By Hilton Collins
Aquaman! Batman! Wonder Woman! The Flash! And Cyborg! AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
Oh, and Superman was there, too! (Kind of…)
During the Warner Bros. Hall H presentation at Comic-Con Saturday morning, thousands of eager DC fans got their first glimpse of the super-powered team-up movie they’ve been waiting for—other than Suicide Squad, that is—the brand new, first ever teaser for Justice League, a movie that doesn’t even come out until November 2017.
And, judging from the trailer’s awesomeness, November 2017 will seem like an eternity to wait because the Justice League footage was pretty amazing.
The sorta quick two-paragraph run-down version of the trailer goes basically like this: Batman, as Bruce Wayne, tracks down Aquaman and the Flash—separately in different sequences—to recruit them for a team to fight an enemy that’s coming (an enemy he doesn’t name and whom we don’t see because the focus of this trailer is solely on the good guys). Aquaman is a beer swiggin’ tough guy who runs around delivering fish to hungry land dwellers in need. It’s the whole he’s-rough-around-the-edges-but-has-a-really-good-heart sort of routine, but he’s not happy to see Wayne—at all. When Wayne meets the Flash in his civilian identity as Barry Allen, he throws a batarang at Allen to force him to reveal his superspeed, and it totally works. Allen dodges the projectile, with some cool speed lightning effects, and catches it. When Wayne asks Allen to join up, Allen quickly agrees because he says he needs more friends (he’s lonely, you see), and there we have the start of our team.
There’s also some funny Wonder Woman-Batman banter, and we see glimpses of most of the heroes in costume doing cool poses and stuff, including Cyborg, who actually doesn’t do too much in the teaser but say a few lines and look good in metal. And Superman is nowhere to be seen in the footage, though his portrayer Henry Cavill was present during the panel in Hall H.
We get jokes, cool-looking heroes, action and special effects, so there’s definitely a promise of something good on the horizon—but it’s too soon to tell if the movie will deliver on what it’s hinting at.
Yet Justice League has a golden opportunity to capitalize on solid team dynamics and breathe life into their superhero relationships. Lively heroes are interesting heroes whom the audience would enjoy watching. Earlier this year, producer Deborah Snyder told Forbes that Cyborg and Flash would have a “really nice camaraderie with each other” and that Ezra Miller, who’s playing the Flash, is “really funny,” signs that the creative team plans to add color and energy to DC’s superhero franchise. That energy, and the potential character interplay it could generate, would enrich the film in ways the Justice League comics often haven’t, at least not until recently.
Unlike other popular superteams like Marvel’s Avengers or X-Men, the main Justice League members have often had their own monthly series. That means that a lot of deep character-driven storylines for people like the Flash or Aquaman, for example, would happen in their own titles, but not in Justice League. The League book would show them doing great things together, but it usually wouldn’t show what they were thinking behind the masks, or what they thought of each other. The action was there, but the relationships weren’t—not usually, and certainly not with any of the major “magnificent seven” League members.
In the recent “Throne of Atlantis” crossover storyline that ran from 2012 to 2013, for example, we got a scene showing Batman and Aquaman discussing the politics and ramifications of a war between Atlantis and the surface world. Batman and Aquaman rarely interact in a meaningful way, so it was a nice change of pace to see them share panels together with some actual depth.
The Justice League film gives DC a chance to highlight character interplay that isn’t often seen in their own comics. Will Cyborg bond with Batman over their mutual love for gadgets and technology? And since Batman and Wonder Woman have already worked together in Batman v. Superman, how has their relationship as colleagues grown since then? And will Superman, who often sees himself as an outsider in the current era of DC films, feel a kinship with Aquaman, someone who often feels out of place because he’s half-human and half-Atlantean?
Those are just a few of the numerous possibilities a live-action Justice League film offers, and hopefully Warner Bros. will capitalize on them. Since many of the characters are so new to live-action movies, there isn’t a lot of storyline baggage to impede writers from really exploring as people on the screen, and not just heroes.