Warner Bros. officially unveiled the first teaser for the Zack Snyder film, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” a few hours ago. After the teaser was initially leaked last night and several blurry, camera recorded versions appeared across social media and torrent platforms, WB decided to release the full HD version. While there will be a special event held across the country in IMAX theaters, an event originally designated for the release of the first trailer, it has now been revealed that additional footage along with swag will be given on Monday, April 20th. Tickets have been offered for free on www.batmanvsupermandawnofjustice.com and have sold out immediately due to the first come, first served nature of the event. Over the past few days, numerous rumors have begun circulating around one of the most wildly anticipated of films, and now, without further ado, What’cha Reading would like to present our thoughts regarding this historical landmark of a movie.
For those that know me through Forest Hills comic book shop, Royal Collectibles, or have followed my work for What’cha Reading, maybe even you’ve looked through my photos on Instagram, you’ll know that I am the resident Superman/Man of Steel/Henry Cavill and Batman v. Superman fan. Nearly all of my comic and collectible reviews are centered on the DC Universe and I wouldn’t have it any other way (except possibly for my editor and own personal Perry White – Chuck Suffel.) I love the character and am a massive fan that has collected an enormous amount of toys, statues, comics, and various collectibles that reflect the Man of Steel. I’ve greatly anticipated the sequel to 2013’s “Man of Steel” and have been counting down the days to his return on the big screen ever since the San Diego Comic Con announcement. While we are at the 342 day mark for “Dawn of Justice” (at the time of this writing), I could not have been more excited to watch the first teaser for the film and remark at how generous with footage they’ve shown along with a tease of the new score by Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg a.k.a. Junkie XL. After several combings through the first teaser, here are a few intriguing aspects that I’d like to explore with you.
While the trailer opens with several voice overs talking about their concerns over Superman’s presence in the world, we get our first glimpse at Henry Cavill as Kal-El among a crowd. Several people have white and black face paint that looks very similar to that of the Day of the Dead celebration. Nearly everyone has their arms outstretched to him as some sort of modern-day savior. Think of Jesus walking through a town. It’s an interesting moment that evokes the idea of him being a savior and continues the theme that was initially explored in “Man of Steel.” He looks uneasy with the crowd around him and this fan is wondering just where is he? Is it Mexico? Metropolis? Are these people celebrating the Day of the Dead or are they celebrating/mourning something else?
There’s this quick moment that sees armed guards bowing to Superman in a bunker of sorts. I initially didn’t make much of it as it just seemed like armed officials showing their respect to this powerful being. Upon a second viewing and inspecting each frame, I noticed something very shocking! All of the guards have the “S” insignia – the symbol of hope – as a patch on their uniforms. Superman has an armed service in his employ? I immediately thought of “Injustice” Superman, a little “Red Sun”, and an element that was originally used for Batman in the classic Frank Miller story “The Dark Knight Returns.” In his story, there was a group called “the Sons of Batman” that believed they were doing his will after the Dark Knight stopped the Mutant Leader. The idea of a self-militarized group, taking it upon themselves, to serve Superman and enforce a form of justice is an interesting notion and spin on the idea originally presented in “The Dark Knight Returns.” Zack Snyder has made no secret that Miller’s four-part story has served as the contextual inspiration for him film written by Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel). Or maybe they’ve been planted by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to service one of his master plans at manipulating the world into believing that Superman is bad news for Earth.
“False God.” Superman is considered a God by many, due to his abilities that are alien in nature. People have deified him which is a concept explored in the comic books and a thematic concept that directors such as Richard Donner, Bryan Singer, and Zack Snyder have milled. Superman lends himself to that and the idea that “Superman has been deemed a “false god” and now Batman arises to keep the demigod in check” (a view shared by Jeremy Sweeten, San Diego, CA) certainly jives with the world they are presenting within “Dawn of Justice.” It also makes for another interesting spin on Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” as it was Superman being used as a tool for the government to keep Batman in check. However, I believe this is more of Bruce Wayne being spurred by his own unyielding promise to keep Gotham and the world safe that leads him to donning the cape and cowl to take on the Man of Steel. Cleverly, upon close inspection, you’ll notice that the statue of Superman sports the classic hair curl. *SPOILER ALERT* For those that followed the production on “Batman v. Superman”, they will know that this statue is defaced even more in a scene of protest and eventually crumbles.
Big, bad Ben! I’ve been a fan of Ben Affleck since junior high and I’ve spoken about how much I enjoyed him as Daredevil in the 2003 film, written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Until now, I’ve never mentioned that I saw the bomb “Surviving Christmas” twice in theaters and still watch it once a year as a family tradition. Back when Ben Affleck was announced as Bruce Wayne/Batman, I was immediately excited. I had no doubt that he would be a great Batman and after Zack Snyder released the first few images of him in the suit, I’ve been on record many times saying that he will be the definitive Batman! Better than Keaton! Better than Bale! Better than Conroy! Yes sir, Ben Affleck is Batman! During filming, there were many photos that leaked from the set of him as Bruce Wayne and several enthusiastic fans juxtaposed his face against the Bruce Timm animated series from the ’90’s.
Looking at the pictures alone and Ben would lead you to believe that Batman came out of the screen, ripped himself out of the pages and came to life. Noticeably, the Bruce Wayne that Ben is playing is that of a seasoned hero and one that is akin to the older version as seen in, you guessed it, “The Dark Knight Returns.” As Jeremy “Scar” Irons delivers the voice over saying “That’s how it starts, the fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel…” we see Bruce Wayne intensely and angrily gaze at the batsuit. It’s a chilling scene as the anger of Bruce Wayne truly comes through without any words needing to be said. When paired with Irons’ Alfred lines about “rage” and good men turning cruel, we immediately recognize that this is not a Batman to be trifled with. He almost seems like a villain and it makes perfect sense that Zack Snyder felt Batman was the most logical opponent for Superman to go up against after facing Zod (Michael Shannon) in “Man of Steel.” The anger of Bruce Wayne is an aspect that has never been fully explored in the previous installments and while it was hinted at in Keaton and Bale’s performances, they chose to focus more on the obsession. The idea of presenting an older Wayne, one who hasn’t been Batman for a while, and feels that it’s time to become him once again amidst the alien invasion seen at the end of “Man of Steel” appears to be a perfect way to set this depiction apart. Ben Affleck will surely capture the anger, bitterness, and animosity of an older hero who’s been wearing a cape longer than Superman. He’ll also serve as a great contrast to the presentation of Superman as a brighter, happier person.
Batman also looks remarkably close to how he was drawn in “The Dark Knight Returns” and of the Jim Lee/Greg Capullo “New 52” remodeling. If you were to take the size and musculature of Miller and Capullo’s Batman, with the large Bat emblem on the chest and took the piping from Lee’s batsuit, you’d have the “Dawn of Justice” costume. I’ve always been a fan of the short ears and I’m so glad that they are using this for the new suit. It looks great and marks a great departure in bat ear sizes that we’ve seen in any of the previous depictions on-screen. Without saying much, I could truthfully tell you that I’ve been one of the select few that have seen the full on Ben Affleck as Batman earlier this year and while the teaser does offer a first look, you really haven’t seen it in its full glory. I’d love to say more, but for fear of being executed, I’ll leave it at that.
One aspect that will certainly rile up certain enthusiastic fans of Batman is his usage of a rifle, if that is in fact what he’s holding, in the above screenshot. Again, this is an aspect used in Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” and in the animated film adaptation. The scene, outside of Batman holding either a grappling gun or rifle, is reminiscent of imagery from 2005’s “Batman Begins” and 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
On a side note, while we watch all these scenes edited together, let’s not forget that the score playing in the background is our first tease of Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL a.k.a Tom Holkenborg’s score. Holkenborg, before he was asked by Warner Bros to stop talking about his work on the film, had been quite open about “Batman v. Superman.” For those that have been obsessively following the production on the sequel/follow-up to “Man of Steel”, you’ll be aware of the teaser’s original music. While we still are some time away from hearing our first preview of the complete score (Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg are still working on it), you might like to know that Junkie XL’s first tease of his Batman theme begins at the 1:00 mark. The out of tune piano notes and industrial sounds that follow give Batman a very different sound and landscape than the previous scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard for the Nolan series. I think it was a terrific idea for Zimmer to hand off the Batman section of the film to Holkenborg as it allowed him the opportunity to not only build on his sound for Superman from “Man of Steel”, but also give him the distance from his work on “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” Holkenborg’s music for Batman also sounds very similar to his “Sketchbook 3” on his “Run All Night” soundtrack. If you listen below and then check out the 1:00 mark on the “Dawn of Justice” trailer, you’ll see what I mean.
The piano is haunting enough to remind us of Bruce Wayne’s humanity while the industrial sounds loudly scream that this is a far different Batman. This is a machine who won’t stop, something to be scared of. If anything, the analysis of the music proves just as exciting, if not more, than the trailer. What did you think of the track? Do you like where Tom Holkenborg a.k.a Junkie XL is headed with the score? Do you like that Hans Zimmer has maintained the percussion and drums of “Man of Steel” to maintain the idea of power and strength of Superman?
The very end of the teaser gives us our first glimpse at Batman and Superman’s first encounter with one another. Let them remind us that giants walk the earth. Why did I place that in italics? Hmmm… For now, enjoy the second Batsuit that Ben Affleck wears in the film and think about all the great toys and statues that will surely reflect the very Miller centric Bat-armor.
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” will undoubtedly be one of 2016’s biggest films. It’s also very exciting to know that “Suicide Squad”, which is filming now, also releases next year. The teaser trailer for “Dawn of Justice” offers us a great glimpse into the world Zack Snyder has created and retains more of the tone of his previous films such as “Watchmen.” It’s only natural that as he’s gained the trust of DC, they’ve allowed him to make a film closer to how he wants. I know that by now, if you’re still following along, you really want to watch the teaser again. Enjoy and keep a close ear for the voice overs in the opening moments of the trailer. I could point out Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex and Holly Hunter’s unrevealed character speak against Superman, but there are several other voices. I wonder who they are! What are your thoughts on the first teaser trailer? Feel free to sound off in the comments below and if you feel so inclined, you could find me on Twitter at @ReggieMantleIII (Yes, that’s Archie’s arch-enemy!) Please remember that as much as I love Ben Affleck, I AM Team Superman!
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens March 25, 2016. Here are the cast and crew details for those that are interested. Was anyone disappointed that we didn’t see Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman?