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At San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. – with a little help from actor Harry Lennix – announced news that long-time comic book fans have been waiting their whole lives to hear. It was revealed that the upcoming Man of Steel sequel would have Batman and Superman in a live-action feature film together for the very first time. Geeks worldwide began buzzing about possibilities, wondering and imagining how the classic superhero characters would either face off or team up against a mutual threat. "World’s Finest" comics came down off the shelf and we were all reminded of the great showdown at the end of Frank Miller’s "The Dark Knight Returns."
But now we know that the 2015 blockbuster won’t just be about the Caped Crusader and the Man of Tomorrow.
Earlier today it was officially confirmed by both Snyder and Warner Bros. that Fast & Furious actress Gal Gadot has joined the cast of the Man of Steel sequel and will be playing Princess Diana of Themyscira, best known to audiences as Wonder Woman. It’s been suggested that she will be one of the female leads in the movie – which already has Amy Adams coming back as Lois Lane – and if that’s true she could wind up having a huge impact on the film’s plot. But if that does turn out to be the case, what would make the colloquially-named Batman vs. Superman any different from a Justice League movie?
Regardless of whether it’s a lead role or just a bit part, the introduction of Wonder Woman into the DC Cinematic Universe is going to require a good amount of detail and explanation. In addition to setting up Gotham City as a location in the world outside of Metropolis (not to mention Batman’s supporting characters), the film would likely also have to dive into the history of Themyscira and the culture of the Amazons in order to provide background and explain why Wonder Woman can do what she does. Adding all of this information would require the movie to have a huge increase in scale just so that the character doesn’t seem overshadowed or underused. It’s hard to see how that wouldn’t have a major impact on the launch of the new Batman, and if the movie is just about introducing new heroes it could end up partially undercutting the specialness of any future Justice League project.
What makes the developing production even more curious is that it doesn’t look like Wonder Woman will be the last superhero added to the film’s roster. Toward the end of their article reporting Gadot’s casting, Variety says that The Flash is a lock to "make an appearance in some fashion, whether that’s a significant role or a cameo." If it’s a big role it will only draw more attention away from Batman and Superman, but – possibly more importantly – if it is just a cameo I don’t want to hear about it until I get to see the film for myself.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with having multiple superheroes in the same movie –the issue is more about building up to something. Marvel Studios released five solo films on the path towards making The Avengers, making sure that all of the major characters got proper introductions so that it actually meant something when they all came together. These new developments with the Man of Steel sequel suggest that the filmmakers and the studio aren’t comfortable with the one-hero-at-a-time route and want something that closely resembles a Justice League film sooner rather than later. The risk that is run with this is just piling too much into one feature, and as Iron Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 showed us, the results can be less than desirable.
It’s not exactly hard to see the endgame that’s in mind from all of these developments. DC Comics and Warner Bros. wants to create a cinematic universe that can compete with what has been constructed over at Marvel Studios, and that ultimately will lead to the creation of a Justice League movie. But are they moving too fast by potentially introducing as many as three new superheroes in the first sequel to Man of Steel? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.