justice league trailer breakdown

On Saturday, Warner Bros. revealed the first footage from the upcoming Justice League to a packed audience at Comic-Con. And then it arrived online. It would be unfair to call this a trailer – it’s obviously been put together from a movie that isn’t close to being finished, focusing on simple dialogue scenes instead of the VFX shots and action beats you’d expect from this sort of thing.

And yet, it still looks promising! There’s an attitude on display here that simply wasn’t present in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which certainly lends credence to all of that buzz about director Zack Snyder attempting a serious course correction for the DC movie universe.

So how about we go through this thing frame by frame? I’m sure we’ll find something to talk about.

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The footage opens with Bruce Wayne in an unnamed town looking for a mysterious man who apparently arrives every so often via the ocean (wonder who that could be). It’s not clear exactly where this is, but it’s the kind of chilly seaside village where men grow awesome beards. Yeah, I really just grabbed this shot because that’s a pretty impressive beard.

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Speaking of beards, it looks like Mr. Wayne has grown one of his own. Since he’s clean-shaven in the rest of the footage, this seemingly implies that he’s been looking for Arthur Curry for long enough that his trademark stubble has turned into a cowl-defiling face-rug. If you want to get really obsessive, this implies that Aquaman is the first potential hero Bruce is searching for. After all, the beard is gone in every other scene.

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And here’s Aquaman himself, looking entirely unlike his traditional comic book counterpart in just about every way. After all, this character is a tough sell before you take into account his bright orange and green color scheme and Aryan looks. Making him look wilder and more dangerous is an interesting choice and could go a long way to selling audiences on a character that many viewers (including people who paid to watch Ant-Man) think is ridiculous.

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We know that the plot of Justice League revolves around the team hunting down a trio of peculiar alien artifacts called Mother Boxes, which have been hidden on Earth for quite some some time. Naturally, it’s a race against time to beat the villainous alien Steppenwolf from getting to them first. Anyway, here’s a group of people in medieval garb gathered in a forest…

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…where they are burying a Mother Box. There’s something unabashedly dorky about any movie where folks from the distant past encounter alien technology. Anyway, it looks like we’ll be getting at least one flashback to a long-ago century, where the people of the time decide that these devices aren’t worth the trouble of keeping them secure above ground.

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This angle gives us a better look at the soldiers doing the digging, including a king with a peculiar crown and a warrior with a fairly impressive horned helmet. Standard Viking-types or a DC Comics deep cut that I’m missing?

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Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was one of the few genuine bright spots in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so every little reminder that she is in this movie is a good thing. It’s kind of amazing just how great this character looks on screen, which makes you wonder why the hell it took everyone so long to realize a cinematic version of this character.

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Just how extreme is Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? He’s so extreme that he’s covered in extreme tattoos and guzzles liquor like an extreme rad dude! I kid, but this is the point where I express some trepidation about what Snyder and company are doing with this character. Could their attempt to make one of the least cool DC heroes relevant to mainstream audiences just transform him into a completely different kind of ridiculous?

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This is the point in the footage where you realize that there really aren’t many visual effects shots finished, so the bulk of the trailer will consist of stuff that required little or no polishing by computer. However, this seemingly practical shot where Aquaman is engulfed in a massive wave is impressive, reminding us that this guy can do more than talk to fish and withstand elements that would kill an ordinary man.

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Let’s ask the obvious question: since Batman v Superman features a scene where Wonder Woman watches a trailer for a Cyborg movie…er, features a scene where Wonder Woman watches footage of Cyborg’s creation, does this shot of Ray Fisher as a perfectly normal high school student come from a flashback? Or will Justice League casually ignore that awful scene and give this character a proper origin on screen?

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