Trailer vs. Trailer: Did the Man of Steel Teaser Do More Harm Than Good?

Posted on August 14, 2012
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under Editorial
10 Comments

The Dark Knight Rises is and will continue to be the most buzzed about movie of the year. (Jason Bourne’s red-headed step brother might’ve won the box office battle last week, but Batman will win the war.)  Warner Bros. knew that Christopher Nolan film would be the box office monster that it has been, and it was only natural they place the teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel before it.

If you’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises, and I’m pretty sure you have, that means you caught the first glimpse of Superman in the Man of Steel teaser trailer.  That glimpse was very short and in a very wide shot, flying high and fast, hurtling himself to the clouds.  It may have piqued your interest, but it was easily forgettable.

Warner Bros. is looking to establish Superman as their next tentpole character and to reinvent him for a new generation.

But did the studio hurt the movie’s chances by releasing that teaser trailer?

I caught the Man of Steel trailer sitting in the theatre.  I knew the trailer was coming and I was excited.  I was expecting to see what was shown at this year’s Comic-Con.  As it played, melancholy sunk in: this was not something rousing.  This is not what you show to get an audience’s fire to rise.

It wasn’t a horrible trailer by any means.  With a voice-over by Jonathan Kent played by Kevin Costner speaking to a presumably young Clark about responsibility and images of youth in middle America, there was a very inspiring nature to it.  Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings music was chosen for the trailer and it is effective.  The teaser has a very muted quality to it in sound and in color.  Then there’s the closing shot of Superman flying high that I described before.  He breaks the sound barrier and it cuts to the logo.

Here’s that trailer:

I’ve never seen an audience more ambivalent about a such a high-profile movie as they were after seeing this trailer.  With the title screen and the Superman logo following, the audience was very nearly silent.  Confused.  There were murmurs from audience members, but the sense of underwhelm was apparent.  This was the studios chance to make an impression and introduce us the world of Superman, and they blew it.

People should have been buzzing about it after The Dark Knight Rises was over, but instead the teaser was forgotten.

The film was conceived to draw a more human Clark Kent, attempting to get to the core of him as a man and showcasing his journey finding himself.  One of the more interesting aspects for Superman is that he grew up like one of us, but he isn’t.  He’s an honorary member of the human race, and fights for us.  Truth, Justice, and the American Way.  Ideals that can evoke feelings and tears from even the most stern people.  This teaser conveyed none of that.

One of the pleasure of the Marvel films so far has been that I have never seen these characters done on the big screen before.  I had imagined what Tony Stark would look like flying in his red and gold suit or what Thor would look like swinging his hammer into an enemies noggin, but there was no previous version in my mind before Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Hemsworth did it.  You’re invested with them.  They don’t have to be established as a reinterpretation.  With Superman, and with the future of Batman, you’ve met them before. You know who they are.

In the Comic-Con trailer, you have basically the same footage as the teaser trailer, only after it plays there is an incredible amount of shots of Henry Cavill in the suit his cape majestically flowing, glimpses of his birth parents, moments from intense action sequences, awe-inspiring shots showing heroism, General Zod, Lois Lane, Krypton, and the Daily Planet, all set to Hans Zimmer’s music from Inception, I believe.  Click here to watch that trailer.

Boom.  It gave nothing away from the movie and got a raucous response from the crowd.  I realize that convention goers are generally over-excited, but it is a stirring trailer.  It is dynamite stuff.  It is a Superman we haven’t seen before.   And, because it was only shown at Comic-Con, it’s a Superman most of the general public has not seen.  If that trailer had been shown, the buzz surrounding Man of Steel would be untouchable.  People would have gone ballistic.

Instead, people were left scratching their heads, unsure what to think.  After how well Superman Returns performed, it behooves Warner Bros. to show that this movie is something special and very different.  They missed that opportunity now. That teaser trailer gets you excited at the prospect of a new Superman movie.  That Comic-Con trailer just plain gets you excited.

By all accounts, the movie looks sensational.  Zach Snyder’s name and films have an audience, and Christopher Nolan has no problem pulling in a crowd and delivering a good film.  The movie should be be great, but the way it is being positioned in the consciousness is pitiful.  DC Comics and WB have not been too successful with their live actioners outside of the Batman franchise.  Green Lantern sticks out in my mind, there, and the long-gestating Wonder Woman project.

There have been so many shades of Superman in the comics.  No one movie was guaranteed as many ticket sales as Batman was.  Not placing that extended trailer on the front of The Dark Knight Rises was a colossal error.  Instead of the audience eagerly anticipating what’s coming next, they may not care the next time Warner Bros. comes around pimping a new trailer for Man of Steel because they’ve made their mind up already.

Again, if you weren’t able to catch the Man of Steel Comic-Con trailer, you’re in for a treat.

10 Responses to “Trailer vs. Trailer: Did the Man of Steel Teaser Do More Harm Than Good?”

  1. BS
    August 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    the trailer was great in my opinion.
    ..unlike this review. or whatever you call it.

    • David Berov
      August 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      I agree, I loved the trailer, did exactly what it had to do.

      • August 14, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        Did you watch both those trailers? Which was better?

  2. Nightwing83
    August 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    The sad inevitability is that no matter what, people would have talked trash about the trailer. Haters, disappointed fans, concern trolls, wannabe purists… while I agree that the SDCC footage is vastly superior, I wish there’d been more action; but it was inevitable.

    What’s really sad is that the biggest thing is people are saying it’s “dark” because they’re parroting a few people, and that this film makes him look–in one person’s words–like a “scumbag.” How? Because he has a beard? Certainly not because petting a dog, hitchhiking, working on a commercial fishing/shrimping boat, running around in a cape, and flying toward the heavens are so unbecoming of our hero. It’s because of this two-dimensional “light/dark” spectrum fans still haven’t moved past.

    • David Berov
      August 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      I don’t understand, it seems like you are angry at people for describing the undertones of this film being “dark.” That seems to be perfectly valid, as it’s been stated that’s the direction the film will go.

      As have many super hero films since Nolan began his Batman run.

      • August 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Well, I wouldn’t say “angry,” but come-on, “dark” is a vague, meaningless term. The “tone” of the film appears darkER, but it’s not especially “dark” in the grand scheme of things.

        Also, why do people think, or pretend to think, that Nolan began some sort of “dark” trend? Tim Burton’s Batman films were sold on their “dark”ness–giving him a black costume, depicting brutal murders, not giving Bats a code against killing, the general design of the film–and I wouldn’t exactly call the Avengers lead-up films “dark.” Sure, they had their moments, but what action film doesn’t? Meanwhile, Daredevil and Punisher each had “dark” films before Batman Begins, they more-or-less broke even, and Punisher had a second film in 2008, which somehow managed to do worse BO numbers than Superman IV. Inflation NOT adjusted.

        Based on everything I’ve seen, I think we’ll be able to say that Man of Steel : The Dark Knight Trilogy :: Batman–the Animated Series : Superman–the Animated Series. DarkER than some interpretations, but nothing to justify some concerns.

        • David Berov
          August 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM

          Don’t be naive and think Nolan’s touch hasn’t changed everything. He is now the bench mark, believing anything otherwise is foolish, it’s not a matter of opinion, it is fact. There is no a single director, producer, writer who won’t try and emulate what he did in all their next films.

          The Avengers was certainly the more “comic-bookian” of all the films. Straight action, with a witty script and amazing camera scenes + CGI.

          Trying to revert back, and grave dig to films like Daredevil and Punisher that were abominations doesn’t work. Those films were inherently dark because of their backstory. Punisher and Daredevil were never happy go lucky stories. Batman was never known to be “Nolan Dark” until he put his hands on the series.

          And I agree there is no need to worry or have concern, I’m very much looking forward to Man of Steel, but they are off to a great start in terms of promo.

          • Frankie
            August 17, 2012 at 2:42 PM

            “Don’t be naive and think Nolan’s touch hasn’t changed everything. He is now the bench mark, believing anything otherwise is foolish, it’s not a matter of opinion, it is fact. There is no a single director, producer, writer who won’t try and emulate what he did in all their next films.”

            Except that Nolan did WAY more than just “make it dark.” In 2005, Chris Nolan made a film that was deep, introspective and showed that there was more to Batman than just the villains.

            “The Avengers was certainly the more “comic-bookian” of all the films. Straight action, with a witty script and amazing camera scenes + CGI. ”

            Uh, then doesn’t that contradict what you just said about “there is no [sic] a single director, producer [or] writer who won’t try and emulate what he did in all their next films?” I mean, if someone said, “welp, we’re gonna make an Avengers film that plays like a video game,” that goes against what Nolan did, for better or worse.

            There’s room for both.

          • Frankie
            August 17, 2012 at 2:45 PM

            “Trying to revert back, and grave dig to films like Daredevil and Punisher that were abominations doesn’t work. Those films were inherently dark because of their backstory. Punisher and Daredevil were never happy go lucky stories. Batman was never known to be “Nolan Dark” until he put his hands on the series.”

            For one thing, Batman is inherently dark because of HIS backstory. For another, the films from 1989-1992 were dark. They were just dark in a different way, being over-the-top style-over-substance. But where Nolan’s films had a glimmer of hope, Burton’s had very little.

            I don’t think this teaser was a great intro to Man of Steel, but I think a lot of people are leaping on it like a grenade like they do everything DC does nowadays which isn’t 100% perfect in every way.

  3. August 14, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Nightwing, you’re right. It is sad that it will be reduced like that by people like you say just parroting other people. What the comics and films have proven is that there can be many different shades of a character. There is a spectrum of interpretations.