By Jesse Merkel
Thanks to a Portuguese-speaking leaker, the official teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice dropped three days early. While footage of both titular heroes was limited, information about the movie we’re going to get was not.
One thing that wasn’t hidden was the dark tone. We’ve known for some time that the DC Cinematic Universe was shooting for a darker, grittier and more realistic tone, and this teaser made no attempt to hide it.
After carefully examining the video, there are several obvious takeaways that any diehard fan will want to be aware of.
This is a Man of Steel Follow-Up
When the title for the second installment in DC’s fledgling shared universe was announced, the Internet reacted with concern. Would this be a Man of Steel follow-up? Would we get to see the reactions to the impact of Superman’s arrival?
In short, yes. This is a direct sequel. We’re dropped into a Metropolis that’s in the midst of rebuilding, as evident by the memorial statue and the construction crane in the background. Given the range of emotional reactions on display, it’s all-to-evident that this movie is going to answer a lot of the questions that audience were left asking in 2013.
We live in a world where the masses constantly fear and resent those a the top who horde all of the money and power, and because of that, there’s no way in hell that Superman would earn the publics trust the way he did in Richard Donner’s time.
Each week, the news cycle contains stories of another famous person in the middle of some kind of scandal, and a public that is more than happy to pile on. The audio clips from Charlie Rose, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Holly Hunter and Jesse Eisenberg in the trailer realistically mirror how things would be.
An alien with powers that seem downright godlike has been revealed to the world. Other members of his race attempted to invade and terraform the planet with radically advanced technology. Of course the planet would be thrown into chaos. Half of the people seem ready to worship him, while others fear and distrust him.
Society loves tearing down politicians and movie stars. Can you imagine the urge to rip someone like Kal-El apart?
A War-Weary Batman
Given that this version of Bruce Wayne/Batman is influenced by The Dark Knight Returns, it’s not surprising to see an older version of the character. Ben Affleck’s temples have a touch of gray, while both of the batsuit’s shown have signs of damage from previous conflicts.
The haunting speech given by Jeremy Irons, who plays Alfred Pennyworth, show a butler talking to a friend that’s considering rekindling a fire that may have put out long ago. No one would ever want to see someone they love take up that lifestyle again, especially if they’re thinking of going after someone like Superman.
We also see suits that are incredibly intimidating. An older and more wise batman knows how valuable a psychological edge is when fighting crime, and whereas Iron Man’s suits are designed for extreme combat, Batman’s cape and cowl were always made to instill fear first and foremost.
The Batman films in the 90’s showed tech that bordered on cartoonish, while Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy waded in with its toes. In truth, the only time that Batman’s crime fighting and detective technology has been done justice is in DC’s animated features.
This take on the caped crusader seems to have upped the level of tech, without crossing the line to things that can’t be explained with real world science.
Both suits look extremely durable, but it’s the armored suit, with glowing eyes that may indicate infrared or night vision, that stands out. The suit also appears to have a built-in vocal modeler to both disguise and intimidate. Lord only knows what other tech is hidden away.
The batmobile looks like the marriage of a corvette and a tank. The batwing seems inspired by the B-2 stealth bomber. The classic shot of Batman perched on a rooftop holding rifle with a scope? That seems to be directly from the pages of The Dark Knight Returns, where Bruce Wayne had used guns to shot rubber bullets and small grappling hooks.
A Global Problem
Superman may still stand for truth, justice and the American way (He did grow up in Kansas, after all!), but the trailer gave us indications that he’ll probably be serving as a protector around the world.
There have been rumors of a catastrophic opening scene taking place in the Middle East, which may or may not have to do with the soldiers that are bowing before Kal-El in sand, with bright sunlight coming from over head. The trailer also shows him catching a fallen Russian spacecraft or missile, and making an appearance at what looks like the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico.
Given what a political and cultural lightening rod that he appears to become, it’s probably safe to assume that these acts of heroism will be viewed with both adulation and resentment.
A Preview of Things to Come
The trailer was filled with several hints at the future of DC’s shared universe. Remember that scene of Batman standing in the large disheveled room with graffiti on the pillars? Not only was a Riddler question mark present, but if you look closely underneath it and to the left, the word “Aphrodite” has been spray-painted as well. As any Wonder Woman fan will tell you, it was Aphrodite who gave Diana Prince her beauty and power after she was born.
A number of people believe that the glass case behind Bruce Wayne could be holding a Robin memorial, which could give credence to the rumors that Red Hood could be showing up in the future.
The icy stare from Bruce Wayne may also hint that this version of the character will be like the one shown in comics such as JLA: Tower of Babel. He’ll never fully trust, even when he should. He’ll also no doubt be prepared for every possible contingency, either through technology or detective work.
The darker tone presented here is not for everyone. In fact, the serious tone and real world emotions may scare off fans that have become accustomed to Marvels lighter, more escapist theme. Some people just want good popcorn fun that doesn’t require deep thought, and that’s okay.
As a big DC fan however, I’m excited that these characters are making their way to the big screen with a different take than the one exhibited by Marvel. Superhero movies shouldn’t need to have slapstick moments, witty zingers, or forced romance peppered in to reel in audiences. They can ask the audience to take the idea of superheroes seriously, and thank God that DC decided to take this risk!