Some of the biggest questions about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have to do with the shared universe it sets in motion. How will it affect future DC Comics movies, and who is steering the ship? The film's director, Zack Snyder, explained all that and more at a press conference today. "The thing that's interesting about the process with this movie is once we committed to the idea of having Batman fight Superman it was only then that we were like, 'OK, that implies that a universe exists,'" Snyder told a group of reporters.
"[Also] I was obsessed with the Trinity. I really wanted to see the Trinity, that being Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, in a single moment," Snyder added. "That was a thing I was really interested in trying to get into this movie. And those conversations are really what lead to this 'Dawn of Justice' subheading for the film. That we could now have conversations about the fact that the Justice League and or the DC Universe now could evolve from this."
And of course, this universe is already in the works. Warner Bros. currently has nine more DC movies on its schedule after Batman v Superman. Charles Roven, who has been producing DC movies since Batman Begins, explained further how that's all going to work.
"It's a team of us," he said. "The team is Debbie [Snyder], Zack [Snyder], myself, Geoff Johns is part of it and obviously the [Warner Bros.] creative guys, Greg Silverman and John Berg, they're all a part of it.
That means that in addition to thinking about how to make each movie stand on its own, the DC brain trust is constantly figuring out how these films can become interconnected, said Roven. Each film has to make sense as part of a shared continuity, and "leave room for other great filmmakers to be involved".
This involves a huge trade-off: "While we want to get to a certain place, we don't stay too rigid and too fixed, on exactly the methodology of how we get there," said Roven. "We have to leave room for the creative process to allow it to evolve."
DC already has filmmakers David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and James Wan (Aquaman) as part of its team. And Snyder is coming back for Justice League: Part One. But another filmmaker Warner Bros. has long been rumoured to want in the mix is Batman himself, Ben Affleck. When asked if he was interested in helming a DC film, Affleck said yes — depending on the material — but it was observing Snyder on Batman v Superman that brought him to that decision.
"I learned a lot from Zack on this movie," Affleck said. "One of the really valuable things about it for me was watching a guy who really understands how to make films on this level, with cutting edge technology, combining in camera stuff with visual effects and and all the tools at a director's disposal." Affleck added that he'd always wondered about directing movies like this, so it was great to see one up close. "So I felt like, if that day did come, that I definitely picked up a lot of valuable information and tricks."
One of the biggest tricks any filmmaker in the DC movie universe will have to master is capturing a consistent tone and Snyder explained that, for him, was the biggest challenge. And he described the tone of the DC films as serious, but with a tinge of irony.
"Tone, to me, is the number one aspect of a film that I really interested in," he said. "We take it heart-attack serious, but at the same time there's a self awareness to the movie that I think you have to have, in order for the movie to resonate on any kind of second level beyond just 'Oh look, these two superheroes are fighting and that's cool.'"
As for where that story might go, Batman v Superman offers plenty of hints about the future of the universe — but audiences can also look at the development of Superman himself, from Man of Steel to Batman v Superman.
"This felt like the development of Superman, the character we know and love from the comics," said actor Henry Cavill. "We're still not there yet. We are looking at the guy growing up. He's become this 'Super Man' after discovering he was Kal El in the first movie, and now he's facing his second guy and it's a tough outing for him, because it's against a psychological enemy as opposed to a physical enemy, like Zod was. And we see him make mistakes, and we see him grow from his mistakes, and learn from them."