By RUSSELL BERGER
For well over two decades we’ve had the likes of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy,” Joss Whedon’s “Avengers,” the Russo brother’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman,” and of course Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” All amazing movies, and of course in my comic book geek opinion, some leaps and bounds better than others, but there’s been one movie that everyone (no matter where you line up on the comic book spectrum) who loves comic books has been waiting for… Justice League.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Zack teased us to it back during the filming of “Batman v Superman” when he released the first photo of Jason Momoa as Aquaman – or as we fans like to call him, Aquamomoa – with the caption, “Unite the Seven.” Then, during the movie with Diana watching video files from a flash drive Bruce had used to steal information from Lex. The video files showing Barry Allen/Flash stopping a robbery, Arthur Curry/Aquaman attacking an underwater drone, Vic Stone being saved and “born again” as Cyborg, and even Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in a photo that ties directly into the “Wonder Woman” movie.
Now sure, we had a Justice League trailer already, and as amazing as it was, it was out done by the one we just got at San Diego Comic Con 2017. You could say the heartbreaking story involving Zack and his family played into it, or the grandeur of SDCC, but in my opinion (and many others) it was that they truly out did themselves on delivering an amazing trailer.
WATCH THE FIRST TRAILER HERE
The trailer starts with a group of mercenaries from what I can gather, and plays very vague to who they are as it only shows waist high angles and back shots. No music. Just the sound of their footsteps on the marble floor, and the terrified screams of those they’re seemingly taking hostage. This build up a bit of suspense in the manner of wondering whom they would show us first, and then busting in to “save the day” to an instrumental version of “We come together” from the first trailer is Wonder Woman. She’s elegant and powerful just as in her solo movie, and we’re off. It’s a great start. Zack strategically started it off with a bang, and played to the recent success of the “Wonder Woman” movie, which in my opinion was very smart.
The action of that scene was then countered by a bit of organic comedy when it cuts to a scene showing Diana working on a sculpture. “What did you do this weekend, Diana,” which she answered in a nonchalant manner that seemingly blew it off, “Me? Nothing very interesting.” Moments like these are why I love the DCEU so much, and why Zack knows how to craft such a great movie. It plays like real life. Not forcing anything, and allowing the situation to unfold as if Gal’s Diana is a real person who answers like only she would.
Something that flows through the veins of the trailer is that this is a post-Superman world. Batman has been missing, which we can assume is from him searching for the other supers who will be apart of the League. The world seems hopeless. A line that echoed that was, “the world remains in morning after the death of the Superman,” and you can see, and feel, that his sacrifice is what’s going to be driving our Leaguers.
The trailer kicks up a notch, as we come upon Themyscira; the magically hidden island of the Amazons. We hear Queen Hippolyta saying, “Something is coming,” and then BOOM! A boom tube – a portal used to get from one location to another via a Mother Box – opens up from the Mother Box the Amazons had captured during the world’s first scuffle with Apokolips. When I say I’ve been waiting most of my life for a moment to accurately and perfectly capture the comics I love, this was it. From the boom tube comes the commanding general of the Parademon hordes, Steppenwolf.
He’s magnificent. And he’s a monster in size. Though the shot of him is brief, we get a glimpse of his iconic helmet and what his armor is like.
Now comes the narration by who everyone is thinking is Steppenwolf, but in my opinion, I think it’s Darkseid, the God of Apokolips. “No protectors here,” the deep and gravely voice ominously notes over shots of Aquaman underwater, Diana in Paris, Cyborg looking up through a broken window and Bruce analyzing a hologram of what appears to be Superman, “no LANTERNS, no Kryptonian.” Now, to me, that is an obvious foreshadowing of what’s to come. For that observation to be proven wrong when push comes to shove, as Superman rises and we’re introduced to my favorite character of all time, Hal Jordan (a.k.a. the greatest Lantern of them all.)
Again, we’re given a moment of comedy to even out the dark grittiness as Alfred points out the good ol’ days to Bruce, “this is the days when one’s biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins.” Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is singlehandedly the best we’ve seen (no offense to Michael Caine,) and his sassiness just plays so well to Ben Affleck’s quite serious (and comic accurate) Bruce Wayne/Batman. That line also does well what DC does the best, Easter eggs. It teases Penguin, one of Batman’s most constant rogues and one I hope to see in a future Batman solo.
We then get various shots of the Leaguers, and one of Steppenwolf on a ship with Parademons flying around. It’s systematically setting up that he is in fact the big bad that they’re going to fight, and need to fight as one, which is echoed by Wonder Woman telling the four others, “Don’t engage alone. We’ll do this together.”
Then in a single moment they show us a sense of true fear at what is upon them, as we hear Flash tell Batman, “It’s really cool you guys seem ready to do battle and stuff, but I’ve never done battle,” and you can hear the uncomfortable sense of realization in his voice, the fear. They break that up, though, in true Flash fashion by having him make a quip like you’d expect to see in the comics, “I’ve just pushed some people and run away.”
That’s something that the DCEU has been doing in spades, capturing their characters to the “t” as their respective actor portraying them seems to truly embody the character whether it was Michael Shannon as General Dru-Zod or Ezra Miller as the “Scarlett Speedster.” They hit it out of the park.
The trailer then kicks it into another gear as we’ve given truly phenomenal shots of Steppenwolf battling our characters. Cyborg controlling a “Bat” robot as he’s bombarded, Wonder Woman parrying the general and even knocking him back with a similar tactic she used in “Batman v Superman” to thwart Doomsday, Aquaman again underwater but now dodging Steppenwolf’s axe and all to Bruce saying, “Superman was a beacon to the world, he didn’t just save people, he made them see the best parts of themselves.” It’s as I had said before, that what’s fueling the Leaguers is what he and his sacrifice stood for.
Something that Zack has continued through his “trilogy” (“Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League”) is the religious symbolism and imagery. We’re not let down here as we get a few glimpses of it in the form of Aquaman stopping a raging flood, representing what I can only imagine to be call back to THE flood. Then we see a tower that’s falling with the skies red, I took this to be two-pieces of biblical imagery with the tower representing the Tower of Babel, and the red skies being Matthew XVI: 2-3. I, from what I can remember, have never seen such amazing use of biblical imagery in a comic book movie except from Zack Snyder. He’s a master at giving us something beautiful, and layered deep with mind invoking imagery and story.
Wrapping up the trailer, we’re then given a montage of what seems to be the table turning a bit. They’re working together with Flash using his speed to help Wonder Woman catch her sword, the Amazons riding to war and taking out Parademon after Parademon, and Aquaman literally surfing one at free fall speeds through a building where he comes out like it was just a Tuesday to him. And then we see our five (of the seven) Leaguers on a rooftop in Gotham talking to Commissioner Gordon. “How many of you are there,” he asked with Batman answering him in yet what to me is blatantly another foreshadowing of Superman’s return and Hal’s introduction, “not enough,” and in classic Batman fashion, Gordon turns around to find Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg gone but Flash still there none the wiser. I know I’ve really hammered in the point of organic and to character comedy, but again that’s what we see with Flash instantly looking around to find the four gone, and he says before zipping off himself, “Oh wow, they just, they really just vanish, huh, oh that’s rude.”
And lastly, but not least is the ending and possibly most controversial part of the trailer. We’re brought in on Alfred as he’s working in the garage on the engine of Bruce’s DB Mark III. It’s quiet, and there’s what looks to be a full moon in the sky overhead. It’s overall a completely different tone from the rest of the trailer. Peaceful. But then, the glass of scotch that he’s surely drinking begins to tremble in a VERY “Jurassic Park” like manner, which catches and shifts his attention to an individual to his right. Now, here’s where the controversy comes in; half think that it’s Superman because you can make out what looks to be a red cape when you see the person’s silhouette and the other half think it’s Hal because in Alfred’s glasses there’s an emerald glowing dot like a Green Lantern’s Power Ring. My bias opinion is that it’s Hal, and I would love nothing more than it to be him, BUT taking into context Alfred’s line to the said individual, “He said you’d come. Now let’s HOPE you’re not too late.”
Superman’s whole character, and especially so in the DCEU, is predicated on “hope.” He had a line in “Man of Steel” when Lois had asked what the “S” on his chest stood for, and he told her, “It’s not an ‘S.’ On my world it means hope.” Now, if Alfred’s line was meant to play us into thinking it’s Superman and it does turn out to be Hal, I’ll be ecstatic, but if not, I’ll love seeing the “Man of Steel” return in fashion to help his brothers and sister in arms take down Steppenwolf.
This trailer to me was everything and more than what I was expecting. It gave a jolt of hope and optimism to the DCEU (doubling down on “Wonder Woman”) while keeping that base line of a dark and gritty reality based universe. I for one cannot wait for November 17th, and you can bet I’ll be one of the first in lines for tickets.
I give the SDCC “Justice League” trailer a 9.6 out of 10. One of the best comic book movie trailers I’ve ever seen.