Batman v Superman: five surprises we've learned this week

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Entertainment Weekly has published an array of official on-set shots from Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, featuring Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Israeli actor Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

So what do they tell us? Here’s a handful of superhero sleights of hand we did not quite see coming.

Batman may have the upper hand

The problem with a superhero with no real superpowers beyond extreme wealth, clarity of purpose and a soupcon of insanity is that they start to look pretty silly when the genuine article hits town. It’s a challenge that Frank Miller got past in his iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns by setting up a clash in which Batman takes on Superman with the help of kryptonite, acid and a special fully armoured body suit, just after Kal-El has survived the blast from a nuclear warhead. Entertainment Weekly describes a similar approach in Batman v Superman, which will see the pair engage in a “climactic rooftop brawl”, with the caped crusader donning a “reinforced mech-suit equipped with strength-augmenting armour and, yes, kryptonite”. Snyder has also reminded us that at 6ft 4in, Affleck is also considerably taller than the 6ft 1in Cavill. As if that’s going to make any difference.

Our first glimpse of Wonder Woman might be in civilian mode

With Batman v Superman adopting a slowly slowly approach to building the wider DC Comics universe on the big screen, it looks as if the big Wonder Woman reveal might come after we’re introduced to Gadot as the tiara-less Diana Prince at a “high-society function” where she appears to be flirting with Bruce Wayne. A similar approach worked well for Christopher Nolan’s version of Catwoman/Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, and should help to ground the new movie in the real world, or at least one more recognisable than the much loved – but distinctly hokey – 1970s Wonder Woman show starring Lynda Carter. “I love the fact that there was this Thomas Crowne Affair, Bond-y sexy scene that they wrote about two people who are pretending to be two different people who each know the secrets of the other person,” Affleck told Entertainment Weekly.

Lex Luthor won’t always be bald

Jesse Eisenberg’s arch-villain is sporting a barnet that has been described as Rachel from Friends-esque, though I’m thinking more early 90s-era Liverpool and England footballer Steve McManaman. But we’ve already seen Eisenluther with a sinister bald bonnet in a highly publicised headshot from March, so what gives? Presumably Batman v Superman will also act as a form of origins story for Superman’s nemesis, with the character emerging in follically challenged mode only later in the film. It must be said, they really are trying to cram a lot in to this one.

If Snyder pulls this off, Warner/DC might even have an advantage over Marvel

Man of Steel may not have picked up the kind of critical plaudits or box office wonga that recent Avengers films have plundered, but Batman v Superman has even more hype going for it than anything the Disney-owned studio has yet given us. If Snyder can deliver a Dawn of Justice movie that stands up to his best work – 2009’s wonderfully epic Watchmen or the blistering 2004 remake of zombie thriller Dawn of the Dead - Entertainment Weekly confirms Warner will have him nailed on for at least two more movies. “It’ll be five years by the time the movie comes out,” he tells the magazine. “And then, if everything goes to plan, it’ll be another five years of Justice League. I’ll be 10 years of superheroes by the end of this.”

But, while Snyder is contracted to Justice League part one in 2017 and part two in 2019, Marvel seems to have let go of the two main architects of its rise to prominence: The Avengers’ Joss Whedon and Iron Man’s Jon Favreau. Replacements James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and the Russo Brothers have performed well so far, but it’s still a time of flux for the pioneering studio.

Batman v Superman could be even grimmer than the Christopher Nolan movies

With pulpy superheroes such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash set to join Warner/DC’s stab at a shared superhero “cinematic universe”, you might imagine that the days of a furrow-browed Nolanesque caped crusader are behind us. Holy smokes … there are even rumours that Robin (albeit the quite cool Carrie Kelley version from The Dark Knight Returns) might show their face in Snyder’s movie. But shots of night-time scenes from the film hint that Gotham is as moody a metropolis as ever. “It means that when it was supposed to look rainy and miserable, it had to be rainy and miserable,” Affleck told Entertainment Weekly. “The long dark night of the soul and whatnot.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Friday 3rd July 2015 14.23 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010