New Justice League Trailer has dropped (like a week ago, leave me alone). Check it out below and read on for a very rambling and very defensive post about it.
As anything with regards to a movie released by Zack Snyder, it landed with some severe backlash from the critical community at large. Cries of how the trailer has shown that they have learned nothing from the lambasting of Batman v Superman. How it looks so serious and dark and filled to the brim with typical Snyder feel.
A few points need to be said. One, opinions are all valid. Art is subjective and everyone has a right to an opinion. That being said, some of the criticisms are absolute nonsense. One, this does not look like the same film, tonally, as BvS. Because almost none of the footage from the trailers of that last DC Snyder epic did not sell fun. This one though has fun. The beginning of the trailer looks as if it’ll be another doom and gloom entry in the DC stable, but it almost immediately shifts gears into a more lighthearted romp. All of the characters get to have a good bit of fun. Except for maybe Wonder Woman, as she doesn’t get so much screentime here as we’re already familiar with her at this point, her movie coming out soon enough. Batman gets a bit more than her to do, as he is essentially the leader of this trek to wrangle up some superheroes. But again, we know him after BvS. Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg all get fun moments and sell the idea that maybe this won’t be so dour. Now, we shouldn’t expect a Guardians of The Galaxy type yuck fest. But there seems to be a conscious effort to move away from hyper serious stories. Which goes towards another point to be brought up in just a bit. I just don’t know how a movie can be attacked for being serious when it features a cover of a Beatles song that isn’t the typical whispery sad cover every trailer utilizes now and ends with Aquaman gleefully riding the Batmobile into a horde of Parademons.
Attacks on the visuals? I’m of two minds on this. I can see where people are upset that it isn’t a super bright movie that pops off the screen like a technicolor epic and that it was hard to see on their computers. But as someone who watched the trailer on a television and not an old computer, I can say that the visuals are gorgeous and the clarity is not an issue. So I understand if you can’t watch the trailer on something outputting closer to true HD. But maybe don’t make complaints that could logistically be ignored once the movie hits big screens. Since visuals are the one thing we can all agree on with Snyder, that he can wrangle some beautiful images to screen. Although his visual stylings on this picture may be confusing people as to the tone of the movie, as it isn’t a super bright comic book movie. Yet maybe the content of the movie itself should be the basis of judgement of tone?
On a deeper level, alot of the complaints of this movie seem to be based not on the footage they’re seeing but what happened before with BvS. So it’s understandable to be wary if you didn’t like that movie. But to make issues up doesn’t help your cause. I’ve said for a while now that there is a way to use the darkness of BvS and the way it ended as a logistical waypoint for the DC Universe. That movie almost has Batman as the villain for the first half, with Lex Luthor using Batmans ever growing anger against himself to go at Superman. Yet by the end of the movie, Batman’s deep cynicism has cracked. Coming to terms with Superman as a man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the world, and not just an extraterrestrial terrorist, has brought Batman back from the brink. One could say that they purposefully took the aesthetics from Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns for thematic reasons. 20 years into his vigilante career, Batman has grown into the deeply broken Miller creation. But he ends BvS looking to move away from that. The very idea of a Justice League can only be a continuation of Batman’s arc, as he is now decked out in more Arkham City inspired attire.
If you wanna get more metatextual with it, the filmmakers have said the story was inspired by the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven. A narrative which plays into the notion of darkness giving way to the light since it is a narrative based around rounding up isolated and sometimes broken heroes to overcome their issues to fight for the greater good. Seems pretty fitting for this DC Universe, especially when the capper of the narrative arc here will most likely end up being Supermans messiah like return from the dead to fully bring hope back to the world and allow heroes to live life in the sun instead of hiding in the shadows like they have.
I’m aware that Snyder is a divisive figure and my appreciation of his work is not the norm. What I like about his work is that he always swings for the fences and never takes the easy way out. His ambition may sometimes be greater than his grasp, but I always find the work to work in their own bizarre ways. No one works like him and, for better or worse, he is truly a singular voice. But his time with the DC world may be coming to an end. He was supposed to be making a Justice League 2, but that is up in the air now. His next film after Justice League is going to be an Iraq war movie, a lower budgeted palette cleanser for him after nonstop work on gigantic blockbusters. There may be some outside elements that decide his future in this world. One is the success of Justice League. The other is the success of the movies following in this movies wake. The future is suddenly bright for this world, as there is a trio of A list directors coming into town. James Wan is working on Aquaman as we speak. Matt Reeves wrangled creative control away from the WB suits to make The Batman he wants to. And just recently we found out that Joss Whedon is gonna bring Batgirl to the big screen. Add in a Nightwing movie helmed by Lego Batman’s Chris McKay and rumors that WB is chasing Matthew Vaughn for a Superman movie, the DC universe may not be as poisoned by Snyder’s touch as the loudest detractors would want the world to believe. Because if this trailer is to be believed, the dour tone and bone deep sadness may be gone. Hope may be prevailing. The war behind the scenes that Snyder had to wage against WB may have been won in the filmmakers’ favor, as there’s some serious talent onboard who would not be too keen on doing work for hire jobs at the behest of money men. In the end, Snyder may have put the universe at risk and simultaneously saved it from the brink.
Back to the trailer. This is a good trailer in my humblest of opinions. Because in the same week we had seen the new trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and these two stand in stark contrast to each other. For we have no real grasp of the narrative that is gonna unfold in the newest DC movie, whereas we basically have the whole thing with web heads next outing. That and the movie being sold doesn’t really seem too dissimilar from past Spidey outings, as it seems to be the 6th movie to use the same materials as inspiration. The only newest elements to be gleaned are whitewashed story points from the Miles Morales run. Justice League may or may not be taking inspiration from Geoff Johns’ New 52 run, but it may not. I can’t rightly say as this trailer thankfully doesn’t show the whole shebang. Just some money shots and character interactions. I love the look of the movie. The action looks big and wild, built around a fun usage of the characters power sets and the epic scale they can bring to things, which is nice difference from the more typical down to earth superhero stories we get now. I like the humor. The brief hints at some of the elements not shown in the trailer are cool, like the shot of Mera in Atlantis or Barry Allens dad in prison* or the only hint that Superman will return is Amy Adams looking towards the skies or that there may be a big Amazonian battle at some point in the movie that hints at an even bigger scale. I may be a clown for my admiration of the guys work, but I think his movies work and this seems to be a good continuation of his work that manages to be both a fix and a progression of the arc he’s been working on. Plenty can happen in the coming months and the marketing department can be hiding a turd. But if Suicide Squad and 2015’s Fan4tastic have shown us, there’s only so much that can be done to do so. While I don’t think anything is gonna top Logan this year in comic land, I truly think DC is gonna be ok.
*I love that this trailer reveals that Billy Crudup is Barry Allen’s dad. Not only is it a cool reteaming of Zack Snyder and Dr. Manhattan. But it’s also a fun little nod to Crudup and Ezra Miller having starred in The Stanford Prison Experiment, with Crudup in the prisoner role this time out.