Those eager to see what director Zack Snyder had in store for Batman V Superman probably couldn’t have told you exactly what they expected, but now that the first official trailer has arrived, it’s safe to say everyone was somewhat surprised. Investing in the themes of Man of Steel and showing the uglier side of humanity, the trailer set the stage perfectly for a live-action take on Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight.”
The first looks at Ben Affleck’s Batman suit (and armor) and the impending battle between the two title heroes are hard to ignore, meaning some of the smaller touches or subtle hints of larger themes may be easy to overlook. We’ve singled out a few points that both movie fans and comic book die-hards will wind up debating in the months to release, so be warned that the following breakdown and analysis contains some potential spoilers for Dawn of Justice.
Remembering & Rebuilding
The images of a giant Superman statue were among the first to leak from the set, possibly set in the flattened ‘ground zero’ resulting from General Zod’s World Engine in Man of Steel – now turned into a memorial and tribute to the city’s savior (constructed in as little as two years). A crane is clearly placed in the background hinting that Metropolis is still rebuilding, but it’s the statue itself that deserves extra attention.
Superman kneeling, extending one hand to the people below, and his other hand stretched up to the sky tells you exactly how Kal-El was perceived immediately after the attack. But it turns out old doom-and-gloom Jonathan Kent was right: people fear what they don’t understand. Charlie Rose and Neil DeGrasse Tyson may philosophize, but Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and one US Senator (Holly Hunter) are heard voicing their doubts – along with what sounds like Clark Kent’s disguised voice warning about people’s “horrible track record.”
Unsurprisingly, Superman (Henry Cavill) is once again called upon to save the day by preventing the catastrophic destruction of Russian space debris. At least, it seems to have burned up upon re-entry. The insignia clearly shows the object to be a product of the POCKOCMOC (“Roscosmos” – Russia’s space program), meaning one feat of strength has been revealed already. Just how important it truly is in the end is unknown, but it’s one hint that Superman has become a global protector – not just an American one.
This may prove the most puzzling image from the trailer, at least in terms of what it implies about the world’s reaction to a superpowered savior. Armed guards bending a knee to Superman is enough to show how his perceptions have changed from Man of Steel, when he was placed in handcuffs instead. But there’s no way of knowing to which country or military these soldiers belong, since their only insignia is the House of El’s ‘S’ on their shoulder.
The fact that Superman seems calm, not shocked could prove telling. If he’s familiar with the faction (and their underground bunker) then almost anything is possible. These troops may be a cult, a standard armed forces detachment that wear Superman’s insignia as their own, or who knows – maybe a country that has pledged its forces to the greatest warrior the world has ever seen.
If nothing else, the German Stahlhelm design is an unintended nod to Neitzche’s “Übermensch,” the “Superman” who gave the hero his name.
‘False God’ & Religious Imagery
There’s an abundance of Judeo-Christian imagery in this trailer, from crowds of people at what looks to be a ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration seeking only to touch Superman’s skin, or Superman simply hovering in the light as those below outstretch their hands. It all follows on the typical messiah tropes that have defined Superman over the years: a hero glimpsed as a destined newborn, again as an innocent child, then a man of thirty years stepping forward to take on his mission.
Given all those obvious parallels, it’s not hard to believe people may begin to see the Man of Steel as a messianic or savior figure that the opening narration claims humanity seeks (particularly in countries most fervently steeped in Christianity). It would be easy to see Superman’s arrival as a divine blessing all its own – making the graffiti denouncing him as a “False God” seem as valid a response. Perhaps when Jonathan Kent said Clark would change people’s feelings about religion, he had a more complicated mix of reactions in mind.
The Full Batsuit
After the motionless ‘Sad Batman’ reveal of Ben Affleck in the suit showed how much of a departure Snyder’s Batsuit would be from the armor of recent years, fans got a closer look at the suit, and a chance to see it in motion. The slices across the Batman emblem still look to be the work of knives and bladed weapons – expected of an older, battle-hardened Batman – but the fabric of the suit itself is another story.
The presence of several wrinkles in the suit itself implies audiences are meant to believe it really is just fabric pulled over Bruce Wayne’s body, not augmented with armor (although the movie magic behind the suits says otherwise). Beyond the suit’s style, we can confirm that Affleck’s cowl can bend more than most, the return of his yellow-ish utility belt, and that the added damage to the emblem means the latter scene may be from the back half of the film.
Yes, the first trailer brings its first Easter egg, as the first shot of Batman in his heavy armor reveals a wealth of graffiti – including the Riddler’s signature green question mark. We wouldn’t put too much into the appearance though: it’s clearly a nod to the fans that was going to be found immediately, meaning it likely has little influence on the story at hand (although every rumor of a “Batman: Hush” storyline thickens the plot).
We’re more interested in exactly where this scene is located. It’s clearly of significance to Bruce, meaning fans can speculate that this is the former Wayne Manor now fallen into disrepair, one of Gotham’s slums explored prior to Bruce’s showdown with Superman, or…could this destruction be a result of their actual fight? Every guess is fair game.
We had seen images of Batman’s signature Batmobile already, but the look and uses of the Batwing/Batplane were much harder to come by. Not only is this scene confirmation that Snyder will be embracing a bit of style over practicality (the plane looks closer to a comic book creation, unlike Christopher Nolan’s attempts to make every piece of technology feel grounded), but the exploding trucks and henchmen show Batman may have softened his no-kill policy.
That, or it’s not Batman controlling the plane…
We had been wondering what to make of the crumbling concrete and fiery destruction in the first official Wonder Woman image since it was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, and may now have an answer. The same type of rubble is visible during Affleck’s Batsuit reveal, which, as we noted beforehand, may be set in the film’s final act. If the clues are sound, then Wonder Woman may make a costumed debut in that setpiece as well.
If the Batman and Superman portions of the trailer are viewed separately (out of sequence), the blue/grey light reserved for Batman is a far cry from the golds and whites of Superman’s shots. If this destruction is what takes place in the movie’s climax, then perhaps Batman quite literally walking into the light is more connected to the Dawn of Justice name than would be assumed at first glance.
Scalloped Cape, Scoped Rifle
Yes, the obligatory shot of Batman atop a skyscraper looking out upon his city is once again present in this trailer, but with one added twist that viewers may have missed. The metallic pole poking out above Batman’s head may first seem to be an antenna of the building, but make no mistake: it’s a scoped rifle. But before any comic fans get upset that Zack Snyder has turned Batman into a gun-toting murderer, it’s almost certainly another nod to Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.”
The graphic novel was made an explicit influence when Snyder chose to reveal the superhero face-off using a speech from its pages, but the comic also includes Batman using firearms with more frequency than ever before. However, the guns are firing rubber bullets, and the rifle was used to fire a grappling line onto a nearby police helicopter.
Whether or not that scene is recreated – or Batman decides to start taking out enemies from a distance – the shot also further confirms the heavier leather cape, complete with classic scalloped edge seen in most comic book incarnations. You can’t say Zack Snyder isn’t a comics fan.
Nothing new since this standoff was revealed at SDCC last summer, but the closer look at Batman’s suit of armor confirms it’s even closer to the version seen in “The Dark Knight Returns” than first assumed. What powers the suit is still a mystery (and whether Kryptonite will play a role in its effectiveness), but the seemingly modulated voice that it emits and the heavier weave on the cape speaks to the attention to detail.
But even this suit of armor is battle-scarred, meaning Batman may have faced off against a number of superpowered opponents in the post. It’s unlikely they’ll be mentioned by name, but the suit’s scrapes alone are confirmation that Batman isn’t intimidated by a superhuman brawler (particularly one without formal fighting skills).
Those are all the nods to the comics, larger themes, smaller touches and early Easter eggs we could spot in the trailer, but the new footage released to IMAX screenings of the trailer are sure to provide plenty more. If you feel we’ve missed any major hints or simply wish to offer your own theories, be sure to mention them in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.