Henry Cavill: “In the Justice League, the real asshole is Batman”

Henry Cavill
Warner Bros.

The interpreter of Superman flies to the aid of his “guy” and defends the colors of the son of Krypton, not without a certain panache.

On the occasion of the rebroadcast of Batman v Superman on TF1 this Sunday, we share our interviews with Zack Snyder’s film crew, on the cover of First in March/April 2016 (n°469/470). After Ben Affleck’sthe interpreter of Batman, we continue this Saturday with that of Henry Cavillaka Clark Kent/Superman since man of steel (2013).

Our review of Batman V Superman

When you learned that man of steel would not be followed by a Superman adventure but by a kind of “proto-film” of the Justice League, frankly you didn’t have it bad? You didn’t say to yourself, “I am being dispossessed of my own franchise. »?
No. And I don’t think there are too many characters in the movie at the end of the day. My first reaction was to say to myself: “OK, the advantage of putting the Superman franchise on hold to introduce an expanded DC universe is that when we come back for Man of Steel 2, “Supes” will exist in a much richer world. ” As you say, Batman v Superman is a proto-Justice League. The film gives us the opportunity to broaden the context in which man of steel, which told of an extraterrestrial contact. Kal-El searches for his place within humanity, which perceives him alternately as a savior or a threat. But what do other working superheroes think of him?

Man of Steel 2 remains a reality?

I dare to hope. Nothing is set in stone, but we talk about it a lot. We are trying to find a place for it in the already busy schedule of Warner/DC.

Playing Superman involves bending to a set of immutable rules and preconceived ideas about how he functions as an icon. Because his dialogue was limited and he appeared in the heart of frenetic action scenes, your performance in man of steel had something mineral, stoic about it. You didn’t have much leeway…
man of steel is an origin story told from the perspective of a lonely man. It therefore leaves little room for dialogue. Superman, in general, is not about talk. But in this specific context where you have to understand his point of view and get attached to him, it’s very difficult for an actor to embody it. I had some difficulties to blossom within this device and to render all the seduction and the intensity of the character. That’s why I’m so excited about a new single-player Superman adventure. Now that we’re done with the origin story, we should be able to turn her into a character that’s not only complex, but also interesting. And it is very difficult! Superman is stuck in an outdated American ideal and chained to a number of constraints, as you pointed out. How to make it attractive? By exploring his man of steel psyche. This calls for a film that rests entirely on his shoulders and where he is no longer that misfit alien discovering himself, but the active, integrated Superman that we know. man of steel, Batman v Supermanthe first part of Justice League (realized by Zack Snyderreleased at the end of 2017)… all these films prepare the ground for Man of Steel 2.

Zack Snyder: “With Man of Steel we installed the plumbing. There, we open the tap”

Did you appropriate the character to the point of being able to say, on set, “No, Superman would never do that. »?

I feel like I know him, yes. But we evolve in what I call the “Snyder-verse”, the character depends essentially on Zack’s vision. It’s his interpretation of Superman. I can express my feelings or my feedback on a scene, but generally it does not go further. I have no control over the script or the final result on screen. Zack Snyder is the only one with an overview of the film. Of all the movies.

Does the general public identify you with Superman? Do the kids recognize you on the street?
More like adults, actually. The children don’t identify me right away, because I don’t go around with the cape and the blue suit! The parents point at me by slipping a little note in their ear and they open their eyes wide fascinated…

The comics have always managed to make Batman a credible opponent against “Supes”. But hey, we all know who wins this fight.

Batman is a believable adversary. He can defeat Superman by turning his value system against him. Superman imposes certain restrictions on his use of violence. Batman is less fair play. It does not operate according to the same rules and therefore has a card to play.

Batman Vs Superman: Who’s Stronger?

When I met you for man of steelwe had discussed the comparative merits of Batman and Superman inside the League…
You told me that Superman, in the League, showed his most facho face. A federal cop at the heels of the government…

batman v superman
Warner Bros.

Exactly !

And I told you that the real asshole, the one who compiles files on his colleagues, is Batman! Listen, I will always defend Superman. It’s not only by professional deformation, it’s deeper: I feel close to him. Each superhero is the embodiment of a specific character trait. For Superman, call him goodness, kindness, altruism, whatever… But it’s a notion I identify with – all modesty aside. He represents an aspect of my personality, just as some find in Batman a part of themselves.

Does Batman reflect part of Ben Affleck’s personality?
Hmm, that’s interesting. I don’t really know, you’d have to ask him. It’s almost private, intimate… Ben is a terribly intelligent man, gifted for business, very aware of what is happening in the world and the evolution of our societies. He definitely has a little Bruce Wayne side. For the rest…

Ben Affleck: ‘Batman is a bit of a broken guy’

The murder of General Zod at the end of man of steel got a lot of buzz among Superman fans. After seventy-five years of an immaculate career, it was time for the character to become controversial, right?
Your choice of word is interesting. Can we really consider Zod’s death a murder, when it happens in time of war?

Uh no ?

If someone tries to kill you, is that really murder?

Self-defense ?

Self-defense. And in this case, the defense of planet Earth, not his own. “Murder” is a bit of a strong word to describe Superman’s action against Zod.

Please excuse me.
(To laugh.) No worries, we discuss. And the reactions were mixed, no doubt about it. Some have used this scene to discredit the entire film. Others understood that it was a necessary evil… It’s Superman’s first day on the job and he finds himself confronted with the worst situation. For a guy just getting started, all things considered, he didn’t do too badly.

In any case, this scene lays the foundations of the DC universe as Zack Snyder understands it: an imperfect world where nothing happens smoothly…

Exactly. In man of steel, we take the character in the cradle. He begins. Killing Zod is part of his apprenticeship. This is one of the founding elements that will make him evolve into the adult Superman of the comics. From now on, he categorically refuses to kill. The pain he felt at Zod’s death was so great that it made him an ultra-pacifist. It is a changed superman that we discover at the beginning of Batman v Superman.

However, the trailers for the film still cast him as the bad guy. You don’t work specifically to appease the anger of the fans…

As in Frank Miller’s comics, the film embraces the perspective of Team Batman and a part of humanity for whom “Supes” represents a threat. A simple matter of perception. He is not necessarily the villain of the story; it is simply the image that is projected onto him.

man of steel set the tone for the DC Universe: dark, hyper-mythological, papally serious. Don’t you think there is room for more lightness, even fun, in a superhero movie?

I am okay. It would be ridiculous to take yourself too seriously with this kind of material. The question is where to inject recklessness into these stories with biblical dimensions. Humor, lightness, Marvel does that wonderfully well, but their films don’t have the same dramatic power. The DC universe had to invent something else.

Now that DC’s “Big Three” (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) are in place, do you feel ready to welcome the rest of the gang: Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern…?

This is the start of a long collaboration. And then, who wears the “S” in the family? Hopefully, I won’t have to remind them who the boss is.

The trailer ofBatman v Superman by Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot:

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