Affleck, Gadot serve up tough justice
GAL Gadot admits she is still overwhelmed by the impact of her Wonder Woman.
The Israeli model-turned-actor made her debut as the beloved Amazonian demigoddess in last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, injecting some much-needed brightness into what was otherwise a rather dour affair.
Despite the general consensus that she stole the show from her better known co-stars - Henry Cavill's Man Of Steel and Ben Affleck's Caped Crusader - the jury was out as to whether audiences would embrace her first solo Wonder Woman outing when it was released in June.
The answer was an emphatic and ecstatic yes. Not only did it earn more than $1 billion at the box office, but at this year's Comic Con in San Diego - ground zero for global nerd and pop culture - the streets were dotted with fans of all ages, sizes and even genders sporting the famous red and blue costume with the crown and lasso.
"It feels so great and what gets me even more excited is to see boys and men dress like Wonder Woman because it feels like she broke all gender barriers," Gadot says, seated alongside her Justice League co-stars as the Comic Con chaos unfolds just metres away.
"Ever since the movie was released, I'm kind of still overwhelmed with the way that it was received."
DC Entertainment, the studio and comic book company behind the much anticipated Justice League, couldn't have hoped for a better lead-in to the all-star superhero team-up, which opens tomorrow. Despite boasting arguably the most famous superheroes in the world - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are collectively known as the Big Three - DC has struggled to carve out a coherent cinema world in the same way rivals Marvel have with their hugely successful solo movies dovetailing into the even bigger Avengers movies.
Smartly, Gadot and Affleck are front and centre in Justice League (Cavill's Superman was presumed dead at the end of Batman v Superman), assembling a super-team of lesser known heroes - Ezra Miller's wisecracking The Flash, Jason Momoa's rock 'n' roll Aquaman and Ray Fisher's mysterious Cyborg - to battle an army of alien invaders.
Affleck, who says it was much easier playing the iconic superhero this time without the "rage and resentment" of the previous film, describes Bruce Wayne's role in Justice League as "herding the superpower kittens".
"I do think it will be comfortable to see the character in the form that we are most used to seeing him and it certainly gives me a lot of room to play," he says. "It's such a great character and it's the reason it's been around for so long and is so iconic because the character works so well. So staying close to this genesis of who Batman is has been fun and rewarding.
"The irony is that he's not a particularly collaborative guy and yet here he's thrust into the position of not only having to work with a team, but having to actually put the team together."
Newcomer Fisher, making his feature film debut as Victor Stone, who is transformed into the hugely powerful half-man, half-robot Cyborg after an accident, describes Wonder Woman and Batman as the parents of the group.
Miller, as whip-smart and wisecracking in person as his on screen Flash persona, agrees.
"Ben's my dad and Gal's my mum," he says. "They're really nice to me until I do something wrong."
But does that mean super-sparks fly between Wonder Woman and Batman, with some kind of heroic hook-up on the cards?
"I think he's fixated on Diana in some ways," Affleck says, admitting to playing up the sexual tension. "There's a nice, warm, tension with Wonder Woman. It's not like she's some floozy - she's this very substantial, powerful female character in his life. I don't think he's used to that."
As if expectations weren't high enough in creating a linchpin for the DC Extended Universe that will springboard its characters into future solo movies - Aquaman has just wrapped on the Gold Coast and a Flash movie is also in the works - Justice League had something of a troubled production.
Most of the $US300 million movie was directed by Zack Snyder before he had to step back after the tragic death of his daughter. The task of overseeing post-production, reshoots and reportedly injecting a lighter tone into proceedings went to Avengers main man, Joss Whedon. Whedon had already jumped ship from Marvel to DC to write and direct a future Batgirl film.
Fisher says the two directors had very different styles, "but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing, which is just to tell the best story we possibly can".
Miller describes the transition between the two different but complementary directors, made under the most difficult of circumstances, as "a beautiful thing to watch" and a perfect metaphor for Justice League.
"One of the most beautiful things you can do is help to bring another artist's work to fruition at a time when, for one reason or another, they cannot," he says. "And that's kind of the plot of our film - in times that are dire, uniting, finding each other and goodness in each other and trusting each other and each other's talents and abilities."
Affleck says Justice League also reflects modern times and real-life global threats. Filming was done at the height of terrorism threat from Islamic State and other militant jihadists around the world and perceived East-West return to Cold War hostilities, with Russia and Vladimir Putin pitched as global villain.
"Batman is emblematic of this whole idea of multilateralism and organising people to protect the common good," he says. "So we draw from different backgrounds, different ages and obviously a woman. I think that's one of the things that makes this genre and group hero movies appealing is that the more threatening the times are, the more uncertain they seem, the stronger the desire there is to see and have heroes, to have saviours, to have these larger-than-life characters play out dramas and save the day in ways that things don't necessarily get saved in our real lives."
Justice League opens in cinemas tomorrow.