OPINION: JL Trailer #1 - What is WB Selling?
Author: Robert Reineke
Date: March 26, 2017

I figure thereís no point in doing a review of the latest JUSTICE LEAGUE trailer. Odds are if you havenít already seen it, you can watch it and form your own opinion before reaching the end of this article. Itís even harder to pass final judgement when thereís at least six months of post-production, depending on when this trailer was prepared, including a lot more special effects work ahead.

I have friends who when talking about the film business often ask the question ďwhatís the value proposition?Ē What experience is the studio and Zack Snyder selling that will put butts in the seats? We have a full marketing campaign ahead of us, but we can start to answer that question with this trailer.

First and foremost, the studio is selling the film as a huge action spectacle with large comic book influenced images being showcased. I donít think itís any coincidence that Batman swinging into action looks like it could have come from Jim Lee circa HUSH. There are a lot of images in the trailer that look like glorified splash pages and covers.

Thatís probably a good idea from a marketing perspective even if I understand that people may not be in tune with the exact aesthetic. If thereís one consistent criticism of Marvelís films, besides the ďvillain problemĒ, itís the idea that Marvelís movies often have uninspired cinematography with high lighting that makes their films look like television. By emphasizing big spectacle and images that pop, DC may be offering something entirely different. A battle between an army of Amazons and an army of Parademons is the type of outsized spectacle more at home in a movie based on LORD OF THE RINGS or STAR WARS than your standard superhero film. So far, JUSTICE LEAGUE seems to be promising over the top action sequences on par with TRANSFORMERS. Global box office certainly seems to respond to that type of action spectacle. Big explosions donít need subtitles.

The op-ed continues after the jump!

Now, I have some quibbles over the visual aesthetic as well, although thereís a lot of post-production ahead. I expect that the special effects will end up much more polished and there will be some tweaking of the colors, editing, etc. However, thereís probably no getting over the fact that a film with Batman is going to be set principally at night.

The other thing that the trailer promises is that itís going to have a real attitude about it, symbolized by that edgier, modern version of The Beatlesís ďCome TogetherĒ and Jason Mamoaís swaggering Aquaman (who probably will shout that something is ďoutrageousĒ at some point). If thereís one consistent thing about Zack Snyderís career, itís the continuing need to be perceived as cool and edgy. I expect that this will be something of a stumbling point for some that interpret this as posing, along with the images that the characters strike, rather than a natural expression of the material. (I note with some irony that the trailer came out the same week that The CWís THE FLASH had a musical episode as contrast.) Zack Snyder seems allergic to all things that could be perceived as corny, awkward, or earnest. Sometimes to his detriment in regards to some of the fight scenes in WATCHMEN where his style gets in the way. That attitude probably will make what JUSTICE LEAGUE is promising a favorite of a solid niche of the audience.

Thereís also a solid chunk of the audience where attitude and spectacle arenít enough. Given that weíre all expecting the film to be well over 2 hours and I donít know if weíve seen anything much beyond mid-Act 2, I expect thereís a lot more story to be revealed. Supermanís role for instance. Weíve seen some big moments, but we havenít seen the connective tissue between those moments to any great extent. Iíd expect that with writer Chris Terrio and executive producer Ben Affleck involved, thereís more to the story and character interactions than what weíve seen, but that material may make or break the film for a lot of people.

The op-ed continues after the jump!

So, the lesson so far is that JUSTICE LEAGUE is promising big spectacle with attitude. Possibly dumb, but entertaining if youíre on the wavelength. It seems to be promising Zack Snyder indulging and trying to outdo maximum Bayhem and deliver eye popping, splash page images ala Jim Lee. That strikes me as the 1990s Image Comics version of the JUSTICE LEAGUE. For some that will be a great thing. For others, that will be a step down from the pop Gothic Expressionism of Tim Burton or the grounded, dramatic take of Nolan (although it must be noted that Christopher Nolan isnít above a little Bayhem himself). But, weíll have to see if the upcoming advertisements promise any of the substance that weíve come to expect with Batman and comic book films in general.

But, in the meantime, at least itís swinging for something that will make it stand out as unique, and thatís probably a good thing for the project even if itís not what everyone wants. Itís not going to be easily confused with X-MEN or THE AVENGERS at this point. - Robert Reineke

Robert Reineke reviews comics and films for BOF.
He is a Civil and Environmental Engineer residing in Wisconsin.
He earned a BS and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin
and has been reading Batman comics since the 1970s.
Heís of the firm belief that there are plenty of Batman comics written before
Frank Miller that are worthy of discussion.

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