Apr 19, 2015

Trailing Off: "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016)

Welcome to the weekly column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. Coming every Sunday (it's called Trailing Off for a reason), I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer (written by), Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster (Superman created by), Bob Kane & Bill Finger (Batman created by)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

- Preamble -

While it does seem like I am generally against superhero films, I want to once again remind you that I am not. I am simply opposed to liking what I don't like. As someone who doesn't read a lot of comic books, I feel that the films are responsible for providing a great story that appeals to universal audiences while remaining somewhat cohesive and interesting. To me, there's been components missing lately that are either wrapped up too much self-mythology (Marvel) or incoherent darkness (D.C.). Don't get me wrong, there are good films within both camps, but I do not feel like there has been an outwardly great one in awhile (for what it's worth, Netflix series Daredevil is pretty good).
Which brings me to Zack Snyder. That used to be a name of some trust. Yes, I didn't care for most of his films, but I will confess to liking Watchmen. It was a ballsy and dark comic book movie that swung for the fences in a complicated epic. He did some great work within the constraints. However, most things on either side is problematic. Sucker Punch is a lackluster movie and Man of Steel is the ultimate hazard for me and giving over to this film entirely. I want to believe that a Batman movie, which have been highly reliable in the past decade, will be great. However, Man of Steel is a chore and probably one of the worst superhero movies that I have seen on a larger budget.
So I am worried. Yes, I had some hope that teaming The Dark Knight's Christopher Nolan with Snyder would bring out some interesting payoffs, but the results were uninspired. The fact that Snyder is now in charge of D.C.'s cinematic universe, clearly created to compete with Marvel, I worry that it is going to be a total mess. I don't see him bringing a Watchmen charm to this, but more of a Man of Steel vibe that may be consistent, but is overly dour and lacking int he personality department. I want to believe that this will be something greater.
Of course, we have yet another Batman in the hot seat with Ben Affleck. While we've seen Henry Cavill's Superman before, it is mostly speculation on how Affleck will do. He hasn't really had a successful track record with blockbuster films in the past and may be facing an uphill battle. I wish him the best, but I don't know what to expect from the man who just had a career resurgence once he stepped behind the camera and won Best Picture with Argo. So to combine him into this universe should be interesting, though I remain skeptical until I see the actual film. Anyways, onto the trailer!

- Dissection -

As expected, this is just a teaser, so it is hard to fully appreciate what the film will eventually offer. However, if we could take a look at what is present, it is actually one of the better teasers. As I have spoken about in the past, I do not like it when teasers barely put any effort into revealing any footage and just leave vague hints of what's to come. It is a cheat to the audience. I feel like Nolan provides enough substance to make you care along with not giving all that much away. I see that he has passed it onto Snyder and much like his work on the great Watchmen trailer, there's more questions than answers in the best ways possible.
Why do people hate Superman? What is the point of Batman in this story? There's a lot that will hopefully make for compelling subject matter. If they manage to make the events of Man of Steel into grounds for backlash, I will happily be for that. However, the trailer's biggest gimmick is trying to question Superman's vulnerability. Does he bleed? I am not sure, but there's some chance that we'll find out soon. As he and Batman face off, things are heating up and we see a society ready to disgrace superhero culture. I feel that it may end up working for the best, if I can get over my general thoughts on Man of Steel.
The film still feels very much like the Snyder film that I don't care for. It isn't by any means bad, but it doesn't have any visual flair that I care for. Yes, it is distinctive and I like that he is able to visually have a style, but what good is it going to be for him? There's a lot of questions, mostly on if it will be a battle royale between the two forces that will bring us something particularly challenging. I want to believe that this is going to be good because the trailer is halfway decent and gets me excited despite the skepticism. Then again, I just want to believe that Batman is out of his bad movies phase. Who knows. It looks cool.

- One Sentence Sell -

D.C. Comic's biggest characters face off in their first blockbuster mash-up with dark and gritty results promised.

- Trash or Trove -

It is a skeptical trove and I am not sure if the film will live up to any hype. However, I am sold o the imagery and vagueness of the trailer proves that you can make a teaser effectively with new footage without giving much away. I have more questions now and know what it looks like. I only hope that Snyder works things out this time around.

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