Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is about to go toe-to-toe with Captain America: Civil War for title of THE superhero movie to see in 2016 - and as such, both films have released trailers to help entice fans headed out to theaters for some holiday season movie viewing.
Now that the latest Batman v Superman trailer has given the world a much more extensive look at what director Zack Snyder and his controversial cast (Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot Jesse Eisenberg) have committed to the screen, fans everywhere are reacting, and (surprise!) it's not all positive. We've already done an extensive Dawn of Justice trailer #3 analysis to weed out the finer points of the film - and taking those into account, here is a more informed list of 10 Things We Hope They Get Right in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
10 True Detectives
The opening of the second Dawn of Justice trailer sees Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) covering a major high society event, which brings out both Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg). During the event, Kent and Wayne have a somewhat tense exchange about the merits of their alter-egos, Superman and Batman, each man carrying a noted look of insight about the other as he speaks. Do they know one another's secret? If the characters are done properly, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they did.
In all the iterations of Superman and Batman movies to date, the characters' respective talents for investigation have not really been part of the narrative - not in notable ways, at least. But Clark Kent is a renowned journalist, and Bruce Wayne/Batman is 'The World's Greatest Detective,' with endless financial resources at his fingertips. In this emerging DC Extended Universe, we hope that Superman and Batman's brainy sides get as much value as their brawn - and Dawn of Justice would do well in establishing their intellectual respect for one another, by having them trade wits as well as blows. Fans of the World's Finest animated movie know just how fun those mental chess game can be (see above).
9 Classic Superman
Man of Steel angered a lot of fans by trying (failing?) to push Superman into a modern paradigm. Instead of being the idealistic pinnacle for "Truth, Justice and the American Way," Zack Snyder's Superman was instead a symbol of hope (literally) for those who feel alienated, devalued or isolated, simply because they are different. That more introspective depiction of the Man of Steel required a lot of brooding looks from Superman actor Henry Cavill, but in Dawn of Justice, there's room to do more.
Trailers for the film have already presented us with a picture of Superman as humanity's guardian angel; as well as the fear of him being humanity's greatest threat. And yet, there's still little we've seen that suggests that the more classic, good-natured, actual hope-inspiring Superman (who many felt was missing from Man of Steel) actually exists in this film. We've seen a more intrepid Clark Kent, a Superman who still seems brooding and annoyed most of the time - and there still seems to be a lot of property damage happening around the big guy.
I, personally, am one of the last people to go begging for a return to the Donner days (I liked Man of Steel, sue me); but I do want to see a Batman v Superman movie that actually positions Superman as a stark contrast to Batman's angry, pessimistic, and brooding ways. Superman needs to live up to that symbol he wears on his chest.
8 Better Battle Strategy
One of the continuous criticisms of Man of Steel is how Superman handled the final battle against General Zod. After downing Zod's Kryptonian ship and helping shutdown the gravity well that was leveling Metropolis, an inexperienced Superman had a drag-out superpowered brawl with Zod - a fight which left both Metropolis and neighboring Gotham City scarred, literally and figuratively. Granted, Superman was outmatched and outclassed by a lifelong warrior (Zod) who was intent on wrecking as much of Kal-El's adopted city as possible; at the same time, Zack Snyder definitely didn't do a sufficient job of conveying Superman's concern for collateral damage - beyond that one family in the train station, of course.
The Batman v Superman trailers have made it clear that Superman's lack of tactical awareness when fighting Zod is exactly what puts him odds with Bruce Wayne/Batman. And yet, in those same trailers, it seems as though both Batman and Superman carve out their fair share of property damage in the film - whether it's Batman's plane leveling crooks with explosions; or a hero vs. hero battle that seems to tear through the rundown streets of Gotham; or that climatic final act, where it looks like Doomsday lays waste to one (or both) cities, like it's Man of Steel pt. 2. All we're saying is: If Man of Steel's final battle was enough to incite the conflict of Batman v Superman, we hope that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman working together can come up with a battle plan that doesn't get so many innocent bystanders killed.
7 A Worthy Title Bout
By now fans have seen the latest trailer for Batman v Superman, and for some of them, that trailer revealed far too much. But while we know that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman will have an all-out battle with Doomsday at the film's conclusion, this IS a film called "Batman v Superman" - so we need to see an actual quality fight between the two heroes.
So far, we've seen at least two possible battle scenarios between Bats and Supes: one with Batman in his normal costume (using vehicles), and one with the Dark Knight donning the Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns-style armor. (Of course, it could all be part of one long battle sequence.) But while the footage we've seen has indeed teased an exciting superhero throwdown, we're still waiting to see a full-fledged fight that will be worthy of the film's title (at least the first part of it) - and worthy of fans' long wait to see this battle happen on the big screen.
6 Balanced Humor
Batman v Superman footage has suggested that this DC movie followup to Man of Steel will NOT be the sort of light and fun adventure that some fans want. As such, there's been question as to what sort of humor there will be in the film, and how much.
So far, the BvS-brand humor we've seen in trailers has been questionable, at best. A trailer can certainly rob a movie moment of its proper context (and therefore the potency of its humor), but still... Scenes of Lex Luthor cracking awkward jokes (with a heavy *wink* to the audience) - or Batman and Superman going all slack-jawed over the sudden appearance of Wonder Woman - have not inspired confidence.
In fact, it's only the witty exchange between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent in the latest Dawn of Justice trailer that suggests there is a place for some smart humor in this movie. Let's just hope Argo writer Chris Terrio has much more of that wit built into the script, rather than on-the-nose jokes that can often derail an otherwise fine superhero movie.
5 Proper Contrast
One of the other big complaints about Man of Steel is that the color palette Zack Snyder used in the film (muted by many a lens filter) was totally wrong for a Superman movie. In fact, there was a pretty famous video that broke down how Snyder muted the colors of the film - and what a Superman movie in full color would've (and should've) looked like. As a self-confessed fan of Man of Steel (one of few, it sometimes seems), even I have to admit: the color palette never really evolved into the sort of vibrant hues I normally associate with a character like Superman, who is the epitome of hope and optimism.
Based on what we've seen from Batman v Superman, there is still a lot of question about how Snyder is approaching the cinematography and color tones of these DC superheroes. Sure, we've seen scenes of Superman in iconographic poses around the world - saving people from floods, stopping a space launch gone wrong, and being adored as a godly figure during Mexico's Day of the Dead. However, even in those moments, the Man of Steel doesn't look as bright and shining as he should; if anything, we've seen more of Batman's dark, shadowy, tones dominating the footage. We're just hoping that once the finished film arrives, we get more of a proper and balanced visual contrast between Superman's bright optimism, and Batman's dark cynicism.
4 A Compelling Lex
When word first came out that a new Lex Luthor would debut in Batman v Superman, many fans wondered about the part Lex would play in the story (main villain, or side character just getting his introduction). When it was announced that Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg was playing the role of Luthor, there was instant worry that the actor had been hired to basically rehash what is now his trademark neurotic (some would say "annoying") geek persona. While that niche lane has worked out well for Eisenberg, nobody was really begging for it to be applied to an iconic villain like Lex Luthor.
As a character, Lex Luthor has classically been presented as a ruthless and genius industrialist whose ego is bigger than the rest of humanity's combined. Of course, in the modern age, industrialists have been supplanted by programmers and app designers, so a change to Luthor's background does make a bit of sense. But from what Batman v Superman trailers have shown, it seems like Eisenberg's Lex is walking bit of comedic relief shoehorned into an otherwise dark and serious movie.
There's definitely room for the long-haired and nasally tech mogul millennial to melt away and reveal the menacing bald figure seen in the picture above; we just hope that's the exact character trajectory that Snyder and writer Chris Terrio have planned. Otherwise, one of the greatest villains in DC Comics could be ruined before the larger DC Extended Universe makes full use of him.
3 Respectable Doomsday
Following along with our hopes for one villain, come our hopes that the recently revealed second villain in Batman v Superman, Doomsday, will be something worthwhile. Doomsday famously appeared first in the '90s "Death of Superman" storyline - a walking killing machine that had little character but plenty of impact on the DC Universe, as he finally did what no other villain in DC Comics had ever been able to: he killed Superman. Since then, Doomsday has become a major icon in the DCU, with a backstory that has expanded to include much history and revision. As of DC's "New 52" comic book reboot, Doomsday is once again a force of nature, whose history is tied to General Zod and Krypton. But in Batman v Superman, it looks like there is going to be something of a tweak to that storyline.
What we've seen so far is that Doomsday will be the third act "big bad" who presents the physical threat to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman - and that his entrance looks something like that of The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk. That's all fine for general audiences who may not be familiar with the character and his history - but in honor of DC fans everywhere, we're hoping that Batman v Superman's version of Doomsday is more than a mindless CGI baddie who is obliterated and forgotten without ever fulfilling his potential (looking at you, Marvel movie villains...).
2 The Warrior Princess
Wonder Woman's presence in Batman v Superman has been a big "X" factor. After all, the film is titled "Batman v Superman", and one would think those two DC titans would be enough to fill one movie. But the "Dawn of Justice" portion of the title has opened up room for cameos from the likes of future Justice Leaguers like Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg - and of course, Wonder Woman.
A lot of fans have been worried that the inclusion of so many DC Comics characters is going to both detract from the main event (Batman vs. Superman), and fail to give the various superheroes that will eventually be part of the Justice League their proper introduction. With Wonder Woman seemingly getting more screen time in BvS than the other Leaguers (both in and out of costume), we're hoping that this first film introducing her captures the full range of her character, which is traditionally an ambassador of great worldly empathy, who also happens to be one of the world's most formidable warriors.
A first act tease and third act glorified cameo aren't enough - despite the title, Wonder Woman needs to be an active player in this film.
1 Metahuman World View
This movie is called Dawn of Justice because it is meant to introduce a whole DC Extended Universe to movie screens, and as such, there has already been confirmation that future Justice League superheroes like Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg will all cameo in Batman v Superman, in some capacity.
While rumors about these superhero cameos vary, the general consensus is that outside of the primary "DC Trinity" (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), the other DC superheroes will likely appear as images in footage, and/or as civilian versions of themselves. However it plays out, we're just hoping that the (brief?) time invested in rapidly expanding the scope of metahuman activity in the DCEU is invested well, and effectively during BvS. If fans come away from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with hollow anticipation for a Justice League movie, then this film will have failed to do at least half of its intended job.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.
Header Artwork by Niyoarts
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