Ever since Warner Bros. announced at San Diego Comic Con International that their follow-up to Man of Steel would feature Batman, rumors have been flying as to what other characters might appear in the film.
Most of the rumors have been from unnamed sources, but some of them seem to have taken on a life of their own, with major media confirming with additional anonymous sources that they're true.
With most of the big newsmakers closed up for the Thanksgiving holiday, we figured it was as good an opportunity as we were going to get to run down the rumors, their apparent credibility and where they came from.
This one seems to be almost a certainty, since LexCorp was slapped all over a props in Man of Steel and both writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder have made overt references to the character in interviews, with Snyder having already told the press how he pictures the character.
“I think you’d just have to imagine like a combination of, you know, Richard Branson and Brad Pit I guess, mixed together,” the filmmaker said in a June interview.
During a recent fan event celebrating the Blu-ray and DVD release of Man of Steel, Snyder also said that, in his mind, Luthor was keen on reminding the world that Superman is an alien.
In terms of who might actually be up for the part? Nobody really seems to have a solid idea, athough a rumor that Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston would take the part exploded onto the Internet and just wouldn't let go back in August. The actor first said that he was interested in the role but as it started to become a truism that he would join the cast, he denied the reports, saying that his interest was just that--interest. If he were to get the job, it would re-team Cranston with his Argo director and co-star Ben Affleck, who will play Batman in the film.
Meanwhile, Mark Strong--who played Sinestro in Green Lantern--has also been rumored for the part and even teased fans a little bit with the prospect of taking on the gig. Lost star Terry O'Quinn was also briefly rumored for the role, though everyone involved seems to have agreed that one isn't going anywhere, and even Jackie Earle Haley got his name tossed into the Luthor ring not long ago, when it was revealed he apparently read for an undisclosed role in the film.
It's been widely rumored that of the female characters being cast in the film, one of them will be a love interest for Bruce Wayne...and the other will be Diana Prince, better known to the world as Wonder Woman.
Now, it's worth noting that almost every news and rumor site have reported at one point or another that Diana will appear in Batman vs. Superman, but it's unlikely she'll take on a costumed identity in the movie--rather, most are thinking that Diana Prince herself--possibly in her capacity as a government agent, which she's been in some iterations of the character--will appear briefly in the film to tease the prospect of a Wonder Woman movie for down the line.
This one's a bit confusing--there have been a lot of rumors about the "unnamed female lead" in Batman vs. Superman, but most credible reports are suggesting that the Wonder Woman casting is not being designated as a lead, so the unnamed female lead in the movie is probably the aforementioned love interest for Batman, not Diana. The one real lead we have as to Wonder Woman's approach is that apparently Thor: The Dark World star Jaimie Alexander has been approached for input--which of course implies that Warner Bros. is at least a little interested in having her come in to read for the role.
Other rumors taken somewhat less likely say that Olga Kurlyenko is in line for the gig, and that there are currently three top-level contenders for the part. That last rumor, from credible industry trade paper Variety, suggests that Alexander is out becuase she won't yet be done with her commitment to Marvel by the time Warner Bros. wants to get serious about Diana.
Numerous reports surfaced recently suggesting that Nightwing would appear--or at least be referenced--in Batman vs. Superman, with Batman in this movie being a little older and alienated from Dick Grayson and others close to him, a la Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
The rumors first surfaced in conjunction with a report that Adam Driver from Girls would play the part, but Driver denied that almost immediately. Meanwhile, actor Steven McQueen seemingly hinted that he's going to play Nightwing on The CW's Arrow. While we know Batman is off-limits, as is Gotham, Bludhaven has been referenced on the series and showrunners have made their love of Nightwing no secret in the past. Still, it's unclear whether he or anyone else could appear in both the movie and on TV, presumably played by different actors and in different continuities.
On top of all of this, it seems likely that Warner Bros. has some kind of plans for Nightwing, even if it isn't in this movie or on Arrow. They recently applied for a trademark on the Nightwing logo--on all kinds of items like clothes, toys and paper goods.
On the morning of Warner Bros.' Comic Con panel this year, there were two big rumors that exploded onto the Internet ahead of real announcements: There would be a Superman/Batman movie, and a Flash movie.
While it's not yet clear whether an actual Flash movie is (back) in development at Warner Bros. or if that rumor sprung out of people nattering about the upcoming Flash pilot on The CW, the announcement didn't happen and so it wasn't long before people started claiming that they'd now heard Barry Allen would make an appearance in Batman vs. Superman to set up a Justice League movie.
This one feels less likely than some of the others--there'd be little legitimate reason to bring Allen into the fold, unless he was already The Flash, which would then beg some kind of explanation of its own (unless they were going to fold Arrow into the continuity of the movies, but series producers have said no such conversations have taken place at this time).
Anything's possible, but it seems more likely that with a TV pilot in the works, establishing a baseline awareness of the character isn't as high a priority on the big screen as it would be for, say, Aquaman or Wonder Woman. Like Green Arrow, it seems likely that the TV series and the brand awareness that comes with it will allow Warners to pump the brakes a little on putting that character onscreen, buying them time to definitively decide whether they want to use the characters from the TV shows in the movies, and how to handle it if they don't.
For a long time, Supergirl was the only female superhero to have her own feature film. The fact that more recent examples have included Catwoman and Elektra might suggest they'd have done better to give ol' Kara another try before now--and it's a distinct if somewhat remote possibility, based on the event of the Man of Steel prequel comic, which featured Kara Zor-El (here one of Superman's ancestors from thousands of years ago when Krypton was in the business of traveling to and colonizing undeveloped worlds) crash-landing on Earth after the rest of her crew had been murdered by a lunatic on board her craft.
She'd already bested this particular lunatic in a fight once and thrown him in jail--hence his decision to go after her--and so when you see only one person stumble out of the downed craft and into the Arctic night, it's not an unreasonable assumption to think Superman could have a blood relative floating around somewhere.
The real question is whether she could have found a way to survive all this time on an alien world, even one that gave her powers. That could be a hard sell, especially after they hammered home a few times in Man of Steel that her scout ship had been buried in the ice for so long.
There's been some rumblings that Aquaman could appear in the film--and while nobody really believed them at the time, Thanksgiving Day did see Geoff Johns talking to Variety about his desire to move Aquaman to the forefront of the public consciousness.
“He’s a priority character for the company,” Johns said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most well-known characters among super-heroes, and in popular culture.”
“We are finding new areas in the ocean every day. It’s as alien as going to outer space,” Johns added, something that might go with one of the earliest, craziest conspiracy theories about Man of Steel--that those whale songs Superman was listening to after the oil rig explosion were actually messages being sent to the King of Atlantis.
Aquaman has appeared in both Smallville and on Batman: The Brave and the Bold in the last five years, and had a well-received (but ultimately not picked up) TV pilot released back during the Smallville days and starring Justin Hartley, who would go on to play Green Arrow on Smallville instead. Unfortunately for Warners, though, it would be an uphill battle to bring him to the big screen in no small part because of the joke he's become in the mass culture as part of the series Entourage, which revolved around a fictional Aquaman movie.
If we see Booster Gold right away, expect it to be on a comic book before it's in person. Blaze Comics, Booster's publisher for his comic-within-a-comic, had its sign briefly cameo in Man of Steel.
Still, anything's possible. Warners is rumored to be taking pitches for a Booster Gold movie (take that pretty lightly--we do--but the rumors do exist)--and that may or may not be an evolution of Arrow producer Andrew Kreisberg's planned Bosoter Gold series at Syfy, which we're assuming is pretty much dead in the water now that Kreisberg is running both Arrow and The Flash, with no movement on Booster in about a year.