Who won the cape wars on 'Batman v Superman' set?

Andrea Mandell

BURBANK, Calif. – There’s a red light casting a glow over this tiny, dark room where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman assemble. The vibe is eerie, broken only by the odd sound of a shrill landline ring.

Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and  Ben Affleck talk about their epic new superhero movie, 'Batman v Superman.'

“It’s for you,” says Ben Affleck, 43, to Henry Cavill, 32.

Superman gamely answers. “Hello? They hung up,” he says, as Gal Gadot, 30. laughs.

The trio hits the big screen on Friday in the much-awaited Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, an epic squaring off of two caped comic-book giants with a new Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and the resurrection of the mysterious Wonder Woman (Gadot).

"She’s not a goody two shoes," says Gadot. "She is a peace-seeker, but at the same time if the fight comes she will fight, and she can fight and she’s a warrior."

In director Zack Snyder’s new film we find Superman fighting for his good name, his motives questioned by the public after a rescue mission goes awry.

5 secrets to making 'Batman v Superman'

“Supes always knew the world was going to fear him, his father warned him about that at a young age, as you saw in Man of Steel” (also directed by Snyder), says Cavill. "He wasn’t really prepared for a group of people accusing him of evil. He’s always trying to do the best thing. I think hearing it for the first time was a real blow to him.”

It's an epic battle for Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.'

Cue an untrusting Batman. Wary of Superman's otherworldly power, Affleck’s vigilante has taken the baton from Christian Bale and leaned into his darkness, brutally branding his victims with the fiery shape of a bat.

The root of Batman and Superman’s beef, of course, lies in comics history, and Snyder says in the movie he embraced “the most iconographic way to kind of level the playing field” between man and alien.

Getting to this particular Gotham was a long road. Two years ago at casting, Affleck (just off his Argo Oscars win) was skeptically branded ‘Batfleck’ and Gadot’s figure was dissected by the masses.

Affleck gives a bit of a shrug. History, he says, has shown you’re judged by the final product, “whether you do well and move the audience. The rest of the stuff is a lot of noise."

Friday marks the unfolding of an enterprise for DC Comics, and an important stepping stone to Justice League: Part One, the forthcoming character-mashup (and Warner Bros.' answer to Disney and Marvel's Avengers), which films in London next month. Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash are getting their own spin-offs, too.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) makes her big-screen return in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.'

Fans will find a tonal difference between Marvel movies such as The Avengers and Batman v Superman — one some critics have branded as too low on old-fashioned fun.

Affleck points to the darker source material. “There’s a DNA of the comic books that goes back a long time that separates the personality of the DC books vs. the Marvel books,” he says.

The two cinematic universes are “a little bit different but essentially you’re splitting hairs,” says Affleck. “They’re all movies about people who wear costumes and have superpowers."

As for who won the cape wars on set?

They laugh. “It’s walking backwards you have to learn how to do,” says Cavill. “You’ve got to kick the cape before you step.”

Affleck grins. “There’s nothing as ignominious as stumbling over your own cape to make you feel unheroic.”