My biggest worry about Batman vs. Superman has been the relentless grimness of so much of the promotional material so far. I guess that’s what makes the nuttiness of the new one at least, I don’t know, a little exciting? Surprising? There are jokes but also Doomsday? Wonder Woman shows up? It feels like we all just watched the last scene of the movie? My head hurts. This thing is mystifying.
The new trailer offers mostly story and blows what feels like about three money shots in one frothy, messy two and a half minutes. Eisenberg’s Luthor shows up in a mix of a homicidal Steve Jobs and Victor Frankenstein, Zod’s corpse makes a brief appearance before, I guess, getting turned into Doomsday because modern life is a fucking nightmare, Wonder Woman is blocking heat vision because oh god, does Zach Snyder think Doomsday has that power?
It’s a little bit of a mixed bag and I’m real unclear who this trailer is supposed to appeal to. People who think Bruce Wayne really would take a hard stance on clickbait? People who like groaningly obvious jokes about the Joker? People with fetishes for really, really heavy-handed metaphors for Hurricane Katrina? People who really like superheroes in theory but in practice just enjoy reading Wikipedia pages and commenting on any story they see about how this isn’t “the real Superman they grew up with?” It all makes for a lot of tonal whiplash and it kind of lacks perspective, but there’s a messy appeal to it, I guess.
There’s some plot here as well, that mostly seems to indicate that Bruce was in Metropolis on the day of Superman’s battle with Zod in Man of Steel, which I guess isn’t the worst thing in the world. I don’t really have a problem with Bruce seeing Superman as a source of potential chaos but there’s a real, genuine sense of hate to how he seems to view Superman, like he sees him, as akin to any number of his most homicidal villains. It just doesn’t feel right. Batman is a detective. He wants answers. He doesn’t make rash judgements, particularly not ones motivated by hate.
The only thing that rings true about either of the main characters is the moment where the two size each other up in their civilian identities, each seeming to know the others’ secrets in only a moment. The rest is a near endless tussle, with both characters fighting through weightless CGI. It’s less like watching a preview for a movie and more like watching someone play a particularly monochromatic videogame.
I also liked Jesse Eisenberg’s hair. I dig Luthor as a merciless business man, à la John Byrne’s The Man of Steel. Amy Adams is still very likable.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that this movie pretty much clearly isn’t for me, but it’s hard to shake the nagging doubt that there’s enough here that seems to be worth seeing. I want there to be good Superman movies out there and I’m a big Wonder Woman fan, despite the fact that I don’t think anyone working on this movie really is. To some degree, this thing’s big, overstuffed nature actually has a since of giddy fun. It feels like a trainwreck, but instead of the faux-gritty, mature by way of a 17-year-old one like Man of Steel, this has the feel of a kid hyped-up on Mountain Dew and Skittles, breathlessly thrashing his action figures around a room in a fury of chemically-induced joy. That’s something worth paying to see.