Thursday, March 24, marks the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that not only promises to pit two of the comic-book world's favourite superheroes against each other, but also marks the expansion of comic publisher DC's cinematic universe – the ultimate aim is for DC's Justice League to launch a belated assault on Marvel's Avengers' current stranglehold on box-office takings.
The title focuses on the stalwart characters The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel, played this time round by bat-caped debutant Ben Affleck and returning neither-bird-nor-plane Henry Cavill. We also know that a number of other DC favourites will be making appearances, too – Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, has already made a brief appearance in the latest trailer, while cameos are expected from Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Ezra Miller’s The Flash.
Other much-loved characters from the comic books and previous movies set to return include Bruce Wayne/Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth, with Jeremy Irons taking over the role played by Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, and returning Superman villain General Zod, reprised by Michael Shannon. To complicate matters slightly, Zod was killed in the 2013's Man of Steel, and rumours suggest he may be reanimated as the monster Doomsday, who hails from the netherworlds of Zod and Superman's native planet Krypton. Much-loved Superman villain Lex Luther is set to return as well, this time played by Jesse Eisenberg, while Amy Adams is back as Lois Lane.
Whiplash's J K Simmons was recently confirmed to play Commissioner James Gordon in the upcoming Justice League movie, though as far as we're aware he's not making an appearance this time around.
Finally, last week Ben Affleck put paid to lingering questions about whether Batman's sidekick Robin would return, having been absent throughout the Nolan trilogy, by announcing that he's dead, which will come as relief to anyone who sat through Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin (1997).
We could dedicate a whole newspaper to more casting rumours, but we’re going to stop given that director Zack Snyder has assured audiences the movie will focus on the central characters rather than a host of peripheral newcomers.
As for the storyline, it seems the world has become divided in its opinion of Superman and his semi-deity status, with some thinking he’s a true hero sent to save humanity and others convinced he’s a threat. Bruce Wayne, and his alter-ego Batman, falls into the latter camp, and vows to rid the world of this menace. This battle should be a no-brainer – Superman is invincible, while Batman is a (seemingly ageing and weary) billionaire with some nice gadgets. In the absence of Kryptonite, the one substance that can damage Superman, he will surely defeat whatever gadgets Batman throws at him. This is a movie, however, so it’s unlikely to be that simple, and judging by the trailers, it looks like after some epic skirmishes the two will eventually team up, possibly alongside Zeus’s daughter Wonder Woman, to fight a greater evil, which may or may not be Doomsday.
There's a lot going on, and if Snyder pulls it off, this could be the best comic-book adaptation since last month's Deadpool. If he doesn't, it could all get very confusing.
When I saw the first trailer last spring, I wasn’t too enthused. By the time the second one came around at the end of the year, Snyder seemed to have created an entirely different film – one that looks well-worth the entrance fee. Now we only have to wait until Thursday to find out which was the more accurate teaser. I’m hoping it’s trailer number two.