I’ve been pretty positive on this blog, and I bet you were beginning to wonder if it was possible for me to dislike things. Well wonder no more! A new trailer dropped for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice a couple days ago, and there’s been a lot of response to this trailer already. A lot of the controversy surrounding it has been “does this trailer spoil the movie?” I feel that question is just impossible to answer. We can’t know that, because we haven’t SEEN the movie. I mean, in the strictest sense, I suppose ALL trailers spoil their movie, because they give you information that you wouldn’t have otherwise. But does this one cross the line? Maybe. We can’t know. Maybe what is revealed in the trailer is only a small part of the twists and reveals in the film. What we CAN talk about is what the trailer does reveal to us about Batman V Superman, and what we can extrapolate from that information.
So first of all, let’s talk about the good things in this trailer. Ben Affleck impresses me as Bruce Wayne and as Batman. He has a dark, cynical attitude that I feel like really fits with Warner Bros current film direction without committing to the dark and gritty in the same way that the Nolan films did. I also like the way that his Batman suit looks. I mean the actual classic black and gray Batsuit that he is wearing at the end of the trailer, not the desert suit or the power armor. The classic suit looks more in-line with a comic book costume than anything we have seen in a Batman movie… basically ever, so that’s encouraging. In fact, most of what the trailer shows of the Batman/Gotham side of the film makes me happy. Which kind of indirectly brings me to my next point.
This trailer makes me way more excited for OTHER movies in the DC Cinematic Universe than it does Batman V Superman. Bruce tells Clark, “Maybe it’s the Gotham City in me we just have a bad history with freaks dressed like clowns.” That’s a great line for showing the personality behind Affleck’s Batman. He’s cynical and not afraid to call you out. Great! But it is also accompanied by a shot of a Robin suit that has been spray painted with “HAHAHA Joke’s on you Batman.” That doesn’t make me excited for this movie at all, but it gets me super excited for Suicide Squad (which is already the DC film I am most excited about). There has been speculation about this shot since it came up in the earlier trailer that it is almost certainly the costume for Jason Todd: the robin that was killed by Joker, which is cool for a few reasons. Primarily, it makes me happy that DC/WB is apparently not afraid of Robin anymore (though we still haven’t seen him in a movie). The fact that he exists in this universe at all suggests to me that we may be seeing a Robin in the solo Batman film, which these scenes also get me hyped for.
What the Batman scenes in this trailer don’t do is do anything for my desire to see THIS movie. None of these things matter for this movie. We aren’t going to see the Joker, we aren’t going to see Robin. It’s cool that they are hinted at, but it almost feels like DC is using this film as a Universe trailer. Like, “Look at all the cool stuff we are going to be doing! Aren’t you excited for all the other movies we’re going to be releasing?” This is also the result of the Wonder Woman entrance at the end. I like how Gal Gadot looks in the Wonder Woman costume. I like that she steps in and saves the two boys, but we already know (because the trailer has shown us) that she’s not going to be coming in until the battle with Doomsday, so really this just works to tease her solo movie. Right now, it looks like this film is just a big advertisement for future films, except for one notable exception: Doomsday.
Okay, so I am not the first person to make the connection between the existence of Doomsday in this movie and the Death of Superman arc in 1992, and I won’t be the last, but I think it’s important to point out here that Doomsday only really exists in comics to kill Superman. He was created, because they needed someone who could challenge Superman in a physical fight. So they created a villain that was predisposed towards hating Kryptonians and was just as strong as Superman was. There was supposedly a whole other level of bullshit going on between DC Comics and Warner Bros at the time that allegedly may have pissed off some Superman writers and made them want to kill Superman. But the bottom line is Doomsday is a boring villain, and he was only created to kill Superman. So why put him in this movie? To kill Superman! That’s basically the only reason I can see… Unless they want us to THINK they are going to kill Superman, and the whole trailer is a fake out (which I would totally be down for, but I don’t think that’s what is going on).
I’m not saying Superman is definitely going to die, and he’s already listed in the cast for the Justice League Part 1 movie, so he would certainly not STAY dead for long, but maybe Doomsday is going to be WB’s way of dealing with all of the fallout from Man of Steel, while giving an in-universe reason for the other heroes to work together and trust each other. Like, if they all work together to take out Doomsday, and then Supes sacrifices himself to win, Batman will have to recognize that Superman is a good guy and maybe decide that there are villains too big to handle alone. Regardless of whether or not Supes dies, I think using Doomsday to show the necessity of forming a team is the general idea. Here’s a big bad that NO ONE, not even SUPERMAN can handle alone, so we are all going to need to work together from here on out, because there will be more.
All-in-all, this trailer has done nothing to make me excited to see this movie. I’ll see it. I kind of feel like I have to, and it DOES look better than Man of Steel, but that is not saying much, and it looks better almost exclusively because the Batman stuff fits in more neatly with the current thematic tone that WB wants. Aside from that, we seem to have a clash between two heroes who disagree with the other’s methods, which is a played out idea that is generally used in comics to generate cheap sales by creating a big, overblown event (OMG! Batman is going to FIGHT Superman!), but then never amounts to anything: a tactic that was used so much in the ‘90s comics that Warner Bros seems to be getting inspiration from. So… I’m not enthusiastic about this movie, but it does make me excited about OTHER movies… so that’s something? I think?
I feel like I should talk briefly about why the idea of Batman V Superman bothers me, but Civil War doesn’t. I feel like there is a distinct difference between a one-off fight that really exists to give us, as Lex puts it “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world” and a larger ideological conflict that results in superheroes choosing sides long-term. I feel like the latter has a better chance of turning into something interesting and thought provoking.