Superman Homepage contributor Jeffrey Taylor attended an advanced screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice several weeks before its theatrical release, followed by a press conference with the cast, director and producers. Thanks to Movies.com, he scored one on one interviews with Diane Lane (Martha Kent), and Holly Hunter (Kentucky Senator June Finch). Here are some highlights…
“Batman v Superman” Press Conference and Interview Highlights
What went into your own identities and pitting them against each other?
Henry Cavill: What I always say is it’s going to the source material. There’s an awful lot to the psychology of 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 you still see the growth of Superman before we see what we know and love of the character from the comic books, it was playing with the relationship with him and Lois, and him and Martha, and of course the conflict he has when facing Batman.
Ben Affleck: For me there was really enough material in the screenplay that Chris Terrio wrote and with Zack (Snyder)’s direction, there’s plenty for me to grab on to and to use my imagination to try to view this character as you would. It’s certainly daunting because of the people who have played this character before. Most recently obviously Chris (Nolan) and Christian Bale did these three brilliant movies, and the guys who went before them, there’s that element of healthy respect you have for the project and the characters and their history. I felt like I was in really good hands with this script and with Zack.
What was the casting experience for Wonder Woman?
Gal Gadot: It all began when Warner Brothers wanted to issue me to something, but wouldn’t say what. So of course I was intrigued, so I went out and Zack was there. Two weeks later they asked me to do a camera test with Ben. I said “Great! What is the role?” They said to expect a phone call from Zack. Zack called me the same night and said, “Well, I’m not sure if you have it in Israel, but did you ever hear about Wonder Woman?” I feel like I went dead for a few good seconds, and I tried to pull off my best calm voice, “Oh, Wonder Woman. Yeah, yeah.” Seven weeks of torture later, I had literally gone through seven stages of grief, and I started to be angry. But seven weeks later they called that I had the part.
(This was my question)
How do you deal with fans on social media or on the internet who are upset over hearing things about the movie like casting announcements they disagree with?
Jesse Eisenberg: It’s certainly strange for being criticized for a role that you haven’t had a chance to screw up. I think I would have been surprised if I had read that I was playing Lex Luthor without having had access to this wonderful script and this incredible character written by Chris Terrio who created a character that I thought was suitable for me. If you just look at the canon and mythology and history of Superman, I might not be the first person to come to mind. But if you read the script and understood the character as contextualized in this kind of modern era and the way he was written, I knew that I could do it well, and at least I hoped that after people had seen the movie, why I might be more appropriate than they had originally feared.
Ben Affleck: I was asked this question a few days ago and I wish I’d had Jesse’s answer.
How critical is this movie to launching the expanded universe and the franchise?
Zack Snyder: I dreamed up this idea of having Batman fight Superman, which was…
Zack: Yes, but that implies that this universe exists where Batman and Superman can be together. Obviously they’re together in the comics, but it had never happened in a movie. So once that idea had taken root, it was then only that we thought of seeing the Trinity, as in Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman together became interesting. As if I didn’t have enough to do already, we thought that would be cool to see. And those things together led to this “Dawn of Justice” sub-heading for the film. And it was from there that we started thinking about how the Justice League and the DC Universe could evolve from this.
How hands-on you have to be bringing the DC Universe to the screen?
Producer Charles Roven: The team is Debbie (Snyder), Zack, myself, Geoff Johns and the Warner Brothers creative guys. It’s a very interesting challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun because we are making films that might have super possibilities. Even in the past, like when we ended Batman Begins with the Joker and didn’t have a story yet for The Dark Knight. Here we’re constantly thinking in the future not only how to make each individual film stand on its own, be thought provoking and have great characters, we’re also thinking down the road about how these things are going to interconnect and make sense. And also leave room for other great film makers to be involved, and make sure that while we want to get to a certain place, we don’t want to be too rigid and too fixed on exactly the methodology of how we want to get there. We have to leave room for the creative process to evolve. It’s exciting and challenging every single day.
The idea of the movie is crazy. Was this movie ever going to be called Superman v Batman instead?
Zack: It’s a question of Man v God. One of my favorite questions is, “Batman v Superman? How is this possible?” And well, we made a two hour plus movie that explains it. The notion is crazy, but at the same time, it’s a well established what leads to Batman v Superman. And pitting them against each other is a trope from the comics.
Ben: I didn’t think it was crazy because when I was a kid I read the Dark Knight Returns comic. And in it, Frank Miller pitted Batman against Superman. It was really original and interesting and turned the genre on its head. It was a morally grey story that changed the way I saw comic books. So when I heard that was the idea for this movie, I thought “That’s brilliant,” because it’s one of those great ideas in comics that hasn’t been mined yet for films.
Highlights from One-on-One Interviews with Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Holly Hunter (Senator June Finch).
Diane Lane (Martha Kent)
Did you draw any inspiration from previous versions of Martha Kent for your performance?
On one hand, I don’t want to say I was specifically influenced by any of them. As an actress I think it’s important that I do my own thing. But at the same time she’s so iconic. Everything in the movie is. And I certainly did some research so the big fans who know everything about Superman wouldn’t be disappointed. And at the same time, it’s more about allowing myself to realize I had been cast for a reason.
This is your third outing in a Superman movie if you count Hollywoodland.
Yes, there is something … incestuous about the experience as far as the universe of Superman. In this case it was particularly fun to fathom the conversations with Henry because we felt psychically connected in a way that was more than in Man of Steel. And I still consider how things are much better for Henry than they had been for George (Reeves). It’s safer to fly on a wire and he doesn’t have to do it as much. And you don’t get shunned from the industry for being Superman. I guess I was a bit mystified about why I would be good Martha Kent material. I thought, wait a minute, I’ve done some things in my past that are on camera that might not be Martha-esque. For example the scenes with Ben Affleck in Hollywoodland. But the great satisfaction is that we’re all serving up something that we would like to eat ourselves, like we’re chefs.
You usually play a leading lady or a love interest. What was it like filling the role of a mother?
You have to be able to achieve the parental responsibility you have with a son becoming a man with this much power. It all harkens back to what you’re going to do with that power and how you’re going to use it. What judgment process are you going to utilize in making those kinds of decisions. Much like law enforcement today, because there are certain issues. And so Jonathan, played by Kevin Costner, and I are aware that their choices for Clark have far reaching consequences. The ship lands and we find him, and he draws his first breath from Earth’s air and struggles with that. The accountability is incredibly high, and so is the sense of secrecy, and the need for protection. And we’re having a baffling experience about it. Behind the scenes we like to joke about how we have the goods on what Clark was like as a little kid.
Holly Hunter (Senator June Finch)
What’s it like playing the senator in this film who has a problem with superheroes as opposed to playing the hero with the government against her in The Incredibles?
Yeah, it’s kind of the opposite. Doing an animated movie is the antithesis of these kinds of things. Working on The Incredibles, everything is literally in the mind of Brad Bird. A movie is such a social experiment in a way, and the exchange that I have with Zack is so generous, prepared and open minded. He’s that way with the whole cast. His excitement is so child-like and then his approach to the work is so prepared. He’s such an aficionado of this genre and these characters. One thing I discussed with the writer, Chris Terrio is that line “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And that is true. Thomas Jefferson said something pretty close to that, and this sentiment has been proven to be fact throughout history and in many countries throughout the world, in the form of totalitarian governments. So even if you are a force for good, but you are unilateral and autonomous, that it will be something polluting that good if it’s all powerful. These forces have to be mitigated by some sort of governance, laws and rules because you’re representing people. And in this case, Superman is an unelected force. Whether you like it or not, he’s going to come save you. And of course it turns out that for the first gesture he makes to the world, there is death and destruction, even in meaning to do good.
How do you think you, as in Holly Hunter the actress, view Superman if he existed in the real world? Would you embrace him or approach him with trepidation?
We’re always looking for saviors. Human beings seem to have a dire, incredible, personal, sociological, cultural, private need for a savior. That’s what religion is about in a way. Somewhere along the way, we want somebody who can give us a path or a good answer about what is to come, and to alleviate our struggle and release us from our pain. So Superman is incredibly seductive for us mortals. I think he answers this fantasy and desire that we, as people who are going to one day die, just need. Plus I think that Superman just taps into that dream we all have to be able to fly. That’s just too cool.
There’s going to be an extended version of the film. Are there any scenes you filmed that did not make the cut that we might look for?
There were a few scenes of me finding out some things that Lex Luthor had done, and I didn’t see them in the movie. There are so many things when filming that you see on the page and when you actually see the movie and something isn’t there, it doesn’t feel missed. I think the cut of the movie is quite beautiful. One scene that I really loved shooting and loved seeing was the one at Lex’s house involving the painting. It’s an unexpected scene. I loved everything about it from the writing to the execution and the camera work. It’s one of the great things about working on a movie like this is all the crew from the set design, costumes, lighting and all of it. You know you’re working with the crème de la crème.
Although I didn’t get a one-on-one interview with Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), being an intrepid Superman fan/guerrilla journalist, I was about to leave and saw him waiting to be brought into a room for an interview. So I introduced myself and said I was a fan of his work. He agreed to take a photo.