It’s official: the Man of Steel sequel co-starring Batman will be titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The subtitle clearly suggests that the film will feature the formation of the Justice League — which isn’t a surprise, given that we know its cast includes not only Batman but Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and that the movie will be followed by a Justice League film, also directed by Snyder.
It’s interesting that Batman appears first in the title. And odd that — if the Warner Bros. press release is indicative — it’s apparently “v” (no period), not “v.”, nor “Vs.”, nor even (dare we hope?) “Versus.”
The title is already drawing criticism, and not only for its use of an abbreviation that connotes lawsuit titles. The subtitle “Dawn of Justice” does seem a little like a kid trying to sound tough. (Read it with a snarl and hear how hilarious it sounds.)
But then, criticism’s nothing new for this film — or for director Zack Snyder, who drew criticism for the fascism of 300, for misunderstanding Watchmen, and for the superficiality of Sucker Punch. Man of Steel was criticized on many levels, but especially for presenting a dark and violent version of Superman, in contrast with both what many Superman fans wish to see and with the generally light-hearted tone of Marvel Studio films.
That the Superman sequel would co-star Batman was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con International. The subsequent announcement that Ben Affleck would play Batman drew yet more criticism for the project. Meanwhile, the reputation of Man of Steel feels like it’s only been declining, as people watch it again on home video and on TV.
Even the logo for the new film has a strong lens flare that seems plays into the narrative of Snyder overdoing attempts to look cool and dramatic, at the expense of story or character.
Warner Bros. is betting strong on the film, by using it as a launch pad for its DC cinematic universe. Fans have embraced the Marvel cinematic universe, in part due to its light tone and faithfulness to the comics, and its early films — especially Iron Man — won that cinematic universe a great deal of good will while it was in its infancy. To a great deal, fans seem to have soured on the baby DC cinematic universe.
On the other hand, Man of Steel made more than two-thirds of a billion dollars globally during its theatrical release. It’s hard to imagine Warner Bros. won’t let Snyder follow through on his vision for Batman v Superman. And it’s equally hard to imagine that the film won’t at least do very well upon its release.
Fan opinion can change — and everything depends on the final product. But it looks like we may finally seeing the birth of a DC cinematic universe — including the first theatrical appearance of Wonder Woman — only for it to be something fans love to hate?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is slated for 6 May 2016 release (five days after the Avengers sequel). It begins principal filming (in other words, regular shooting with actors present, as opposed to pre- or post-production) today in Detroit. Directed by Zack Snyder, the movie sees Henry Cavill return as Superman, Amy Adams return as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne return as Perry White, and Diane Lane return as Martha Kent. They’re joined by Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Godot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and Holly Hunter in a role said to have been created for the film.