Batman v Superman 911The Batman v Superman trailer is out, and one thing is obvious: Zack Synder is going with a level of realism that Marvel Studios has shown no desire to duplicate. Anyone who lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will not be able to see Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne engulfed in dust and debris without thinking of that day. If they decide to accept the director’s decision, then they can appreciate what the visual does for the story — while everyone else sprints away from the carnage, Bruce Wayne hurls himself head first into the chaos. That is the kind of bravery (bordering on psychosis) a man would need for him to seriously attempt to challenge Superman.

Batman v Superman flyThere are plenty of valid criticisms that could be made of Mr. Synder’s DC Universe, but it is hard to deny that his Superman exudes raw power. When he is on the screen, he demands respect. The argument that his costume is dated and cheesy just doesn’t fly (no pun intended), because if you can be led to believe that a character possesses the power to exterminate the entire human race, then you will respect him in almost any outfit.

Batman v Superman desertThe strength Superman wields is what will (understandably) cause Bruce Wayne to fear the alien and, at least for a portion of the film, seek to destroy him.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor telegraphs exactly what “Batman versus Superman” is about:

“Black and blue. God versus man. Day versus night.”

If a man had the power of a god — but he wasn’t God — wouldn’t he have to be destroyed? The same question would, of course, apply to a … Wonder Woman.

Batman v Superman Wonder WomanMarvel Studios has a track record of making great movies, but for the most part it has shied away from the level of realism embraced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and Zack Synder’s “Man of Steel.” Both kinds of movies can happily exist in the summertime blockbuster market, but Marvel’s problem is that there are only so many times the world can be demolished in a shared cinematic universe before the cotton candy-ish tone seems weird. Perhaps Marvel Studio’s “Civil War” will finally address that problem, but as of now DC has the pole position on superhero fare that makes an audience think about real-world issues.

If you plan on seeing “Batman v Superman,” then let me know what you think about the trailer or anything else related to the movie in the comments section below.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

39 comments

    1. I guess everybody has their own view on it. The funny thing is while I didnt like Man of Steel, I can’t figure out why I don’t like it, and no it’s not because there’s a lack of “joy” (honestly I’ve been hoping for a more realistic and somewhat gritty Superman movie for a while now) . Sure there’s a few scenes that I didnt like: Clark trashing that guy’s truck was terrible and out of character, Superman totally destroyed Metropolis while fighting Zod, and Superman snapped Zod’s neck. But overall I cant really say anything that definitively ruined the movie for me.

    2. Fair enough. I can respect someone who says, “You know, it just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t feel right.” Sometimes there’s not that one thing that you can really point to that ruins a movie. Can someone dislike a tone or think it’s wrong for a specific movie? Sure! But how do you really articulate that when friends when you’re talking about it? It can be difficult.

      Most of the people I know who didn’t like the film were upset with the amount of damage done to Metropolis and Zod’s death. I can see where they’re coming from, but on that one I just come down on Synder’s side of the debate.

  1. The trailer looks awesome. I love the ominous tone. It’s certainly more plausible than Marvel’s “Age Of Ultron” trailer, where Ultron’s foreboding words sent shivers, but then delivered a far less promising, more comedy-centric villain in the movie.

    I have grown up on a staple diet of mainly Marvel comics, and am more familiar with the Marvel Universe. I like most of what Marvel Studios are doing with the MCU, but I’m really loving that “slice of realism” that Warner Brothers / DC instill into their super-hero films.

    1. One of the reasons why I didn’t review “Age of Ultron” was because when I walked out of the theater I just felt as though something wasn’t right. There was this world-changing event going on, but the whole thing still sort of hand the same sort of flippant, Stark-esque “Pssssht! We’ve got this!” tone.

      I almost feel as though the one thing that saved the movie for me was Quicksilver’s death. How could there be a threat as big as Ultron and someone not die? I can accept that in a stand-alone movie, but when the MCU keeps churning out movies, at some point there needs to be consequences or there is no tension. That’s fine for little kids who just want to see Captain America run around, but it’s doesn’t cut it for older moviegoers.

      I know they’re two very different projects and I’m comparing apples to oranges here, but I actually liked the Netflix Daredevil series more than “Age of Ultron.” I feel as though the MCU is like a sugary candy and I’ve just has too much sugar. I need something different for awhile.

    2. With Civil War, as with Winter Soldier, It’s quite interesting that in all of the Captain America movies specifically, we get more of the more “real world” consequence in the cinematic universe, where as eyesores like Iron Man 3 will bury an interesting PSTD concept for Tony in amongst Mandarin watching Football, giant fluffy bunny peace offerings, annoying kids, and unfunny quirks rather than touch more on Tony’s experiences and how it could potentially shape him into the role he must play in Civil War.

      I really enjoyed this trailer, I took a lot away from Bruce running into ground zero of Metropolis, cradling the child…it’s an empowering image, and shows how we’ve been shaped and grown by 9/11 to the point where we can convey “if such a thing happens again, run towards the problem in it’s form and do not give in to it’s function”.

    3. I think that’s my problem with some of the Marvel movies — they’re entertaining and fun, but I think a few of them will not age well. I’d put Iron Man 3 in that unfortunate category. Winter Soldier was a very strong movie. I liked it a lot. It had almost a perfect blend of everything I like about the Marvel and DC films.

  2. I agree, from a cinematography standpoint, this film based on the trailer looks absolutely incredible. Then again, Zack Snyder, IMO, excels when it comes to creating visuals. Although I thought his other films like Watchmen and Man of Steel were a mixed bag, one certainly couldn’t deny that they were stunning to look at. But I appreciate the fact the film appears to be addressing the big elephant in the room–the collateral damage caused by Superman and Zod’s fight during the climax of the film–head on. It showing that Superman’s actions actually have ramifications and consequences on a global scale.

    Also, that scene of Bruce Wayne running towards the dust cloud while everyone was fleeing in terror? That one scene tells you everything you need to know about what kind of man Bruce Wayne/Batman without a single word of dialogue, or even having him put on the Batsuit, so for me that’s one of the best moments in the entire trailer. Heck, everything about Batman in this trailer looked on target as far as I’m concerned, so yes, I’m now on board the “Batfleck” train. And for the brief time she was on, Gal Gadot looked quite impressive as Wonder Woman.

    The only thing I wasn’t sold on was Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Maybe it the hair (which I’m guessing is supposed to be a wig) but it seemed like he was trying to imitate Gene Hackman’s take on Luthor from the original Superman films, only younger. I mean, I get the film appears to be going for an interpretation of Lex as a darker version of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg but it just felt off, especially with the way Eisneberg’s “The Red Capes are coming,” line was delivered. Looks to be like it’s going to be a creative misstep on the filmmakers part. All that said, the trailer has piqued my interest.

    1. In Lex Luthor’s first appearance (1940) he was shown with a head of fiery red hair. Newer comics have often thrown a nod in that direction by depicting Lex with hair in flashback scenes or origin stories. With this being Lex’s first appearance in the DCCU, it doesn’t really bother me that he’s got the locks.

      What does bother me though is Eisenberg’s voice. He just doesn’t have the presence that the most arrogant, confident, narcissistic and ambitious businessman in the history of the world should have. Eisenberg might actually have made a pretty good Joker, Toyman or even Jimmy Olsen. But Lex Luthor he is not.

    2. This comment for the win:

      What does bother me though is Eisenberg’s voice. He just doesn’t have the presence that the most arrogant, confident, narcissistic and ambitious businessman in the history of the world should have. Eisenberg might actually have made a pretty good Joker, Toyman or even Jimmy Olsen. But Lex Luthor he is not.*

      Agreed. Maybe he’ll have a stunning transformation at some point in the film, but this trailer hasn’t shown us that it is coming. We’ll see.

      *Emphasis added.

    3. “Also, that scene of Bruce Wayne running towards the dust cloud while everyone was fleeing in terror? That one scene tells you everything you need to know about what kind of man Bruce Wayne/Batman without a single word of dialogue, or even having him put on the Batsuit, so for me that’s one of the best moments in the entire trailer.”

      Years ago there was a certain comic book writer … who took issue with one of my critiques. I said that there are times in a man’s life where he will utter a sentence that will essentially sum up exactly who he is, and that a good writer will never consciously write a “throw-away” line. Likewise, there are times in a man’s life where he will say everything without saying a word. I am personally uneasy with that image because of my own family’s connection to 9/11, but when I step back a detach myself from my personal feelings I cannot deny the power of that visual. I have a feeling that that NYC audiences will not be comfortable with that scene in the theaters.

      “The only thing I wasn’t sold on was Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. […] I mean, I get the film appears to be going for an interpretation of Lex as a darker version of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg but it just felt off, especially with the way Eisneberg’s “The Red Capes are coming,” line was delivered.”

      Agree. That’s why Jesse didn’t get a picture with the blog post. 😉 Besides hoping that Ben Affleck doesn’t get weirdly political in the next year, which would make it hard to look at him without thinking of him as Bactivist Man, I’m still leery on how Lux Luthor is going to be played.

  3. I am not excited about this movie, mostly because I thought MOS was too dour. Also thought Amy Adams was terribly miscast. And the color palette too gritty. It’s possible in a desire to counterbalance Marvel to go too far this other direction.

    1. As I told Superduperaweseomeguy, there are plenty of valid arguments against MOS. I can understand someone who says DC has swung the pendulum too far in the other direction, and I can understand someone who thinks the color palette is too muted or gritty. There is no doubt that Zack Snyder is going to lose some fans who feel that way, and there’s really no way of saying “Well, your feelings are wrong.” That would be weird. 🙂

  4. While I liked Man of Steel and think this movie looks good (although some of the other upcoming DC movies, such as “Suicide Squad” look questionable), one of the reasons I enjoy Marvel movies is because they’re the exact opposite of Nolan’s Batman movies (which I also enjoy, don’t get me wrong). I also liked Age of Ultron and thought it was superior to the first Avengers movie.

    1. I have enjoyed all of the Marvel films so far, although Iron Man 2 was only kept afloat because of Robert Downey Jr.’s screen presence. That was a bit of a mess. The first Thor movie was better than I expected, although I readily admit that I went into the theater with pretty low expectations. I’d say the first Iron Man film, Winter Soldier, and then The Avengers are probably my top 3. The first Captain America was pretty good, but I thought Red Skull wasn’t written to his full potential.

  5. This movie is looking really good, now if Ben can keep his mouth shut I may go out of my way to see it. Overall Marvel has been winning in the movies but maybe this will make DC a valid contender!

  6. emmettfowler is right. Luthor had red hair in his earliest appearances in 1940. By 1942, he was completely bald. In the early 1960’s, a flashback revealed that he lost his hair in a fire that accidentally started during an experiment in his lab when he was a teenager. He blamed Superboy for the accident (long story), and that was the cause of his obsessive hatred for Superboy/Superman. Which just proves that retcons are not all that new.

    I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the grimdark style in the costumed superhero genre. The superhero concept is inherently silly and campy, and a lot of adults just can’t take it seriously. Movies have to appeal to a much larger audience than just the comic book fanboys, so superhero movies usually need to be played at least as tongue-in-cheek as the 1960’s James Bond movies. If Marvel has had more success than DC with movies, one reason may be that DC’s films took themselves too seriously.

    Also, I don’t know if the “hero vs. hero” premise appeals to anyone besides comic book fans. I remember some heated arguments in letters-to-the-editor pages back in the Silver Age, with fans asking if the Flash could outrun Superman, or if the Sub-Mariner could beat the Hulk. Today, I don’t know if even the comic book fans care about such things. The big controversies are over this or that character being rebooted and turning out to be gay, black, or whatever. And fans (and writers and editors) accusing anyone who disagrees with them (about anything) of homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, Nazism, and antidisestablishmentarianism.

    The collateral damage in Man of Steel reminds me of Don Simpson’s Megaton Man, a parody comic published by Kitchen Sink in the 1980’s. The hero’s girlfriend was a Lois Lane-type named Pamela Jointly. In one story, there was a newspaper headline: “Megaton Man rescues Pam Jointly. Eleven other victims fall to their deaths.”

    I do like Gal Gadot, and I hope they do a solo Wonder Woman movie.

    1. I guess I’m speaking more about the sort of things I enjoy in the super hero mythos, whether it be comics or film. I’ve always subscribed to the notion of Marvel being a window to the world we live in. As a kid in the 70’s that was very much how I read every comic I picked up and why I gravitated towards Marvel books over DC. The silly campy concept never appealed to me.

      Stan Lee’s secret ingredient when conceptualizing the Marvel Universe in the early sixties was in keeping his heroes grounded in reality with real life problems in real cities. Stan wrote fantastic tales that not only included very important fun elements of escapism; he also mixed epic scenes of action with dialogue of great dramatic flair.

      He dared to comment on the civil rights movement, the hippie movement, the drug scene, popular culture and any other social issue in the books he wrote. And it was done five decades ago when Marvel truly was the House Of Ideas.

      I really do believe that there should be some provision for contemporary social commentary or a slice of realism in super hero adventures, perhaps not always, but at least in the same way newspaper strips can harness and engage readers into a social or political civil discourse. Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America comes immediately to mind.

      I think the notion that comic books should just be about fun and light-hearted comedy is a fallacy, especially since comics come in many different kinds of genres. That’s not to say that you can’t have more kid friendly orientated titles alongside more mature orientated ones. 🙂

      Some of the best writers in the business achieve longevity, by working in a wide array of different genres, and they bring a high level of word-craft to the comic book medium. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Frank Miller, and Robert K Vaughan, are just some of the creative visionaries who have transformed the medium.

    2. “Also, I don’t know if the “hero vs. hero” premise appeals to anyone besides comic book fans.”

      I think it’s just like any other kind of creative endeavor, in that it matters how it’s done. Marvel’s first round at “Civil War” helped push me away from the brand because instead of exploring serious questions it devolved into an immature series of political pot shots against the Bush administration. They twisted Tony Stark until it was obvious he was the “bad” guy, and somehow turned Captain America into the “hero” fighting for the “rights” of those who could destroy space and time. It’s in the federal government’s interest to make sure you have a valid ID for all sorts of social services, but not if you have the power of 10,000 suns or the ability to shape shift into an exact likeness of the president. That makes total sense, Captain America. 😉

      I think comics has gone overboard with the “hero versus hero” thing, in part because of the overabundance of moral relativist writers.

  7. Well, Doug, I am definitely seeing this movie. However, I do enjoy the Marvel Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies – maybe even the upcoming Ant Man movie. But I like the Superman/Wonder Woman current comic book romance. I’m happy she is also part of the Batman/Superman movie. Should be a good run.

  8. I came out of Man of Steel not having loved it or hated it. I did not like the tone but understood what they were aiming for.

    Strangely the death of General Zod did not bother me. He made it patently obvious to Superman that the only way to stop him was to kill him.

    The decision to kill obviously affected Superman and I hope is is explored in the sequel.

    I have not seen the trailer yet and intentionally avoid them now.

    1. “The decision to kill obviously affected Superman and I hope is is explored in the sequel.”

      I think on that front you will probably be pleasantly surprised. In regards to the trailer, I give you credit for not watching! It’s tough to go into a theater surprised these days with all the opportunities for leaks, trailers that reveal too much, etc.

    2. I found I was being disappointed by films when I saw them at the cinema.

      It can be difficult to do at times but worth it. Iron Man 3 was a big part of me not watching trailers

  9. Batman vs Superman? What will Batman do, cry and fling his tears at Superman? Brood him to death? Sulk him to death? Sadness him to death? Lose-conviction-at-the-critical-moment him to death?

  10. But as you say, Nolan’s impotent, terrorist-coddling Batman is true to the comic Batman.
    Here’s some great films in development that I can’t wait to see: “kindergartener vs Chuck Iceman Liddell” and “Fishing boat vs US Navy”.

    Oh the dramatic tension…the suspense…

    1. I think you’re a little too quick to throw Nolan’s Batman out with the bathwater, but I respect your opinion. It would be hard to keep any superhero comic book going for decades if popular enemies were killed off at the end of their first or second appearance. Batman has been going strong for 75 years, if I’m not mistaken.

      My bet is that Batman’s stories have helped instill a worldview in millions of young men that is friendly to your own — even if the writers always make sure to protect Joker from Death’s clutches.

      Christopher Nolan’s Batman and Joker make one of the most convincing cases for limited government I have ever seen. Both the hero and the villain expose the dangers of an ever-expanding — rotten and corrupt — government leviathan.

    2. I don’t deny that this theme appears in the Nolan films. However, I see another theme more strongly presented, which is that the hero, or would be hero, has crippling inner doubts about whether pure evil should be destroyed. If the United States, or Winston Churchhill, had had such a crisis of clarity — an agonizing confusion about who the enemy was and whether that enemy should be crushed, Hitler would have won.

      Batman is a failed hero and very poor example to follow in an era when we must not shrink in the face of Islamic jihad, now very much here in the homeland.

    3. Batman is also a character whose parents were shot and killed in front of his very eyes as a small child. I’m willing to cut him some slack as it pertains to his fears of becoming the kind of monster who took his parents.

      Frank Miller wanted to write Batman taking on radical Islamic terrorists, but DC balked and we got “Holy Terror” instead. I choose to save my disgust for the editors and writers who prevent such stories from being told instead of the complex character who has endured for over 75 years.

  11. I’m afraid I agree with those who think that Batman is way out of his league, and the whole underlying premise of the movie is bogus. I realize his biggest fans will say that Batman is always the man with a plan. But, contrary to conventional myth, Clark Kent is not unintelligent. The only reason Batman survives even two seconds in any of those trailer meeting-clips is because Superman doesn’t do anything — he just hovers there (for no reason) or stands there (for no reason). And, unless Bruce is being mind-controlled by Luthor, why would Bruce Wayne — who doesn’t kill — conclude that the only solution is to *kill* Superman? How about just talk to him first, long-distance? Why would Bruce Wayne even *listen* to Lex Luthor? Especially this version of Lex Luthor (the impressive Clancy Brown animated version I could get, maybe, but not this preening nerd). Alfred (Jeremy Irons) gets it right from the start — Superman is not their enemy. I’m one of the last fans who says that Bruce is not a crazy person, but then that means (as the World’s Greatest Detective) that he should “detect” that Superman was **saving** everyone from Zod. So even though the fanboy in me might go a little “squee” at the idea of the movie, the amateur writer in me is sitting in the writer’s room saying, “No, see, what about this, and what about this, and what about this…?”

    1. I actually thought Alfred’s warning about “the fever, the rage” could be just as applicable to Superman. Given that Superman is a good person with immense power — but not God — he would ultimately become disillusioned with humanity and possibly turn evil. That, to me, is why a reasonable person could conclude that Superman must be killed. Even if he was good upon arrival, in the long run his attempts to save (fallen) humanity would probably overwhelm him.

      Zack Synder captured this brilliantly with his cinematic depiction of Dr. Manhattan in “Watchmen.”

      Regardless, I’m looking forward to the debate that ensues when the movie actually comes out. I’ll do my best to get a review up opening weekend. 🙂

    2. Jack: Have you read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns? Seems plausible enough to me, and Bats didn’t last very long even with his thought-out plan.

    3. I remember reading that long ago, but I forgot what Superman did to him. Bats was in some sort of Kryptonite-powered armor? I remember in the end Bruce faked his own death, and Superman knew it (’cause he could hear the heartbeat in the coffin) and just smiled. I also remember a JLA storyline where Ras Al Ghul stole Batman’s files on how to kill every one of his JLA colleagues, if any of them ever went berserk. Then they were all mad at him for having concocted such a thing (though i was totally, “Absolutely, in a world full of psychic mind-control and alien viruses, you have a terminal plan on how to take out any of these dangerous friends of yours”).

  12. Well, if they really make a good solid play for plausibility, it could work. I am more interested in this than I am in Suicide Squad. The idea that some fear mankind abdicating its sovereignty to someone like Superman makes sense. But Luthor is the Nietzchean in the classic story, not Bruce. Bruce is the Scot laird o’the land, feeling a baronial obligation to Gotham, driven by the principle of “no other children shall lose their parents to violence, if I can help it.” But if it was clear that Zod was the aggressor, if Superman doesn’t do anything but fly about helping others, and a Zod scenario has not repeated, I’ll have a hard time believing that Bruce would set out to assassinate him. Maybe Luthor artfully frames Superman, which sets Bruce into action.

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