The sequel to Man of Steel is shaping up to be quite the blockbuster event, not just for general audiences who will likely see Superman and Batman interact for the first time, but also for DC Comics fans. After a producer potentially confirmed both the appearance of Dick Grayson and the presence of Kingdom Come-esque "Bat Drones," the Internet was set ablaze with a lot of possibilities revolving around the inclusion of Nightwing, and the "tired and weary" Batman's history in the world of Man of Steel. Now, that same producer has started the rumor mill yet again, this time with more potential character confirmations - one of which that has already panned out - that will make a decisive impact on the shape of the film.
Daniel Alter, a producer with purported "ties to Warner Bros.," has again cavalierly tweeted some potentially bombshell details about the inclusion of the previously rumored Wonder Woman (more on her confirmation in a bit), but added the name of the behemoth that, in the comics, killed Superman: Doomsday. The two tweets were sent out within a day of each other:
If this latest rumor ends up panning out, then this film is quickly becoming one of two things: either a cinematic DC Comics tour de force, with a powerful story requiring the inclusion of all of these characters and launching a cinematic DC Universe, or a sloppy mess of a cash grab that is going to over pack itself with too many characters. There's also now a greater potential for danger to Superman, if the possible inclusion of Doomsday is any indication.
Doomsday made his first appearance in Superman: The Man of Steel #17 as a behemoth imprisoned underground on Earth. The creative teams on all of the Superman monthly titles, which at the time numbered in four with one Superman comic releasing every week, planted the seeds for Doomsday well before the battle between he and Superman was joined. When he eventually busted out, he rampages across the country attracting the attention of the Justice League. When he ends up making quick work of the superhero team, Superman himself steps in and the battle begins.
The battle itself, spread across seven issues, was a terrific comic book reading experience, because it did such a fantastic job of pounding the anticipation forward. While DC leaked to the press that Superman (vol. 2) #75 would feature the actual death of the character, that may have killed some of the suspense, but it certainly didn't kill the potential sales. Comic book retailers across the country were absolutely floored with demand for the issue featuring the death of Superman, and the resulting frenzy led to sales of over three million copies for the actual death issue.
As a result, Doomsday's reputation as a character is defined by the fact that he killed Superman. In the intervening years after the death up until September 2011's "New 52" relaunch, a lot of writers and artists had tackled giving Doomsday a backstory. Many of those efforts revolved around making him a Kryptonian monstrosity, while more recent efforts have tried to return an element of mystery to his origins and have depicted him actually attacking Krypton before its destruction.
Either way, because The Death of Superman is one of those rare Superman comics stories of the last 20 years that has largely managed to break into the mainstream comic book knowledge base, chances are that Doomsday's inclusion would be quite a big deal, and would negate a common critique of Superman stories that say he doesn't have any enemies powerful enough to actually defeat him. Seeing how he could be woven into the world established in Man of Steel is going to be interesting, regardless of whether or not it's good. Will Lex Luthor have some involvement? Can people trust Superman after his battle with Zod? Will they be willing to get behind him, perhaps, because of the threat Doomsday can represent?
Perhaps more credence can be given to Mr. Alter's tweets, because today we now know that one of his statements has turned out to be true.
We now know for certain that Wonder Woman will be in the upcoming film, played by Fast and Furious actress Gal Gadot. Wonder Woman's name has been cropping up in relation to the Batman-Superman film pretty consistently for the last few months, and possible casting rumors seemed to make her appearance more and more likely before today's confirmation, which makes absolute sense if DC is indeed building to a shared universe of some kind.
Gadot is a bit of a new face in Hollywood, making her biggest splash in Fast & Furious 4 and 6 after appearances in television shows like Entourage and The Beautiful Life. She's certainly beautiful, and comic book fans are likely eager to see the character's immense physical and emotional strength portrayed by a live-action performer. It's hard not to see Wonder Woman's inclusion as a sign of things to come with the characters of the DC Universe, and now that we actually have an actress' face to put to the character's name, speculation will kick into overdrive. In fact, it already has.
Some people seem to be nervous about the character's potential on film in general, citing a complicated character history among other factors as to why she "can't work." Responding to that point very well is an editorial on Modern Myth Media by site founder Sean Gerber, entitled, "Katniss Lights a Fire for Wonder Woman." I think he's correct in citing the success of The Hunger Games films as possible proof of Wonder Woman's cinematic strength, but give it a read for yourself and see what you think!
Speaking of which, what do you think? Can Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Dick Grayson, Doomsday and perhaps Lex Luthor make for too many big, recognizable characters in one film? Or, does the potential for the future of DC Comics on film make that possibility too awesome to ignore? One opinion that should definitely be taken into account is that of an Oscar-winning director and screenwriter that happens to believe in the strength of the story, and the vision of director Zack Snyder. Mr. Affleck cites this as one of the primary reasons he's going to be playing Batman in the new film, when he says (via EW and Batman-On-Film),
"From what I’ve seen of what’s Zack is doing, it’s made me very excited. One of the nice things about being an actor in that movie is they show you all the stuff before anyone else gets to see it. So all the sort of world-creation, and the take on the character and the other characters is really exciting. And at the end of the day, the truth is it’s really directors that make movies work or not — especially these kinds of movies, where it’s about the whole world, and a rising tide lifts all ships. And if it all has integrity, if it all has a sense of realism, then it works. And if it doesn’t, than it doesn’t really matter what everyone’s doing [in the film] because they just look like a bunch of Mexican wrestlers in suits."
Whatever your feelings on Ben Affleck's casting as Batman, his recent work as a director and actor shows that he has a particular critical eye, and it should be at least a little reassuring that the director of Argo and The Town sees enough strength in the forthcoming film to put his name on it. Becoming Batman, especially in a film with the potential for so many other characters, is a risk for any actor, but it sounds like Mr. Affleck feels that it's a risk worth taking. Maybe it's not a bad idea for fans to see it in the same way, and maybe even get a little excited for what's to come.
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and former retailer, and freelance contributor to GeekNation.com, The Huffington Post, and Batman-On-Film.com. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film every Wednesday right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.
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