DC Weekly: 'Batman v Superman' Trailer Underwhelms

– by Joseph Medina

Welcome to the DC Weekly, where every week we cover DC news, TV show reactions, and random speculation.

THIS WEEK I break down and review the new “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” trailer, which hit the internet last night following its debut on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show.

If you somehow managed to miss the thing, you can check it out below.

It’s been several months since WB released the Comic-Con first look trailer for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” That trailer was, without a doubt, one of the best of the year so far for me. The mounting of the tension was great, the music was amazing, and that final stare-down at the end? Captivating. Needless to say, my expectations going into this trailer were pretty high. One might say, they were unreasonably high.

Before I go any further, I want to make sure I get this disclaimer out of the way: I think “Batman v Superman” is going to be a solid movie. WB already has my money and faith, and I’m content to just let things play out on the big screen. All that aside, I have some MAJOR problems with this latest trailer. Hell, I’ll go so far as to say that this. Is. A. Bad. Trailer.

There you go, I said it.

It didn't just fail small, it failed big. The trailer failed on a very basic level, which is getting someone like me—who is already excited for the film—even more excited. By the trailer’s end, I wanted to be be like, “Why can’t I see this movie now?” That’s how I felt at the end of the first trailer, that’s how I felt after watching the recent “Captain America: Civil War” trailer. By the end of this trailer, I was literally cringing at my computer screen.

It kind of felt like one big joke. 

“Is she with you?”
“I thought she was with you.”
Wackety-smackety-doo! That moment at the very end of the trailer felt so cliché and out of place that all it was missing was the rimshot after Batman’s line. I don’t mean to sound cynical and mean-spirited about the whole thing—there’s nothing I hate more than snark for snark’s sake—but that’s pretty much how I felt.

But enough about my terrible initial impressions. Let’s break down this trailer in slightly more objective fashion. Like with most comic book movie trailers, there was still plenty to love, so rather than just throwing onto this hate-fest, I’ll go over some of the things I loved about the trailer.

WHAT I LIKED

Bruce Wayne

I kind of love everything about Bruce Wayne that we’ve seen so far. When Ben Affleck was first cast as Bruce Wayne, I was scratching my head. I wasn’t convinced it was a terrible casting choice, but it did feel like an odd one to me. In the year-plus since the announcement, I’ve done a 180 on Affleck, as have many fans and critics, and this trailer reinforces my belief that the he was the right man for the job.

Affleck’s portrayal of the richest man in Gotham is spot-on. He’s a suave-looking billionaire with a hard edge to him. This incarnation of the character is seasoned and embittered after his long duration as Gotham City’s controversial vigilante, and the trailer puts that all out on front street for the audience to enjoy. His interaction with Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent is great and chock-full of dramatic irony. More than anything, it gets audiences primed for the inevitable clash of the two titans. 

Batman

We got to see a bit more of the non-armored Batsuit, which is the more interesting of the two suits to me. The obvious homage to "The Dark Knight Returns" is cool, but it's crazy how good it looks in live-action.

I also liked Batman’s voice. Sure, we heard it already in the last trailer with the great, “Tell me.  Do you bleed?” line, but with this one, it’s confirmed that this will indeed be Batman’s voice even in his standard, non-armored suit. It’s a smart choice on director Zack Snyder’s part to go this route, for as much as we all loved Christian Bale’s Batman, his voice remains the butt of many jokes to this day. The voice modifier seems like the natural next step in the evolution of the portrayal on screen.

Batman v Superman

I also loved all the fighting shots between Batman and Superman. It’s the namesake of the film, for crying out loud, so there’d be a problem if I hated it. The action looks hard-hitting, albeit a bit artificial and CG-stuffed, but I’ve never been one to complain about CG. So long as the story’s good, I can easily over look obvious visual flaws.

Now let’s move into some of the problems I had with the trailer (and there were many).

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

Lex Luthor

I was one of the few who stood up for the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in the movie. After his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” I saw the perfect opportunity to repaint Lex Luthor in a new, wunderkind-esque light. While I still maintain it to be a solid idea, I’m not liking what I’ve seen of Eisenberg’s performance so far. His introduction in the trailer is embarrassing to watch. It’s very much like an actor trying too hard to force a performance. Ironically enough, it felt too comic booky—or rather it felt like a performance an actor would give in a comic book movie that didn’t respect the comic.

Now, for all I know, this could be intentional, but based on the limited context of the trailer, I am a bit concerned for Lex Luthor.

The Music

While the music itself isn’t bad in the trailer, by the end of it, I grew sick of that ascending loop. I went through and counted, and that four-note loop is repeated about forty times. It doesn’t help that it’s used at the end as an accent to an eye-rollingly awful joke, but all in all, I wish they’d actually changed up the music a bit so it didn’t feel so one-note (no pun intended).

Too Many Plot Details Revealed

This is the obvious one.

We live in an age of spoiler over-sensitivity. I hate it whenever I hear someone call out “SPOILER” when someone says something like “oh, this actor was hired.” Like anything that takes off on the internet, spoiler is a term that has been overused to the point of losing its meaning. I also get annoyed when people say “the trailer showed too much,” because oftentimes that’s them saying, “I understand what the movie is about, and I don’t like that.”

In my humble opinion, a trailer (not a teaser) should do more than just establish a tone. It should also give the audience an idea of what the movie about. They should be able to watch it and say, “The movie is about this.”

One example of a trailer that does this terribly is the “Brave” trailer.

If you tried to explain what the movie was about after watching that, you’d be wrong. For some reason, Pixar thought it was a good idea to create a secret premise, and I think that’s a big mistake with trailers. That being said, I understand I’m in the minority with this. Many prefer to go in with as little knowledge as possible, but at that point, I wonder what the point of the trailer is at all.

However, despite my feelings on the subject, even I know that this “Batman v Superman” trailer reveals way too much to audiences. Yes, a trailer should reveal the premise, but a trailer should not give a beat-by-beat summary of the movie. Now, thanks to this trailer, we know the exact structure of the movie.

  • Act One: Establish Batman’s point of view. He and Clark Kent Meet
  • Act Two: Tensions rise and a game of cat and mouse between Batman and Superman. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is manipulating from the back.
  • Act Three: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman v. Doomsday: Dawn of the Too Many Characters

What’s worse, the revelation of Doomsday, in one fell swoop, sucked the tension out from the film completely. Yes, we knew Batman and Superman would kiss and make up, but we didn’t need to see the problem of Batman v’ing Superman getting resolved before even heading into the theaters. That leads me into my final problem. 

Doomsday

As I mentioned earlier in this piece, I don’t mind bad CG. It bothers a lot of people, but I don’t mind so much. I can even ignore the fact that this Doomsday looks like an anemic version of the Abomination. More than anything, I hate what Doomsday represents. To me, the character represents desperation on the part of WB.

Who wore it best? (left: Doomsday, right: Abomination)

Who wore it best? (left: Doomsday, right: Abomination)

Like with “Spider-Man 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” I worry that the studio is shooting its wad with this movie. It has little confidence, and is unwilling to take the time necessary to play out a single scenario. Instead, they need to throw as many obstacles as possible at our leads.

CONCLUSION

If this piece wasn’t clear enough, this trailer was more than disappointing to me. All that aside, I feel like I need to clarify that this doesn’t diminish my expectations for the film. More than anything, I think this is just a poorly made trailer. All of the problems I had can easily be trailer-only problems.

Sure, Doomsday and Lex Luthor are concerns, but given our lack of overall context, I’m hoping that within the film, it’ll all be more believable.

Call me a fanboy, but until I see the finished film, I’m going to write this off as poor marketing. After all, there’s nothing to be gained by letting something like this drain my enthusiasm. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that DC and WB can avoid the “Spider-Man 3” syndrome, but we’ll have to wait until March 25, 2016 to see.

Less than four months until the movie hits theaters. “Batman v Superman,” here we come!

What’d you think of the trailer? Let us know your thoughts below!

Column, DC, LRM Exclusives Batman v Superman, DC, Zack Snyder