[Needless to say, potential SPOILERS for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ahead]
You have to hand it to Zack Snyder and Warner Bros.: it’s nearly impossible to keep fans from dissecting every aspect of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but to this point, they’re still largely in the dark about the villains, conflicts, and allegiances of the main characters. Much of that is due to Snyder’s use of imagery as opposed to dialogue or exposition in his trailers so far, and the latest is no exception.
Just like the first trailer got fans talking about the accusations of Superman as a “false god,” or the Comic-Con footage showing Batman doing battle with desert soldiers, the latest trailer sneak peek saw the Dark Knight unmasked by an enraged Man of Steel. Now the full-length trailer has been released, offering a longer look at that scene – and a host of other details for us to break down.
The big moments are impossible to forget, but there was a lot more shown in the third Batman V Superman trailer than you might have noticed. Allow us to fill you in on how these new images become clearer when compared to what we already know about the DC Comics team-up.
Rolling Out The Red Carpet
The trailer begins by putting Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) on a beat fans aren’t used to seeing, apparently on the press line at a red carpet event attended by the rich and famous. Two things are worthy of note here: first, the fact that Clark is completely unaware of who Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), the billionaire ‘prince of Gotham’ is. On the surface it might seem an innocent enough question, but when nearly every DC Comics adaptation including Wayne concedes that he’s a world famous playboy, Clark’s ignorance seems strange.
After all, Clark has grown up in America for three decades, and is sort of famous for his attention to detail, and need to keep up on world events. He may be new to Gotham‘s social circles, as his fellow reporter infers, but it’s also possible that Bruce Wayne – just like his caped alter ego – has been out of the public eye for some time when Dawn of Justice kicks off. It wouldn’t be shocking to hear that a possible lost sidekick, or simply the passage of time has pushed him out of the limelight, but it would be a new treatment of the character.
Secondly, we can now confirm that aside from Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Lex Luthor, this same party is attended by Diana – better known as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Pay close attention to the grass in the background when Bruce makes his entrance, and you’ll notice it’s the same location that Diana was seen leaving in a previous trailer. The editing of previous footage has left some interactions ambiguous, but we can at least rest easy knowing this will mark one of the pair’s interactions.
Before Diana was seen in her full Amazonian armor, her wardrobe was limited to evening wear, including not one, but two additional ensembles. We would hope to see her character in at least three scenes, obviously, but with a potential romance with Bruce Wayne being long rumored, evidence that they’ll be crossing paths at cocktail parties and black tie events makes her eventual reveal an even juicier proposition. Add in the fact that Clark Kent is now present in at least one of those situations, and DC Comics fans have even more sly gazes and suspicion to look forward to.
Who Knows What, Exactly?
The fact that a pair of glasses can keep people from recognizing the world’s most famous man has always been a hurdle fans had to jump to embrace the Superman premise, and the theme of secret identities crops up immediately in the new trailer. Clark Kent wastes no time shining the spotlight on the elephant in the room, asking Bruce Wayne what he thinks of the Bat-suited vigilante prowling Gotham’s streets – eliciting a smirk from the man secretly under the mask.
Fans of the comics know that it wasn’t traditionally a knack for journalism that led Clark Kent to a job at The Daily Planet, instead seeking a job that would give him an excuse to head into danger rather than away from it. So at first glance, Clark’s instant questioning of Bruce might lead some to believe that he’s worked out the secret, and is attempting to ambush the Dark Knight in a public setting. But remembering that Clark didn’t even know who Bruce Wayne was, and the scene reads completely different. Especially with the knowing stare Bruce delivers in response, referring to Superman’s clown-like costume – while giving Clark the once-over.
True, he may be referring to Clark’s old-fashioned dress. But we, and no doubt every Batman fan out there, hope that this implies that a live action Dark Knight will finally be shown as ‘the world’s greatest detective’ he always has been. If Bruce were to figure out what no one else has – that Clark Kent is Superman – then his intimidation, xenophobic wording, and patience instantly show why he doesn’t need superstrength to stay a step ahead of Clark.
That’s all speculation, but their exchange confirms something else: Batman is active in Gotham City before Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne ever meet. When word first broke that Zack Snyder was seeking an “older, battle-hardened” Batman for his new universe, the mere mention of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” sent fans filling in every gap. The most common assumption: that this Batman, like Miller’s, would have been retired, having hung up his gloves and workout gear until Superman arrived to pull him back into action.
Set photos hinted that Clark Kent would head from Metropolis to Gotham to investigate the claims of the ‘Bat-Man’ brutalizing and torturing criminals, which doesn’t fit with the retired theory at all. This exchange (and newspaper cover) seem to put that idea to rest for good. It’s still possible that Bruce has fallen from the light, losing himself in the un-winnable battle against Gotham’s underworld – but he’s still very much active.
“Maybe It’s The Gotham City in Me”
Hearing Bruce refer to “a bad history with freaks dressed like clowns” will no doubt send the excited fans into a tizzy, knowing full well that Jared Leto’s ‘Joker’ will have enjoyed a long history with Batman by the time he debuts in Suicide Squad. But the implication – that Gotham City is inherently pessimistic as opposed to Metropolis – will likely play a major role in the larger themes of Batman V Superman.
The fictional cities have always acted as a reflection of their most famous heroes: Gotham, a city perpetually draped in shadow, with crime around every corner, and Metropolis, a shining, bustling city of the future. But director Zack Snyder is doubling down on that idea, explaining at San Diego Comic-Con that the two locations are now “sister cities” separated by a body of water. And we’ve long assumed that also meant that both Gotham and Metropolis were heavily damaged during Superman and Zod’s battle in Man of Steel.
Where Metropolis used its wealth and optimism to embrace their caped hero, rebuilding the city and placing a memorial for the city’s “savior” at ground zero, Gotham wasn’t so fortunate. Instead, they watch from across the bay, with their city just as ruined thanks to a shiny alien who doesn’t waste time with muggers or thieves. Aside from giving the filmmakers an excuse to stage a massive brawl within sight of the city (if large portions of Gotham have been abandoned), it gives Bruce’s words larger meaning.
The move isn’t exactly subtle – establishing Metropolis as a city looking ahead, and Gotham a city looking over its shoulder – but it is an extension of the heroes themselves. It gives Batman’s punches an extra sting when they’re landing on Gotham’s destroyer, and weakens Superman’s resolve when he’s fighting an entire city’s perspective.
“He Brought The War To Us”
Unsurprisingly, the new trailer gives an even clearer look at what Henry Cavill has confirmed the opening sequence of Batman V Superman, with Bruce Wayne watching the events of Man of Steel‘s climax reduce Metropolis to rubble. And, as the previous trailer showed, attempting in vain to save the lives of his own employees (or to others, “his family”). The trailer actually offers several staggering glimpses of what this battle of gods must have looked like to people in and around it, watching as two beings and an alien ship made Earth’s defenses completely useless.
The two beings – Zod and Superman – are actually shown quite clearly, further justifying Bruce Wayne’s assumption that honoring a ‘hero’ who paid more attention to his enemy than the innocent lives being lost around him. So it isn’t a case of him going to “war” with Superman , as Alfred puts it. To Bruce, Superman already started the war, with Bruce now forced to bring him to justice.
It’s been assumed ever since the director and writers confirmed that the tremendous destruction and loss of life in Man of Steel was actually done on purpose, claiming it was going to be a significant plot point for the next film. And as more and more of the footage is shown, it seems to be more and more of a motivating factor for Bruce. And that’s even without yet knowing just who he lost in the destruction. The writers have a challenge delivering on the potential payoff set up by Man of Steel, so increased emphasis on the most criticized aspect of the previous film can’t be a bad sign.
It’s also worth noting that Alfred delivers his line to Bruce in the Batcave, while Bruce’s response is clearly modulated as if he is wearing his Batsuit – meaning he may be pleading his case to someone else entirely. Wonder Woman, perhaps?
Finally, the main event that every comic book fan has been waiting for: the battle of Batman vs. Superman. Obviously the Dark Knight is going to need a little bit of backup, with even more shots offered of his powered armor, torn straight from the pages of “The Dark Knight Returns” (with some fine-tuning, obviously). But the simple fact that fans are so excited to see this fight take place means that the creative editing of the trailer and specific fight scenes are muddying the waters of exactly how and when the heroes do battle.
Purely on a story level, we’ve assumed since the movie was first announced that the Batman/Superman fight wouldn’t be the actual climactic fight – once the heroes actually explain themselves, they would realize they have more in common than differences. And focusing on the costumes of the Dark Knight alone, some sense can be made of the fighting shown, even if it is completely out of sequence. The simple rule: Batman would never take off his armor until he knew Superman wouldn’t melt him into a puddle.
Following that logic, it seems the first showdown between the two – triggered by the lighting of the Bat-signal, as shown in the first teaser – will drag on longer than fans may have even dared to hope. In just a few seconds, the two can be seen smashing through walls, through a roof, windows, atop a building, and returning to the same rain-soaked clearing shown in the teaser.
But as just one example, pay attention to the shots of Superman being bombarded with heavy calibre machine-gun fire. The bullets do no real harm, sending the Man of Steel up into the sky, deflecting bullets from multiple sources, before firing up his heat vision to, presumably, melt the offending guns to slag. But take a closer look, and the spot he rises to melt the guns is the exact same spot he roughly lands in to face off against the armored Batman.
Draw one of two conclusions from that fact: either Superman brushes off Batman’s attack before landing to have a reasoned conversation – or flip the scenes, and assume that Batman has drawn Superman to that spot, before letting loose a barrage of gunfire. That’s right, this may be just the first of many traps the Dark Kight has set for his opponents, but it’s certainly not the only trick up his sleeve.
Further examination strongly suggests that all footage of Batman in his powered armor is set in the same fight sequence (the rain alone is a giveaway), and the trailer’s closing moments show that the two eventually join forces, with Bruce ditching the extra protection. But there’s also evidence that Bruce may not have come into possession of his armor – or his weaponry – all on his own.
It would be completely in keeping with the comics mythology for Lex Luthor to manipulate the Man of Steel to take on a suped-up Batman – and a recent plot synopsis suggests he does exactly that. But even if Bruce Wayne had crafted a heavy duty suit to battle superpowered opponents, the weapon in his hands still seems a bit… pointless against an invincible man.
What use would Batman have for a gun against Superman? Well, there is one substance that would pose an actual threat to the Man of Steel: kryptonite. If you add up the clues, you’ll realize the the trailer so far have shown Lex Luthor openly stating the he, as usual, wishes to bring about Superman’s end for the betterment of humanity. And he even has some glowing green kryptonite in his possession.
Now that we’ve seen a firearm in Batman’s hands, the existence of kryptonite bullets seems the most likely answer, especially if fans keep an eye out for the other scenes in which the firearm appears, and which opponents it’s being used against…
We’re willing to bet that this version of Doomsday (although this engineered creature isn’t exactly a match to the comics) will be a little less effective than fans might expect, since a dead Superman is a hard thing to build a shared movie universe around. Still, if he’s born from Kryptonian genetic material, then he’s just as invincible and overpowered as the Man of Steel. Which means Batman is better off avoiding him than trying to fight him head on.
It goes without saying that Doomsday is likely the one responsible for the widespread carnage and burned out landscape seen through the marketing so far, including the heat vision that almost turns Batman to ash (a massive blast, as opposed to Superman’s concentrated beams). But if fans were wondering what kind of enemy could make Wonder Woman a necessity in the field, this monster should do the trick.
The good news is that it also means his abilities are as susceptible to magic as Superman’s (really his major weakness, since heroes or villains wielding magic can affect Supes as strongly as a regular human). So even his monstrous blast of heat vision – also coming from his mouth, yuck – can’t make it through Wonder Woman’s enchanted shield. Presumably, it would also mean that her enchanted sword could puncture the beast as easily as it could Superman. That’s right, it isn’t just Aquaman’s trident he needs to worry about anymore.
Oh, and there’s the possibly kryptonite bullets Batman has in his arsenal. So in other words, going into battle against Doomsday is going to require so much trust on Superman’s part, establishing the Justice League immediately after the battle makes perfect sense.
Wonder Woman Saves The Day
It only seems fitting that after being left out of the title of the film, Wonder Woman should show up to protect Superman from being burned and, apparently, Batman too. There’s simply too much pressure on Gal Gadot, DC Comics and Warner Bros. to even measure at this point, charged with bringing the first female-led superhero movie to theaters carrying more influence on the future of similar projects than it rightly should.
That being said, we argued years ago that offering a brief glimpse of Wonder Woman prior to a solo film – and getting it right – would win over more fans than a perfect casting, perfect costume, and perfect story ever could. Knowing what we do about the villain of Dawn of Justice, it’s hard to imagine that a demigod swinging magical weapons couldn’t bring it down singlehandedly. And if she did it – and had DC’s two biggest heroes hiding behind her as she did – well, the fans would certainly have to re-think a lot of previous assumptions.
The three heroes all sharing the same screen is clearly meant to start building the hype, confirming for DC Comics fans that their wildest dreams are coming true faster than they ever thought possible. But with both Superman and Batman unclear of exactly where she came from, or what her role in the ongoing battle really are, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the story Zack Snyder is telling. And yes, the costume clearly works in live-action (although we’re still wondering about the cause of the monumental explosion seen leveling entire city blocks).
The full-length trailer also gives a different look at the ‘desert Batman’ footage, seeing Bruce Wayne captured and strung up by soldiers bearing Superman’s insignia. In the teaser, Superman arrives to angrily stare down the Dark Knight before violently tearing off his cowl (and seeming ready to tear off different parts once the camera cuts). We’ve had trouble knowing what to make of these sequences since they first appeared, but with one toy actually referring to Batman’s overcoat and cargo pants as a ‘Knightmare’ version, a vision of a terrifying future – not an actual one – seems to be more and more likely.
We remind fans that Kryptonian technology is still very much in play, and Man of Steel saw Superman subjected to just such a vision, with Zod carrying on an entire conversation with him on his boyhood farm, ultimately ending in the destruction of Earth and all mankind. Could a similar manipulation be at work here? Could Lex Luthor be behind it, fanning the flames of Bruce Wayne’s fears?
Case in point: the large, flying insect soldiers doing battle with helicopters, Batman, and the Superman soldiers. This seems like a bit of a leap for a number of reasons. Sure, they may not be a far cry from the Kryptonian creatures seen in Man of Steel, but if your movie features an army of flying insect soldiers, it’s a bit difficult to keep your movie from being about an army of flying insect soldiers.
This will likely be one of the surprises that makes it to theatrical release, and if it’s meant simply as a fever dream of the Dark Knight’s, then all the better. But it’s worth noting that these creatures share more than a passing resemblance to Parademons, the Apokoliptian foot-soldiers of Darkseid, long rumored to be the villain that brings the Justice League together. How they factor into a nightmare vision of the future, or whether it’s a sign that this vision is actually a view of one possible future… well, that’s just too much fun to discuss for us to land on one side or the other.
Those are all the need-to-know details, plot hints and explanations we can think of, but be sure to share your own reactions and theories in the comments below!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will see theatrical release on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19th, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.