With four short months left until Zack Snyder's mammoth superhero face-off Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice crashes into theaters around the world, hints have been coming in like clockwork about what we can expect from the second installment in DC's Expanded Universe (that's the DCEU to those who don't like over-exerting their fingers). With that in mind, I present to you a timely round-up of all the hints, teases and rumours that have been doing the rounds in October, and what they might mean for this movie which is guaranteed to redefine the word "epic", as well as for the DCEU at large. Let's do it.
Too many heroes? Well, no actually
DC have had a pretty hot courtside seat at the Marvel game these past few years, and in Batman vs Superman we'll be introduced to a number of heroes - three, to be precise - who will later get solo movies, in much the same way that Marvel will often integrate a character in one film before expanding their role in a later movie (Black Widow in Iron Man 2, for instance).
But if you're concerned that the debut appearances in the DCEU of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) will detract from the head-to-head between the two titular heroes, you can breathe, thanks to a new interview with producer Charles Rovan which clarifies the situation a little.
I don’t think [being overstuffed is] an issue for this film at all. I really don’t… I think that the film is called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so there’s a reason it’s called [that] ... you’re gonna invest mostly in Batman v Superman and I think that you’ll find other characters in there that you hopefully will want to see more of…
We tried [to make it all feel real] when we brought it here... How are things affecting Superman here, Batman is still human, he’s not Meta, he’s just a human... Wonder Woman is Meta, if you will, although some might think that she’s a God...”
The main takeaway from all that is basically that the likes of Aquaman are only going to pop up in Dawn of Justice at moments that might service the story, rather than being shoehorned in for the sake of establishing their presence in the DCEU. Also of interest is that comment on Batman - "he's just a human" - which acknowledges the absurdity of the idea that Bruce Wayne could ever face off with Clark Kent and expect to have an equal chance.
Steven Spielberg's recent-ish comments about superhero movies "going the way of the western", and the suggestion in some quarters that DC have arrived in the cinematic game a little late to make a proper impact, are also loosely touched on by Roven as he discusses the ways in which Batman vs Superman transcends the "superhero genre" to become an entertaining film in its own right:
“One of the things that we’re doing when we’re bringing together the DC Justice League Universe is we’re creating not only stories that work for the individual film but they have some resonance to the other films that we’re doing ... I mean, one of the great things about dealing with superheroes in general, at least from our standpoint, is they’re both inspirational and aspirational characters.
So you’re hoping that the audience is gonna want to be like some of them but you’re also hoping that the audience can relate to some of them, that you’re going to really want to spend more time with them ... So I think even with Batman v Superman we wanna have characters that touch us, and if we can continue to make films like that, the I think they’re sort of ‘genre proof’”.
To me this is particularly interesting when you consider that Marvel has gone out of its way to construct its movies clearly within the boundaries of the superhero genre - films like The Avengers which forego the human element in order to amplify the spectacle of seeing a bunch of heroes lined up, working in tandem or facing off versus one another. Only Captain America: The Winter Soldier has really taken Marvel out of that box, whereas even the trailer for BvS plants the story within a more grounded world, bringing in an element of politics and public scandal which grants a touch of realism.
Roven's full interview with Collider can be read here.
Suicide Squad: Rated R (in spirit)
Suicide Squad is the other big-hitter on which DC is hanging its hopes for their cinematic universe, arriving a few months after Batman vs Superman in August. Although the trailer had fanboys quite literally wetting their knickers - I'm not sure I can remember a more universally glowing response to a trailer ever, perhaps because nobody really knew what to expect in the first place - the recent news that the film's rating is PG-13 had a few concerned that the darkness at the heart of the film might be toned down.
Roven, who's also the producer of Suicide Squad and general Godfather to the DCEU, reckons nobody needs to be worried about that.
We really want to make these films tonally consistent ... so our plan right now is to make all these films PG-13. In some cases, you know, right there on the edge of PG-13, but still PG-13.”
"Right there on the edge" is probably a democratic way of saying that there'll be a good few people out there who'll leave the theater questioning if the film should have perhaps been R-rated instead, which is pretty much the next best thing to actually being R-rated. We already know that there's a darkness to the film's very premise - the notion of these criminals being put to work by the manipulative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) - and plenty of torture on the cards too as we explore the Joker's shared history with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). If anything, the film will push the boundaries more than BvS, which might be why it's coming after.
Roven also spoke of Jared Leto's well-publicised on-set antics, which involved allegedly staying in character for the duration of filming:
Hopefully we'll start to hear from the cast of Suicide Squad in the coming months about their characters' story arcs - actual plot information is pretty thin on the ground right now, outside of Harley and the Joker. As per Roven's own words there will be no new trailer until Q1, perhaps teamed with the March release of Batman vs Superman (whose own, final trailer pairs with Star Wars this Christmas).
Are you as stoked as the rest of the internet for Batman vs Superman, or have the Suicide Squad done more to capture your attention? Will these movies plunge a darkness above and beyond what's expected from a PG-13? Share your thoughts in the comments!