Why The Best Trailer of the Year Signals a Major Victory for the DCEU
The Justice League's first full trailer dropped this past weekend. We are so excited for this film and it isn’t just because we’re huge fans. The trailer clues us in on some very important things they are doing to improve the franchise massively, while a few lingering concerns remain. Let’s discuss the five top reasons we are even more psyched for this movie after seeing the trailer! We are all in on the DCEU's big year, 2017!
We were critical of Batman v. Superman, like many of you and rightfully so. Some of the big characters like Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor, and Doomsday fell far below expectations at times. Murder Batman. Sad, brooding Superman. Joker Lex. Cave Troll Doomsday. That was 2017.
The focus appears to be back on character. We see this in two different aspects throughout the trailer, powerful character moments and fun personalities. Justice League looks to have learned an important lesson for the DCEU. Aquaman and Flash both appear to have strong personalities which will fit right into the Justice League as an ensemble movie.
For an ensemble, big budget, superhero, CGI heavy blockbuster such as Justice League, we honestly need to have reasonable expectations when it comes to story and character. BvS looked like it had the potential to be an interesting mix. But it was clearly a larger ensemble than we thought and the story tried to do much more than focus on the two title characters. Justice League isn’t the Dark Knight and it shouldn’t be. Think more like the Avengers of an X-men film. It's spectacle and it's fun. We won’t be getting seriously psychological depth to the characters or the villains. The trailer seems to show us that we won't get some complicated mess of an attempt at this depth either. We will be getting what the trailer has front and center. FUN. We will be seeing personality spiced with some deeper character glimpses, and that can make all the difference.
Each major new character also appears to be getting some serious character moments. This is important but those don't appear to be overshadowing or attempt to be overly complex. Barry Allen is seen in prison visiting his father. Arthur Curry brings a man we assume he saved into a bar. Mera looks to make an appearance as well for which there will be some attachment to Aquaman’s larger world. Cyborg’s father is seen being stalked by what looks to be a Parademon. We get a glimpse of Cyborg both before his transformation and later as Cyborg clearly with a powerfully emotional expression on his face. While there won’t be time for major exposition, we do appear to have some focus on building these characters and that is a strong step in the right direction. The best use of these characters in an ensemble blockbuster will be personality alongside the action. The trailer gives us some teases of what is to come. Character looks better this go around.
We’ve often praised the DC Comics animated movie universe for capturing the various personalities of JL members perfectly. Each character has a role in the group. They interact with each other in fun, funny, and interesting ways. This JL looks to do that as well, possibly with excellence. Aquaman and Flash in particular look to be spot on. Aquaman appears to be the brooding, highly arrogant macho ego from the comics. He also appears to have a bit of a thrill seeking adrenaline junky type of interaction with the team, separating himself from the more stoic Batman and Wonder Woman. He hops onto the Batmobile and relishes the fight to come. This is great and we're excited for more.
Flash appears to have the jokester personality from the comics. He is seen asking Batman hilarious questions like what is your superpower? This gives the stoic and brooding Batman a chance to be dry yet humorous without coming off as too bland and brooding. This is exactly the type of interaction we were hoping for. We get another glimpse at Flash's personality n the iconic frame to frame move between featured Justice League members. Flash is smiling and looking off camera only for the camera to reveal he is oogling Wonder Woman. Diana ignores him and stares ahead intently. It’s a create display of the personality dynamic within the Justice League and something we enjoy. This addition of different personalities to balance the stoic, brooding trio of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman signals a tonal shift for the DCEU.
Drama Balanced with Fun
While BvS is often derided for being too heavy and crowded, it’s clear Justice League is going to be fun. The addition of new personalities to the brooding heroes from BvS looks to add a tangible element of fun. Each character looks like they are having fun. There are few things more transferrable to the audience than a character of substantial power enjoying his fantastic gifts. The audience relishes in a smiling Superman as he learns to fly in Man of Steel or The CW's Flash learning to use his speed. There is a big difference between heroes focused in action sequences and heroes constantly brooding. Some superheroes need to look like they are having fun. Batman should continue to brood, but now he can come off as a dry and distant contrast to the other JL personalities. Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ezra Miller's Flash shine brightly for the JL. They look like they are loving being heroes. We expect this tonal improvement will resonate powerfully with the audience and bring the fun back to the DCEU. Fun should never be the sole province of a single studio. DC never had to be ONLY heavy.
The darker color tones preferred in film today persist, but they are more balanced by upbeat, exciting music. The Batman v. Superman trailers were dark, brooding and heavy. The film was the same. It doubled down on dramatic weight but didn't have the character and story foundation to support the weight. While the MCU is both praised by fans for its fun and derided by its detractors for lacking serious dramatic weight, each will seek to strike a balance in the years to come. DC looks to have added a good dose of fun to their mix.
DC isn't only learning from its missteps. It is clearly maturing its own unique identity in the superhero genre. For DC, it has always been strength of characters. These powerful titans of comic book lore headline a rich universe. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are incredible characters but DC is so much more rich.
Aquaman is the first major, unique addition to the growing cinematic franchise. This will be the first aquatic superhero for contemporary movie audiences. Even the larger MCU hasn't gone under the sea. Aquaman looks incredible. His power set looks to be as visually stunning as dramatically compelling as any hero.
Cyborg is also a first of his kind for today's superhero films. His name gives it away. Part man and part machine. His potential in a digitally interconnected world is limitless and highly relevant. His struggle as only the remnants of a man is compelling character drama. The MCU has gone full android and man in a can, but Cyborg wires his own digital path.
The Flash. Fastest man alive. We've seen speedsters. We haven't seen this kind of a speedster. Forget Quicksilver, MCU and Fox. The Flash is THE fastest man alive. The Speed Force looks to be incredibly visually stunning. The speed his powers can reach are near limitless. The DCEU looks to have found an incredible way to showcase this power like we've never seen it before. The Flash opens up a vast amount of narrative potential for the DCEU to explore. They look poised to begin exploring new territory.
The trailer also succeeded for how it was released and what it didn’t show us.
Teasers for each major hero in the film were released for the last few days. We received three on Thursday and another two on Friday. This was a lot of fun and hyped up the new trailer in a great way. They were small, character showcases and we ate it up!
The trailer and the teasers also are notable for a major omission, or two. Superman is not seen anywhere. Narratively, this is huge for us. We hate learning about key story elements outside of the movie. Trailers should never sell the dramatic power of suspense for a few more view on YouTube or a bigger opening weekend. We do get a quick shot of Lois Lane looking up to the sky. That is more than enough.
Last year, many felt cheated by the pre-release reveal of Doomsday. We were among those who felt robbed. It came off as a last minute, impatient plea to see the film. Dawn of Justice was Batman and Superman on the same screen. It was going to start off with a big box office weekend. It also cheated the narrative of the movie as we not only now knew Doomsday was in the movie. Any comic fan also knows that Doomsday kills Superman in the iconic Death of Superman. The real reveal was that BvS was going to a far too crowded affair. The trailers included no clever misdirection to the actual movie. This hurt our experience with the film. It didn’t need to. Zach Snyder and team have done us justice so far this go around. Superman and the dramatic weight he carries have been saved for the movie, so far.
The villain also is somewhat of a mystery so far. In this trailer, we see some action scenes with Parademons. Yet, we have not seen the big bad Steppenwolf nor any other major villains. This can really work to fuel the suspense of the narrative if they can hold true to the story until release. We applaud the patience of Justice League so far. And, we hope that they can stay the path and give us a powerful and fun cinematic experience.
Justice League is already drawing substantial buzz among fans. This trailer gives anyone with hesitation from BvS something to think about, ourselves included. These are some important queues in this trailer that give us hope. Wonder Woman should do well with even a solid, quality movie early this summer. And, we will hopefully be able to get to the film’s release without the team at Warner Bros and Zach Snyder getting too anxious. Fingers crossed.
What did you think of the trailer?
What, in particular, has you most excited?