WARNING: The following article may contain potential SPOILERS for Justice League
Fans were hoping that the Justice League Comic-Con trailer would be filled with new footage, hints, and Easter Eggs - and it didn't disappoint. Those eager to see a glimpse of the movie's villain Steppenwolf in battle left happy, as did the fans hoping that both The Flash and Cyborg would get some more of the spotlight. To top things off, the trailer ended with what seems to be the return of Superman from death, approaching Alfred to find that his return was foretold by Bruce Wayne, of all people. At least... we assume it was Bruce.
To help fans narrow down those sketchy details, not to mention piece together this new footage with what's already known about the movie, its plot, and the Apokoliptian technology driving it all, we're breaking everything down. From callbacks to Batman V Superman to new revelations misunderstood in previous trailers, we hope our analysis gives fans even more reason to keep the new trailer on repeat in the hours and days to come.
Needless to say there may be some potential SPOILERS in our Justice League: Comic-Con Trailer Breakdown & Secrets.
Fresh off her big screen solo debut in Wonder Woman, the trailer for Justice League begins by letting her loose on a group of armed gunmen. It's not the opening that most will have expected, since the scene reads like a typical robbery/heist involving armed hostage takers. Keeping eyes glued on the backgrounds, the sign on the wall suggests the location is a "Central Criminal Court" (our reading). Another shot from the one above shows a wall marked 'Court 6," but whether the "Central" is a simple placeholder or an actual nod to Central City, hometown of The Flash is unclear.
Viewers don't have much time to wonder, since the doors exploding in a shower of shrapnel and wood splinters sends everyone flying, only to try their best against an Amazon. That goes as well as one might expect, with Diana proving that she's even more impervious to the butt of a rifle than its bullets. Also worth noting is the briefcase carried through security by one of the hostage takers, which seems particularly expandable. Keep that in mind for later, since we may return to this location in the trailer.
The trailer takes an interesting turn when - post-door explosion - a security guard in uniform opens fire on Diana with his rifle. Since fans will be more used to seeing that gunfire launched at the villains, there's a good chance they'll be as confused by the bullet's path as Diana seems to be, eyeing it quizzically as it passes. On the most direct level, it's a nice callback to the Wonder Woman movie introducing Diana to the weapons of mankind. Then she had no idea how deadly it could be, but as audiences who recently saw her solo film will instantly notice... this isn't the same Diana. Now, why she's under fire from the good guys is the real question here.
The easiest explanation is that a security guard is working on the side of the gunmen, perhaps tied to whatever person or problem has brought them to the courts building. But it's possible that the security guard may be taking a shot at a perceived threat. Considering Diana reveals she's not an everyday human within seconds, it may be a glimpse of the fear with which the average person now sees 'supers' without Superman around to protect them.
Audiences learned that Diana had put her talents and knowledge of classical history to work in the archives of The Louvre in Wonder Woman, so it's unsurprising to see her restoring or cleaning a marble statue in what may be The Louvre. The scene also helps shed some light on the question of whether or not Diana is actually fighting crime in the modern day when not at work. After Batman V Superman implied that she had turned away from mankind after World War I, her own solo movie showed the opposite. Director Patty Jenkins explained why Wonder Woman is still an active hero yet distant from mankind, and her keeping her weekend heroics from her coworkers speaks to that approach.
On the level of merging the literal with the symbolic, most fans of the DCEU will recognize the thematic relevance of Diana literally restoring what things used to be. Her character has been teased to be a bit somber and backward, not forward-facing so far, and even mentions to Bruce that "the Age of Heroes" is long gone in this trailer. Given that, seeing how literally she sees the epic warriors of the past as larger than life and unwavering is a nice touch.
No matter how suspicious of the Man of Steel people may have been during his life, things have changed now that he gave his life to save Metropolis (and Gotham, and the Eastern Seaboard...). That shift began with the military funeral given to Superman in Washington, complete with an American flag draped over a black coffin emblazoned with a chrome Superman symbol. It continued with the gathering of Metropolis citizens that left the city's streets empty, and the memorial of the first Man of Steel disaster packed shoulder to shoulder in a massive candle lit vigil. Apparently, that mourning is felt around the globe.
That's proven by this shot of the London skyline, specifically the London Tower Bridge draped in a massive black sheet marked with a white Superman 'S.' It also establishes that it won't just be America who is stunned to see Superman return from the dead, but the entire world. Considering that Superman's return may save the world, it's only fitting. It's also a hint at a potential move for Diana.
It turns out things in the DCEU's version of Earth only slid downhill following the death of Superman, judging by this cover story of the Daily Planet. Assuming that it isn't a case of Lois Lane being seriously unable to get over the death of her boyfriend, and a reflection of the larger world, then Bruce Wayne's claim that Superman lifted people's spirits wasn't his opinion alone. But it also blurs the line between the film's story, and the reflection of our own world that Zack Snyder always seemed to be attempting. Without a Superman flying over the skies of the world, or pulling people from peril, hope has disappeared as thoroughly as critics of the DCEU have claimed.
Fans will be able to spend plenty of time considering the path to this point: have people finally realized they were wrong to assume the worst of 'the Superman' instead of embracing him as a man trying to do the right thing? Do they realize they extinguished the light he tried to shine? And most importantly, when he rises from the dead in the planet's hour of need... will hope return with him?
15. The Batman of Metropolis?
The image above shouldn't be foreign to any Batman fan, but keep in mind, the image of the Dark Knight perched over Metropolis is most certainly not par for the course. This paired with the news broadcast narration paint a compelling picture of what Bruce Wayne has been up to since delivering his brief speech on a coming threat at Superman's grave. According to the news, it's the absence of the Gotham Bat that is making headlines, not his existence among the shadows of Gotham City.
It's entirely possible that patrolling both Gotham and Metropolis out of a sense of duty for getting Superman killed is spreading him too thin. So thin that his absence in Gotha City is beginning to be noticed. Perhaps so thin, some of the city's brilliant scientists dealing with Apokoliptian technology can be abducted by Parademons without Batman catching them until it's too late. Whatever the specifics, Batman V Superman seemed to leave Bruce in an optimistic place going forward... that's far from the case.
The attention of every viewer will be grasped when the action shifts to the island of Themyscira, the location where Steppenwolf may actually make his first entry into the DCEU's realm of activity. But fans shouldn't overlook the extra glimpse of the magic concealing Themyscria offered this time around. Since Wonder Woman only showed the veil through the eyes of characters passing through it, the total scope was hard to gauge. Now, with the imaginary 'camera' soaring through the sky to Paradise Island, the ring of ever-visible rocks around the island are established - with the island fading into view only once the invisible barrier is crossed.
That will thrill the geology fans in the crowd (implying that Themyscira is meant to read as a potentially volcanic structure to be avoided by large vessels), but we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that the collection of buildings and towers seen in this trailer aren't a match for the version in Wonder Woman. They're close, and the Justice League version may even be more structurally sound, but... there you have it.
13. The Mother Box of The Amazons
The surprise appearance by Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) in what looks to be her battle gear may be the most pleasant surprise of the trailer for Wonder Woman fans, but they may soon wish she never had to appear at all. This short sequence reveals the Mother Box of the Amazons placed deep within a Themysciran tower. We don't know the story of how it got there (well, we know the Justice League prologue where the story is told), but knowing this is a second chapter to a larger story of the Amazons' war against Apokolips offers some context.
The exact way in which Mother Boxes actually work is a little unclear even in the comics, so the film is an even greater mystery. What we know from the trailer is that due to an unseen force, the Mother Box begins to glow from cracks through its surface. Soon follows rumbling, followed soon after by the eruption of a seemingly hexagonal tunnel reaching up into the sky from the Box itself. Fans can take one or two interpretations about what's really happening to the fabric of reality when the one manipulating the Mother Box appears in the flesh...
It's unclear if the Mother Box is used to open up a tunnel through physical and extradimensional space to grant transportation from Earth to the planet Apokolips, home of the New Gods - known as a Boom Tube in the comics - or it simply sends up a beacon able to pierce the invisibility of Themyscira. Whether traveling to the Mother Box, or simply finding his way to it, the large, armored, axe-wielding figure that drops into the scene is a sight to behold. He is Steppenwolf, and he is a nightmare the DCEU is suddenly waking up to.
Brandishing a massive glowing axe just like the comics, and actually sporting the armor and horned helmet teased in Batman V Superman's "Communion" scene, Steppenwolf's immediate impact isn't actually shown. It's safe to assume that if it took an alliance of Humans, Atlanteans, and Amazons to put down his last invasion, then Hippolyta and her warriors may have their hands full. We would point out the shared metallic, semi-organic design in Steppenwolf's armor and the Apokoliptian structure erected later in the film, but we're too frightened for Diana's mother.
Zack Snyder actually revealed how Aquaman and his underwater Atlantis would look in motion, debuting visual effects of Jason Momoa's movement 'underwater' - in short, moving as easily through water as Superman did through the air. This new trailer gives an extra look before and after that shot, following Aquaman through the water in the form of an over-the-shoulder camera that's used more than once. That preceding shot gives a closer look at Arthur Curry's approach to what we believe is the Dead King of Atlantis from the comics, from whom Arthur retrieves his full armor - minus the crown.
The shot that follows is the one worth another look by fans, and not just for the icy stare given by Aquaman as he looks his destiny squarely in the eye. The physics applied to his underwater hair are impressive, and sure to bump up the budget on the Aquaman movie - but it's his nose that should be the focus. More specifically, the way he seems to let out an aggravated sigh, accompanied by two clouds of water visibly pushed out of his nostrils. Not only does it give that extra bit of emotion (akin to a bull's snort before his charge), but suggests Atlantean lungs are able to process water as well as air.
Based on previous trailers and the details we gleaned from our time on the set of Justice League, the basic storyline of Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg has taken shape. Vic endures some terrible accident that forces his father to unleash the powers of humanity's Mother Box on him and give birth to the Cyborg. When Diana seeks him out to recruit him to their team, Vic is still in a state of depression too dark to accept a heroic mission. He eventually changes his mind... and we're fairly certain it has to do with his father being ambushed by Parademons in his apartment. This shot, showing Vic gazing out of the smashed apartment window into the night, seems to be the turning point.
The scenes that follow show him alongside the likes of Batman and Wonder Woman in their presumed base of operations - with the Mother Box that turned him into the Cyborg on the table beside them. Combine it all together, and it's only Cyborg's internal journey that remains a complete mystery.
The trailer features Bruce Wayne in a particular contemplative state of his crimefighting career, pondering the cost of Superman's loss to the world, and his role in it. It's an idea driven home in the shot of Bruce alone in his Batcave(?), silently staring at a hologram of the Man of Steel, cape gloriously billowing. It's a nice inversion from his previous time spent, once again, alone in his Batcave staring into the darkness of Superman laid out in his paranoia and fear. In other words, even if Bruce has seen the light... it doesn't change how obsessive a personality he truly is - or how addicted he can be to his sense of duty to the world.
After the trailer was released online, some openly speculated that the hologram figure was actually Supergirl joining the DCEU, but that seems to be based on little actual evidence. The odd texture on Superman's leg is owed to the slice-by-slice nature of the projection (visible changing in the boot, the legs, and the cape as they change depth. Also, it's a pretty strange time to introduce Supergirl theories based on the costume of the guy actually expected to be in the movie.
The casual fan may observe Steppenwolf walking the sandy surface backed by a gigantic Apokoliptian structure and smashing his axe into the ground and fear for our heroes. But the truth is, this scene takes place thousands of years in Earth's past. Everything from the color scheme to the geography, and the unique burning patterns that erupt from Steppenwolf's axe and tear across the ground are all a match for Justice League's opening battle prologue, establishing the millennia-old hatred and vendetta driving the events.
More shots of this sequence are also shown later in the trailer, depicting the Amazons (led by Hippolyta and Robin Wright's Antiope) leading a cavalry charge against the Parademons on land and in the sky. In the shot that immediately follows Steppenwolf's explosive axe strike, the camera actually pans to reveal the early human warriors aligned to fight him.
Any truly creepy villain needs an army to match, and Steppenwolf certainly has that in his often-flying Parademon soldiers. But you need a base of operations - and evil lair, so to speak, to truly take things to the next level. The first assault on the Parademons and Steppenwolf comes in the tunnel sequence featured throughout this trailer and the marketing so far. But the true heart of Steppenwolf's assault on Earth looks to be in the above location, apparently infected and reshaped by the Apokoliptian technology he has brought with him.
It's a perfect mix of alien architecture and insect-like hive infestation, particularly with the Parademons hovering and buzzing around their monarch. We don't know if that glowing orb in the center of the platform is simply an acquired Mother Box, but this looks to be the location that Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Batman all assault in the final act of the movie. In which case... we hope they know what they're up against (and make sure to spot the Earth support struts in the background of the scene for possible theories on location).
6. God vs. God
There aren't too many glimpses given of Steppenwolf's face in the trailer, athough his evil, angry, pallid expression is to be expected. It's possible these expression are placeholders as actor Ciaran Hinds's performance as Steppenwolf is finalized. But in this shot, it isn't Steppenwolf that really demands attention. Sure, his axe strike would terrify most other warriors, and his grimace would even make some hesitate. He's not facing most warriors, however, but the daughter of Zeus. Diana, princess of the Amazons whom he has already openly attacked.
Our theory that Diana will use Zeus's lightning in Justice League was actually based on a different shot of Diana directing her power through her shield, but a similar approach to Wonder Woman is visible here. Take note of Diana's forward bracer glowing almost white-hot with divine energy - meaning Steppenwolf is going to learn for himself that Earth's gods are nothing to be messed with, either. Here's hoping Diana makes a habit of using all her abilities.
5. The Falling Casing
By now, this shot should stand out to all viewers as a signifier from Zack Snyder that we're seeing a truly important thematic moment for Ben Affleck's Batman. The first falling shell casing hitting pavement in slow motion came in the opening of Batman V Superman, after its bullet took the lives of Bruce's parents. Later, it was a shell casing dropped during the military salute to Superman at his funeral. One marked Bruce Wayne's descent into pain and darkness, the other tied to a death that pulled him back towards the light.
Without knowing his arc through the film, or what directly precedes and follows this scene, it's hard to guess what third moment is being highlighted. It appears that Bruce has just fired a shot into a massive tower, sending it tumbling into a building below, but we can't yet say what he's attempting to do, what hes sacrificing, or simply what he's up to at all. Parademons are chasing him in the Batmobile though, so we'll cut him a break.
4. A Brighter Tomorrow?
If one shot is going to stand out clearer than all the others in the trailer, it has to be the one featuring all four heroes lining up beside one another across the steps of what appear to be Superman's memorial site in Metropolis's Heroes Park. Set in broad daylight, with looks communicating anything but abject fear or even steely determination, the moment that seems to follow the third act fighting is surprisingly peaceful.
You might even say that with the night passed, and all four looking on with expressions of wonder or, in Diana's case, relief, the team could be looking at Superman himself. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, and it's a victorious Batman executing a celebratory dance. But if the fighting isn't expected to stop until Superman arrives to help tip the odds in the heroes' favor... there aren't many other conclusions to draw. We'll cross our fingers that it's the long-awaited reunion of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
3. The Flash Lends a Hand
From the first image of Barry Allen's Justice League uniform, it was clear fans of the movie Flash and the TV Flash weren't going to have a problem telling them apart. It isn't just the plate armor suit, or the blue lightning that accompanies Ezra Miller's Flash in his superspeed heroics that wins the day in this trailer, but his efforts to come to the aid of Wonder Woman. Racing around the circumference of the tunnel system they're fighting within, Barry scales the wall, and gives Diana's falling sword the slight nudge she needs to send it sliding back into her palm at just the right moments.
It's the first look fans have gotten at how Barry's superspeed can be used to actively assist his Justice League teammates as well as foil crimes. Give a scene that's breathtaking, epic levels of cool, and inspired by Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," and it's hard to argue anyone else in the trailer has fans so desperate to see more of their powers in action.
Since the trailer shows Steppenwolf's attacks on Mother Boxes taking place both above and below the surface of the seas, the above image is likely taken as an odd assault on the ocean. Who knows, maybe even a sign that Batman's new vehicle, the Flying Fox, can take to the water as well as the air. But upon closer inspection, that isn't the surface of any water being fired upon or headed into - it's a glowing blue membrane separating the film's heroes from... something.
Once viewers realize that those dark blue/black 'veins' running across and through the surface are signs of a larger stucture, they can join us in speculation. There isn't anything like it shown elsewhere in the trailer, so unless it's meant to divide surface heroes from the world of Atlantis, a creation of Steppenwolf or Apokolips seems the top contender. But your guess is as good as ours.
1. "He Knew You Would Come..."
Every fan knew to expect a big reveal in the final seconds of the trailer, what with Superman's return in Justice League being teased everywhere but the marketing. And it appears that they got it, with the trailer's closing scene showing Alfred (Jeremy Irons) interrupted by the arrival of a figure strong enough to send tremors through the Earth. Explaining that "he knew you'd come" the most obvious solution is Superman... but not the only one. It wouldn't be the first time that a studio used open-ended dialogue to give fans the tease they desired, without spoiling the movie. Is it Cyborg that has arrived to help? Another DC superhero?
The greenish glow before Alfred steps out from behind the car may be as due to a light illuminating the engine he's working on as a Green Lantern - which Steppenwolf notes Earth is lacking, making it all the weaker. And the impact tremors of his approach seem a better fit for Vic Stone. But Zack Snyder and WB want fans to think it's Superman - which means if it isn't, the real question is what these marketers are up to...
There you have it, DCEU fans and Justice League enthusiasts. We have to applaud the studio for showing off some laughs and outrageous visuals without revealing the heart or motivations of the villain and plot. We've broken down the moments we think hold the most potential or influence over the shared universe as a whole, and Justice League in particular. But what have we overlooked? Let us know what you think is the most important detail in the comments.
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017