March 24, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Interview with Director Zack Snyder

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice interview with Zack Snyder & BvS producers Charles Roden and Deborah Snyder

The battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way has gotten a little fuzzier since Zack Snyder began steering the direction of Superman’s story, starting with 2013’s Man of Steel. Add in a jaded Batman, and the battle becomes even more interesting. For every good deed Superman does, another innocent person dies on the other side of the world… why does Superman get to decide who lives and dies?

When Superman’s Battle with Krypton’s General Zod destroys much of Metropolis (and some Wayne real estate) along with taking thousands of lives, it becomes personal for many people. What exactly makes a ‘hero’?

We spoke with director Zack Snyder and producers Deborah Snyder and Charles Roden, along with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill about how the film launches the DC Cinematic Universe.

Zack Snyder has always been a director who has not been afraid to take a few risks in the past, so when asked if he was at all intimidated taking on a project as immense as Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice he answered “I think if we had not evolved the project the way we did, it would have been a lot more intimidating. It was probably around the time of the first camera test and I saw both Batman and Superman in their costumes, I said ‘So, this is really going to happen’ and it has been both amazing and fun to deal with these icons.”

A real treat for fans in this film is having both of these iconic characters placed in the same world, where they are finding their own identities and are then pitted against one another. Actor Henry Cavill added “It’s always going back to the source material. There is an awful lot of psychology in Superman because it’s the one way you can find to crack the shell and when it comes to playing the character, especially in this movie, where we still see the growth of Superman before seeing the finished product which is who we all know and love from the comic books. It was just delving into the psychology and the weaknesses therein and playing with the relationship between him and Lois and him and Martha and then of course the conflict he has when facing the likes of Batman.”
Actor Ben Affleck added “For me there was enough source material in the screenplay that Chris Terrio wrote with Zack’s direction there was plenty for me to grab onto and to help use my imagination to help build this character. It is certainly daunting because of the people who have played this character before and the great filmmakers, most recently Christopher Nolan, with three brilliant movies, and all the guys who went before them. There’s that element of healthy respect you have for the project and for the characters and their history which raises the bar. I felt I was in really good hands with this script and with Zack, so that is where I focused my attention.”

Zack did ask for Christopher Nolan’s blessing for the massive project, and he got one (sort of), Nolan said “Well, we don’t own these characters. When you’re done making Batman movies, someone else will.” Christopher’s version of Batman, many fans believe, could never exist in a world with a Superman. That meant another adjustment to who ‘The Batman’ is; would an older Batman fit the bill?

Zack said “The thing that is interesting about the process with this movie and the way it has evolved is that the idea of having Batman fight Superman is ridiculous, so that’s why they made a movie (laughs)… It’s not only ridiculous, but once we had committed to that ridiculous idea, it was then only that we were like , that implies that a universe exists where Batman and Superman exist together. I know it seems obvious in the comic book world, but had not existed in the movies, so though it seems like an obvious notion if you’re kind of like oh, Batman and Superman, of course, they’re both superheros, so they must live right down the street from one another, right? They bump into each other all the time! (laughs)”

Producer Deborah Snyder added “I think at the same time we wanted to just set up and introduce these characters, but we also had a really rich story to tell. It was a careful balance about telling the Batman and Superman story and giving a little hint and a tease to the story of Justice League that’s yet to come.”

The biggest hint of course was the addition of the Amazon Princess, Wonder Woman. The addition of Gal Gadot’s version of the character is obviously different that the one most non-comic fans know, television’s Lynda Carter, and the fans have been receptive. “Once that sort of idea had taken root and existed as reality, it was then only that we, and I have always been obsessed with the trinity, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, in a single moment. That was a huge thing I was really interested in getting into this movie, not that I didn’t have enough to deal with already, but I thought that would be a cool thing to see.” Zack told us, “Those conversations are what really led to this Dawn Of Justice kind of sub-heading for the film and that we could now begin to talk about and have conversations about the fact that the Justice League and/or the DC Universe now could evolve from this. It’s a difficult notion, especially for a studio like this who is really filmmaker driven, sort of project to project, to say ‘oh, okay, you’re making a movie, but it’s also connected to that guy’s movie and it’s all going to be a great big fun sandbox and everyone is going to play nice in it’ which is a great thing, but it’s a difficult thing is just make appear. That’s what the luck and sort of serendipitous nature of this movie allowed the worlds to kind of coalesce. It’s become a plan and it’s becoming a thing, but it was only in its’ infancy that we realized yeah, oh my gosh this can be a thing.”

On bringing the DC Universe to the screen, producer Charles Roden gave some insight into the process of creating a large cinematic presence. “It’s a very interesting challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun because even we are making films that might have sequel possibilities we are never really in the past. Even with The Dark Knight you never really thought about what the next movie was going to be, in fact, when we went from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight because we ended Batman Begins with the Joker we thought we should do the Joker with the next one, but we never had a story or anything. Here we are constantly thinking in the future not only how to make each individual film stand on its’ own and be compelling, fun and thought-provoking and have great characters, but we’re also thinking way down the road about how these things are going to interconnect and make sense and also leave room for other great filmmakers to be involved. While we want to get to a certain place, we have to make sure we don’t stay too rigid or fixed on exactly the methodology of how we get there. We have to leave room for the creative process to let it evolve. It’s both challenging and exciting every single day.”

Marvel has created a successful franchise with their heroes, but DC also has a 70-year history of super-heroes. While Marvel is doing well, actually amazingly well, for a ‘new’ studio, successfully bringing DC’s Mightiest to the big screen had to look at their icons in a different light.

Zack Snyder understood what he had to do. “It is a balance, but when you sort of look at the tone of the movie, which the number one aspect of a film to me, this movie is as much a deconstruction as it is a construction. It is self-reflective in some subtle ways in that when you have icons of this magnitude, comic book characters of this magnitude, and mythology of this magnitude, there’s a little bit of letting off the hook in the way that we take a heart attack serious but at the same time there’s a self-awareness to the movie that you have to have in order for the movie to resonate on any kind of second level beyond just the ‘oh, look, these two superheroes are fighting and that’s cool’.”

Up against other successful films in the genre, what is the secret to being successful, without following the earlier (proven) storytelling?

Zack was quick to explain: “I think that the movie and Chris Terrio has written an incredibly intelligent script about what it means and what power is, what justice is and what our relationship to these mythic character are, is it a relationship between God and man? All of these questions and I think that is the balance, at least to me, more than balance between action and drama and that’s natural to the story. You run into conflict, but to me, really this movie is fun because I like to have fun with these characters to tell maybe a slightly bigger story than just Batman v Superman, though I am satisfied. The dork in me is completely satisfied by that and I do think the film is richer and it was fun to work on an idea that is possibly bigger than Batman v Superman.”

Deborah Snyder finished, “To put these characters in a real world, they are easier to relate to. We can never imagine what it’s like to have super powers, but if we see them going through struggles and we see them kind of messing up and picking themselves back up, I think that’s really relatable. We like to see stories that mirror ourselves.”

The success of the film of course, will be measured in two ways: 1. How the box office treats the film. Less than a billion dollars will be a disappointment. Less than 800 million will actually produce a paper loss (discounting merchandising of course – Warner/DC can pretty much count on some type of profit). 2. How will the numbers compare with Captain America: Civil War.

About the Author

Kristyn Clarke
I am a journalist and interviewer who is completely obsessed with music, TV, film and all other aspects of pop culture! I am currently the Director of Operations for PopCultureMadness.com and my work can also be found on MusicMayhemMagazine.com, TheRockRevival.com, and TryItToday.com! Have my B.S. in Television/Video Production from Wilmington University and have been working in online media for the past ten years and loving every moment of it!


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