Batman and Superman are finally meeting face to face – and fist to fist. EW’s new cover focuses on the first film to unite the DC Comics universe on the big screen, and here we present a collection of new images from director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “It’s been a serious haul,” says Snyder, who’s been working on the film for three years after finishing 2013’s Man of Steel. “We were in this place of, ‘What do we do, how do we scale this character, Superman?’ I remember mentioning, ‘What if he fights Batman?’ And once you say ‘Batman’ out loud, you can’t put it back. You can’t go, you know, ‘That’s a good idea. Batman. But you know what’d be cooler…?”
In this shot, Superman is called to answer before a committee chaired by Holly Hunter’s Sen. Finch. In Dawn of Justice, the hero’s Achilles’ heel is not just Kryptonite — it’s the idea that he can save anyone, but he can’t save everyone. “I think the most difficult thing for him is that he has just come to terms with the fact that he is really, really quite powerful,” says Henry Cavill, who reprises his role from Man of Steel. “Despite this, despite the enormous power that he has, he still cannot do everything, and he really struggles with that.” The rest of the world does, too.
Dawn of Justice reboots the Batman story, but it’s not starting from the beginning. If anything, this is closer to the end. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has been fighting for decades, and he has paid a stiff price. This image of a Joker-graffitied Robin uniform suggests others have paid even higher costs. “You can extrapolate that if Batman kept his suit like that, it’s a reminder,” says Geoff Johns, chief creative officer for DC Entertainment and an executive producer of BvS. “He’s displayed the suit of a fallen ally, fallen friend in the center of the Batcave. It’s right there for a reason, and part of it is to fuel him to continue to do what he does.”
Jeremy Irons co-stars as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler, caregiver, chief armorer, and occasional field medic. “Usually, when we see a Batman on screen, he’s new. It’s the first time he meets the Joker. It’s the first time he meets Catwoman,” says Johns. “This Batman… he’s been around a long time. You see Alfred as world-weary. You see Alfred, and he’s amazing, but his attitude on Bruce is ‘Even you got too old to die young.'”
This marks the first appearance of Wonder Woman in a live-action feature in her 75-year history. Played by actress Gal Gadot (seen here as alter ego Diana Prince), Wonder Woman’s presence marks not just the expansion of the DC movie universe but also a recognition that the audience for these movies is growing, too. It can’t be just a boys’ club anymore. A stand-alone movie, coming in June 2017, is currently shooting in the U.K.
As the mother of a little girl, Gadot says she’s especially proud to bring Wonder Woman to life. “Most of the movies, the men are in charge, the men are the most powerful ones. You’ve had Superman and Batman and everyone, but Wonder Woman was never there,” says the actress, whose daughter is 4. That’s probably too young to see the film now. But someday… “I’m so happy when she grows up she’s going to see a female figure she can be inspired by,” Gadot says.
Lex Luther, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is a new take on Superman’s longtime nemesis. He’s young, he’s not bald (neither was the first iteration in 1940’s Action Comics #23) and he’s not particularly strong (there’s no armored warsuit in this movie.) He’s just ice cold and willing to do what others won’t — mostly to amuse himself and achieve a kind of dominance over those whose power he envies. No surprise, here he’s attempting to hurt Superman by hurting the woman he loves, Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.
So what does this version of Lex Luthor want? Not money — he has that. He has power. To him, destroying both Batman and Superman is a game. For Lex, it’s not enough to be successful. Others must fail. This version of the character is also revealed to have been deeply tormented and emotionally scarred by his father. “This is the Lex who was abused and no God ever rescued him,” Snyder says. “And so, to get revenge on that God, you know — God kneels, right? Bends to my will.”
“The favorite thing that people ask me is, ‘Does it seem possible for Batman and Superman to fight? Batman’s so outmatched.’ And I go, ‘That’s the movie. Trust me, they fight in the movie, and they fight good.'” Although they are partly manipulated into conflict by Lex Luthor, he’s just exploiting a natural animosity between the two, who have radically different ideas of what “doing the right thing” means.
“Although he is physically infallible, psychologically he’s very much vulnerable to the same things that make us vulnerable,” Cavill says of his Superman. “When you’re doing your best, your utmost, and then people point their finger at you and call you the bad guy… That would be enormously frustrating. I know the human reaction would be, ‘Hold on a second, F-you man,’ and his reaction is the first half of that: not quite the ‘F-you’; It’s the hurt.”
Batman’s mistrust of Superman intensifies when he becomes aware there may be other “metahumans” in the world — not just Wonder Woman, but the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg… He’s already concerned one super-powered being may be too many, so Batman is torn between imagining their potential for good and his natural reflex to fear the worst. “The idea that there are more, that’s hopeful and also terrifying to him,” Affleck says. “Because then they could make humans even more powerless — or they could serve on our side.”
To continue reading more on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here and subscribe now for the exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.