By Hilton Collins
Sunday was an exciting day for DC Comics fans who visited the company’s booth on the exhibit floor at San Diego Comic-Con. The new trailers for Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Suicide Squad played on a screen there repeatedly as the hours went by, giving viewers plenty of opportunities to see footage that debuted one day earlier inside Hall H that Saturday morning—if they hadn’t already seen it on YouTube.
Of the three trailers, the ones for Justice League and Wonder Woman have garnered the most attention from the fan community and the media. Until this past weekend, no one had seen clips from them, so the world was curious. People are definitely enthusiastic for Suicide Squad, but Warner Bros. has been releasing trailers for it for about a year already, so the novelty factor wore off long ago. Instead, all eyes were on the Justice League and Wonder Woman trailers, which became the crown jewels of DC’s cinematic Comic-Con treasure trove.
Although Wonder Woman was spectacular, Justice Leaguedefinitely had its own style of awesomeness going on. It was the first time anyone had seen so many DC heroes on screen together in a live-action Hollywood movie, and the stylized footage had humor, nice speed lightning effects for the Flash, and the promise of jaw-dropping action sequences that will come in later trailers, and most certainly in the movie of course.
In short, the trailer basically shows Batman, as Bruce Wayne, attempting to recruit the Flash and Aquaman to a superteam because some dangerous force is coming that will need their combined might to overcome. Wonder Woman and Cyborg appear in clips throughout, either looking cool or sharing humorous exchanges with Wayne. There’s some jokey quips between Wayne and every other League member in the footage, actually. The only hero missing is Superman, who’s most definitely being saved for future trailers, of course. There are no big action pieces, and the villain isn’t shown, or even mention, and the focus is squarely on the heroes and their interactions with each other. But there are some nice moments displaying the Flash moving at superhuman speeds, complete with crackling atmosphere effects, and the effects team did a nice job with Cyborg’s metallic surfaces and glowing red eye.
The clips are a great introduction to a team that desperately needed one. After Batman v. Superman’s polarizing audience reception and underperforming box office numbers, the DC cinematic universe looked like it was in trouble. DC’s still not out of the woods yet, but theJustice League trailer signals that a change for the better is on the horizon.
DC fans at Comic-Con were pretty happy with what they’d seen.
“I thought it was really good. I loved how they highlighted all of the characters,” said Isabella Rivera, 18, of San Diego. “I was also a little bit skeptical about the introduction of Aquaman, but he looks really badass and I’m hoping for a good movie out of this.”
In the trailer, Wayne encounters a hardened, boozing Aquaman who appears to be hiding out, but the scion of Atlantis makes time to deliver fish to hungry, downtrodden land dwellers. Aquaman shoves Wayne up against a wall after the billionaire asks him to join the League, indicating that the sea king will be tough to recruit. But there’s a later shot of Aquaman standing on a rock while a giant wave washes over him, signaling that oceanic glory and superheroics are definitely up ahead.
Jordan Castleberry, 17, of Palm Springs, felt that Aquaman’s portrayal in the trailer resembled his depiction in the animated Throne of Atlantis movie. According to Castleberry, Aquaman began the film rough and down on his luck, but by the storyline’s end, he had claimed the throne of his homeland as a glorious leader.
“In the trailer he was drunk all the time. Well that’s how he was in the beginning of the [animated] movie, so they’re just bringing that together as well,” he said.
That Sunday morning, Castleberry had already heard of critics and many fans liking the trailer, and he became a glowing supporter himself when he watched it online the night after it debuted.
Sisters Megan, 20, and Grace Saathoff, 17, of Boise, Id., both liked the footage as well. Megan wasn’t too passionate about Justice League initially, but the trailer won her over.
“I thought it was pretty good. It made me want to go see the movie,” she said. “I was kind of a little bit hesitant at first because comic book adaptations into movies… [I] always worry about how well the characters are going to transfer to the screen because screenwriting is different from comic book writing, but it looked like they did a really good job.”
She felt that every character in the trailer looked true to their core comic book values. For Megan, DC’s decision to reflect real world grittiness is appealing. In her opinion, the darker DC content is more relevant to what’s in the news and real world issues.
But she noticed the jokes and flashes of lightheartedness in theJustice League trailer, which didn’t bother her.
“I remember reading a thing on Tumblr about how DC doesn’t have all the quips and stuff that Marvel has, and that was a huge criticism in Batman v. Superman,” she said. “I saw in the trailer that were a coule more quips, but still remains like it’s really DC Comics to me and that made me really happy.”
She’s sold on Justice League for now, but she’s unsure how she feels about a modern Batman who kills people like he did in Batman v. Superman. She reads Batman’s comics and prefers how life and death are handled in his printed stories. There’s a vagueness to it she’d like to see in DC’s films as well.
“In the comic books it’s never directly addressed. It’s sort of implied that Batman kills people,” she said. “He’ll like throw someone off the roof but there’s no like, direct death. I’m going to have to wait and see how it goes [in the movies] and how they play with that.”
Everyone interviewed approved of Ezra Miller’s portrayal of the Flash, although they initially would’ve preferred Grant Gustin’s version.
“I watch The Flash TV show and I really like Grant Gustin as the Flash. He’s a very optimistic character,” Grace said. “I was a little bit worried about Ezra miller being the Flash but from the trailer it seems like he has the character handled really well.”
In the trailer, Miller’s Flash is quirky, but still seems to embody the youthful enthusiasm and earnestness the character has on television. Now that the “dawn,” so to speak, of justice is upon us in the movies, there are now two different live action Flashes in different media, one on TV and one in movies. DC fans, at least the ones at Comic-Con, didn’t seem to mind.
“I was a little skeptical about them not really merging their TV universe with the movie universe when they recasted the Flash because I’m a big fan of the TV show with the Flash, but I’m sold. That was really really good,” River said.
Justice League is scheduled to hit American theaters on Nov. 17, 2017.