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.