Batman vs. Superman: Everything we know so far

The Week

Like most superhero movies, it has been very, very difficult to find reliable information on Zack Snyder's upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. Since the film was confirmed at Comic-Con this summer, a few details have trickled out; you have undoubtedly heard that Batman will appear, and that he'll be played by Ben Affleck.

But those are some of the only things Warner Bros. has confirmed about Batman vs. Superman. We don't who the villain will be, or which other superheroes might appear. We don't even technically know that the sequel will be titled Batman vs. Superman, though almost all early reports have used the title. What do we know about Batman vs. Superman, anyway? Here, a guide:

1. Batman vs. Superman will hit theaters in July of 2015
July 17, 2015, to be exact. That's two months after the May 1 release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, one month after the June 12 release of Jurassic World, and two weeks before the July 31 release of Marvel's next standalone superhero movie, Ant-Man.

2. Most of the cast from Man of Steel will return
There was never any doubt that Henry Cavill would return to play Superman in the sequel. But Warner Bros. has since confirmed that many of his Man of Steel allies will join him: Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), and Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) are all set to return.

3. The film will be inspired by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
We first learned that Batman would appear in the Man of Steel sequel earlier this summer, when actor Harry Lennix took the stage at Comic-Con to read a memorable piece of dialogue:

"I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you."

That's a line of dialogue from Frank Miller's beloved The Dark Knight Returns, which ends with a climactic brawl between Batman and Superman. The story is widely regarded as one of the greatest Batman stories of all time. While director Zack Snyder previously expressed interest in filming a direct adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, he quickly clarified that Batman vs. Superman would be an original story inspired by certain elements of the seminal comic — including, presumably, the casting of Affleck as an older and more experienced Batman.

4. Lex Luthor will probably be the villain
Though Superman's most famous villain didn't appear in Man of Steel, his presence was foreshadowed by several appearances of the LexCorp logo. In an online Q&A about the film in November, Zack Snyder said something about Superman that seemed to hint that Lex Luthor would appear in the sequel: "At his core, Superman is an alien. He comes from an alien world. Lex loves to call him an alien."

Unfortunately, that's all we know for sure. Despite what you may have heard, the actor playing Lex Luthor has not yet been announced (though widespread rumors have named everyone from Bryan Cranston to Bradley Cooper as possible favorites for the role).

5. Many, many other DC Comics characters are rumored for cameos
Lex Luthor isn't the only DC comic book character hotly tipped to make an appearance in the sequel. It's widely rumored that Warner Bros. will take the opportunity to introduce Wonder Woman. The studio added fuel to the fire by auditioning three actresses — Gal Gadot, Elodie Yung, and Olga Kurylenko — for a nameless "tall, brunette, athletic, and exotic character" who sounds suspiciously like Wonder Woman. The Flash is similarly likely to appear, though no actor has been attached to the role. Finally, The Wrap recently reported that Girls star Adam Driver is a favorite to play Nightwing — the Batman sidekick formerly known as Robin — as he branches off into his own independent career as a superhero.

6. There's a scene set at a football game between rival colleges in Gotham City and Metropolis
We know virtually nothing about the plot of Batman vs. Superman, but we do know that one scene has already been shot: A football game between Gotham City University and Metropolis State University. One extra filmed the production — and while it's not exactly illuminating, it does offer our first glimpse of the film:

SEE ALSO: He said he was leaving. She ignored him.

7. The film is designed to set up a possible Justice League movie
Marvel set the template for a sprawling cinematic universe, with movies like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger leading into 2012's massive team-up The Avengers — a mammoth success that paved the way for even more hit movies like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.

By contrast, DC's superheroes have some catching up to do. The Dark Knight trilogy was an enormous success both critically and commercially, but it was also self-contained, and aspiring franchise-starter Green Lantern fizzled at the box office. Batman vs. Superman is a fresh start, and the first cinematic crossover in DC Comics history — and there are even bigger plans down the road. Early reports indicate that the film will lead to a Flash movie in 2016 and a Justice League movie in 2017, which would offer an Avengers-style team-up between heroes like Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern. There are also rumblings that Ben Affleck, who won Best Picture for directing and starring in Argo just last year, is Warner Bros.' first choice to direct the Justice League movie.

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