Exclusive: Full Interview With The ‘Batman v Superman’ Action Team

Batman v SupermanNow, almost a year later, it’s safe to say that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros.’ second-at-bat in their nascent DC Extended Universe, was the most controversial superhero movie of 2016. Despite financial success and a passionate core group of fans, the film received scathing reviews and was largely dismissed in the popular conversation. And yet, here we are, a year later, still talking about it.

Regardless of where you stand on the film’s quality, a movie with an impact this substantial deserves at least a bit of reflection, and that’s what I had the opportunity to do along with a few of the people who helped make the film what it is.

Initially intended to be a discussion of one of the film’s signature action setpieces, I ended up chatting with Second Unit Director Damon Caro and Visual Effect Supervisors Bryan Hirota and John ‘D.J.’ DesJardin for nearly two hours about their process, their inspirations, their reactions to the way the film was received, and what we can expect in the future.

And, yes, we also talked about the Batman warehouse fight.

Before we started, you were mentioning the martial arts influence of what you brought to the way Batman moves in the movie. What were some of the other influences? I know a lot of people have talked about the recent series of video games – the Batman: Arkham games – because they’re a common reference point, and it’s somewhat similar to what you guys are doing. Was that a reference point, or do you think they were just pulling from some of the same things you were pulling from?

Damon Caro: You know, I’ve never played the game. I used to have more time to play games, but the last one I really delve into was Halo in the early 2000s, but I generally look at story and character and that guides me on how to choreograph, and stylistically what makes sense for this specific character. So, for Batman, I’ve been a fan for years obviously, so I certainly had, in my own head, had visions of how he would move, the sort of power and limitations – he doesn’t have superpowers, but what his training gave him – his strength training and his martial arts training- so everything was done from sort of an organic kindling of, “okay, let me feel what he’s like, let me think about this, let’s read the script, let’s talk with Zack [Snyder], and let’s come up with it that way. I generally don’t look at other things and then try and interject them or imitate them. Clearly I’m made up of my past experiences, my main instructor was Dan Inosanto, so obviously I have a huge influence from him and he’s in The Game of Death with Bruce Lee, so I’m going to have some of those leanings. I’m a fan of The Road Warrior, I’m a fan of Big Trouble in Little China, I’m a fan of all these various movies. There are influences ingrained in me, plus my martial arts training and years of stunt work, etcetera, so I bring all of that, but I really just try to feel and have it be more intuitive and then I wouldn’t say we wouldn’t run across something cinematic and go, “oh wow! That’s interesting!” That’d be something to try, but I never sort of look at other things and then try to imitate them there. I have heard other people suggest that, I’ve heard the relationship or comparison to the game, and that’s flattering because it wasn’t set out that way, but that’s cool how we just all have – it’s just sort of the universal consciousness that true fans know how they want this character to move and we just met at the same place through two different paths up the mountain, so to speak. Have you played the games?

Yeah, I played the first two. I didn’t play the most recent one, but I enjoyed the first two. They’re quite a bit of fun.

Caro: And you would say there’s similarities in it as well?

Yeah! The way it works in the game, it’s called the free-flow combat system, and where a lot of times game fighting can feel very clunky where you go up to one guy and punch him, then you have to run over to another guy and punch him, but they are able to very seamlessly string together the animations so you can be on one side of the room punching a goon and then a guy will come up behind you with a crowbar or something and Batman will flip around and grab the crowbar and slam it to the ground, and as you continue to build up these moves, Batman is able to leap further distances and cover more ground. It’s very clever.

Caro: Yeah a lot of love and a lot of care – with everything we do – but especially this one because this is where we really get to see Batman do his thing.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Behind the Scenes on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Sure, and as a fan, like you mentioned, I’m sure that was just so much fun to get to play around in that world. And in the grand scheme of the movie, what stands out about working on the warehouse versus the rest of the film? It comes at a sort of turning point after Batman reconciles with Superman, they realize their mothers share the same name and they’re able to make this connection and for the first time in the movie, Batman is acting more like the classic Batman we know and not someone motivated purely out of vengeance. How did that change the way you approached the scene versus other scenes in the movie?

John ‘D.J.’ Des Jardin: From my point of view, I was excited about it, and I think Damon and Bryan were too. It was like the first time that we’ve ever really seen Batman and I think it’s kind of our vision for the classic Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns Batman. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen him fight other than the Michael Keaton movie from 1989.

Bryan Hirota: That’s not exactly true because Christian Bale did fight Bane for about forty five seconds.

D.J.: No, no, I don’t count any of that. There’s so little of that. And I actually like those movies, but when we got to doing this scene that’s when you realized, “Holy shit, he really hasn’t fought like the Batman who knows all these different fighting styles and an bring them all to bare.” We’ve never seen him do that and prove that he’s this thing to be feared. Anyone who’s going to do something wrong in the world, you’ve got to be afraid because it could turn into this. So thematically, this was the first that was exciting about that scene, and visual effects wise, It was not an overt visual effects scene. There’s a lot of stuff in that scene, and because Damon and me being able to work a lot in the past. It was fun to break down from that point of view, because we know we don’t want a change here because it’s going to inhibit the performance. Let the visual effects support the beauty of the choreography in the fight itself. It’s not like the Doomsday fight where they’re fighting a CG character. Therefore, I think, in a lot of ways it’s a lot more fun, and it’s also sort of the breadth and depth of the movie as a whole. Effects wise, special effects wise, visual effects wise, stunt effects wise, it’s a very rich movie that way and this scene showcases that richness.

Yeah, it has a little bit of everything in it.

D.J.: I keep forgetting that we even had to extend the set because the set ran out. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it like that. But Bryan’s got a good side-by-side. It’s pretty cool. It’s fun to see the stunt-vis side-by-side.

Caro: I would say, of all the action sequences in that film, this is the one that’s held in the highest regard.

Yeah, I think that one stands out about the rest of the movie for a number of reasons. Like you were saying, it’s the first time we really get to see Batman in that way in live action, not to mention the way it comes at such a crucial turning point. Even more so than the previous scene, it’s the emotional lynchpin of the whole picture. It’s the point where these guys have talked about working together, but now we get to see what that actually means, and what this Batman’s like when he’s fighting for somebody else.

Caro: Yeah, it’s great that you brought that up because I couldn’t agree more. The moment is so pivotal; the fact that Superman trusts him when he says “Martha won’t die tonight.” There’s that moment where he looks at him, and he has to trust that he means what he says. And there’s that moment he recognizes, “This is something much bigger than my own concerns and my own fear,” and that’s why that desperation and that drive that we tried to put in it. I’m glad it came across because that was the desired goal. There is a passion and a ferocity and a he-will-not-fail attitude that blasts through that.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Behind the Scenes on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

So what was each of your first exposure to Batman? Did you start with the comics, or did you get into the old Adam West show?

Caro: I think the Adam West show was almost the same time. I don’t collect comics anymore, but I used to as a kid, and I’ve never stopped being a fan of them, but I used to collect them, so it was probably simultaneous. I started collecting at, like, six-years-old. And the Adam West show was awesome, and I used to draw, and he was a great character to draw, and I used to always draw these DC versus Marvel posters with them all lined up, facing off. And he was always such an interesting character because, like I said, he doesn’t have the superpowers that Wonder Woman has, that Spider-Man has. He’s an interesting case study, and you can do so much more with him. Superman can punch you and just the wind from his punch would probably kill most humans. Batman is someone you can do a lot with in live action still because of his limits.

Right, and the character is so versatile as evidenced by the fact that we have so many different takes on him. You’ve got Adam West, you’ve got the Burton ones, you’ve got Christopher Nolan, and now you’ve got LEGO Batman.

Hirota: Damon was calling Batman America’s MacBeth. You’ve got so many takes on it, he strikes a chord with everybody in different ways. I grew up watching the Adam West show and loved it, and sometime in high school, when The Dark Knight Returns came out – I don’t even know how I got my hands on it, I think my brother bought it – but I remember reading it and it melted my brain because everyone had comic books, I’m not a big collector like D.J., D.J.’s a huge collector, but I liked Iron Man, I liked Batman. Sort of the more human characters is what I was drawn to. But when I first read Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, it really changed my mind about what comic books could be. Because it was very serious, and the Cold War-

Caro: It was very poignant at that time.

Hirota: You read it now, and it’s just whatever, but at the time that was a real thing. Like when The Day After aired on TV, it freaked everybody out. Everyone figured we were going to be nuked.

I mean, current political climate, who knows? I was just recently up at New Beverly and they were showing Dr. Strangelove, and boy, that takes on a whole different feeling post-election.

Caro: But that was the serious tone that that struck. And Miller succeeded in changing that.

It was definitely a seminal moment.

Hirota: And then he wrote Year One, which I thought was awesome also. It sort of touched on Batman at the end of his life, and then it went back to the beginning of his life, and I thought it was great.

Caro: And we were clearly inspired from The Dark Knight ReturnsBvS was its own thing, but clearly there were influences of the caption and the story and what he brought to it.

Hirota: And Zack’s desire for the look of it.

Caro: 100%. I have no doubt.

Hirota: I’ll give you kind of a breakdown of the process. The warehouse fight, in particular, starts with Damon bouncing ideas with Zack [Snyder], right?

Caro: Correct. The first thing we actually did for the movie was the Batman/Superman fight. That was the first thing we met on but then this was the next scene we went right into. And it was actually the first thing we ended up shooting. We generally like to attack it with something big right off – take a big chunk out of it.

Hirota: So you’ll bounce ideas off of Zack and then you’ll go off and do some stuff with your guys. Damon has a process where they’ll rehearse it and work out and actually film it.

Caro: With rough effects.

Hirota: And they’ll edit that together – and we’ll show you; I brought this stuff so I go out to show it to you – and then you’ll run that by Zack and Zack will give you notes, and then studio people at some point will weigh in

Caro: Thus far they hadn’t. They left us alone for all of this which was nice great until you know we shot it.

Hirota: And then, when you and Zack are happy with it then at some point you’ll bring D.J. [John Des Jardin] in, then we’ll break down what’s stunts, what’s visual effects and you how actually does this get filmed and put into a movie.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Behind the Scenes on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Clay Enos/ ™ & © DC Comics

Caro: And then depending on, say, the ending battle with Doomsday, we don’t really shoot a stunt-vis for that because there’s so much visfx work that we did, “okay we’ll do this piece and we can do this little piece in a blocking master but because this was you know real guys with the CG enhancing it these guys came in a little bit later. So i just depends on the specific scene we’re doing because sometimes we just jump in together or they take the lead if it’s more visfx heavy. But that’s the usual process and this was kind of fun because Bryan and I had just come off of [300:] Rise of an Empire before this. So we did have a lot of live action stuff shooting, but obviously we did a ton of work with the ocean and the boats and the things like that, but a lot of the actual fighting was real stunt people. Not a lot of CG character where Man of Steel was more of a hybrid. But we’re all fans of each other’s department you know, I’m a visfx fan, they love live action, so we really work together rather than how it was in the early days when visfx first became prevalent, you know, like on the first Spider-Man. These guys help in so many ways, but we use the practical cape at the very end right before we cut away. Other than that it’s literally one shot when he’s standing.

Hirota: When he’s on one knee, there’s a real cape there.

Caro: Three or four shots? Other than that it’s entirely digi-cape, because that, as D.J. said, there are a lot of movies that use a real cape, but that restricts the flow, the motion-

Hirota: I think you have a lot of issues in shooting where you’re going to have a take that you like everything about but the cape.

Caro: 100%.

Not to mention continuity between shots.

Caro: We can control every motion so we don’t forget about it. There’s even moments where he’s going to throw a kick, and he’s going to grab it, and it works perfectly! It looks like his hand wipes the cape away. And it allows us to do things like covering something up before he moves to reveal it.

Hirota: And there are other things as well. Zack is a big fan of these comic book silhouettes that the cape can do, and you’re never going to get a real cape to do that.

Right, you can be much more theatrical with it.

Hirota: And across cuts, you can’t get continuity with the cape action also.

Caro: And we really started this with Man of Steel. In 300, it was all real capes, and they just used a real cape in Rogue One. They used a real cape on Vader, and a friend of mine who worked on BvS with me was trying to get them to go digi-cape.

If you had asked me to pick out which shots had the CG cape and which ones didn’t, I probably would have assumed more had the practical cape.

Hirota: Which is good, because that’s sort of the goal.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Behind the Scenes on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Clay Enos/ ™ & © DC Comics

For conceptualizing this sequence, how early do you come into the process. Is there already a script at this point, or does this happen much earlier in the development spitballing ideas with Zack Snyder?

Caro: The script was still being worked on when we came in, and that’s generally earlier than a lot of directors have us come in, but Zack likes to really let it flow from early R&D. Half the time it’s like, “try this, try that,” because there are a lot of things that i tried there that I didn’t like. But usually to start he and I sit down and half the time there will just be a slug in the script for us to do some of the action. This was originally going to be eight guys, but that wasn’t enough, so we did some basic blocking in R&D, and other than when he blasts a hole in the floor – that was a digi-Batman – other than that it was all real. So we had a lot of R&D with the wireworks, sometimes it’s a blend of both, but that was all breakaway wire work. More time to go, “hmm, I don’t buy this.” I would say, from beginning to end, there was about a three month process from us being able to R&D it, he and I batting it around, we start to choreograph it, bring some guys in, so that’s probably about a twelve week process before that’s done and delivered. There are always going to be problems. That was a set we built, but if you go to a location there are other problems you have to adapt to, but as you can see, it’s very, very similar. You also can go back, I can shoot it and go, “ehh, actually I want it to be a little tighter there,” and I can do that and not have to figure it out on the spot. And that’s the way it used to be done, but Zack and I have done this process since the first 300. Very few really beautiful, great things are done by accident. They’re by design and hard work and preparation.

Hirota: But a lot of movies get shot that way.

Caro: And you can have some interesting stuff, but the planning is how you elevate it. You know, an artist draws a comic book and they’re not like, “okay, go!” right on the spot. This is no different.

There’s so much time and planning involved to make sure that when you’re on set the day of, everything goes the way you want it to go. And obviously there’s some room for figuring stuff out and improvisation-

Caro: Yeah! Let’s try this here, let’s change this lens here. But it also allows you to do it much faster and be more efficient with it when it’s planned out that way. It’s still a ton of work, otherwise there’s ways you can just shoot wides and a couple close ups and you can get in and out of that stuff, but that’s not the way we like to see it or cover it. You want it to be this beautiful visual poetry, gorgeous shots that enhance what’s going on.

In the early stunt-vis – that’s what you called it?

Caro: Yeah, because previs is sometimes if early on you’ve got the script and storyboard artists are working on some sequence, they’re going to have to do a ton of work or even create half the shots in the scene, they’ll do a previs, which is a computer generated process of the scene. So we coined ours stunt-vis, because we’ll shoot live action stuff. And then many times, depending on the scene in the movie and the characters involved, it can be a hybrid of both, and ultimately we’ll cut them together. This one was mainly live action, so it’s pretty straight forward, but like I said, there are other things like the Batman versus Superman fight which is largely ours too, but then you go to something like the Doomsday fight, and that’s more heavily them.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Behind the Scenes on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Clay Enos/ ™ & © DC Comics

So in the stunt-vis phase, what’s your working relationship like with Zack Snyder? Are you going off and filming this stunt-vis, conceptualizing it based on his notes, but with a lot of room for your own creative decisions, or is he very much involved, almost as if he were on set directing the day of.

Caro: He’s generally too busy to be there. He’d love to be, and in earlier films we used to be able to do that a little bit more, but he’s so busy with the mass of these films. What I would do on both of those is meet with him, conceptualize, we’d talk it through, I go back and choreograph it with the group of guys that I have. We either come to him and show him a live blocking of it, and then he can go, “oh, great! Let’s adjust this and that,” or “I love it, don’t change a thing,” or we’ll go back and modify it and bring it back and he say, “awesome. Go crazy.” And then we’ll shoot it, and something as elaborate as that, I don’t like to show him anything, it can be a liability if it’s not fully polished, but I may go back and say it’s 80% done, and he’ll go, “Okay, cool. You know what? It’d be really cool if you tried to do a close up right here, or what if the camera did this?” But that’s minimal because we’ve been working together for so long that it’s 90% what we shot, and he’d tweak some things. But it’s just because we have a shorthand now and he and I have very similar tastes. All of us do, so we tend to all have that shorthand.

Right, you know what he’s looking for, but he also trusts you to make the right call.

Caro: Yeah, he’s very trusting and that’s why it’s so good. Again, we have a similar eye. And then, after we shoot it, Bryan was there, and his company, Scanline did a magnificent job with it. He’s on set when we’re shooting, and I get to see the stages as it’s going through, and I always like to stick around a little bit through the process to see where he is. As awesome as it is, and even though we know what we’re getting when we’re shooting it, all the enhancements and touches just takes it to another level. That’s the beauty of everyone working together because we all have the same goal in mind. It’s as simple as, I just want to see Batman move the way I’ve always imagined him moving.

Batman v Superman

And speaking of the look of it, the film looks gorgeous. There’s a lot that can be done with digital photography these days, but the fact that it was shot on film pushes it to a level that not a lot of other superhero movies are at, at least in terms of visuals. How different is it doing the VFX work working with the raw film? Obviously there’s the digital intermediary, but does it change substantially working with film elements versus digital?

Caro: Not for my department. I defer to visfx.

Hirota: I mean, film complicates things. Nowadays, even on this movie, every bit of negative was scanned. So we’re still receiving frames from some DI house. But a scanned piece of negative has a different look and different artifacts than something that comes off, like, an Alexa. The actual process itself, aside from having to match the film look, I don’t know that it changes our workflow that much. I think it changes shooting more, because you’ve gotta reload, magazines are limited to a certain amount of footage.

Right, you can’t just keep rolling like they do on a lot of digital shoots.

Hirota: Yeah, and you have to develop the negative, so it costs you a lot more.

Caro: But I do love the look of it still. I admire that Zack still does shoot on it. There are some convenience factors so I don’t know how long that’ll happen, but there’s a subtlety about it. As far as ease of workflow on the post side, it’s so much easier to deal with digital, but I still love it. Anything to make his work harder, I’m in favor of.

Hirota: (Laughs) The fact that it was shot anamorphic is a bigger deal than using film.

Caro: And I never actually saw it projected on IMAX, I’m not sure if you did.

Unfortunately I missed it.

Caro: Yeah, me too. I saw dailies and I shot a bunch of it. The Batman versus Superman fight was all shot on IMAX and it was stunning.

I’m sure that would’ve been incredible to see.

Hirota: I saw it in laser IMAX at the Chinese and it was great.

Caro: We had to make it work for the aspect ratio 99% of people saw it in, but there was some gorgeous stuff we shot in IMAX.

Batman v Superman Trinity

And both of you guys have worked on Watchmen, you’ve worked on Man of Steel, what was different about it this time around? Obviously you’ve got this rapport, you’ve got this shorthand that you’ve built up over these years, but was there anything substantially different about working on this one versus those other big comic book movies with Zack Snyder.

Hirota: More secret.

Caro: (Laughs) Yeah, I mean, it was that, but we were better and more streamlined. Shorthand I don’t think quite does it justice. There was a workflow and an understanding and the techniques we had developed. So go back to WatchmenWatchmen was more of a drama so there wasn’t a ton of stunt-vis, but I shot stunt-vis for the opening fight in the apartment and various other parts. We did Sucker Punch after that which was fun, there was great stuff with the train. But I think we had just really nailed the process of how we go about it. This goes to here and these guys come in, and everybody was just more efficient, and it was a good time for it because it was such a massive undertaking to do it well. We really look for the truth and the beauty of what we want it to be, I can go and choreograph ten versions I hate and still start over with a clean slate, so they gave us more time to do that. It gave us more time to really refine it before we got to the later stages of it. And it was a big undertaking to bring those two characters together for the first time ever, and we felt that weight. Whatever I’m doing, I want to make a movie, in every aspect of it, that would make me go to a midnight showing and stand in line and do that. And for us, we succeeded. Especially the Ultimate Cut. I love them both, but I think it’s an amazing comic book film. I think it’s super layered and I think a lot of what Zack does is really deep and layered and that’s not as common in the comic book scene so it feels disjointed to them. But you see a lot of critics even revisiting it and saying “oh, fourth viewing, I’m getting it now.” I worked on Fight Club years ago with Fincher for about nine months and that was a wonderful learning experience, and that was a similar sort of process where the movie was not well received, but the movie is so deep and it became this cult classic. And now, almost twenty years later, it’s studied and lauded in film schools and high school and they see the layers of it because it’s so deep. If you have to see a movie four or five times to get it, that’s telling you the movie has some depth to it, and I think BvS is on par with that. But I’m prejudiced. And I’m a fan of Marvel and DC too. I don’t understand the hatred and divisiveness.

Right, the rivalry is so silly.

Caro: It’s so silly!

And it was fun back in the day where they would kind of take potshots at each other in the back pages of the comic book, but it was never taken seriously. But the whole internet culture has turned it into this thing it was never intended to be.

Caro: And some people are kind of serious about it.

Hirota: Although there are Marvel comic books-

Caro: Oh yeah, I saw something the other day, it was Deadpool and Spider-Man. You guys are that annoyed at Snyder that you’re talking about him months later? I just don’t get it, because I like a lot of the Marvel movies. If I think a movie is bad, I’ll say I didn’t care for it, and it’s just my opinion, but I really think beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. I can defend my point as other people could as well, but I don’t understand. I enjoy them both. Marvel has a certain tone, and with the DC universe we’ve set a different tone, but I enjoy them both. And I don’t understand the crazy hatred I see sometimes. That’s just not me.

I’m totally with you there. It’s all just sort of silly and, frankly, a little petty. And there’s nothing I love more than a really well-written, well-argued unpopular stance. Even if I disagree with it, if it’s well-argued nothing thrills me more than to read something like that. And I’ve got plenty of unpopular opinions of my own. I’m a big fan of Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger which has enormous problems, but there’s so much there that’s so much fun that I can’t dismiss it out of hand.

Caro: And that’s ultimately what it is. Did you enjoy it? Did it move you? Did it entertain you?

Hirota: What I think is funny about fan culture now is that people love to get worked up over things they don’t like.

Caro: It’s almost like it’s their mission.

Hirota: What I think is funny is, and I don’t know that it matters in any significant way, the amount of work, and the hundreds of people, and the millions of man hours that go into making something that a person can put $15 down and go see for the whole purpose of hopefully entertaining you, it’s weird to go on a tirade of how angry this makes you. Because they just don’t know. Hundreds of people work on this for two years, three years, with the hope that for your $15 you’ll go, “I liked that. That was fun.”

Caro: And for fourteen to eighteen hours a day. Grueling hours. We love it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard.

Hirota: People don’t really understand. From the top down, people who touch this thing, who bleed to put it together, and for a relatively small amount of money you can go see it, and maybe you like it, maybe you don’t.

And, of course, there’s value in criticism, both positive and negative, but-

Hirota: But I guess it’s weird to me when it makes people mad.

Caro: Right, constructive criticism is good, or honest opinion.

Hirota: But even with stuff I don’t like, I don’t want to pour gasoline on them and start a fire.

Like I said, it gets a little petty. And it’s just ridiculous. The internet allows people to hide behind anonymous personas and just spew whatever they want, but ultimately it’s something that’s designed to hopefully bring a certain measure of joy, and if it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, but there’s no reason to send threats to people.

Caro: But I do find it fascinating, in a good way. Clearly to invoke that kind of passion – and it’s still talked about! It came out nine months ago.

Hirota: The movie touched a nerve.

Yeah, there are certainly movies that have come and gone since that have not lingered in the conversation that way.

Caro: Clearly. Hence the passionate debate pro or con. And I’m fine with that. It’s a movie that’s saying something. And if it makes a little money, great, if not, oh well.

Hirota: But the strange narrative of it being a financial flop-

Caro: It’s that old, “you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.” It made $800-

Hirota: Close to $900 million.

Caro: That’s massive!

Hirota: Not many films gross that number. But ultimately that doesn’t matter. It’s so immaterial. Does Warner Bros. like the fact that people love to pillar this movie? No, they don’t.

Caro: You want both. Did they want it to make a billion? We all wanted it to make a billion, but I’m sorry it was $873 million. That’s not a failure.

And the whole box office thing is silly because it comes out of this desire to treat movies like sports where the box office becomes the score. At the end of the weekend, everyone wants to know who “won,” but what does it matter? If the movie was good, and it endures with you longer than that weekend, that’s what really matters. There are plenty of movies that were huge success right out the gate and have faded from the consciousness.

Caro: Absolutely! It happens quite often.

And movies that have made almost nothing that have gone on to become enduring classics. The whole numbers game is just a bit silly to me.

Caro: No, it’s true.

Justice League

So with regards to Justice League, without revealing anything that you’re not allowed to reveal at this point, what are you most excited for people to see?

Caro: Same as myself, I’m excited for people to see all of these characters together. I can’t be more specific than that unfortunately, but that’s it. Finally getting to see the whole team together. We were on set for the shots when they first had them all together and it was incredible. And we had a moment like that on BvS when we did the trinity shot when they face off against Doomsday, and there were just chills. That was the beginning of it. Like I said, I can’t be any more descriptive. (To Hirota) How about you?

Hirota: I don’t even know what this movie’s about (laughs). All I know is, officially, I’m working on this movie. I think that’s about all I know.

I’m also excited for the fact that, from the little glimpses we’ve gotten to see so far, it seems like there is going to be a bit of a lighter tone. You have Flash coming in, which obviously lightens the tone quite a bit.

Hirota: And they’ve said that.

Caro: And the interesting thing is, on Man of Steel, in [Zack Snyder’s] head he had the storyline treatment of where they were going to go, and at the beginning of BvS it was even richer and deeper. The arc was BvS was the midway point and the darker movie. Hence what happens at the end; the whole tone of it was darker. If you play your story all at one level, there are no peaks and valleys, there’s no life. The great stories, the Greek tragedies, even life we have to be knocked down before we can build our way up. Justice League was always the rebirth of hope and the rise. People try to say that it’s a response to the backlash, and I’d definitely say that criticisms were heard, but it’s not like we threw everything out and started with a blank slate. It’s a bit like Star WarsEmpire Strikes Back? Dark movie! But then Return of the Jedi is the rise and the rebuilding of hope.

Justice League opens in theaters on November 17, 2017.

David Daut

David Daut

Though his taste has been described as ‘broken’, David maintains that the Fast & Furious series is the greatest cultural achievement of the modern era.

  • 12stepCornelius

    …”they realize their mothers share the same name and they’re able to make this connection…”

    Remember when people still thought Batman and Superman reached common ground because their mothers have the same na…oh wait, they still think that. :I

  • Maxi Iroh

    I feel like DC has to make some adjustments to win the chinese market, Fantastic Beasts(a Warner film) made huge money over there, but BvS couldn’t do as much and SS didn’t even opened in China.

    • SAMURAI36

      That’s not necessarily DC’s fault. Remember, MCU’s first 5 films didn’t do much in China either. And Thor didn’t open up in China at all.

      • Maxi Iroh

        Batman/Superman >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Cap.

  • jrvc

    This interview was really good, give us a special hindsight of the movie. One year leater and still talking about it, it trully shows that, both good and bad, the movie is still relevant

    • SAMURAI36

      Precisely. Without naming names, there are films that were successful, and got great reviews, that haven’t been mentioned for nearly a year.

  • Matt the Bruins fan

    Yeah, the pettiness between Marvel and DC is really juvenile and beneath the people working on the movies. Wait, what’s that Zack Snyder?

    “But I feel like Batman and Superman are transcendent of superhero movies
    in a way, because they’re Batman and Superman. They’re not just, like,
    the flavour of the week Ant-Man – not to be mean, but whatever it is.
    What is the next Blank-Man?”

    “If he’s around, he’s going to be put in charge because he’s Superman.
    And so I really felt we need to – in a cool way – create a mechanism
    that could get him out of the way. And I didn’t want to [rolls eyes]
    freeze him on ice and shoot him into space. I thought that was boring
    [laughs].”

    Oops.