As promised, the new full trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered Wednesday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The three-minute preview provided plenty of new footage and money shots that will surely be screen-capped throughout the comic book and movie geekosphere. Yet I’m wondering how many people watched this thing and thought it was a giant mess.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this trailer is it seemed to be a response to the fans and critics who feel that Warner Brothers’ DC Comics movies look too serious and gloomy, lacking the fun and humor that has made the Marvel films so appealing to audiences. (At one point, there were rumblings that Warner Bros. actually mandated a “no jokes” philosophy toward its superhero movies.)
Apparently, producers wanted to show that’s not the case and had some attempts at humor shoehorned in among the clips of grim doomsaying and blockbuster action. Those scenes felt surprisingly awkward and resulted in an inconsistent tone for the entire trailer. But before we go on, check out the newest look at Batman v Superman, if you haven’t already.
Can we begin with the music? The sharp piano note when Clark Kent learns that he’s seeing Bruce Wayne for the first time made this feel like a dark comedy. I actually rewound my DVR because I thought Jimmy Kimmel’s people were playing a joke and overlaying music over the trailer. Then you have violin notes conveying seriousness and urgency while Lex Luthor jokes about these two iconic figures meeting each other. It’s meant to break the tension between Kent and Wayne, but just throws the tone out of balance.
(Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Luthor is also difficult to get a handle on. He seems like a goofy genius, a modern idea of the precocious entrepreneur, scheming to pit the world’s two greatest superheroes against one another. Yet there’s no gravity or menace to him whatsoever. Why have Superman movies had so much trouble getting his worst enemy right?)
Initially, Bruce Wayne and Batman are portrayed as the villain of this piece, which is an interesting turn from the previous trailers and posters which have conveyed Superman being the bad guy, the alien threat that could wipe out mankind. (The sneak peek released on Monday is but one example of that.) Batman is cynical and angry — he refers to Superman as a son of a bitch. Here’s your family-friendly superhero entertainment for next spring, kids!
Watched Batman v Superman trailer. and it’s like REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU HATED ABOUT MAN OF STEEL? It’s that, with Batman! (& Wonder Woman)
— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) December 3, 2015
Yes, the idea is to establish why these two superheroes would battle each other. That’s often the first question I hear from people who aren’t familiar with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic book series that is clearly the inspiration for this film. Why are Batman and Superman fighting? Most people remember them as partners on the Super Friends — or at the very least, on the same side. OK, that premise has to be set.
But then, it has to be explained that Batman and Superman only fight for a little while. Don’t forget about the real villain: Lex Luthor! And to emphasize that point, here comes a giant, ugly monster Luthor created that can lay waste to another large city — which, by the way, is what most people disliked so intensely about director Zack Snyder’s last film with Superman, Man of Steel. This is the appetizer served to the fanboys and geeks, the thing meant to get us even giddier for this movie.
That thing is Doomsday, the beast that killed Superman in the comic books during the 1990s. (The guess here is that there will plenty more of Doomsday to come, since the spikes making up his signature look in the comics don’t appear to have fully grown.) His (its?) appearance in this trailer confirms a longtime rumor about the eventual adversary that unites our heroes and plants the seeds for what will eventually be WB and DC’s answer to The Avengers: The Justice League.
Just in case you weren’t clear on that concept, the trailer makes it glaringly apparent with its ending money shot: Superman and Batman are now fighting on the same side, and they have an additional ally: Wonder Woman. (It’s pretty cool to see a female superhero for the first time.) These three form what is essentially the almighty DC Comics trinity and the basis of the superhuman alliance that will eventually protect the world. (That is, when they’re not destroying a city, as again seems to be happening in this film.)
Actually, what may be truly wrong with this trailer — and what I didn’t respond to as a viewer, comic book lover and superhero movie fan — is that there’s just too much stuff to process here. It’s like Snyder, or whomever was responsible for this montage, wanted to show fans and potential moviegoers nearly everything in this movie that could be fit within three minutes. It’s the equivalent of taking a whole plate of food, blending it in a food processor and then serving it to you in a glass.
Yet by doing that, there wasn’t any room left to lay out a story. Batman and Superman hate each other, but Luthor hates them both, so eventually the superheroes team up because there’s a big monster, and hey, there’s Wonder Woman! Go see this on March 25 next year, people!
I’m supposed to be a pushover for this stuff. I love comic books and superhero movies, I read the source material and am excited about seeing it translated to live action, and even enjoyed Man of Steel more than most people seemed to. Presumably, I’m the target audience for this thing, though WB and DC are surely aiming for younger viewers. But these trailers are losing me. (And I could devote an entire other post to how unfunny the introductory segment between Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Affleck was. Both of them acted like they were being forced to do it.)
It’s beginning to feel like Batman v Superman would benefit from not releasing any more advance footage over the next four months, because the movie seems to look worse with each preview. After seeing this, I felt more like covering my eyes and erasing the evidence than watching it again. I’m guessing that’s not what everyone associated with this movie intended. WB and DC better hope most fans don’t feel the same way.