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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Everything we know so far
A comprehensive guide to the upcoming Man of Steel sequel
 
Here we go.
Here we go. (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

As with 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 last 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 know how many other superheroes will appear. So what do we know about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Here, a guide:

1. Batman v Superman will hit theaters in May 2016
May 6, 2016, to be exact. That's nearly a year later than the originally announced release date of July 17, 2015; when Batman vs. Superman was bumped, Warner Bros. moved Joe Wright's Peter Pan into the July 17 slot.

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 last 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 v 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. Warner Bros. considered many titles before settling on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
In November 2012, Warner Bros. quietly registered a number of web domains that were widely interpreted as possible titles for the movie, including Battle the Knight, Beyond Darkness, Black of Knight, The Blackest Hour, Darkness Falls, The Darkness Within, and Shadow of the Night. It wasn't until May 2014 that Warner Bros. formally announced that the film's title would be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — a title that presumably paves the way for the already-announced Justice League movie.

5. Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor
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."

On Jan. 31, Snyder officially confirmed that Lex Luthor will be the villain in Batman vs. Superman, and that he'll be played by The Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg — one of the few actors who hadn't been rumored for the role. "Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940," said Snyder in a statement. "What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions."

6. Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman
On December 4, Warner Bros. announced that former Miss Universe contestant Gal Gadot — who's best known for her supporting role in the Fast & Furious movies — will appear as Amazonian superheroine Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman. In a statement, Zack Snyder said that Wonder Woman "is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character." What we don't know is how major a role Wonder Woman will end up playing; though Gadot has been photographed on set, she could be anything from a major character to a mere cameo designed to tease a larger role in future entries of the franchise.

7. Jeremy Irons will play Alfred Pennyworth
It wouldn't be a Batman movie without the Dark Knight's faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and Warner Bros. has found a similarly acclaimed actor to fill Michael Caine's shoes: Jeremy Irons. "As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally, and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure," said Snyder in a statement on Jan. 31. "He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious facade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne."

8. Many, many other DC Comics characters are rumored for cameos
So we have Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman — but how many other superheroes will appear? In April, Variety confirmed one more: Ray Fisher, who will play Victor "Cyborg" Stone, a character expected to become more important later in the franchise.

The possibility of more superheroes remains far more muddled. The CW's superhero TV series Arrow recently introduced Grant Gustin as The Flash, who had been widely rumored to appear in Batman v Superman — though it's unclear if the film would cast its own version of the character. In November 2013, The Wrap reported that Girls star Adam Driver was a favorite to play Nightwing — the Batman sidekick formerly known as Robin — though Driver denied the rumors, and has since been cast in Star Wars: Episode VII. Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa has long been rumored for some kind of role in the film, though it's not even clear if he'd be playing a hero or a villain; fans have speculated that he could be anyone supervillain Doomsday to the Martian Manhunter to Aquaman.

9. 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 v Superman is a fresh start, and the first cinematic crossover in DC Comics history — and there are even bigger plans down the road. A Justice League movie has already been announced, which — if it follows its comic-book source material — would offer an Avengers-style team-up between heroes like Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.

This article, which was originally published on November 12, 2013, was last updated on May 21, 2014.

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

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