With Superman’s deathly demise and the world threatened by doom and gloom, who’s going to step in and save the day? Why, Justice League, of course, writes Des Sampson.

"I think this is probably the most anticipated superhero film of all time," suggests Ray Fisher, animatedly, when quizzed about his breakthrough role, as Cyborg, in the superhero ensemble, Justice League. "You've got the most iconic characters of any comic house, like Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman, all coming together for the first time. Fans are going to love it!"

Ben Affleck, who is reprising his Batman alter-ego for Justice League, agrees. "I think there's definitely a lot of expectation around this movie. But to put it on a more humble note, there are a lot of other people out there making really good movies too, so we're playing in a bigger pool with bigger contenders now. It's a lot of pressure.

Ray Fisher stars in Justice League.
Ray Fisher stars in Justice League.

"But I haven't worked on a movie where I haven't felt that pressure to do well," he adds earnestly. "I've never gone into anything and thought, 'Ah, f*** it, I'm sure it will be fine'. Do you know what I mean? I think once you take that attitude you're heading down a really bad path."

That "really bad path" is the fate besetting Batman and his superhero posse in Justice League when an impending invasion by ultra-baddie Steppenwolf - and his marauding army of Parademons - threatens to destroy life on Earth. That's unless they can get their collective superpower act together. It's no wonder Batman's mood seems bleaker than before, as he contemplates not only the fragile fate of mankind but also his own mortality and human frailties in the shadow of such a threat.

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Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League.
Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League.

"Yeah, he's in a more existential place, reflecting back on his life, the choices he's made and realising that he hasn't always done what's morally right in his quest to make the world safer, or better," acknowledges Affleck. "He's compromised a lot along the way and he's at a point where he's taking stock of that, wondering what kind of a life he's led and what kind of a legacy he wants to leave behind. I think that's interesting; that was one of the things I really liked about playing him again, this time."

Likewise, for co-star Gal Gadot, assuming the mantle of her superhero doppelganger, Wonder Woman, has seen a shift in her own expectations and perceptions - especially as she plays more of a nurturing, mother-figure this time round to newcomers The Flash and Cyborg.

"Obviously, she's more experienced and has more understanding of the world now but in her core, she's basically the same character: she's still full of love, still full of compassion and cares about people," Gadot explains. "She also feels a greater sense of responsibility than before though, particularly with Flash and Cyborg, because she's brought them into the team and they have no experience, they're humans and they could get killed."
Gadot admits that playing such a beloved character has had another surprising side-effect for her in real life: it's inadvertently turned her into a role model and influencer for countless women and girls.

"It's funny because I never thought about that when I got the part, but now I do feel the importance of the way that I carry myself and the message that I present to the outside world, since playing her," she says. "That's especially so as we live in an era where social media means you can have thousands of followers who look up to you. So, even though I'm not as special as people might think - I'm just an actress who had the luck to portray this character - I still feel like I have a responsibility to women and girls. That's why, when I have encounters with fans - especially young ones - it's important for me to show them something positive, something good."

It's an opinion that the United Nations seemed to share too - albeit briefly - when they appointed Wonder Woman an "Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls".

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Justice League.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Justice League.

"Yeah, they did, before changing their mind when it caused a fuss," replies Gadot, clearly dismayed at the UN's decision to subsequently retract the honour when it caused a backlash. "I found it really strange that they did that because it's all about empowering women with positive role models who promote equality, fairness, good values, love, and acceptance. I think Wonder Woman encompasses all of that, so it would have been really good having her in that role."

If they spy Gadot's portrayal of Wonder Woman in Justice League, the UN may just reinstate that honour. After all, not only does she help thwart Steppenwolf's gruesome plans, by spearheading her colleagues in a fantastical, final showdown, she does so while remaining feminine yet feisty and compassionate yet combative - surely a positive role model for anyone to aspire to.

"Gal has done an amazing job with this character," Affleck says. "She's transformed Wonder Woman from a cartoon caricature in a bikini, with an invisible jet, into a truly inspiring, kick-ass heroine. It's the same with all these guys in this movie - they've all raised the bar with their performances. I have the utmost admiration and respect for them and what they achieved."

Add in innumerable, jaw-dropping fight sequences and mind-blowing special effects to superhuman performances and it ensures Justice League is an explosive, rocket-fuelled rollercoaster ride.

LOWDOWN:
Who: Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot
What: Justice League
When: In cinemas next week

DID YOU KNOW...
To get inside the mind of a murderer, Murder on the Orient Express director Kenneth Branagh practiced stabbing dead animal organs to better understand the mechanics of murder.