HOLY HATE FEST BATMAN! A Second Look At The “Dawn of Justice” Trailer
Like many superhero fans I hold Batman and Superman in high regard.
Batman has been and always will be, my favorite superhero. As elaborate and sometimes fantastic as his tales have been, Batman’s story always seemed the most realistic to me. A young boy sees the tragic death of his parents right in front of his eyes and is inspired to fight crime. Granted this is on a grand level and it helps to be a billionaire, but many a police officer and federal agent have experienced similar tragedies that led them to law enforcement. Additionally, he’s a superhero without super powers. He relies solely on his intelligence, detective skills, and mastery of body and mind. Batman is also a character that recognizes that in order to bring criminals to justice sometimes you have to work outside of the law.
On the other end we have the Man of Steel. Other than the fact that both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are orphans, their life experiences are vastly different. Clark is no billionaire, growing up on a farm in rural Kansas. He’s raised by loving, albeit adoptive parents who feel he is destined for great things. Unlike Batman, Superman believes in adhering to the strictures of the law, sometimes to his own detriment. Never was this glaring contrast between the two characters more apparent than in Frank Miller’s seminal work The Dark Knight Returns. Superman is literally sent in by an increasingly fascist government to reign in a friend who feels working outside the law is necessary. To see these pillars of the DC Universe clash both ideologically and physically is my favorite moment in comic history. And it’s something fans of the two characters have been hoping to see on-screen for almost thirty years.
Which brings us to the latest trailer for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the subsequent Internet hate and praise. To say people are divided on this topic is like saying The Hulk has anger issues. There is no Switzerland in this war. You are either pro-trailer or anti-trailer. I am most definitely in the pro-trailer camp and I for one am completely baffled by the hate.
I’ve been a fan of the Superman and Batman film franchises since the originals debuted in 1978 and 1989 respectively. We’ve had our highs (Superman II, The Dark Knight) and we’ve had our lows (Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Batman and Robin). And now, finally, to think that in a little less than a year we will see both these characters on the big screen at the same time–it takes the breath away.
At least for me.
Others….not so much.
The unmitigated vitriol that I’m seeing on the Internet is more confounding than the success of the Twilight novels. You’d think this was a teaser trailer for Paul Blart Mall Cop 3: Rise of the Segway. In fact one of my friends commented that “The trailer is trying so hard to be grim, that it comes across as hilarious.” Um what? I’ve watched the trailer about a billion times and that never once occurred to me. And last time I checked Batman is the headliner for this movie and he’s meant to be dark and grim.
In any event I think there are several reasons why people are hating on this trailer so much. Some warranted and others less so:
1. PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT SUPERMAN
I think at this point we’ve all come to the conclusion that Batman is a somewhat dark and driven character. These are not the days of yester year where Adam West and Burt Ward were throwing punches that went “Kapow!” and “Bam!” and where Caesar Romero’s mustache clearly showed through his white face paint.
Superman is a different kettle of fish. Looking at the history of Superman since the 1940s, he’s always been a character that inspires, the ideal hero that people can get behind. Superman comes across as everyone’s favorite boy scout, happy to rid the world of Brainiac or rescue a cat from a tree. It gets a little boring after a while quite frankly. Now granted Superman the character is by no means boring, nor is his story. “The Death of Superman” remains to this day one of my favorite comicbook story arcs. However, because fans have come to expect a certain do-gooder heroism from Superman, this latest trailer seems an effrontery to their very perceptions about Superman. People were pissed enough when Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel. (Don’t draw me into that argument. I’ve debated people ad nauseum as to how it was the right call for Superman to make. It’s a discussion for another time and another article.) And I get the blowback. It’s like discovering Dwayne Johnson has been cast to play Gandhi. From that perspective seeing a trailer where Superman’s accused of being a false god, told to go home, or kneeled before seems disturbing.
But does taking a different approach to Superman warrant this much negative backlash? Hell no! I mean this is nothing new guys. Red Son explored the idea of Superman growing up in Soviet Russia for God sake. And let’s look at it realistically. Given humankind’s penchant for negative reaction against anything distinctly “other” why is it so difficult to believe that people would not automatically embrace Superman? That they would distrust him on some level? That’s just human nature and seems realistic to me. The reluctance of human beings to accept Superman at face value is something Jor-El predicted in Man of Steel. He explicitly stated, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time you will help them accomplish wonders.” Human beings are still racing behind Superman. Concurrently it begs the question, what causes humans to be so distrustful and how do they come around? What actions does Superman ultimately take to inspire people? These are the questions that (hopefully) Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will endeavor to answer.
2. THE MARVEL FACTOR
Let’s just deal with the 800 pound Titan in the room shall we? No matter what Warner Bros. and DC put out, comparisons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will arise. It’s like trying to escape from a Bran scene in “Game of Thrones.” The results are equally inevitable. And to be fair the comparison is somewhat warranted. Aside from some early mishaps (Daredevil, Hulk, Ghost Rider) since Marvel became an official studio and released Iron Man they’ve been pretty dead on. The biggest gripe I hear all the time from Marvel fanboys is essentially, “Why can’t DC films be more like Marvel films?” And that’s never been the case moreso since the Dawn of Justice trailer hit the Internet. Don’t misunderstand me I’m not talking about cinematic universe direction because it’s obvious DC is doing the solo superhero movie format leading up to The Justice League movie. I’m talking more about pacing, tonality, color scheme, etc. The “Why can’t DC films be more like Marvel films?” question is like asking, “Why can’t a tomato be more like chocolate?” It’s a loaded question anyway because if DC tries to copy Marvel exactly, Marvel fanboys will just come back and say, “Hey look at DC stealing Marvel’s shit!” There’s no winning. Furthermore, in a time where there seems to be a glut of superhero movies in development, DC has to stand out of the pack in some way. I don’t want a carbon copy of the MCU. If I want to watch something from the MCU, I will go watch a Marvel movie.
From a personal standpoint, the other thing that confounds me is how people can denigrate the Dawn of Justice trailer but cream their jeans over the Ant-Man trailer. I don’t have the time to fully analyze that trailer, that’s also an article for another day. Suffice it to say I was not impressed in the least. I mean come on! A fight involving a Thomas the Tank Engine train? Really? Paul Rudd’s character of Scott Lang couldn’t even get through the trailer without making fun of the name! As much of a Marvel fan as I am, I could go the rest of my life and not see Ant-Man. Give me a psychologically complex man in a bat suit and an alien that can freeze a person with his breath any day.
3. THE INABILITY TO SEPARATE MOVIES FROM THE COMICS
I’m assuming that most of you who frequent this site are geeks in some capacity, and I’d hazard a guess that some of you have read a fantasy or science fiction novel in your time. Everyone has their favorite novel, whether it’s The Lord of the Rings or Foundation. If you’re lucky your favorite novel, story, or comicbook gets made into a movie. And what drives geeks mad, to the point of Arkham Asylum admission, is when the adaptation isn’t what they expected it to be. Tom Bombadil gets left out, the Iron Islands subplot gets cast aside, Superman’s red underwear/codpiece gets trashed–whatever it may be, SOMETHING won’t live up to your expectations. Believe me I’ve been there. But something I’ve learned over time is the ability to separate the written word from the television show or movie. The DOJ trailer is no different. For example in the trailer Batman appears to have a rifle while perched on top of a building. Fans of Batman comics immediately reacted with “Batman never uses guns! He doesn’t kill!” Let’s ignore the fact that Batman early in the comics did carry a gun, or that Batman let a villain starve to death once, or that Batman was planning on shooting the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns. These are truths that Batman fans are often quick to ignore but it’s beside the point. We don’t even know IF that’s a rifle! It could be a cabling gun like in The Dark Knight Returns, or it could contain rubber bullets, or it’s actually a high-powered electrical gun. Bottom line: we don’t know and we won’t until we see the movie. Yet people are already clamoring at the heavens like Abe Simpson yelling at a cloud about the discrepancies between the comics and the film. Why? For what reason? Because it doesn’t live up to people’s ridiculous demand that Superman’s cape be 1.24567 meters long or some other nonsensical nuance? Get over it!
Some of you may read this article and believe I’m looking at this trailer with Nolan colored sunglasses. That’s fine. I’ve come to the conclusion that those who’ve despised everything associated with this movie since the Batfleck incident aren’t going to change their minds. If you’re already convinced this film will be a Grade-A feces covered hoagie with a Comicbook Guy sweat milkshake, there’s nothing I can do to change you’re mind.
I would say this though: if you truly believe down to your Adam West tighty-whities that this movie will be awful, than at least have the courage of your convictions and don’t see Dawn of Justice. Yet I can almost guarantee that a large percentage of the people bitching about this trailer on the Internet will still be in line on March 24, 2016 at 11:59pm, ticket in hand. Oh the hypocrisy of the geek. (I can’t lie, I did the same thing for the Tron sequel.)
Well at least we can all agree that the latest The Force Awakens trailer was awesome.
We all agree on that right?
You can follow me on Twitter as Darth Gandalf @cocook1978