Dawn of Justice trailer eases some concerns, raises others. So Warner Bros. took up the Jimmy Kimmel Live challenge, this past week (apparently a thing, since the Captain America: Civil War trailer), with the debut of the latest full trailer to Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A good first trailer, as far as the genre goes; but if the idea was to settle fan & casual audience concerns, then I’d say it sort of broke even. Every reveal just opened up new questions – starting with the whole point of the teaser, in the first place.
For a teaser leading into a full trailer deal, the two releases really seemed like they were telling different stories. The conditions of Bat’s capture, and how his unmasking affected their ‘relationship,’ going forward, were left out – the trailer paying more attention to the initial tension between Bruce & Clark. I suppose that was intended as after-the-fact foreshadowing. That’s fine, but side-lining the teaser just left me wondering about its relevance to final film (as characterized by the trailer). The desert setting seemed a little odd; so I imagine it either being a localized base for Super’s Troopers (with Supes stopped by to check out their big offering), or a broader post-apocalyptic setting (with Supes playing warlord). As far as I could tell, this was the only scene featuring Super’s Troopers; so if the unmasking setting turns out to be a dystopian future scenario, then it can be argued that the scene, Super’s Troopers, and even hood-snatcher Supermean, himself, could all be a worst case scenario as imagined by Batman.
In that event, it would go a long way to explaining the Bat’s belligerence, while redeeming the Big Blue Boyscout. It would also leave an opening for a stand-in being the justification for Bat’s nightmare. My only problem with this scenario is that it would make the teaser the worst kind of tease. I appreciate an effective fake-out as much as the next guy, but the whole teaser would amount to a bait-and-switch. Fortunately, the full trailer suggests some verifiable things to look forward to.
The Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) reveal looked pretty great.
If it turns out there will be a stand-in behind Supermean, the trailer made clear who gets boss fight ranking enough to put the Bat & the Boyscout in the same corner. That reveal was also major enough to serve as a set-up to DC’s ranking female character making her big screen debut. Although there wasn’t enough on-screen time to really tell how well Gadot fits the role, that one shot was pretty awesome, and Gadot looked great.
If only that’s all it took to make these things work, as looking good has not been a problem, where Snyder films have been concerned. Okay, Silk Spectre & co. came across as silly, for Watchmen; but that was one of Alan Moore’s key points, that Snyder missed. Watchmen was something of a criticism of costumed heroes, at the conceptual level; but Snyder tried to glorify every aspect of it. Snyder is no doubt going for full glory, with BvS, and he has every right. Watchmen aside, however, getting Wonder Woman to look good on screen was kind of the easy part. Sucker Punch looms large as to why that won’t be enough. ‘Nuff said.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has a sense of humor.
First off: huge exhale that Snyder won’t just be trying to pin us down with SFX fueled mass carnage, and super heavy allegory. Beyond the grim gallows humor of 300 (I credit Frank Miller with that one), Dawn of the Dead remains the only Snyder film with actual levity to it (still gallows ironic, but genuine tension breakers). Based on the BvS trailer, it seems Eisenberg will be bringing quick-witted manic flair to his Luthor. While not necessarily welcomed (I prefer the cooler, slick business minded, Kingpin Luthor, over the snarky, smarter-than-thou interpretations), it may be, sadly, necessary. Somebody’s gotta do it, in order to keep the film from being another visually spectacular downer.
The problem is I doubt that I was the only one thinking The Social Network overtime, upon hearing of Eisenberg’s casting; and that his Luthor was a thinly veiled attempt to re-introduce the character as more of a Millennial insurgent tycoon, than 80s Robber Baron, or general rogue super scientist. The trailer only reinforced this impression (if not confirm it). While I don’t think Eisenberg’s snappy wise-ass routine has been overplayed, just yet, I am not all that eager to see his most unlikeable characterization (Mark Zuckerberg) recycled as the primary source of comic relief for BvS.
Supermean & the Zod nod.
Two items prominent in the teaser, but largely absent from the full trailer: Superman’s goon squad, and the really mean look to his unmasking of the Bat-captive – or just in general. I had previously noted the appearance of Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto), and her acquisition of Zod’s body, as something of a plot invitation. With Mercy being a Bruce W. Timm OC, from Superman: The Animated Series, I saw an opening for the film to borrow a plot from the same source – the introduction of Bizarro. Timm bypassed the whole Bizarro World mess by making that character a failed clone of Superman. Up to that point, however, the clone was to be a means of placing all that power in more worthy hands – namely Luthor’s. As a similar device was used for the Superman: Doomsday animated film, I’d say it’s been time tested well enough to serve Snyder’s purposes – specifically, getting the Batman & Man of Steel at odds.
The clone angle would speak to Batman’s nightmare; as a Superman that takes the Messiah complex too seriously would make better sense if he were doing it on a true megalomaniac’s behalf. If it turns out there actually is anything to this scenario, then the trailer skipped over it completely, in order to reveal the Big Bad of the boss-fight (and get to the WW shot).
Pure fisticuffs. That is all. What made Doomsday an actual doomsday, back in my day, was the culmination effect to it. One problem Superman has always had: not enough bad guys that can actually go toe-to-toe with him, without him being knee-capped, somehow (kryptonite: the gift that kept giving well past its shelf-life). Doomsday was the strictly Superman boss-fight that was long overdue (Darkseid having been in a separate league from day one), and few of us really saw it coming as the game changer it turned out to be (at the time, anyway). Reign of the Supermen kept the momentum going, and Batman would get a similar bounce from Knightfall – complete with his own succession saga. In both cases, however, the heavy kind of settled in. Bane never maintained the relevance of bat-villains like Joker, or Ra’s al Ghul, and Doomsday became more of a plot device, than principal Superman foil. The real problem with Doomsday becoming a plot device: the temptation for creators to resort to him too soon/ easily.
It’s just too soon, people. Okay, in all likelihood, the Justice League treatment is building up to a Darkseid throw-down; but handling Doomsday as a place-holder excuse, to get some heroes together, doesn’t really do the character justice. Doomsday’s origin has also been something of a creative challenge; and it seems they traded one animated fix for another, bypassing Timm’s Bizarro origin in favor of his Doomsday origin.
What’s left in the bag they handed me.
Most of all, I’m holding out on the hope that Bruce Timm’s influences run much deeper than advertised. The Bizarro angle would explain Supermean & the Super’s Troopers, while the Doomsday angle would justify a Justice League jumpstart; so why not both? For Timm’s animated material, both characters were attempts at cloning Superman – Bizarro, a doppelganger gone wrong; Doomsday, a weaponized improvement gone bad. It would make a whole lot of sense, out of everything we’ve seen so far, to have a Luthor Superman clone provoking a BvS conflict. This could either result in Luthor presenting Doomsday as his own solution, as payback for things not going as planned, or as his own personal failure – forces too unmanageable for even his intellect, and all that. They could be two separate efforts; they could be two stages of the same effort. I’m still not all that keen on the idea of getting Doomsday ‘out of the way’ (frankly, I’m convinced Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man would still be viable had they waited to give Venom his own trilogy arc, like they did with the Goblins) – I’m just trying to think of ways to make sense of what we have to work with, at this point.
There will be more trailers, of course. If they were willing to turn a Batman & Supermean face-off into one big set-up for Wonder Woman’s entry into the ring, I imagine something similar being done for Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Come to think of it, I could really get behind a series of just such set-ups, for every confirmed BvS cameo character, and Justice League cast member. Ultimately, this teaser-trailer combo will be judged in the context of follow up trailers, and the final film. As is, however, I’d be content to give the effort a solid ‘S’ for… s’awrite (s’okay).
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