Things are changing in the DC Extended Universe. With the Man of Steel sidelined (as only he can be), and a new threat on its way (ding ding ding ding), the job falls to Batman himself to assembles Earth’s meta humans into a single unit. That’s easier said than done for both the characters and director Zack Snyder, but the first extended look at Justice League the movie revealed during San Diego Comic-Con 2016 shows the task is farther along than some fans may have expected.
The trailer(?) made good on the producers’ promise that Justice League would be a more thrilling adventure based on the characters involved, revealing our first looks at Jason Momoa’s ‘Aquaman,’ Ray Fisher’s ‘Cyborg,’ and Ezra Miller’s ‘Flash.’ But aside from that, the scenes and sequences showed more than a few telling twists and details, from the new source of Barry Allen’s powers to the relationship between Aquaman and the villages – possibly around the world – who rely on the sea for survival.
We’re shining a spotlight on each and every one of the most impressive reveals, easy-to-overlook details and hints at the movie’s millennia-spanning story in our Justice League: Comic-Con Trailer Breakdown.
The Stranger Who Feeds
The trailer begins by tackling one of the biggest hurdles (in the eyes of casual comic fans, or mainstream TV and movie audiences) right out of the gate: the introduction of the Justice League’s… aquatic champion. But cast aside any assumptions you have about the version of the hero ‘who talks to fish’ at the door, since Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) starts off in one of the most foreign climates to classic depictions of Aquaman: the frozen North seas. Specifically, a quiet, frosty village populated not by tropical plants or people, but the grey fabrics of a people used to surviving a harsh winter.
Some might take that choice and paint Snyder with his typical ‘drab, gray, gritty’ brush – but the trailer shows color elsewhere, meaning this scene is intended to be a surprise. And when Bruce inquires about “a stranger” who comes to their village in the dead of winter to provide them with fish to survive, some of the audience may still have no idea who he’s referring to. For information, the “king tide” that he arrives upon is the term used for a particularly high tide that occurs only a few times a year (or once), typically on or around January 2nd. Since Bruce claims this event occurred “last night,” we know the date of the scene, and why he knew where to find this mystery man of the sea…
Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman
If the unconventional setting, weather, and color scheme is intended to throw audiences off of their expectations surrounding the one sea-based hero of the team, then the actual reveal of Jason Momoa’s character will send them into the stratosphere. Even the previously-released image of Momoa’s bare-chested, tattooed and trident-ed implied a hero of Polynesian islands or tropical waters – a far cry from the frozen northern waterways he’s apparently watching over. But the image of ‘Arthur Curry’ boasting a broad beard, thick fur coat, and impossibly pale green eyes hints that Snyder and Momoa’s version of the hero is one of the Earth‘s oceans, and the people who rely upon them around the world (residents of New England and Alaska rejoice!).
Despite his appearance, Curry actually seems willing to hear why Bruce has sought him out… for a moment, at least. When he grabs Bruce by the jacket and throws him up against a wall in a rage (and, we learn later, refuses the invitation), we realize that he’s not exactly a willing defender of all the Earth’s people. Perhaps not existing in total secrecy, but preferring to be thought of as almost a folk hero who comes once a year to feed the hungry. Our look at the meaning behind Momoa’s Aquaman tattoos suggested that he quite literally wears the mission on his sleeve, and apparently it’s more important to him than his own people’s legacy when the film finds him.
Ancient Kings Bury a Secret
From there, the footage jumps to a forest scene, as men clad in leather and iron armor and horned helmets gather around a massive hole. Those who followed the coverage of our visit to the set of Justice League were probably able to decipher the scene from the first moment. This is a look at the ancient race of men who, according to the producers’ story breakdown, were one of three races on Earth who united to fight off an invasion thousands of years in the past (going by the current threats, that invasion has been largely assumed to be forces from Apokolips, in one of the New Gods’ first attempts to dominate the planet).
Going by their appearance alone, these characters fit the description of mankind’s leadership in the alliance, assuming that the crowned figure is one of mankind’s earliest kings. We don’t get a glimpse at his counterparts – the ancient king of Atlantis, likely Atlan, or Hippolyta, then-and-current queen of the Amazons – but we do get a cryptic scene of these powerful men gathered in the middle of nowhere, burying something in absolute secrecy. And what is that something?
A Mother Box – The First of Three
The object being buried looks to be nothing but a metal box, but again, those who kept up to speed with the story details coming out of the set visit already know the answers. The object is an Apokoliptian Mother Box, like the one seen in Batman V Superman giving ‘birth’ to the new Cyborg deep inside S.T.A.R. Labs. For the unfamiliar, Mother Boxes are basically miracles in a box, capable of doing nearly anything the user requires (think an A.I. genie in your pocket). It’s unclear if the box seen here is the actual Mother Box, or the true Apokoliptian technology resides inside of it.
That theory is based on the fact that our visit to the set revealed concept designs for all three Mother Boxes found on Earth. It’s these three that were entrusted to the Humans, Atlanteans and Amazons after their alliance was formed, with a few hints that something very, very bad would happen if the three were united. Since these three are clearly the ones teased in the deleted Steppenwolf scene from BvS, they’re the treasures that Darkseid’s lieutenant will be after.
Wonder Woman’s Glowing Shield
It wouldn’t be a DCEU movie without a shot of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) looking fierce, stunning, and noble all at the same time. Snyder doesn’t keep fans waiting this time around, revealing a familiar shot to BvS fans: Diana emerging from behind her shield as a massive attack subsides. The shot may not seem to reveal much, but there are a handful of things to point out. For starters, the environment seems to match that tunnel assault on Steppenwolf’s Parademons (set in an abandoned tunnel beneath Gotham Harbor).
If that’s the case, then there may be more of a threat to the scene than the usual fodder of Darkseid bring. Look closely, and you’ll notice the script running around the circumference of Diana’s shield fading from a bright orange glow back to the normal metal – the same effect that could be seen after the shield absorbed the eruptions of red… energy from Doomsday in Dawn of Justice‘s final fight. So, what’s residing in that lair that could pose the same threat?
Aquaman’s a Drinker
If the hair, beard, and tattoos weren’t enough to prove that the DCEU’s live-action Aquaman is going to be a hard character to dismiss with a laugh, how about watching him chug a bottle of booze while striding through a storm? It’s hard to guess exactly what the reason for Curry’s excessive drinking may be, but it’s not hard to think of the reasons. In the comics, he’s been divided since the moment he found out he was the son of a mainlander and a member of Atlantis’ royal family. Shunned by both for different reasons, Arthur was faced with the throne of Atlantis on one hand, or trying to live a normal life with superpowers.
It’s possible that the struggle over the throne has already been fought (or forfeited, as Arthur gave it to his half-brother in the comics), and that this life of secret protection over the people of the sea is the only existence he’s found possible. But if that is the case, then his decision to stay out of the bigger fight, and refuse Bruce Wayne’s offer can only hold for so long (he’s a hero, after all).
So, is the vigorous last pull of alcohol before striding out to the end of a dock a sign that he’s finally decided to answer the call? It would appear that what we don’t see is his shirt being removed – showing even more of his full-body tattoos – and the waters of the sea practically rising to meet him… before they literally rise to swallow him up. It’s a powerful image, made only more significant if the moment marks Arthur’s acceptance of his greater purpose.
Add in the fact that his untied boots bear more than a little resemblance to his classic comic book silhouette, and you’ve got a brand new Aquaman who’s still recognizable (minus the blonde hair and gold shirt).
Cyborg at School
For those unfamiliar with the character (not out of the question, since he has long been more closely tied to the Teen Titans), the shot of an unknown man walking down an unknown street might seem a little out of place. But for those who know, it’s impossible to miss the glimpse of Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) when he was still just a star football player for – in this incarnation – Gotham City University. The school’s name can be seen on both his jacket and in the background, but it’s probably Vic’s later appearances in the footage that will create the most conversation.
Still, it’s worth considering how this footage may fit into the larger story. The fact that Vic was already horribly wounded for Lex to acquire intel on him – intel that was then passed to Bruce, then Diana – means that this scene must he set long before the events of the previous DCEU films. Either that, or this is a dream sequence (or attempt to cope) of Vic’s as he struggled to reconcile the life he had with the one he must now face. Still, no clues on just what caused the damage to his body that required a Mother Box to fit. But that’s the kind of thing fans are probably fine waiting for.
Barry Allen’s Hideout
You just wouldn’t be a superhero without a superhero lair, and Barry Allen’s is guaranteed to make any teenager green with envy. But audiences probably shouldn’t let the many TV screens and graffiti give them the wrong idea of Barry, and consider him a slacker. In fact, the wealth of books and monitors implies that he does his best to keep his supercharged mind occupied. Whatever the ways of wasting time that he may find, it’s obvious Barry keeps a level, mature head. He doesn’t panic to find Bruce Wayne in his apartment, taking time to consider the situation – even the projectile thrown by the man straight at his head.
What plays out between the two is the scene we got a chance to see during our set visit, with Bruce Wayne doing his best to recruit the speedster to his team and realizing that it won’t take much convincing. It’s worth noting that it appears as if Barry really is about to give a more accurate description of his superpower when the footage cuts to Bruce’s offer. We doubt that such an explanation will make sense immediately, but for moviegoers, a crash course in experimental physics could be on the menu.
The Justice League’s New Ride
While Bruce is explaining to Diana just how smoothly his recruitment efforts are going (with Cyborg or Aquaman, it’s hard to say), keep an eye on the background. That monitor they’re both admiring seems to be displaying the aerodynamic information of an unknown object – an unknown object that looks an awful lot like the Flying Fox aerial vehicle that Bruce Wayne will unveil as the new ride designed to house every member of his new Justice League.
It would make sense for Wayne to be testing his designs at this point in the story, since he and Diana are still a long way out from actually heading into action with the team (meaning he’s got time to finish the project). It’s also possible to make out what COULD be a tank tread when Diana is smashing her vambraces together, which could be another clue to the vehicle in question (the “Nightcrawler” the team takes into battle first).
A New Take on The Speed Force
It’s also important not to miss the effects relied upon when Barry realizes that not only is there a razor sharp Batarang flying at his head, but that he should probably move out of the way. Once he shifts from perceiving at lightspeed to actually moving that fast, the eruption of blue lightning, and waving/crackling of the air around him signal the real power at work. For Flash fans, that power is access to the Speed Force – for audiences, it means the first hint that not only is the same power responsible for his cameo in the Batman/Superman movie, but that some different science may be at work.
Traditionally, the energy poured into Barry Allen’s cells makes him move, feel, and perceive faster. But the apparent tears in space, and crackling electricity surrounding this Barry Allen makes it clear that Snyder is experimenting with some new ideas. Is Barry able to defy space and time? Does the explosion of energy around him offer further explanation for the design of his new costume?
The Team Heads Underground
It may seem a bit odd to include a shot of just four members of the team heading into a cement structure, but, just as our time on the movie’s set revealed, this sequence is set shortly after Cyborg finally agrees to join the team. Their mission? To infiltrate the abandoned service project once intended to connect Gotham and Metropolis beneath their shared Harbor, now being used as a hive of activity by the Apokoliptian Parademons snatching up human beings involved with the Mother Boxes.
This looks to be part of that very structure, just as the four have entered. It’s here where most of the other action shots seem to be set, including Diana striking her vambraces, using her shield, and The Flash avoiding a blast of red energy. How does the fight turn out, and who may shoe up to tip the scales? We’ll have to wait and see.
The New Flash Suit
Yes, it’s the moment fans of the Justice League have been waiting to see: not only their look at Ezra Miller interacting with the cast as lovable speedster Barry Allen, but the suit he’ll use in his superhero hijinks. The early recruitment scene shows a glimpse or two of the suit, but this is a better look than most first trailers provide. Obviously assembled out of multiple panels and pieces, the high-tensile wire used to bind the suit together – to channel excess energy? To keep that energy from spinning out of control? – seem to be the most puzzling, or most important design element from a mythology standpoint.
Once again, the blue lightning starts firing the moment Barry begins to move (out of the way of an attack), offering the very first look at how Barry will move in the film. In short: there’s not much to see at regular speed besides a blast of light and a before/after change. It’s as impressive an effect as can be hoped for, knowing that the finished style could still differ a great deal once the effects work is done. The suit will certainly take some getting used to, but its utilitarian and handmade feel is a good start, until Bruce Wayne can cook up something better. Until then, it’s already got the approval of the other Barry Allen, Grant Gustin. So there’s that.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 2, 2017; followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash is currently without a release date.