LOS ANGELES - "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is centred on the clash of two of the most recognizable caped heroes of the comic book world but it is the women of the DC Comics universe who defy expectations.
The movie has "four really great female characters ... but not a single one of them is an archetype," said Amy Adams, who reprises her role as intrepid Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane.
The film, which opens around the world this week, introduces Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and sees Holly Hunter as a senator determined to hold Superman accountable for the destruction caused by his actions. Diane Lane plays Superman's mother, Martha Kent.
Wonder Woman, also known as Diana Prince, is an elusive force in "Batman v Superman," immaculately dressed, coyly intelligent and drawing the attention of Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne - the playboy billionaire alter-ego of Batman.
"She's been around, she's very experienced, she's darker, she's sassy, she understands a lot about mankind," Gadot said of her character.
Gadot, a former model who served two years in Israel's army, will reprise her role in 2017's "Wonder Woman," the first standalone female superhero movie in a decade.
"She's as elegant as a supermodel and she kicks it with the boys," Adams said of Gadot's Wonder Woman.
The superhero genre has long been skewed to male characters but female characters have slowly become a larger presence in recent years.
That potentially broadens a film's appeal for female audiences and its commercial success.
Wonder Woman is not the only one to get feisty in "Batman v Superman."
When Lois Lane is referred to by an interview subject as a lady, she snaps "I'm not a lady, I'm a journalist."
Hunter's Senator Finch holds her own against the psychotic villain Lex Luthor as he tries to coerce her to do his bidding, while Martha Kent fiercely tells Superman that he does not owe anyone anything as he faces growing dissent from the public.
Warner Bros' "Batman v Superman" is projected by analysts to take some $300 million worldwide on its opening weekend.
The film lays the groundwork for "Wonder Woman," which will explore the origin story of the Amazonian heroine with powers of super strength.
"The story deals with Diana becoming Wonder Woman so she starts very pure, very naive, this young idealist who doesn't really understand the complexities of life," Gadot said.