Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trailer Analysis: Man of Steel gets a cryptic and real-world teaser from of the Batman Begins school of marketing.

Old news, for sure, but I was on vacation last weekend and then returned home to find my son had a stomach bug (he's fine now, natch), so I'm only now getting around to this teaser (and a couple other trailers of note.  As you all surely know by now, Warner Bros. released two teasers attached to The Dark Knight Rises this weekend, one with voice-over provided by Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) and the other by Jor-El (Russell Crowe).  While the intitial response was that Zack Snyder is basically making Terrence Malick's Superman: The Movie, the truth is that this initial teaser is merely emulating the play book of Batman Begins. Please watch the first teaser for Batman Begins after the jump and then we'll continue.

Scott Mendelson

Okay, see what Warner Bros. did there?  They crafted a completely real-world character-centric drama without a hint of Batman right until the end, establishing that Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins would be a completely real-world drama that just happened to tell a Batman origin story.  Same gimmick here, with a troubled young man attempting to find himself after growing up on a farm and then working on a fishing boat. Only at the last moment do they drop the facade and reveal that we're actually watching a teaser for a Superman film.  It's a fine, moody teaser, even if Warner Bros. made a crucial mistake of using music that most geeks/nerds will recognize immediately, that being the 'Gandolf dies' clip from Fellowship of the Ring.  But aside from that, it's a powerful teaser that both separates this film from the other interpretations while assuring fans that this won't be a traditional Zack Snyder film, instead hewing closer to the character realism of Dawn of the Dead versus the more stylistic fantasy of 300 or Sucker Punch.  The only problem with the teaser is that it pales in comparison to the emotional power of the Comic-Con footage, which is a minute longer, has more Superman shots, and is perfectly set to music from The Thin Red Line (which is more famously known as 'the Pearl Harbor trailer music').  I was lucky to see a decent bootleg of the footage and it is devestatingly powerful and I can only hope that Warner Bros. just releases *that* as the next trailer come December (most likely attacked to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).  But anyway, what did you think of the Man of Steel teasers?  And if you were lucky enough to see the Comic Con stuff, what did you think of that?  Man of Steel opens June 14th, 2013.  As always we'll see.


Dpkronmiller said...

I want to like it - but I don't. The teaser anyway for Man of Steel.

I am of the opinion that we are watering down these franchises by constantly trying to find that perfect balance between realism and fantasy - no such balance exists. The Dark Knight Trilogy did some things right but many things (IMO) wrong (lack of humor, lack of suspense). They play as very nice graphic novels but often lack momentum. I hope this one plays out differently but given the players involved I doubt it.

From the footage it seems Clark is at one point on a ship (don't recall that from that traditional story), has a beard, and wears a cape as a superhero when a kid. I assume the ship is him journeying on his own self-discovery trip (perhaps to get to the pole for his fortress creation) but I hope it doesn't take as long to get to the flying as Smallville. How does he shave the beard? (curious on this one - always was a question about what is sharp enough to cut his hair) And how did his kid self know that super heroes have capes? Unless he also has a sword in his hand there are no other cultural references to pull from aside from comic books. Kids who did what that kid did in the trailer did so because of Superman. So will we get some cheasy fake superhero he's referencing?

And the CG looked not so good. Looked kind of like Singer's movie FX for his version.

I'm sure the acting will be good. I'm sure it will at times feel "real". And I'm sure there will be really fun moments of action and storytelling. But will it have the optimistic spirit of the Reeve movie? The movie that made kids like me want to put on a cape and pretend to be Superman? Or will the attempt at realism deplete the fantasy? The fun?

One thing I've noticed:

DC superhero movies of late are very dark, serious, long and often lack humor.
Marvel superhero movies are still long but you don't notice because they have humor, energy and a degree of optimism.

I'm getting a bit worn out by them myself and am longing for something new - original. Or at least not done a million times (George Reeves, Christopher Reeves, the Brian Singer one, Smallville and Louis and Clark).

I think the industry is in for a bit of a shock in the next two years - some of these will not work out.

TP said...

The trailer shows a young boy running around wearing a towel as a cape. Do this mean we have yet another film which shows the hero's youth spent reading about adventurers, and he decides to emulate them as an adult?

This has actually turned into a tiresome cliche as long ago as 2002, despite Mr. Mendelson praising its use in one of his reviews from January 2011.

"And I appreciate how the film slyly plays with comic book conventions and exists in a world where the characters had actual knowledge of the existence of fictional masked heroes and villains."

Kind of odd, since this property started on radio and predates the Phantom by 17 days, Superman by two years, etc.

"This is no Scream/Kiss Kiss Bang Bang deconstruction, but far too many superhero pictures exist in a vacuum where seemingly no one has ever heard of Batman or Spider-Man".


Meteor Man (1993) has a slew of references, including to Iron Man

Condorman makes references to Superman

TMNT III features the Tazan boy song -alright, a bit of point stretching

Blankman shows young boys watching 1960's Adam West/Burt Ward show

Hero At Large with John Ritter's entire plot

On TV, Buffy would reference the Avengers and numerous others

The Power Rangers made similar references

The Cape made similar references

Sky High features Lynda Carter mentioning Wonder Woman

Now and Again had references to Captain America

Robocop mentions Iron Man, Rom, Captain America, Alpha Flight, and point stretching Conan

Steel has a Superman tattoo in the 1997 film with Shaquille O'Neil

The Flash TV show with John Wesley Shipp featured references to Superman and others (point stretching-so did The Human Target)


In the 1978's Superman, a Thor comic book appears

In 1984's Supergirl, a Hulk comic book appears

Two boys mention Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch in the Matt Salinger Captain America

"This is why Superman works alone." ―Batman and Robin (1997)

In Spider-Man, someone says "You're not Superman, you know!" and Shazam shows up in dialogue.

Unbreakable also presented this idea (people knew about comic books and so forth)

In The Saint (1997), young John Rossi reads the adventures of Knight Templar and decides to act as an adventurer.


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