Friday, December 4, 2015

'She with you?': Reviewing the second 'Batman v Superman' trailer

Gotta say the second trailer for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is the only time I've been impressed with what I've seen and/or heard about this film. The footage from what I call the "Batman unmasked" sequence inspires a lot of questions, but this trailer gets me full-on excited. … Finally.

(I'll amend that; I've been impressed from Day One with director Zack Snyder's decision to cast Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. And judging from what I've seen from Affleck's take on each character, I'm confident I was spot on months ago when I said he'd do interesting and unusual things with the roles.) 

But I also have to say as much as this second "Dawn of Justice" trailer finally gets me intrigued and excited, I'm terribly disappointed with the decision to include a spoiler-filled Big Reveal at the 2:18 mark in the three-minute footage. A couple fans have said it's well known — or at least a good guess — that this same character would be in "Batman v Superman," but I still say no feelings would have been hurt if there was no confirmation.

There's no way we needed to know this character was in "Dawn of Justice." Where's the Christopher Nolan-lockdown approach when we needed it most? And given what's already been revealed in this trailer, it's hard to argue there seems to be very few ways Snyder can surprise once we see the entire film in March.

Of course, as CCC contributor David Hudson has reminded me on occasion, many times the Powers That Be get fans talking and griping about Issue 1 about their film in order to keep us from thinking about Issues 2 and 3. A valid point, I have to admit…!

Without further ado, here is my breakdown and analysis corresponding to important moments in the trailer — with time marks, of course!:

0:05 — Bruce Wayne arrives at a gala event being covered by reporter Clark Kent (Henry Cavill, bringing a confidence to the character that I very much enjoy and respect). Wayne's presence causes quite a stir with the media, but he handles it with class. ("That's home right there! Get a shot!")

0:08 — Kent asks his photographer, "Who's that?" He matter-of-factly says: "You must be new. That … is Bruce Wayne." So we know clearly early in this film that Kent and Wayne haven't met.

0:16 — Kent watches Wayne with a quizzical look.

0:19 — Kent finds Wayne, introduces himself …

0:22 — … and goes right for the zinger of an interview question: "What's your position on the Bat-vigilante in Gotham?"

Speaking as someone who has been a reporter for nearly 12 years, I have to respect Kent's approach; he's obviously going to get only a very short time with Wayne, so he needs to get the most important feedback he can during this brief, high-profile interview. There's no time to "warm up" Wayne with a few softball questions; it's go time. Attaboy, Clark Kent!

0:25 — What a smirk Wayne gives Kent!

0:28 — Over footage of Gotham police finding a shirtless bad guy who is handcuffed to a crate — with one of Batman's Batarangs lodged nearby into a container, Kent tells Wayne that "civil liberties have been trampled in your city."

"People (are) living in fear. He thinks he's above the law." (Have you noticed how Kent clearly is referring to the Dark Knight, but never uses the name "Batman"?)

0:36 — Wayne is straight to the point — and Kent gets quite the quote. He basically accuses THE DAILY PLANET of being "hypocritical," based on the newspaper's coverage of Superman (who also isn't named).

0:45 — Over footage of Superman saving a just-launched missile, Wayne says: "… considering every time your hero saves a cat out of a tree, your paper writes a puff-piece editorial …"

0:48 — "… about an alien that could burn this whole place down." That's an obvious reference to the damage in Metropolis, caused by the massive fight between Superman and General Zod at the end of "Man of Steel." It also seems to infer Wayne and Kent are in Metropolis as they speak to each other. As Wayne says this, there's footage of Superman coming to the rescue of flood victims.

Kent obviously takes offense, but phrases his response as a counterpoint to the billionaire's perspective (a great interviewing technique BTW to get more from the person being questioned!): "Most of the world doesn't share your opinion, Mr. Wayne."

0:55 — "Maybe it's the Gotham City in me; we have a bad history of freaks dressed as clowns," Wayne says.

Next is the haunting image of Wayne gazing up at the Robin statute holding a bo staff. (This statue is identical to the way the third Robin, Tim Drake, was dressed in his first bunch of years in the Batman titles, but more likely it is an homage to the late Jason Todd, the second Boy Wonder.) Spray-painted on the statue is the message: "Hahaha Joke's on you Batman" — a grim reminder by The Joker that he murdered Todd.

1:05 — Lex Luthor, of all people, breaks the growing tension between Kent and Wayne, and in a big, overacting delivery from actor Jesse Eisenberg, introduces himself.

Notice how Luthor says he enjoys "bringing people together" — a foreshadowing on the assumption he sets up the Batman-Superman fight. Did you catch how Wayne is on a first-name basis with Luthor?

1:14 — "Wow. That is a good grip. You should not pick a fight with that person." Luthor says this about Kent's handshake, but of course this is a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to the fact we know that in every incarnation, Luthor loves to do nothing more than pick a fight with Superman.

1:20 — There's more footage of the Superman soldiers bowing at the Man of Steel just after he enters the dungeon where Batman is chained up as well as the Senate hearings.

1:30 — As always, Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) is Wayne's voice of reason. The butler plays the devil's advocate in trying to help Wayne see the futility of confronting Superman. Pennyworth vehemently tells his boss — and son-figure — he'll lose "going to war" against the Man of Steel.

But Wayne has his mind made up — and is on a mission. "That son of a bitch brought the war to us." — yet another reference to the Zod-Superman fight and Zod's alien invasion.

1:37 — "You know you can't win this. It's suicide." Pennyworth has a point, but the way I see it, for Batman it's not about a victory, but proving a point. (Notice his comment later seemingly to Superman at the 1:59 mark: "It's time you learned what it means to be a man.")

1:43 — Luthor summarizes the title of the film: "The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!"

What follows is some sweeeeet footage of the Batman-Superman fight, giving us the clearest view of the Dark Knight's armor yet. I especially dig seeing Superman flying after the Batwing, which at one point fires a massive volley of bullets at the Man of Steel. Another nerdgasmic moment is Batman crashing through the window and landing on Superman, taking both of them through a skylight.

As Lois Lane (once again played by Amy Adams, who fittingly has alliterative initials) tells Luthor at the 1:53 mark: "You're psychotic." And Eisenberg goes big again, but in a Luthor-esque move, is quite condescending: "That is a three-syllable word for any thought too big for little minds." … Asshole. (While his response is very much in line with Luthor, that line of dialogue could have been delivered by virtually any super villain in a superhero film from the last 14 years. In the end, Eisenberg has a lot to prove — something I addressed in March; he still hasn't shown me he can play much more than the socially awkward creep he usually plays.)

2:03 — Batman is taking a licking in his battle with Superman, but he won't give up. The Dark Knight never has — no matter who he fights.

Superman tries to talk some sense into Batman and in the meantime, Team Snyder addresses the elephant in the room — that the Dark Knight wouldn't stand a chance in a true fight against Supes, who obviously is holding back. "Stay down! If I wanted it, you'd be dead already!," the Man of Steel barks at Batman.

As Superman fan Mark Hazelwood always reminds me, a "realistic" fight between the two heroes is preposterous, given that Supes simply could flick Batman "into the sun."

2:07 — What's with the uptight secretary and two soldiers pushing the steel case down the sterile hallway? Oh … it's General Zod's corpse.

2:18 — Here's the Big Reveal — the one I still say we didn't need quite this soon. Major spoiler alert! Doomsday. So that's Luthor's endgame, creating Doomsday out of Zod's body and powers. (Is it only me who thinks Doomsday has more than a passing resemblance to the Abomination from "The Incredible Hulk"?!?)

2:26 — Batman is in the cockpit of his downed Batwing — and sees Doomsday is about to hit him with his heat vision. "Oh sh —!"

2:29 — … followed by one massive explosion.

2:34 — Here's my favorite sequence in the entire trailer. When the dust settles, Gal Gadot's fierce looking Wonder Woman has taken the brunt of the blast with her shield. And she is ready to kick some serious ass!

2:39 — Superman's exchange with Batman is classic, showing they can play nice with each other. "She with you?," the Man of Steel asks. Batfleck's expression and response is priceless: "I thought she
was with you."

2:44 — The Big Three, baby!

Grade: A- 

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