Killing Bono is a highly exaggerated adaptation of British rock journalist Neil McCormick’s memoir about failing as a fame-obsessed, aspiring musician in 1980s Ireland while fellow classmates formed a little band called U2 and became the biggest band in the world. At one point, the film’s version of Neil (played by Ben Barnes) is shown to cheat on his badass, hot band manager (played by Krysten Ritter) who leaves him as a result. One small problem: In real life, those two have been living together for over 20 years now, and have a kid. He never cheated on her, and they never broke up. They even attended the Killing Bono premiere together, and at dinner afterward she was being truly horrible to him, forcing him to remark in the Telegraph, “It eventually dawned on me that it was because my film character had cheated on her film character with another film character who never even existed. When I pointed out this, she said: ‘Well, it’s just like something you would have done!’”
That’s how I felt about the recent rumor that Warner Bros. had decided to split Batman v. Superman into two films, Enter the Knight (due 10/23) and Dawn of Justice (due 3/25/16): That’s just like something they would do, isn’t it? Oh, sure, there’s not even a source for where this rumor originated. It was just an image that randomly popped up online, looking like a surprise last shot of the teaser-trailer expected to drop with Jupiter Ascending next month.
That image got picked up by one news outlet, and things escalated quickly, with many quick to argue that splitting the film in half is a terrible idea. The same thing happened when a random source (an out-of-nowhere website named The Daily Marvelite) first posted the rumor that Avengers 3 was being split into two, and that ultimately turned out to be true, with Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 coming in 2018 followed by Infinity War Part 2 in 2019. So, surely history was repeating itself, right?
Not so fast. Someone at Variety managed to actually ask Henry Cavill about all of this at a BAFTA event in Los Angeles, and he denied that Batman v. Superman was getting split in half. You’d assume that he would definitely know, what with being Superman and everything. However, it’s actually even a little more involved than just that. As BadAssDigest explained during all the Avengers 3 rumors, movie studios can’t simply split existing films in half. Producer Ilya Salkind did just that with The Three Musketeers back in the ‘70s, splitting what was shaping up to be a four-hour film into The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge (1974). However, he didn’t kick in any additional salary to anyone in the cast, which included heavy hitters like Oliver Reed, Charlton Heston, and Raquel Welch. So, they ultimately starred in two different films for the price of one, and boy were they pissed. They took him to court, and “eventually the Screen Actors Guild included new language in the standard actor contract, known as the Salkind Clause, which says the actors must know how many movies they’re making when they sign up – ie, you can’t just use all their extra footage to make another movie without paying them for another movie.”
That means that if Warner Bros. is truly splitting Batman v. Superman in half, and that it was not their original plan to do so then they’d have to first negotiate new contracts with Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and the rest of the cast. Warner Bros. had to do that with everyone in the Hobbit when the two-part movie they’d filmed together in New Zealand for nearly a year suddenly transformed into a trilogy. So, maybe that means the people over at WB are old pros at this by now. Either way, you’d think that Henry Cavill would know if his film had suddenly become two films because that would mean he was getting paid an extra salary. Of course, whether or not Cavill knows what’s actually going on and whether or not he was being truthful while talking to Variety about the rumor at the BAFTA event are probably two different things.
But, true or not, this all just seems to me like something WB would totally do for a variety of reasons:
- They just did it with The Hobbit.
- They’ve already decided to split the eventual Justice League film in two, Part 1 in 2017 and Part 2 in 2019
- They were once rumored to be considering filming Batman v. Superman back-to-back with the Justice league with the former out in 2015 and the latter in 2016. Obviously, Batman v. Superman was ultimately pushed back to May 2016 before being pushed up to March 2016. Splitting it in half would satisfy any initial urge they had to have a superhero film out in both 2015 and 2016.
- They’re the same people who decided to call their film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After that, they’ve earned our cynicism.
- Splitting films in half is the new cool thing to do in Hollywood. It’s just not for YA adaptations and Peter Jackson anymore.
- They presumably like money. Two average-length movies will make them more money than just one really long movie.
It’s that last part that probably gets more than anything else. However, there might be an actual creative reason to split the film in half: They might simply have too much going on for one film to handle. That’s the part where a small part of me wonders if it’s really the worst idea in the world to split Batman v. Superman in two. Scott Mendlelson at Forbes has pointed out that it would be box office suicide, pointing to the drop-off in box office between the second and third Matrix films as an example of what happens when your first half disappoints audiences. However, this is a film which has to introduce new versions of well-known characters like Lex Luthor, Batman, Alfred, and maybe even Robin while also granting big screen debuts to Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and possibly other future Justice Leaguers as well. On top of all that, the rumors about Doomsday being the film’s second big bad to go along with Luthor won’t go away. It’s their own fault for trying to cram so much in, but if they’ve realized that there’s a creative, not justice financial, need to split the story in half I’d be willing to listen to their argument.
Of course, I say that, and then I think about how maybe Sony should have done the same thing with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, making Electro the villain of Part 1 and Green Goblin the villain of Part 2. Then I think of how that would actually work and realize it’s completely unfeasible without massive re-shoots to add more scenes for Harry/Green Goblin and change the final Electro-Spider-Man-Goblin fight. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have worked at all because it was never a story designed to be told in two halves, and that makes me realize that whatever creative issues Batman v Superman might have won’t be solved by splitting it in half. Not if it wasn’t their original plan. It’ll just anger all of us by giving us half the story and making us wait 5 months for the rest. However, if we take Henry Cavill at his word than boy howdy is all of this much ado about nothing.