Los Angeles (AFP) - "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" sees two iconic superheroes do battle on the big screen but a female character -- Wonder Woman -- is the real role model for youngsters, star Gal Gadot said.
The 30-year-old former Miss Israel said ahead of the March 25 US release of the hotly anticipated blockbuster that she had never planned to be an actress and felt grateful to be telling her character's "amazing story."
"I have a four-year-old daughter and she adores princesses. At the same time she would tell me 'the princess, she's so weak.' She falls asleep, the prince will come and save her and kiss her and he's the hero," Gadot told reporters in Los Angeles.
"So I am so happy I'm going to be the one who's going to tell the Wonder Woman story. It's such an important story... But I also think it's so important for girls -- and boys -- to have a female, strong superhero to look up to."
Starring Ben Affleck as Gotham's Dark Knight and Henry Cavill as the Caped Crusader, the characters' first big screen pairing sets up the coming "Justice League" and "Wonder Woman" movies.
Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham's formidable vigilante takes on Metropolis's revered savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs.
And with Batman and Superman at war with each other, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it has ever known.
- Psychological enemy -
Warner Bros opened its Los Angeles studios to the world's media Friday, showcasing its stellar cast, which also features Jesse Eisenberg as the eccentric villain Lex Luthor and Amy Adams as Superman's love interest Lois Lane.
It is Cavill's second go as Superman, three years after "Man of Steel" saw him pitted against the planet Krypton's villainous military commander, General Zod.
"It's a tough outing for him, because it's against a psychological enemy as opposed to a physical enemy, like Zod was," the 32-year-old said of the new film.
"We see him make mistakes, and we see him grow from those mistakes and learn from them."
Affleck, 43, who has already directed critical and commercial hits "The Town" and "Argo," revealed he had felt "emboldened" watching director Zack Snyder work and would consider making a big-budget superhero movie in the future.
"I've wondered about directing movies like this before and it was a really valuable learning experience for me to watch Zack do it and see how he did it," he said.
"For me as a director it's about the material and the characters, so if I found the right material I would definitely throw my hat in the ring to direct something on that scale."
Affleck, a fan of graphic novels, recalled buying Frank Miller's 1986 Batman miniseries "The Dark Knight Returns" in his home town of Boston.
- Demi-god -
"That was the first comic that really took my appreciation of this genre to another level. It was right when people were innovating in that way. 'Watchmen' came out around the same time," he said.
"Newer, more adult, sophisticated, complicated ways of looking at this world started to be developed within the comic genre.
"It took the movie business 20 years to catch up, to be really willing to mine these stories and this genre for complicated, interesting and resonant stories -- but it has now."
The actors were asked how they deal with the kind of intense fans who tend to come with starring roles in comic book conversions, and their sometimes unrealistic expectation levels.
"It's certainly strange and unnerving to be criticized for a part you haven't yet been able to screw up," joked Eisenberg.
Adams recalled the embarrassment of a scene in which Lois was required to hold a conversation with Superman, her naked in a bath tub and he fully clothed, although in reality she was allowed some artfully hidden clothing.
"That was actually horrible, just trying to protect my modesty in unflattering garments while the demi-god stood above me. I had low self-esteem for two weeks after that. It's true -- I really was like, 'I'm hideous,'" she said.