Just one day after it leaked online, Warner Bros officially released the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser trailer for all of the world to see. Let me start off by saying that I’m still excited to see this film, and the trailer did an excellent job in conveying that it will be epic and action-packed. The Batman moments were spectacular. Ben Affleck exudes Bruce Wayne, both the regular and armored Batsuits looked impressive, and while we didn’t see him, Jeremy Irons’ Alfred sounds great. The electronic voice was unusual, but hey, I’m sure people said the same about Christian Bale’s raspy voice in Batman Begins. However, the overall tone of this preview paints a bleak picture of what to expect, and when it comes to the other hero in the title, this feels too dark for him.
Admittedly, we saw this coming. If you’ve been keeping up with news on this film, chances are you saw at least one report mentioning Superman’s status quo will be. To summarize, following the events of Man of Steel, Superman will be looked at by a large portion of the world with distrust, some even suggesting that it was his fault that Metropolis was destroyed. This trailer confirmed that with talking heads commenting how we need to be cautious of his power. In contrast, we also catch glimpses of people looking to Superman positively, but the way they reach out to him implies that many see him more as a god-like figure who can fix all their problems. Obviously some have a problem with that classification given the spray paint on his statue.
Then of course there’s Superman’s showdown with Gotham City’s Caped Crusader on a stormy night (can’t we get at least one shot of him flying in the sun?), but we knew that from the title and the Dark Knight Returns inspiration. It’s Bruce Wayne himself that summarizes what felt off about this trailer: "Do you bleed? You will." Instead of getting the chance to be a superhero, Superman is immediately vilified following his debut in the DCCU. Sure Batman and others will eventually learn that the Kryptonian really wants to protect humankind, but in this trailer, he’s being looked at with contempt and is perceived more as an object of power than an actual individual.
After Man of Steel, many have worried that the DCCU would be dark and gritty, even if that isn’t an appropriate tone for some of its heroes, and Warner Bros president Kevin Tsujihara didn’t help things when he said DC heroes are edgier. With Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, maybe the dark nature should have been obvious given director Zack Snyder’s previous work like 300 and Watchmen, which you certainly wouldn’t label as "fun." Instead of making Superman a beacon of positivity, this trailer labels him as a pariah.
Has Superman had his share of dark moments in the comics and other stories? Of course. However, when it comes to Superman as a whole, excluding any brainwashed or alternate universe versions of him, he’s supposed to be a symbol of hope (that’s literally what the symbol on his suit translates to in Kryptonian) and optimism. After the dreariness of Man of Steel, I expected Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to feature a Superman that inspired confidence, but that trailer did not fulfill my wish.
We know that Batman and Superman won’t be fighting for long, especially given that Justice League movies are on the way, so at least that’s a comfort. Still, while the darkness of this trailer fits the brooding tone of modern Batman stories, nowhere do we get any sense of the shining inspiration that Superman is most well-known for. It lacked humanity, and ironically for Superman, humanity is key to his appeal. He may not have been born on this planet, but he cares about us. This trailer just enhanced his alien nature, leading to a depressing view of how many look at him.
Look, Batman and Superman are two of my favorite fictional characters, and while this will obviously be successful at the box office, I want this film to feel like a story that is fitting for both of them. Snyder and the team seemed to get the Batman part down, but this doesn’t feel like a good fit for Superman. I guess we’ll just have to wait until March 2016 to see if I’m right or wrong about all this…or at least a different trailer.
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And hey, if you’re looking to be cheered up, just watch the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer again. That will surely fill your heart with joy.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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