The new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer is here, and with it, a tremendous amount of noise, property destruction, new characters, and perhaps more story details than you strictly wanted to know about just from a trailer. With that in mind, consider this a massive spoiler warning, because I’m going to dig into what some of the bigger moments mean for the movie.
And just in case you haven’t actually watched that trailer yet, here it is…
Now, let’s get to work. This won’t necessarily be a chronological unpacking of the goings on in the trailer. I will group various shots together in what I think is a logical progression. I mean, that’s up to you to decide, but there we are.
Unless something requires radical reevaluation, if I already unpacked it in an earlier trailer analysis, you won’t find it here. But if you want to read those, you can find the first one here and the second one here.
Alright, on with the show…
The first thing we learn is that Bruce Wayne likes to drive himself to fancy society functions and doesn’t need Alfred around. Well, that’s not true. We do see Alfred later on.
No, the more important thing we learn from the opening 30 seconds or so of the trailer is that Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne get off on the wrong foot. They don’t even like each other’s secret identities. Man, that’s gonna be awkward when they form the Justice League in future movies!
Bruce makes a reference about not liking clowns because he’s from Gotham City, which is roughly as subtle as having a bat-shaped bruise left on your body. Waitasec, uh-oh…
Bruce Wayne doesn’t appear to think too kindly about the press. Here we see a typical liberal media rag, harshing on Batman’s “tough on crime” approach. See, you know that’s the picture this movie is painting because it’s “The Gotham Free Press” and the non-Batman headlines are all about environmental and labor issues.
In all seriousness, though, this is an extension of what we saw in an earlier trailer, which I bet will play out like a particular early scene in The Dark Knight Returns that dealt with Batman’s re-emergence. I wrote a little more about that here.
There’s also a few ways they can go with Batman’s past in the context of this movie. He was either always loathed, always an urban legend, or at one point was kind of acknowledged and maybe even beloved by a select few. If it’s either of the latter two, Bruce might be annoyed by how the world perceives him once he returns to action in a fit of Superman-induced paranoia.
We learn something else, as well…
…and that’s Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor appears to be impossibly irritating. I’ve always considered Eisenberg’s casting to be a quietly brilliant move. Making Lex Luthor a young tech billionaire who hides some sinister secrets is a terrific spin on the character.
Instead, he appears to be channeling Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma in Batman Forever. uh-oh. Even if his un-charming obsequiousness is just an act, this might be tough to endure for two hours plus.
On the other hand, it’s increasingly clear that despite Batman’s top billing, this is absolutely a sequel to Man of Steel, and the fallout from that movie’s climactic battle looms large over the proceedings. The mysterious Superman statue that we saw in earlier trailers seems to stand at a monument for the people who died in the Metropolis battle.
The fact that despite all that, the city would still build a Superman statue would seem to indicate that in the last couple of years (and we see glimpses of this with him helping flood victims, etc), this version of Superman has spent considerable time doing what we didn’t really see him do in the first film: actually helping people.
In spirit, at least, this shot of Batman pulping Superman’s lips is a callback to The Dark Knight Returns, and Bruce’s dialogue about “what it means to be a man” is straight out of Book Four of that series.
But why are they fighting, anyway?
Well, the easy answer is that Batman is a paranoid, borderline fascist to begin with, and watching one of his buildings come tumbling down while he was helpless to do anything about it fueled his rage and made him come out of retirement. But an apparent suicide mission against Superman seems extreme, even for him.
I also refuse to believe that anything remotely that one-dimensional could command the budget and talent that this movie apparently is, so there has to be more to it. Which brings me to just how paranoid Batman might be, and whether one (or both) of them are being manipulated.
For starters, we have that strange clip of Batman being held captive in the desert by “S-soldiers” with an angry Superman coming to unmask him. If you haven’t seen that yet, here it is:
Something about that scene isn’t right. Maybe it’s Bruce’s weird desert gear. Maybe it’s scowling Superman. But mostly it’s those bizarre soldiers. This has to be a dream sequence.
That’s pretty much confirmed with this shot…
Batman fighting the weird Superman soldiers in the desert while weird insectoid alien things wreak havoc in the background? Yeah, definitely a nightmare of some kind.
But there’s two little things I want to point out before we move on.
The first is that the winged things look faintly like Parademons (less the way they were created by Jack Kirby, and more the way they were redesigned by Jim Lee), the creepy insectoid alien footsoldiers of Darkseid, who will certainly be the villain of either Justice League Part One or Part Two or both.
See for yourself:
Now, this might just be a result of Bruce Wayne having a case of alien skeeves after Man of Steel. But what if someone is mentally manipulating these two to fight each other? I’ve long suspected that Brainiac could be in the background of all of this, even if we don’t see him. This could be the kind of thing that someone plants in Bruce’s brain.
Regardless of that speculation, one thing is certain…Lex Luthor isn’t the only villain in the movie.
I’m not sure why Superman is in Lex’s lab here. Again, it seems clear that Batman and Superman are being manipulated into fighting each other.
I’m only including this because it’s another neat “regular person’s view” of the fight from the first movie. We saw this with the heat vision/building destruction in the previous trailer, as well. There is something kind of disconcerting about watching a superpowered slugfest from this angle, isn’t there?
Anyway, it’s yet another example of how the themes of the previous movie will carry over, and how those actions will have consequences. But as for the guy on the left, well…
Oh, those Dr. Frankenstein vibes are in full effect for what we’re getting here. Remember that shot of General Zod’s corpse, and Michael Shannon’s loose talk about having “flippers on his hands?” Well…
Here’s Doomsday. If he doesn’t look bony and spiky enough for you comic book fans, look closely. You can see those bone spike things are there. Since the original comics origin of Doomsday was that he was a result of Kryptonian experiments, and he just becomes tougher and tougher to kill, he’ll probably get spikier as the battle rages on.
Note that while Lex Luthor didn’t create Doomsday in the comics, there’s still a little bit of comic book mythology at work here. In John Byrne’s 1986 reboot of the Superman comics, Luthor created Bizarro out of fragments of Kryptonian DNA, in an attempt to do typically nefarious Luthor things. The fact that this Doomsday is kind of an “imperfect duplicate” made from someone else’s Kryptonian DNA kinda makes him a sideways Bizarro.
Also, ummmm…the presence of Doomsday here isn’t really a good thing for the prospects of another solo Superman movie any time soon.
Anyway, it takes the reanimated corpse of General Zod to snap Batman and Superman out of their little spat and team up. More importantly, it appears to be what brings Wonder Woman into the picture.
Batman brandishing a gun is kind of an annoying image. I don’t really care what the circumstances are, the character has detested firearms since about 1940 (one ill-advised story in the late ’80s aside…which ended with him renouncing guns anyway). That aside, this is the best image we’ve had of a historic moment, the first live action team-up of DC’s main trinity of heroes.
I really hope they don’t screw this up.
We’ll find out more when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016.
If I missed anything, let me know in the comments or on Twitter, and I’ll see about getting it added!