Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad)

Not long ago, we got trailers for the upcoming DC Comics films, namely Superman v Batman and Suicide Squad.  Needless to say that both of them have been HUGE presences in entertainment media since they’ve come out with everyone giving their two cents about the trailers and what their movies will ultimately be about, and not one to avoid jumping on the bandwagon, I’ve decided to use my little platform to give you my thoughts on them as well.  Do they inspire confidence in DC’s unique direction to take their superhero films, or are they the further indication that they have no idea what the hell they’re doing over there other than desperately try to scramble together a cinematic universe after Marvel did it so effortlessly?  Let’s find out!!

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Batman v Superman

The trailer begins with what appears to be some sort of senate hear4ing where Superman is being brought before them to explain his actions in the previous film.  We also get to see that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis at the time of Zod’s attack and saw the destruction that these super humans can dish out.  From there we get to see as things escalate between the two with Batman coming out of retirement (I think) to get ready to fight Superman, while Clark Kent is still trying to figure out what his purpose on this planet is (I think).  If you’re wondering why I’m so uncertain about those things, it’s because the trailer does a pretty poor job conveying where in Batman’s history we are and giving us ANY reason to even give even the TINIEST of shits about Superman or understand him in any way.

“A LOT of bad shit went down when you dragged that alien through Metroplis, right?”     “…”     “I mean, I’m SURE you did the best you could, but there was quite a bit of damage in the process, right?”     “…meh.”     “Okay, fuck this.  GUILTY!!”

“A LOT of bad shit went down when you dragged that alien through Metroplis, right?”     “…”     “I mean, I’m SURE you did the best you could, but there was quite a bit of damage in the process, right?”     “…meh.”     “Okay, fuck this.  GUILTY!!”

I mean it’s no wonder no one trusts the dumb mother fucker because he doesn’t SPEAK!!  It HAS to be intentional that these trailers are trying to make Superman as alienating as possible, but I can’t understand why.  He scowls, he’s mute, he has no visible sign of remorse for how things went down in Metropolis (which the REAL Superman would feel even if it’s not his fault) and everyone talks AT him instead of TO him.  I remember REALLY liking certain moments with Clark Kent in Man of Steel, but nothing about the character they are showing in these clips reminds me of him and instead could be about pretty much anyone.  At least Batman fits better into the aesthetic and mystique they’re trying to get across in this trailer, and I really do think Ben Affleck is a great choice for the character.  The suit looks good, I like Alfred, and at least he says a fucking line.  The problem is that they’re not giving me a reason to root for the guy considering that he’s trying to kill Superman of all people and we KNOW going into it that he will fail and see him as the good person that he is.  Hell, even ALFRED knows where this is going!

“Really Master Bruce, don’t you think you should look into Lex Luthor before joining his cause?”     “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!!!”     “Oh great, throw THAT at me again.  Fine!  Do whatever you want.”

“Really Master Bruce, don’t you think you should look into Lex Luthor before joining his cause?”     “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!!!”     “Oh great, throw THAT at me again.  Fine!  Do whatever you want.”

It’s unclear if he’s being manipulated by Lex Luthor but if he is then that would be a pretty unsatisfying story arc for the world’s greatest detective.  Speaking of Lex, one of the few things I LIKED in this damn thing was Jesse Eisenberg trying his damnedest to mimic Gene Hackman.

“Sure I invented Facebook, but real estate schemes?  Now THAT’S where the REAL money is at!”

“Sure I invented Facebook, but real estate schemes?  Now THAT’S where the REAL money is at!”

At least he brings a bit of levity to this which is more than can be said of everyone else who’s talking over the trailer in super serious and dramatic tones without saying anything of consequence.  Seriously, how much of the dialogue in this is actual communication between humans and not just one sided soliloquies?  I just don’t feel like there’s a reason to care about either side.  Superman doesn’t open his mouth and never comes across as caring or compassionate.  Batman comes off a bit better but he’s on the wrong side of this from the get go.  What the trailer does have going for it is Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman (who looks great but has absolutely no context in the trailer), and Zack Snyder’s amazing cinematography.

Just don’t push it buddy.  I GET IT!  I FUCKING GET IT!!

Just don’t push it buddy.  I GET IT!  I FUCKING GET IT!!

We’ve already gotten the teaser and now we have the first trailer.  I’m still not finding any reason to care about this movie because it doesn’t have anyone worth rooting for and just looks like a slog to sit through.  They’re REALLY hyping up the confrontation between Batman and Superman which I guess is gonna get butts in seats, but it’s incredibly unsatisfying considering they are both good guys and the hoops this movie is going through to make the fight work (Batman’s a dumbass and Superman doesn’t give a shit) are ruining what people actually like about these characters in the first place.

“Man, this is SO much cooler than fighting crime!”     “I know, right!?”

“Man, this is SO much cooler than fighting crime!”     “I know, right!?”

I can’t imagine that Warner Brothers are so brain dead that they’re ACTUALLY making a two hour punch up between two people who shouldn’t be fighting and that the trailers are intentionally misleading.  Until then, this has the feeling of being a titanic disaster that people will pretend to like for a while before realizing it was crap.  Huh.  Kind of like both their last movies.  ANYWAY…

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Suicide Squad

Now this one is actually the better of the two, but it’s by no means perfect and I still have some massive hesitations about the movie.  The trailer begins with Amanda Waller (not the one from Green Lantern) who’s having dinner with a General and a guy in suit.  She’s explaining her plan for the Suicide Squad which is basically a team of mercenaries composed of super villains who can “do the things no other hero can do.”  You know, except for The Elite and Red Hood and the outlaws, but whatever.  Most of the trailer is basically a montage of showing various characters who are members of the team as Amanda Waller explains to them what their purpose is.  As far as I can tell, this is the lineup; Harley Quinn, Grim Fandango, Will Smith, Hannibal Lizard, Jai Mother fucking Courtney, and about 3 others.

Let’s call the others Larry Moe and Curly.

Let’s call the others Larry Moe and Curly.

One of the things that helps this trailer (and will most likely help the movie) is that it’s not about characters that are portrayed to be either Messianic or Iconoclastic.  We’ve got the heartless practicality of Amanda Waller, the anarchist glee of Harley Quinn, and even Will Smith’s weary as hell Deadshot has a few moments in here that are interesting and might be worth exploring in the movie.  I can buy these as characters.  Exaggerated characters for sure, but characters with value other than being mouthpieces for bullshit philosophy.  Also, while this isn’t Zack Snyder at the helm, the look of the film is consistent with that of Batman v Superman while still having some stylistic touches of its own.

“NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN!!!!!!”

“NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN!!!!!!”

There are some problems that are keeping me from fully embracing the film just yet however.  The biggest one is probably that the trailer does a TERRIBLE job of selling its premise.  It’s a movie about a team of super villains working together to do the jobs other heroes can’t.  You know what’s not in this trailer?  Any semblance of a team dynamic, any indication that they’re job is necessary, and no scenes of them kicking ass or showing off why they should be part of this team in the first place.  Every action beat, barring Harley Quinn’s attack of a guard and Deadshot jumping off a roof, are done by faceless goons shooting guns at either cops or other faceless goons.  They COULD be the Suicide Squad I guess, but there are a lot of faces hidden under masks so there’s no way to know if these people are even part of the team.  The only time they ARE together doing anything is when they’re either walking down an empty street or glowering while standing on an empty street.  I don’t doubt that they CAN kick ass, but I was already skeptical of the premise and was hoping this trailer would sell it to me.  No such luck I’m afraid.  We’ll probably have to wait for the next trailer for that kind of stuff but I don’t get why they edited their first one in such a way that doesn’t reveal anything about the characters or even show them doing anything.

“So what exactly are we doing?”     “I have no idea.  Just keep walking until we find something to kill.”

“So what exactly are we doing?”     “I have no idea.  Just keep walking until we find something to kill.”

And of course, we have to talk about the one thing that everyone was hoping to see.  We finally get a bit of Jared Leto’s joker in action.  In fairness, the guy is probably a VERY inspired choice to play the character.  We only get a tiny bit of him at the end (and I wish they chose a better line for him to say here), but he sells it like crazy.  He has the right mix of menace and manic intensity to play the clown prince of crime, and he has an instantly iconic cadence that’s KINDA borrowing from Heath Ledger but is still its own thing.  Unfortunately, he looks just as stupid as the damn poster made him out to be.

“The first tat’s a bitch bro, but I’m tellin’ ya.  You’ll look SO HARDCORE when I’m done inking ya dude.”

“The first tat’s a bitch bro, but I’m tellin’ ya. You’ll look SO HARDCORE when I’m done inking ya dude.”

That said, there is a quick moment in the trailer where we see him from a distance (i.e. we can’t see his dumb face tattoos) and he’s wearing a jacket.  From that point of view, I could see Jared Leto playing the ultra-slick looking Joker that you see in a lot of Alex Ross artwork.

See, THAT’S a Joker I’d like to see.  Actually, that’s kind of like Nicholson’s Joker, right?

See, THAT’S a Joker I’d like to see.  Actually, that’s kind of like Nicholson’s Joker, right?

Alas, it doesn’t appear we’ll be getting that kind of Joker in this and instead will get douche bag Juggalo Joker who looks more like rejected DLC from Gotham City Imposters than anything else.  Still, I hope Jared Leto will do a great job with what he’s given and it’s certainly something that’s gonna get my ass in the theater.  Still, you kind of have to wonder exactly how old his dude is.  He doesn’t look any older than mid-thirties, yet Batman in this universe is supposed to be much older.  In fact, how is everyone in here so young considering that Batman is supposed to have already retired by now?  Wait, if all these nut jobs were running around beforehand, than why is everyone losing their shit over Superman!?  Alright, I MIGHT be making a couple of assumptions here (I have no idea how old Joker is supposed to be) and they’ll probably explain all the continuity stuff when these movies actually come out.  I actually look forward to seeing how they plan to use the Frank Miller older Batman in this world considering that almost every other aspect seems to be just starting (Superman just appeared, Wonder woman is showing up, the villains are mostly young, etc).  Warner Brothers and DC are taking the Guardians of the Galaxy gambit with this movie (a team movie with almost no recognizable characters) and hopefully it will work out as well as that one did, though chances are it won’t be nearly as funny, unless it’s hilariously awful which I don’t think it will be.  I have much higher hopes for this than the Batman v Superman movie judging by what they’re giving us here, though as I’ve said before there’s PLENTY of room for improvement already.

So what have we learned here today?  Well, DC is REALLY confident about what direction it wants to take its cinematic universe, yet everything here still feels like untested waters to a certain extent.  Sure, we got Batman, Superman, The Joker, and fan favorite Harley Quinn to guarantee ticket sales, but in a world where superhero movies have turned bright and vibrant, they want to take things dark and edgy.  It worked for at least two Christopher Nolan films, but there were a LONG list of terrible movies before those that tried the same thing, and they even have proof that their new interpretation has led to at best mixed results.  Are they too eager to try and compete with Marvel that they can’t spare the time to fix what’s broken, or do they genuinely believe that the world is looking for more movies like Spawn and Daredevil, only with higher production value?  We’ve still got a ways to go before these two come out, but it’s going to be interesting to see how people react to these as we find out more details.  Until then, consider me determinedly pessimistic about Batman v Superman, and cautiously optimistic about Suicide Squad.

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