Here's our first look at Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Nick Setchfield applies geek-ray vision...
Welcome to Metropolis
Behold the Metropolis skyline, complete with Superman statue, erected in the aftermath of Kal-El's city-trashing smackdown with Zod and the rogue Kryptonians in the final act of Man Of Steel. Clearly the city council ignored all that fevered internet debate about Superman's seemingly indifferent attitude to urban destruction... In the comic book DCU the statue is located in Centennial Park. There's a real life one in Metropolis, Illinois.
Faces of the dead
There's a hint of Mexico's macabre Day of the Dead festival here (look for it to feature in the pre-titles sequence of SPECTRE too). Are these ghoul-faced peeps honouring the dead of Metropolis after the controversial climax of Man Of Steel? Maybe, but their hands are raised towards Superman as if reaching out to a saviour... Whatever the deal, he looks mightily troubled by the situation. Or else he's struggling to remember what's left in the Fridge of Solitude.
Some classic Superman iconography here (he's heaving a car above his head on the cover of Action Comics 1, remember). What's interesting about this shot is what he's lifting. Is that a Russian missile? If so, it's a hint that the Man of Steel may have been co-opted by the American government for military purposes, a twist that features in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, of course. Either that or someone's been watching Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, where our hero decides to rid the world of all nuclear missiles. But no, that's crazy talk. No one watches Superman IV: The Quest For Peace...
Kneel before... Superman?
Another glimpse into Superman's relationship with the military in this movie. These soldiers have the look of a black-ops team - is the Man of Steel now commanding clandestine US Army missions? Rather unnervingly the troopers seem to be kneeling in worship before him... Yes, we know there's a giant ruler in the background, reminding us of Superman's towering proportions, but hey, have some self-respect, guys...
Look! Up in the sky!
Director Zack Snyder just loves his messianic visuals, doesn't he? He's going full Michaelangelo here with your local IMAX as his Sistine Chapel. This shot actually pays homage to some of the imagery in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman, a comic book that positioned Superman as a modern sun god, a red-and-blue spirit of hope.
True or false
Clearly not everyone's onboard with the idea of Superman as the saviour of mankind. The accusatory "False god" tag recalls the "Who watches the Watchmen?" graffiti in another of Snyder's superhero movies... Who's responsible for this, then? We like to imagine it's Lex Luthor, sneaking out at night with a ladder, a bucket of paint and zero dignity. The red moustache was a step too far, Lex.
Our first look at cinema's latest Batman... though technically this is our first look at cinema's latest Bruce Wayne. Ben Affleck's supplying a nice line in manly brooding here and we're pleased to say that the jaw of justice is present and correct. This man lost his parents! In a darkened alley! Christmas was ruined for him forever! Cowardly criminal scum will pay! This he vows! Sorry. Got carried away. This swearing eternal vengeance thing is weirdly moreish.
The mask behind the man
So this is what Bruce is gazing at so smoulderingly... Batman's cowl, doubtlessly on display in the Bat-cave. Is it something he hasn't worn for a while? Something with bad memories attached, perhaps? There's some impressive facial moulding on the mask itself and hopefully that'll allow Affleck to bring some real expression to his scenes behind the cowl. The chest symbol is subtler than previous movie versions but the design clearly nods to the one in The Dark Knight Returns. And those are the smallest, neatest Bat-ears we've seen since Adam West. Clearly someone doesn't need to overcompensate in that department...
The sheer urban blight in this shot suggests we're in Gotham City rather than a rundown part of Metropolis, but you never know. The giant question mark emblazoned on a pillar feels like an obvious nod to longtime Bat-villain the Riddler but who's Joe? In Batman lore Joe Chill was the gunman who murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne. Is this a call-out to a crucial figure in the Batman myth? If so, who's Kayla? And is "Aphrodite" a link to Wonder Woman? Not that we can imagine Amazons with spray cans... And who are the Drunk Punx? Do they have a record out?
To the Bat-plane!
Our first look at Batman's aerial transport in this movie, soaring over a moonlit harbourside (Gotham docks, maybe?). It's a callback to the sleeker stylings of the classic comic book Batplane after that ungainly flying contraption in The Dark Knight Rises. But let's not forget: the Joker once took down one of these beauties with a single gunshot...
To the Batmobile!
And here's a look at Batman's wheels. This incarnation of the Batmobile isn't quite the bold redesign we might have expected - while the Batplane has an old school elegance this is clearly in debt to the chunky, fat-wheeled functionalism of the Tumbler in Christopher Nolan's movies. We imagine this shot comes from a different scene than the Batplane's appearance but what if it's actually a twin-pronged assault? If so, who's driving and who's flying?
Batman perches high above the city in a visual that's a pure, unashamed tribute to Christopher Nolan, who loved to position the Dark Knight above Gotham for some helicopter-shot awesomeness. It's interesting that there's this much artistic connection to the Nolanverse despite the fact that this is a completely separate screen take on Batman.
The Batman will see you now...
The military industrial toy manufacturing complex can breathe easy - looks like Batman has a variety of eminently merchandisable looks in this movie. This one appears to be some kind of armoured number, tooling him up for some icon v icon action with Superman. The eerily glowing white eyes suggest some kind of funky sonar vision - has the man of steel somehow made himself invisible to normal sight? - but they also recall the way superheroes are traditionally drawn with opaque eyes in the comic books.
Seconds out, round one...
And the two opponents square up for the mother of all superheroic smackdowns. We hope Batman is packing some Kryptonite knuckle-dusters. And then afterwards they shake hands like men and go for some brewskis, slapping each other on the back and wondering how they could ever be so stupid, cos they're hic! besht matesh, right? Maybe by then it'll have stopped bloody raining.