With the leaked version of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (from here on out referred to as BvS for the sake of brevity) trailer making the rounds online for the past couple of days, Warner Bros. decided to go ahead and release the actual one a couple of days in advance of their planned IMAX screenings on Monday. Similar thing happened with Marvel, and in these situations it’s always best to try and some damage control by releasing the trailer early – if people are going to watch it, they might as well watch it in HD.
Speaking of Marvel, there are a couple of things I need to clear the air about before I take a closer look at the trailer. As much as I want to say that I can ignore my personal bias when it comes to these things, the reality is that there’s just no way to go around it. I didn’t like Man of Steel very much and I don’t have a lot of faith in BvS, or, to be more precise, I don’t have a lot of faith in Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer. When it comes to superhero movies, I’m willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt. I feel like they’ve earned it, thanks to a consistent track record of good movies. I can’t say the same for BvS. The thing is, I’m not alone on this. Man of Steel was a very polarizing movie and there’s a fair ammount of people that didn’t care for it or outright disliked it. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, the fact is BvS is facing an uphill battle when it comes to winning over a lot of people, myself included. Everyone is biased in one way or another and I feel the best way to handle that is to address it directly and be as open about is as possible. With that in mind, I don’t much care for BvS. I don’t want it to be bad, but I have my reservations and doubts, which needless to say, has affected my opinion of this trailer. I went in expecting to find things I didn’t like – and that’s something you should know when reading my thoughts on it.
The trailer opens with a black screen and a disembodied voice bringing up how Superman is a figure of controversy.
We then see a giant monument to Superman slowly coming into view and lights turning all around it, while more voices chime in, discussing Superman. This seems like a reference to the ongoing news and talk show commentary from The Dark Knight Returns (which Snyder has admitted was an influence for BvS), debating the ethics of superheroes, or Batman in particular. Here, Superman is the focus of the conversation and it is abundantly clear that he’s not exactly a very popular figure. The majority of the voices seem distrustful and critical of Superman’s role, bringing up the dangers of absolute power or how “human beings have a horrible track record of following people with great power”. There’s a sense that some people are on his side, what with one voice suggesting that maybe he’s trying to do the right thing and a couple of shots of people reaching out towards Superman, but it seems like they’re the minority, as the sequence culminates with people chanting “Go Home, Go Home!” and the lights fully coming on and revealing the sign FALSE GOD painted over the Superman logo on the monument.
The fact that they build a monument to Supes makes it clear that it’s been some time since Man of Steel. I wonder if the public were initially more welcoming and if this hostility towards Kal-El is a recen development. Two things struck me the most in this first half. One was this shot of four soldiers kneeling before Superman, with very noticeable House of El insignia on their shoulders.
They look very similar to the One-Earth regime soldiers that served Superman in the Injustice: Gods Amongs Us alternate universe. For those unaware. Injustice is a story where Superman becomes a tyrant following a tremendous tragedy that he sees as his fault. I highly doubt that BvS will actually set up Superman becoming a villain like in Injustice, even though it’s a possible direction for them to go, following the destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel. There are lots of other things that those soldiers can be – a possible vision of a dark future, radicals who worship Superman and want to kill in his name, regardless of what he wants. The similarity to Injustice is undeniable, but I think it’s a red herring. The other thing that really got to me in the first half of the trailer was this shot of someone reaching up towards Superman, who’s right in front of the sun, as if he has a halo of light around him.
It unfortunately reminded me of the very heavyhanded religious symbolism in Man of Steel – I do hope that it’s toned down in BvS, altough the whole FALSE GOD thing seems to imply otherwise. Then again, I like the idea of the public distrusting Superman in general and it’s a great way to set up the conflict with Batman.
Speaking of which, the second half of the trailer is focused entirely on Batman.
We see Bruce Wayne looking distraught, as Alfred (Jeremy Irons) narrates offscreen. He talks about rage, and a “feeling of powerlessness” that “turns good men cruel.”. It’s not entirely clear who he’s talking about. At first I thought he meant Superman, but in all honesty, he could also mean Batman, or even Lex Luthor. Is it about how Superman might go off the deep end and cause unspeakable destruction with his godlike powers? Is it about how Batman or Luthor’s distrust of Superman and his powers could cloud their judgements? Either way, it sounds profound and like a speech that Alfred would give. We then see some shots of Batman blowing stuff up with his Batwing and Batmobile – who, what or why is unclear, but it looks cool.
We also get our first real good look at what the Batsuit looks like, and it is absolutely amazing.
The trailer ends on Batman contfronting Superman while wearing his armored suit and ominiously asking “Do you bleed?” and then following it up with “You will”. The armor and the two of them in the rain is once again a clear reference to The Dark Knight Returns.
This is also the first time we get to hear Affleck’s Batman voice and while it sounds fine, there’s a noticeable distortion, which could just because of the armor – it certainly sounds like Tony Stark’s voice when he’s in his Iron Man armor, even though the Bat-Armor actually has a opening for Bruce’s mouth (maybe it closes and becomes a full helmet).
Still, Affleck seems to have a handle of the voice and the trailer makes it seems as if BvS has a handle of Batman as a whole. In fact, everything related to Batman in BvS looks great – I can’t say the same for the Superman bits. I liked certain parts and ideas, but as a whole, I’m still not convinced Snyder and Goyer can actually pull off a decent Superman.
Overall, this trailer didn’t win me over. It’s less things that I specifically did not like (even though I’m still really not fond of the overly muted colors and the hints of less than subtle symbolism), as much as it is it simply didn’t blow my mind away. I’m still going to see the movie, but I have yet to be actually excited about it.