By now, everyone has seen the new Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice trailer, and it's, in a word, EPIC. In two words, it's SO SERIOUS. But I also happened to write quite a few more words, so hopefully you keep reading...
Let's be real guys: Zack Snyder knows how to make a trailer. In fact, his trailers are usually the high point of any Snyder film experience. And to be fair, I haven't seen the movie yet, so I'm going to try to avoid any unnecessary speculation. But I gathered together a few thoughts based off my reaction to this new trailer, and what we already know from Man of Steel, and the sort of DC corporate strategy they've been building off of for awhile now.
- I've seen a lot of people say they're on board with the fact that the destruction from the Zod fight is a major event to springboard this new movie, and thus the DC Cinematic Universe. I guess that makes sense, but I kind of hate it. In the real world, Superman's first appearance as a Champion of the Oppressed created the concept of the superhero, and thus the genre of superhero comics. Even through various reboots and reinventions, the idea that Superman is the moral center of the DC Universe has been largely kept in place. It's a shame that this universe seems borne from the idea that Superman did a bad job in his first experience saving the world.
- Bruce Wayne running into the smoke while everyone else runs away is a powerful image. It does really look like this movie will have a good handle on Batman. And it seems to be a very different Batman than what we've seen on film before, which is exciting.
- On a related note, the cast of this movie is so bizarre. Aside from Henry Cavil as Superman, pretty much everybody else is a head scratcher. Ben Affleck is Batman? Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luthor? Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman? Amy Adams is Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne is Perry White, and Diane Lane is Martha Kent? Honestly it all looks like that'll work out, so kudos to the casting director for thinking outside the box there.
- How weird is it that Superman is like the last superhero to come forward in this universe, but the only one who has seemed to make any kind of world-wide event? Apparently Batman's been around long enough to have a full rogues gallery and a dead sidekick, while Wonder Woman has reportedly been operating since WWII.
- I kind of love the idea of Clark Kent stirring the media against Batman. That's an interesting angle to their competition that I haven't seen explored before. Also, it gives Superman an actual motivation to do something. Much has been said about the failings of Man of Steel, but one thing that I haven't seen touched on too much is the notion that Superman doesn't really have any motivations in the last two acts of the movie. When we first meet him, he's searching for answers and trying to find his place in the world. But once he gets his super suit and talks to his holo-dad, he basically just reacts to all the other characters' actions. He doesn't necessarily want to save the world, he just kind of does it.
This is mostly speculation, but I don't see anyone watching this movie and rooting for Superman. Batman is clearly the more popular character, and so far at least, he also seems to be the more right character. There's a slightly cynical and completely realistic element of mainstream comics in that the stories we all love are basically just IP farms that are owned by giant movie studios. And if the audience doesn't have some attachment to those characters, they'll only be relevant as long as their imagery is iconic. Basically what this means is that no one is picking Superman as their favorite superhero based on Man of Steel, Superman Returns, or Smallville. If the powers–that–be want to make Superman a brooding alien god, they still need to plant a flag somewhere and make the character's motivations be a driving force for the story. He needs to be in front of the action in any story they tell, and not just a plot device to make other characters do interesting things. If Truth, Justice, and the American Way, are too old–fashioned, he still has to stand for something.
- It looks like everyone either hates Superman or worships him, which is a weird way to go. Traditionally we've just seen the general public straight up love him as a superhero. Hopefully we see some normal people react to his existence also.
- Looks like Martha Kent is as morally gray as Jonathan was. Again, this could be an interesting way to go, but all it's served to accomplish so far has just been muddling up what drives Superman to make any actions as a character in a story.
- I guess we're continuing movie Luthor's obsession with bad wigs.
- And we're seeing another retelling of the Wayne murders. I wonder if they get shot this time.
- Desert Batman V Superman Soldiers looks intriguing and really opens up a whole lot of story possibilities that I hadn't considered.
- I love the way all the superheroes move in this. They really seem to nail the visuals, which of course is Snyder's strong suit.
- So, this movie is clearly about the consequences of super people using their super powers in a "realistic" world. And we've been led to believe that Man of Steel was about a young, immature (but also definitely 33 years old, kind of like that other guy) Superman, who is learning how to become the hero we all know and some of us love. So why is he shooting his deadly eye lasers at Batman in this???
The trailer starts out showing Kryptonian heat vision burning through a building that presumably kills hundreds of people! Superman is definitely trying to murder another opponent here, only this time it's a human being in a bat costume. Is the trailer for Justice League going to start by showing Aquaman standing the other side of that warehouse as it burns through a fish tank?
Are we going to see a Superman who's learning from his mistakes to become a symbol of strength and virtue? Or are we going to see a Superman who just does things that look cool with CGI effects?
Alright, that's enough talk for a 3.5 minute trailer for a movie that doesn't come out until next year. I really want this to be good, and I was geeking out all 52 times that I watched this thing. I have plenty of concerns and am totally expecting this thing to be terrible. But at the same time, I can't help but have the slightest glimmer of hope that the best parts will fight their way to the top and create a better version of everything that's come before.
After all, isn't that what Superman is all about?