll be writing or directing future Batman or JLA movies, he'll probably get some input on the direction of the character, and how the shared universe is put together.
I can't resolve peoples problems with his acting, all I can say is that his most recent efforts have been good, if not great. If you haven't already, watch Argo, The Town, The Company Men, Extract, State of Play, or Hollywoodland (where he plays George Reeves, the original live action Superman) to get an idea of where he is at this point in his career. He's certainly not the same actor that starred in Daredevil and Gigli (which, admittedly, he wasn't the major problem in anyway).
Gal Gadot is another one that caused controversy for many different reasons. Some say she is too skinny, some say she is unproven, some think she's too exotic, not exotic enough, not enough curves, her breasts are too small, etc. You get the idea. To most of these people I say "What???" For one, yeah Wonder Woman is usually drawn as curvy, but it's not a defining characteristic, and with weight training, Gadot can certainly add some body mass. In terms of measurements, she basically stacks up similarly to Linda Carter (whom many consider the definitive, live action WW). They're the same height at 5'9" (considered tall for women), with similar measurements, Linda Carter is a little curvier, while Gadot is obviously skinnier and lighter. Her height is somewhat important, because it means she won't be completely dwarfed by her male co-stars, being only a few inches shorter.
Not much can be said for her acting abilities, because there isn't much to judge her on. Aside from appearing in a few small parts here in the States, and a few shows over in Israel, her biggest role was Gisele in the Fast and Furious franchise (appearing in 3 installments). While she did a serviceable job in those movies, Fast and Furious has never been a franchise known for its strong writing, and deep characters (especially supporting characters), so there's little there to judge her on. A few positives that can be pulled from her time in F&F is her ability, and willingness (to the point of asking) to do her own stunts, and the experience of working on big budget action movies, alongside two of the biggest current action stars (Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson). So yes, her inexperience is certainly a risk, but not a definite negative. Financially though, her relative "newness" certainly helped while negotiating terms, getting her signed to a cheap, multi-picture deal, giving WB more flexibility when it comes to budget restraints.
One intriguing aspect of Gadot's casting is her military training. She served two years in the Israeli Defense Force. Many seem to think because the service is mandatory, that somehow negates it as a qualification. This couldn't be further from the truth. Military service in Israel is no cakewalk, meaning that Gadot went through basic training, worked as a personal trainer (that was her position), and learned many of the same skills that other soldiers did. One, in particular, would be Krav Maga, the official fighting style of the IDF. The fighting style, itself, isn't visually impressive, but that training, combined with her personal trainer background, should give her a leg up when it comes to fight choreography, making her more believable as a warrior who excels at hand to hand combat.
There's little left to be said about Gadot. She's beautiful, tall, somewhat "exotic" looking, likes to do her own stunts, was a personal trainer, has acted in big, blockbuster action movies, has some form of martial arts training, and comes cheap :-) Combine that with the outrageous training regimen Zack Snyder puts his actors through, and the martial arts training Gal Gadot, herself, said she was being put through, and, at the very least, we should get a charming (she is charming), attractive, physically capable Wonder Woman, who can, hopefully, act (again, not much to go on in that regard).
Next up? Jesse Eisenberg. I'll admit, the outrage over this one is a little more difficult to wrap my head around. I completely understand the fact that he doesn't, physically, look like the stereotypical Lex Luthor, but he's definitely a talented, Oscar nominated actor, that has shown the ability to play a character very similar to Luthor, one that will be somewhat updated, for a modern audience (no more real estate schemes, please).
Consider, for a second, how terribly the character has been written in past live action versions, do you really think he could be any worse than Hackman or Spacey? Are those two the standard that people are holding a live action Luthor to? I think this is another case of "We don't know how THIS Lex Luthor is written."
Just look at his acting in roles like The Social Network, or The Double, or even Now You See Me, and you'll see he's not as "one dimensional" as many claim he is. In fact, you might be surprised to know that Eisenberg also performs on stage, and has appeared in a few Broadway shows, something that not many generic actors will do. This is a guy that takes his craft very seriously, and is described, by many interviewers, as one of the most intense people they've ever interviewed. Combine that with his quirky, quick talking personality, and his naturally intelligent seeming demeanor, and it appears to be a great combination for an interestingly intense Luthor. Again, it could turn out to be a disaster (like every other casting decision), but I choose to be optimistic, and look at the positive aspects of his casting.
Well, this is about as far as I'm going. I could delve into the "rumored" castings of other Justice League members, and the "rumored" plot details, but I'd rather deal with what we know, for sure, and I felt I've done that. Again, my goal here wasn't to convince anyone that the movie will be great, or that every casting choice will be pure brilliance, and every actor will get nominated for an Oscar. All I hope this article will do is, maybe, persuade some people into keeping an open mind, and wait until we, at least, get some set photos, a trailer, or some more plot details (or maybe until we see the finished product) before passing judgement. Seriously, most, if not all, comic book fans have been waiting forever to see the Big Blue Boy Scout and the Dark Knight to share the big screen, and it's troubling to see so many of you spiral into despair over something that, supposedly, just started filming.
Some may say that I have added nothing new in defense of this movie, but I don't care. I've never written an article on this site before, and my recent debates in the comments section inspired me to do this, so I did it. Let me know what you think about my debut article below.